For years, I’ve presented myself as a friend to the environment. My social media profiles are littered with sustainability-based posts, and I’ve written dozens of articles on the subject. But that doesn’t mean that I’m any greener than the next person.
In fact, I’m probably worse. Sure, I drive a hybrid, but I also fly. A lot. I grow herbs and succulents, but I also take the longest showers known to man. At least twice a week, I forget clothes in the washing machine and have to rewash them because they turn mildewy. With a little positive spin, these are just the natural tradeoffs of “a guy doing his best” — but the fact is, I’ve known for a long time that I ought to do better. There’s nothing stopping me, no reasonable excuses… and yet, I haven’t ever truly made sustainability (on a personal, day-to-day, minute-to-minute basis) a priority.
With my home-state of California in the throes of a major drought (which is perpetual considering our population to rain ratio), I reached out to sustainability expert Evan Marks and his team at The Ecology Center in San Juan Capistrano. I asked them to throw as many water-related eco challenges at me as they dared. There was only one rule: They had to offer up changes that I could make in the matter of a day.
Here are the results, ranked by difficulty on a scale of 0-10:
Save one gallon per single use plastic bottle: Every 20 oz packaged water bottle takes six-times the volume of the bottle to manufacture and transport. Reduce plastic waste, save water, and protect our oceans by using a reusable bottle instead. Make a bigger impact by carrying all of your to-go food and beverages in reusable containers.
On its face, this seemed like a breeze. I work from home and drink out of glassware. I almost never buy plastic bottles. But as I read over this tip, I realized that the crew at The Ecology Center also wanted me to bring Tupperware to restaurants when I ordered to-go food. Difficult? Not really. Embarrassing? For sure. And herein lies another quandary: Will we take the extra step for the environment, even if it makes us feel like a weirdo?
I complied by bringing Tupperware to my favorite taco shop and having them drop my meal in that. Did I get raised eyebrows? Sure. But by my count, I saved aluminum from the wrapping, paper from the bag (and napkins, because I brought cloth), and all of the water that it takes to produce those items.
DIFFICULTY RATING: 3.5