Until recently, the closest I’d gotten to “going green” was painting my face for Halloween. It’s scary how I thought nothing of poor Mother Earth, who for years silently bore the brunt of my unconscious environmental abuse: my aerosol-hairspraying, Styrofoam-using, non-recycling, water-wasting ways. I never stopped to consider the value of the air, water and energy that sustain life. Until one event changed the way I think about our planet.
On Thursday, Sept. 24, the Fairfield County chapter of Green Drinks, an international organization that encourages people in local communities to socialize and share their ideas for improving the environment, hosted a presentation at the Discovery Museum and Planetarium in Bridgeport. The last time I’d been to the Discovery Museum was for a Girl Scout field trip in the second grade. So, when a friend told me about the event, I decided to make an appearance and see what it was all about. I was especially excited that the evening would end with a light show in the planetarium, synchronized with the music of Irish rock band U2.
Heather Burns-DeMelo, founder of CT Green Scene who helmed the event along with the Connecticut Alliance for Sustainable Enterprise, described the evening’s theme as “Innovation in Developing Sustainable Solutions”—introducing new ways to save water and electricity, encouraging green habits and improving the condition of our earth.
Wearing the well-known “Hello, My Name Is______” tags scrawled with their identities, friendly guests mingled and meandered on the first floor of the museum, nibbling on organic lemon curry brown rice and vegetable sushi from Health in a Hurry in Fairfield and sampling locally-produced organic beverages: wines such as “Live a Little” shiraz from Organic Vintages, local beer from New England Brewery, and organic agave-sweetened tea from Steaz.
Not only did I swirl my wine glass and tap my heels to the smooth, sophisticated tunes played by the Jazz Guild of Fairfield County, but I gleaned “green” tips and advice from sponsors and supporters of this affair.
A lot happened in a period of about 90 minutes: employees of HSBC bank brought an electric bike for test rides, the Morris Media group promoted its newly launched “Green Home Magazine,” a representative of General Motors’ Project Driveway, described on GM’s Web site as “the largest-ever market test of fuel-cell and hydrogen technology,” spoke about the importance of renewable hydrogen technology and offered test drives in a GM Hydrogen Equinox; Green Marine Productions discussed its plans to bring awareness and programming to casinos and Native American groups around the country. Alex Simeone, founder and director of Electronic Recycling and Research Corporation in Stratford displayed clocks he crafted out of recycled computer parts, encouraging people to get rid of their old electronics and keep them out of landfills by donating them to his organization. Finally, Curt Johnson, Senior Attorney and Program Director of the Connecticut Fund for the Environment, briefly took the mic and informed guests about grants, rebates and incentives available to businesses and homeowners who want to become energy-savvy and save money on their utility bills.
The entire first floor of the museum featured an interactive, mini exhibit full of tips to improve the environment (e.g. a large diagram and set of instructions on how to plant a seed) as well as facts about natural gas and water use. A spin-the-wheel activity, for example, showed how many gallons of water we use during daily household routines such as flushing the toilet or washing clothes. Did you know that we use anywhere from 1.5 to more than three gallons of water on a regular flush? Or that the average household uses 16,000 gallons of water per year just for clothes?
Maybe you didn’t know that washing clothes in hot water uses nine times more energy than washing in cold water, and that a front-loading washer uses 7000 (yes, seven thousand) gallons less water per year than a top-loader, which uses as much water as one person will drink in 20 years. And maybe you had no idea that compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) use much less energy than the widely-used incandescent light bulbs. Well, now you know.
Here’s a little recap: donating your old computer or TV to the ER&R Corporation (click here for more info), switching from hot to cold and from incandescent to fluorescent are just a few easy things you can do to step up your green game.
Burns-DeMelo says that through her Web site, http://www.ctgreenscene.com, as well as through live events, she and her colleagues such as freelance writer Eileen Weber and others work to inspire, encourage and assist people in creating a sustainable future within their local communities. One major goal is to prevent problems related to global warming.
“With the Earth’s temperature having increased one-to-two degrees Celsius [due to] excessive consumption of fossil fuels that emit greenhouse gases, we face an uphill battle to stabilize our planet’s climate and avoid even more of a [temperature increase] that will lead to mass extinction and unparalleled global crisis,” says Burns-DeMelo.
Yet she and the CT Green Scene remain optimistic about the future. She says, “[...] we believe in the world-changing potential of the people in our network who exchange ideas, brainstorm solutions and share resources and information.”
For more information on other green events, and to learn more about CT GreenScene, visit http://www.ctgreenscene.com.