My Greatest Environmental SinOctober 19th, 2008 by Michael Kwan
Having been born and raised in Vancouver, I was always taught to take reasonably good care of the environment. It seems to be all the rage these days to “go green”, but it’s something that Vancouverites have been trying to do for a number of years. We have the blue box recycling program, bottled beverages come with an enviro levy in addition to the bottle deposit, and a good number of people do what they can to reuse, reduce, and recycle. This is a mentality that is taught in school and it’s one that has been ingrained in Vancouver’s very culture.
While I am certainly not the greenest person in the city, I do make an effort to be mindful of my carbon footprint and the impact that I have on Mother Nature. Working from home as a freelance writer, for example, I don’t drive nearly as much as a conventional commuter and, thus, I don’t burn as much gas. This helps my pocketbook and it helps the environment. Unfortunately, I am guilty of a rather substantial environmental sin: I tend to use a lot of electricity.
A bit part of this has to do with my chosen career, but it also has to do with my areas of interest. A good deal of my freelance writing work surrounds the world of technology, so I tend to review things like cell phones, LCD monitors, MP3 players, network storage drives, and so on. These all require power.
By the same accord, my hobbies focus on the world of technology as well, so I am the proud owner of both an Xbox 360 and a Nintendo Wii. And let’s not forget about all the gadgetry that surrounds my workstation, like my laptop, my paper shredder, and my phone charger. I also use a lot of batteries for my digital cameras, video game controllers, TV remotes, and wireless desktop. That’s a fairly substantial amount of electricity.
So, what am I doing to counteract my environmental sin? What am I doing to try and reduce my impact? Well, for starters, I use a lot of NiMH rechargeable batteries. By using rechargeables, I don’t toss single-use alkalines into the landfills. That’s a good thing. Also, I tend to keep digital copies of everything rather than printing it all out. This way, I use less ink and less paper.
Next is the concept of “vampire power.” When you leave something plugged into the wall, even if it is turned off, it still draws “standby power” and this can add up to quite a bit of power consumption over the course of a month. That’s why I make an effort to unplug my power bars at the end of the day or when I’ll be out of the house for more than an hour. I also make an effort to use reusable water bottles and reusable grocery bags whenever possible.
Going green does not mean that you have to give up your way of life, per se, but it does mean that you should make some minor adjustments. It’s terribly unlikely that I’ll give up my gadget obsession any time soon, so I’ll just do my best to reduce the electricity (and the waste) that I do use. What’s your greatest environmental sin? What are you doing about it?