Going Green, Now

It’s not easy being green. Just ask Kermit the
, or any red-blooded college student trying to balance
the best enviromentally friendly intentions with the day-to-day
realities of living in I.V. We all know how important it is to live
our lives in an environmentally conscious way, but when it comes
down to it, remembering to recycle your beer
and completely shut down your computer at night
isn’t as easy as it seems. Not to mention how hard it is to choose
sustainable soy products over a big juicy burger at Deja.

Last night, I had the pleasure and the privilege of interviewing
Al Gore — and by interviewing, I mean managing to
stutter out one quick question and receiving a stock answer he
probably had prepared months ago — on the red carpet at the
Santa Barbara International Film
. 2006_an_inconvenient_truth_001.jpgAfter the red carpet, Gore and An
Inconvenient Truth
director Davis Guggenheim
did a question-and-answer session in front of a packed Arlington
before receiving the Attenborough Award for Excellence in Nature

During the ceremony, Gore exemplified the combination of humor
and hubris that he has become so good at playing up in the popular
press since he began touring to support the now Oscar-nominated
film. Guggenheim was, as I expected, the perfect combination of
quirky, creative, and caustic wit — the thinking girl’s wet dream to be exact. All in all, it
was an inspiring evening. As if seeing the poor polar bear drowning
in An Inconvenient Truth didn’t make me want to go green,
hearing Gore and Guggenheim speak did.

At least until I walked out of the Arlington. You see, it’s one
thing to want to be green, but as Kermit will tell you, it’s not
easy, especially in I.V. As I drove my Honda Civic — a car that
boasts partial-zero emissions and a gas tank that still only
takes about $25 to fill despite being almost as old as my younger
brother — home to my apartment, I started thinking seriously about
how I could make my everyday routine more environmentally

I’d love to buy a Prius, but I don’t have the money. I’d love to be a
vegetarian, but I was one for seven years until I realized that the
college lifestyle is not very conducive to a severely restricted
diet — at least not for me. I’d love to change all the light bulbs
in my house, but we currently only have a couple of working light
fixtures to begin with and those are rather finicky, to say the
least. There’s a lot of major changes I would love to implement
into my routine, but they aren’t reasonable at this point in my
financial and physical life.

I can keep recycling, I can remember to turn off my computer, I
can limit my showers and turn the water down when I’m shaving my
legs, and I can make my purchases as environmentally responsible as
I can afford. I can keep biking instead of driving to campus — no
matter how cold it gets — and I can make sure I spend what little
money I do have supporting companies that share my values. I can
use reusable, recylable, and recycled cups — even when I’m throwing
a party — and I can wear warm clothes instead of just turning up
the thermostat. I knew my leg warmers would come in handy someday.

These are just a few things I can think of off the top of my
head, but luckily there are plenty of resources available to help
me make other small changes in my everyday routine, and thanks to
the internet (and thanks to Al Gore for “inventing it”) I can even
find information that is almost totally tailored to my unique
needs. Sure, there’s also the general sources of information on
environmentally sustainable living — An Inconvenient Truth
has a sister site online (here) that lists loads of ways we can make our daily
lives more environmentally friendly. But broad suggestions don’t
begin to address the issues we face as college students who are
short on time and even shorter on cash.

For more specific stuff on how to live sustainably in I.V.,
check out the Web site of the UCSB Environmental Affairs Board. This
organization is entirely dedicated to helping students have a
positive impact on the local environment and they have tons of
information about I.V.’s green scene including a helpful Green Guide. If you want to go green but, like
me, you have trouble giving up your favorite foods, check out the
Isla Vista Food Co-Op. It’s a lot like Trader Joe’s, in
that it offers a wide selection of organic and health foods but it
has more of an emphasis on local people and products, and it
operates in an entirely environmentally friendly manner. The I.V.
Food Co-Op’s Web site also has a great section of links to other Web
sites with information about local environmentally friendly
restaurants, publications, and organizations.

As I write this, I’m sitting in my backyard surrounded by
birds, bushes, and
butterflies. It’s the middle of winter and yet the
sun is shining and the scene is straight out of a cheesy Disney
movie. Hell, I half expect a bird to land on my shoulder and start
singing to me. Obviously, we live in a beautiful place.

From the mountains to the ocean and everything in between, it’s
hard not to appreciate the natural beauty of I.V. and S.B. Even if
you live in an apartment where half the lights don’t work. And the
more I think about it, the more I realize that going green isn’t just a nice phrase with some alluring
alliteration and a few celebrities attached to it. It’s a
responsibility. Even if I can’t afford to alter everything about my
life, I can do more than just make sure my beer bottles are in the
recycling bin — especially since no matter where I put them, the
people who make their living recycling manage to find and sell them
anyway. When it comes to the state of the environment, the truth
may be inconvenient, but making a big difference through small
changes to my everyday routine really isn’t. And, if nothing else,
at least I always have Kermit to commiserate with.


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