5% Solution Take Personal Action: Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

By Cliff Boyer

“When the government refuses to act responsibly, it’s up to the citizens.” – Wendell Berry

A great New Year’s resolution would be to take the 5% Solution pledge to reduce your carbon footprint 5% in 2011. Scientists say that 350 parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is the safe limit to support human life on earth. Right now we are at 388 parts per million (check out Bill McKibben’s web site at www.350.org for more information).  The need to act is becoming more urgent every day. We can’t rely on the federal government to address this issue meaningfully anytime soon. It is up to each and every one of us to take the steps necessary to change our behaviors and make conscious and deliberate choices about how we individually impact the environment.

OPW Can Help

To support you as you act on this resolution, Oregon PeaceWorks can provide you with helpful information and suggest resources that will make our lower carbon footprint goals not just a future vision but a new reality.

A Special Issue

The Progressive Magazine’s December/January Special Issue is focused on “Saving the Earth” and provides articles and interviews with leading scientists such as David Suzuki, politicians such as Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and advocates/activists such as Terry Tempest Williams, Wes Jackson, Wendell Berry, and Vandana Shiva (who will be speaking in Portland at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, February 23 – “Soil Not Oil: Climate Change, Peak Oil, and Food Justice.” For details, visit http://www.worldoregon.org/events/iss.php.) The issue addresses everything from consumerism to waste management to climate change. It is both hopeful and distressing, and it provides useful information as we educate ourselves further about life on a planet that is quickly becoming more degraded. The Progressive has been a leading voice of change since 1909 and you can find it at the local library or subscribe online at www.progressive.org.

Buy Local

One way to reduce your carbon footprint is to buy locally produced food at locally run businesses. Here in Salem many are eagerly anticipating the opening of the new Trader Joe’s in the Spring. Rather than buying food that is over-priced, over-processed and often frozen at Trader Joe’s, visit Salem’s pioneering natural foods store Lifesource Natural Foods at 2649 Commercial St. SE, (503) 361-7973, www.lifesourcenaturalfoods.com. They are open Monday – Saturday 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Lifesource provides organic, locally grown produce, fresh soups and other delicious and freshly prepared choices. Lifesource has been a strong supporter of Oregon PeaceWorks and other local non-profits such as Marion-Polk Foodshare and Turtle Ridge Wildlife Center. Do your part and support your community and local businesses while making choices that are healthy for you and the planet.

Story of Stuff

Annie Leonard, creator of “The Story of Stuff” has become a target of right-wing commentators who protect corporate interests that have demonstrated little to no interest in addressing climate change or protecting the environment. Why? Because she is so effective.

Go to her web site (www.storyofstuff.com) and watch the short video clips that address the environmental consequences of our buying choices. Become a better informed consumer as she explores topics such as all the “stuff” we buy, electronics, cosmetics, bottled water, and even explores cap and trade policies. Her work has appeared on PBS, she has written a book and produced DVDs, and she has developed a high school curriculum to provide educators information and lesson plans.

Consuming Energy

Local electrical company Salem Electric has developed innovative programs to assist energy consumers in making their energy consumption more efficient. Salem Electric offers rebates to customers who use CFLs (compact fluorescent bulbs) and sells them as well. Recently a large box of assorted CFL bulbs went out, free of charge to every Salem Electric customer. Their web site at www.salemelectric.com offers energy-saving tips from home-heating to saving on energy when you go on vacation and it provides details about their Habitat Improvement Program.

Oregon PeaceWorks will begin emailing regular bulletins containing useful information and resources to interested individuals who have made or wish to make the 5% Pledge. We want to encourage and support these commitments. It is the mission of Oregon PeaceWorks not only to envision a peaceful world and healthier environment, but to act on that vision as well. By supporting one another our individual actions will make that vision a reality. Φ

Cliff Boyer has worked as a newspaper reporter and editor, teacher and college instructor, and is currently a business manager. His New Year’s resolution was to start acting on his values and principles to contribute to a better world.

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