I was skimming a magazine recently that offered a list of ways to save money and energy when upgrading your electronics. Some of the choices included stereo vs. mp3 player; cable vs. satellite; plasma vs. LCD TV. The point of the article was to show which items use less energy and emit fewer amounts of CO2. But, I immediately thought. Why are they telling me those are my only choices? I don’t own a stereo OR an mp3 player. I use a little portable boom-box that I’ve had for years (or my laptop). I don’t use cable or satellite; in fact, I don’t even have a television, so the plasma vs. LCD is a pointless comparison for me.
Why do we stop at the easy either/or answers? Why don’t we dig deeper, further for the more meaningful solution?
We can start simply, like: instead of paper or plastic, I can bring my own bag. Or, do without one completely. But, I can also dig deeper: Do I really need to go to the store to buy this thing in the first place? What can I do instead? Borrow, build, share, improvise, do without?
No Impact Man Colin Beavan has mentioned on his blog that he always takes his own cup to the coffee shop, rather than using one of their disposable ones — and people thank him for it. That's a laudable choice, but I would go even deeper and suggest going without the store-bought coffee at all (I think my husband and I are about the only two people here in Portland, OR who don’t drink coffee), or at least ensure that it’s organic, shade-grown, fair-trade, sustainable stuff.
I recently read another article in a magazine about when and how to replace leather shoes with vegan ones. What was one of the first suggestions? Payless. Yes, they have vegan shoes that are pretty economical. But, many of those shoes are also made with petroleum products and other chemicals and quite probably were produced in sweatshops in another country and shipped thousands of miles. An excellent opportunity for some third side thinking.
As you go throughout your day, pay attention to the choices that you’re offered – and the ones you offer yourself – and then take some time to think about and look for third, fourth and fifth choices. You’ll be amazed at how quickly they start appearing.