Editorial: Adding a touch of green       

Warwick Beacon Online

Thursday, April 26, 2007 



Maybe it was the vicious nor’easter that blasted the city a week earlier. Maybe it was the sudden jump in movies, books and study commissions focusing on global warming.



Maybe it was the weather – nearly 80s and blue sky as far as the eye could see – but this year’s Earth Day seemed to be a particularly busy one.



Even before the official day more than 150 volunteers gathered in the parking lot of the Knights of Columbus Hall on Sandy Lane before fanning out to haul trash from Buckeye Brook in an effort organized by the Buckeye Brook Coalition. Efforts to rid the good earth of the debris we thoughtlessly cast away didn’t stop there. Last weekend more volunteers were out, this time to cleanup scores of cemeteries, the effort of the Warwick Historical Cemetery Commission. According to commission chairwoman Pegee Malcolm, 100 of the city’s 150 historical cemeteries are covered and she is working to see that all 150 are cared for.



 These are but two of the organized drives. There were some impromptu ones as well, such as that organized by Shaelynn Tatangell who rallied family members to pick up trash at City Park last Sunday.



Governor Carcieri even got a jump on the occasion by publicizing his push for alternative forms of energy (namely, offshore windmills).



And if that’s not enough, Arbor Day is this coming weekend, celebrating another way to “go green.”



It’s too bad Earth Day and Arbor Day only come once a year. They seem to give people a good excuse to get off their tushes and enjoy a momentary burst of philanthropic activity.



But then what? It’s great spending a day out in the sun communing with earthworms, but then most of us go back inside and spend the next week getting every particle of dirt out from under our fingernails. The enthusiasm is lost and we’re back to worrying about the price of gas and breathlessly waiting for the next vote on American Idol.



The problem is, there’s no easy way to “go green” on an everyday basis. We can’t all go out and buy a hybrid car like Lincoln Chafee – they’re pricey to buy and pricey to fix. We also can’t all switch to all-natural cleaners like the proprietor of Little Falls in Pawtuxet Village – for most of us, cleaning products get bought with a Sunday coupon or don’t get bought at all.



And forget about eating only local and organic food. The pre-made stuff is expensive (and certainly not local) and the fresh-from-the-ground stuff is intimidating when you’re used to having your meals come from a box or can.



But there’s plenty we can do, nevertheless.



We can encourage our city leaders to expand and improve recycling programs. Homes may recycle, but plenty of businesses – the places that generate the most recyclable waste – don’t have access to recycling bins. Anyone who has a Dumpster out back knows that everything in it, from banana peels to copier paper, all goes in the same big hole at the landfill, regardless of its reusability.



We can take advantage of the sudden spike in sales of energy-efficient light bulbs. Many new brands don’t have that sickly quaver of the first-generation bulbs and, even if you don’t do it for the energy savings (worth an estimated $50 every year for the 100-watt replacements), do it for your knees – fluorescent bulbs have to be changed much less often.



We can support alternative energy forms, especially wind power. We may not have much in the way of land mass, natural resources or mighty rivers, but we do have plenty of wind. Whining about the “view” as gas creeps toward $3 a gallon is petty and short-sighted.



Plus, we challenge anyone to come forward and claim that a sleek, white-painted windmill is somehow more of a blot on the horizon than a line of smokestacks or (heaven help us) a nuclear power plant tower.



We can make an effort to throw away less garbage. It’s easy to put unwanted toys, clothes and furniture out at the curb, but it doesn’t take that much effort to throw it in the car and drop it off at your local charity on the way to the store.



And while we’re on the topic, let’s actually recycle those plastic shopping bags now that we have the opportunity to do so.



It doesn’t take much to add some green to our lives and you don’t have to dress in hemp and eat popped buckwheat to be environmentally responsible. Little changes, spread over the million residents of this state, make a big difference.