Monday, March 10, 2008

My Town Monday: It's Not Easy Being Green

My town, Fort Worth, is ranked the 15th greenest city in the nation, according to Popular Science magazine. This is a pleasant surprise for a couple reasons, mostly that I read an article in Popular Science magazine. The article lists cities based on renewable energy use, public transportation, green buildings, availability of parks and recycling.

I have to say I'm proud of my city for making the list, and more, for the way Fort Worth has changed my carbon-footprint habits. Before we moved here, I never thought about recycling or watching our energy consumption. Our diaper contributions to the landfills alone should put us on the green blacklist. But Fort Worth makes it easy: when we moved in we received two plastic trash cans for the weekly haul, one for trash and the other for recycling. How simple is that? Now we have a weekly competition between the two, and more often than not the recycling bin fills quicker.

Other ways we've gone green:

* Thermostat 68 in winter/76 in summer. When the kids get cold, we quote Garrison Keillor: "You're not special. Go put on a sweater."
* Fluorescent lightbulbs. Yes, they look like crazy corkscrews and take a few extra milliseconds to light. We chalk it up to ambiance.
* Trading in our gas-guzzling SUV for a lean, mean station wagon. I'll let Kern weigh in on that--it was his decision, and he asserts he has no problem blending in with soccer moms. I got to keep my zippy 5-speed, which makes me inordinately happy.
* Taking the heat cycle off the dishwasher.
* Watering outside peak hours.

Ways I stay stubbornly carbon-cantankerous:

* Paper napkins. No way am I doing ANYTHING to add to our mammoth laundry mountain.
* Bottled water. I recycle the bottles, but I can't go with the carry-your-own refillable glass. I bought a cute green one to take to school, but the mouth on it is too wide and more than once I've ended up with a streak of water down my shirt, mid-class.
* Not carpooling/taking public transportation. I'm open to discussion on this, but I'm surprised Fort Worth scored in this category. While there's a plethora of options between FW and Dallas, for transportation going north to Denton, it's me and my wheels. Not that there's anything wrong with that. (See zippy 5-speed, above.)

Going green? Waving the "global warming is a myth" flag? Do tell...


Blogger Travis Erwin said...

Al Gore must be proud.

And I gotta admit I'm suprised anyplace in Texas made that list.

11:23 AM  
Blogger Britta Coleman said...

Crazy, right? Austin made #10 (no shock there), Laredo hit #39 and (drumroll please...) Amarillo made #34! Way to go, team Texas.

11:54 AM  
Blogger lyzzydee said...

How interesting!! We try but I'm not sure we succeed, I mean how is driving your plastic bottles to a recycling place green???

2:16 PM  
Blogger Lana Gramlich said...

Congratulations on the green-ness. We don't do paper towels/napkins here at our house & it doesn't add that much laundry (although it IS just the old man & I...) Thanks for sharing your town. :)

2:45 PM  
Blogger Mathilda said...

I have to say this one made me laugh (which was good, because I totally hit writer's block--pg. 40 will do that to you, I guess--and even the old "pull something out of a drawer and somehow insert it into the scene" trick has done nothing to stop the oncoming internal temper tantrum I can feel myself having).

One of my classmates (Christi Clancy, recently published in Glimmer Train and nominated for Best New American Voices) has a husband who is an environmental lawyer. The crap I get for bring my bottle of diet coke to class every week is unbelieveable. And, when she can get away with it, she goes single-spaced/both sides on her papers. We don't let her do this on stories because it's hard to do line-by-line comments, but otherwise everyone knows that it makes Christi just a little happier if we "go green".

4:44 PM  
Blogger The Anti-Wife said...

Greetings from #8 on the list - Seattle. I'm heavy into the recycling, CFL light bulbs and thermostat at 68 in the winter. Don't really need AC here and I have a pretty fuel efficient car. But I do love my bottled water and I drive alone. At least we're trying!

5:50 PM  
Blogger alex keto said...

I'm glad Travis said it first that he's surprised anyplace in Texas made the green list. Being green is not the first thing that comes to mind when I think of Texas. But that only shows how little I know about Texas.

6:05 PM  
Blogger Searcher Amy said...

I'm surprised about the green nod and I've lived here all my life. Unfortunately most folks I know would rather embrace their 40.06 instead of a tree. Of course being the only one on either side of the families who wears the scarlet L around my neck (you know, branded for my liberal sins), I may be a little overexaggerating.
We also have curbside recycling. I love it. While I do still love my bottled water as well, all the bottles go into the recycle bin. My husband recycles his three water bottles every day by reusing them. Little soap and water and a refill, he's ready to go.

5:03 AM  
Blogger Britta Coleman said...

Lyzzydee, I hear you on the driving to recycle. The trucks that pick up our bins emit enough black smoke to choke a small city. Whether we're succeeding is debatable, but it's worth the try. Hopefully we'll get smarter and more creative with our efforts.

Lana, you may have convinced me to try cloth napkins for a week. Will report back.

Mathilda, no one should single space short stories, ever. Makes my eyes hurt to think about it. I try to save on tree killing by reusing old drafts and printing on the flip side.

Hello Seattle! Congrats on hitting #8. I would love to not have AC, but in Texas we'd risk stroking out. I have no idea how the pioneers did it.

Amy, I hear the Scarlet L accessories are making a huge comeback this year. Way to be a trendsetter.

I was surprised by Texas making the list, too, Alex. Maybe we're breaking through our own stereotypes. [She said, as she put on her cowboy hat, saddled her horse, then rode off to go shoot dinner.]

6:11 AM  
Blogger Kern said...

I bought the Passat wagon because it is cool and sexy. The fuel efficiency is a bonus. I think Ft. Worth is quite a leader in Texas as far as recycling. I have not seen similar efforts in Dallas or Houston.

In my opinion,the biggest waste these days are the volumes of phone books that are still published every year. Who still uses a phone book? Do people in Portland and Seattle still get them?

Now, raise your hand if you hate daylight savings time.

7:47 AM  
Blogger Searcher Amy said...

Well, I guess we can say we're getting a little better in the mortal sins department now that pollution is a sin.

10:37 AM  
Blogger *Tyler* said...

I agree with the phonebooks, Kern. What a waste! I get mad every year we get it b/c I don't wat it, but I don't want to throw it away.

I must admit, I love daylight savings time. I am such a happier person when it is lighter longer.

2:11 PM  
Blogger dee said...

not only do I think daylight savings is a waste, its a pain in the ass for those of us who have to explain it to the rest of the world, i.e Australia, england, ireland, and of those in Arizona who stuck to their guns and rebelled.....It's very much like explaining the Unicard....I'm currently in Toronto and though recycling is a big thing to contemplate, a world without sausage gravy and rib eyes is even worse....why would anyone be Canadian???

7:31 PM  
Blogger Mathilda said...

Thanks for the post on my blog--my heart stopped for about two seconds because the only person who ever reads that is my mom. And due to the current content, I got nervous. ;)

I rarely swear (I think because I grew up Baptist), and when one of my professors (who is a believer) said "f-ing", I got really upset because I had been putting him on a pedestal.

So, after lots of prayer and forgiveness, I was feeling healed, but I needed to feel free... so I tried it out on my blog...

Okay, now I'm embarrassed.

For my more intelligent blog:

7:31 PM  
Blogger Britta Coleman said...

Kern, I'm raising my hand for the "I hate daylight savings time" club. It's 10 a.m. and I'm ready for a nap. But then again, that's not so unusual.

Amy: Strange to think of pollution as a sin, and that it's gotten so much press. One more thing for us to struggle with, I suppose.

Tyler: Kern threw away (recycled) my favorite phone book last year, and tried to convince me to look online instead. Which makes sense because I can never figure out the yellow pages categories. As in, I need a haircut, so do I look under H for Hair? C for Cut? S for stylist? No, silly caller, it's under B for Beauty!

Dee: I have an admiration for those rebels in Arizona. We stopped over once on vacation and were thrilled to learn we'd gained an extra hour to enjoy our day in Flagstaff.

Mathilda, no need for embarrassment. As a completely imperfect person, I appreciate an honest grappling with those pedestal issues. Will check out your other blog, too. And I think it's funnycute that your mama reads your blog. Mine does, too, but she doesn't post. Hi, Mom!

6:21 AM  
Blogger WordVixen said...

I only hate daylight savings in the Spring. :) To be honest, most of my ecologically sound concessions are the result of budgeting, rather than trying to be green. For instance, I only drink bottled water at work (no access to the water cooler on my shift), and tap filtered at home, and hubby and I are switching to the flourescent lights the next time we need to buy bulbs.

I grew up with recycling pick up, so that's been a part of my habit since I was a kid. I actually go a little crazy at work that we only have can recycling and not bottle recycling, and I'm the one that insisted on recycling our papers at work when we stopped filing them.

3:24 PM  
Blogger Britta Coleman said...

Yes, WordVixen, spring forward is the WORST. But I'm all about the falling back.

3:48 AM  

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