Little effort required
Even lazy people can help the environment.
For Glen Hooks, the moment he became an environmentalist stands out today as clearly as it did when it happened three years ago.
One summer morning, Hooks and his two young sons were canoeing on the Buffalo River. The boys were busy chatting and being noisy when their canoe happened upon a particularly scenic portion of the river.
"They fell silent and looked around. They were in awe of what they were seeing," Hooks said.
He'd recently started working for the Arkansas chapter of the Sierra Club, an organization whose members typically possess at least a minimal appreciation for nature. But when he saw his sons literally dumbstruck at the sight of Arkansas' unbridled beauty, Hooks said that was the first time he understood the importance of preserving the environment - not for himself, but for future generations.
As associate regional representative at the Sierra Club offices in Little Rock, Hooks spends time organizing environmental campaigns, supporting green legislation at the state and federal levels and encouraging Arkansans to contact their legislators. But he doesn't leave his environmental practices at the office - he's integrated green living into his home life, too.
The decision to start living green can seem daunting, but it doesn't have to be. By making small modifications to everyday activities, Hooks said that each person can impact the environment in a positive way.
"It's about everyday Arkansans taking control of what they think is important," Hooks said.
You've been hoarding empty soda cans for the past year, but the recycling company won't come to your apartment complex, and finding a place to take your ever-expanding drinking container collection is proving more difficult than the search for Jimmy Hoffa.
The old way: Toss them in the dumpster behind your apartment building. They were beginning to take up too much space, anyway.
The green way: Take a deep breath and lug your aluminum to one of Pulaski County's recycling drop-off locations. Go to www.pulaskiswdistrict.org and click on "Drop Off Recycling" to find drop-off locations and times. It requires more effort than leaving a bin at the curb, Hooks said, but when that's not an option, it's better than leaving it for the garbage man.
You wake up, head for the bathroom, flip the light switch - and absolutely nothing happens.
The old way: Run to the convenience store and buy a two-pack of 60-watt light bulbs for less money than your daily caffeine fix at the coffee shop.
The green way: Spend a little more dough and spring for compact fluorescent light bulbs. They cost about $5 each, but the bulbs use between 30 and 75 percent less energy than their incandescent cousins and last up to 10 years. "Sometimes it's hard to go out and buy 10 or 20, but if you replace them one at a time, it's not so bad," Hooks said.
You're at the check-out in the grocery store and hear that age-old question you've almost come to ignore: "Paper or plastic?"
The old way: Mumble "plastic" and add another four or five thin, white translucent bags to that ever-growing collection under your kitchen sink. If a catastrophe requiring more than 300 flimsy plastic bags ever arises, you'll be ready.
The green way: Skip paper and plastic. Both methods expend a lot of energy and resources to produce, so opt to bring your own reusable bags instead. Hooks said that some stores even offer incentive programs: for instance, Wild Oats gives each bag-toting customer a wooden nickel that they can deposit in a box for the charity of their choice on the way out the door. A few sturdy canvas bags will do the trick, but if you're looking for something a little more upscale, try a Web site like www.reusablebags.com.
You go out to the mailbox knowing full well the only thing that's going to be in there is the ninth credit card application you've gotten in a week and a sheet containing more Long John Silver's coupons than you'll ever need in this lifetime or the next.
The old way: Throw it in the trash can - or if you're feeling kind, throw it in your recycling pile.
The green way: Nip it in the bud. Get off the mailing lists. Go to the Direct Marketing Association's consumer Web site, www.dmaconsumers.org, and click on "Consumer Assistance" to get helpful tips on how to stop getting junk and get off e-mail and telemarketing lists, too. Your mailbox might be empty more often, but at least it won't be brimming with garbage.