Going Green by Going Red
While on vacation recently, I had a lightbulb go off in my head moment. While viewing Al Gore's fantastic and eye-opening documentary, "An Inconvenient Truth."Though not ignorant of the topic, I had been unaware of the details of the movie and found myself fretting over what is happening to our planet. I began to think about how I could change my behavior and make better choices to protect our most precious natural resource, Mother Earth. For me, it was making a commitment to change. As an avid gardener, I believe that I already have a great start, but the question for all of us is, "What more can we do?"
Being "green" is more than simply using eco-friendly materials and recycling. It's about changing everyday behaviors and being more aware of what we do personally and of course passing that message along. It is only right that I give this "being green" thing a face (mine) and my support.
Let's start with most the obvious thing we can address, fuel consumption. We're all aware of the crazy prices at the pump. It is nuts! It's clear to me we need to reduce our dependence on oil and gas so I've started by recently purchasing a Vespa LX scooter! This new cherry red scooter is the perfect accessory to my lifestyle as it fits my personality perfectly. The best part is that it gets 75-100 miles per gallon of gas. (Yes, you read that correctly.) I love this new scooter, and I feel like a kid again. However, the Vespa is not a toy, and comes with safety rules and responsibilities:
- Get the scooter registered with the DMV
- Get your motorcycle license
- Insure your scooter. Progressive is the largest insurer in the state of Connecticut for scooters and motorcycles, and they're the cheapest too.
- Always wear a helmet (and keep an extra handy for a friend).
My first experience with a scooter was while in Rome over a decade ago. I wanted to feel like a true resident of that great city and as they say, "when in Rome… do as the Romans do". So, I rented a Vespa and cruised the off-the-tourist-beaten path to get a true glimpse of life in one of the most beautiful and historic cities on the planet. I will forever have fond memories of that trip to Rome and even though this wasn't my first visit, it was my fist time seeing Rome on a scooter. That day I discovered places I'd never seen or been to before. That Vespa made my "Roman Holiday" unforgettable.
Now, back in Connecticut, I have the pleasure of cruising around my neighborhood and into town, not only recalling my fond memories of my Italian adventures but also knowing that I'm doing something more positive for the environment. I'm committed to using my Vespa in lieu of my car whenever possible—especially for those quick runs into town for my daily Starbucks.
Interestingly, I have begun to notice that while on my Vespa, I'm educating people about being green and driving something other than cars around town. My red scooter is becoming the new green in Westport. Just last weekend I grabbed my neighbor Barbara for an afternoon ride around town. She was excited about joining me and did a quick wardrobe change to prepare for her ride. For you other ladies planning on joining me for a ride on my fabulous little red scooter, there are two requirements, you must wear a helmet (provided by me) and a fabulous pair of high heels (provided by you). Barbara's three-inch Manolo's were perfect. So European!
That day we tooled all around town, in and out neighborhood streets taking in what I call the garden tour. Personally, I love beeping at every intersection and smiling and saying hello. Everyone we saw smiled back at us and commented on how cute we looked. Or was it the scooter that was so cute? Either way, it felt like we were in our very own parade. That beautiful day we spent a great deal of time making impromptu visits with neighbors and friends. They just loved it that we stopped by for a quick hello.
So, if I've enticed you to consider getting a scooter, do your homework! Before I made my Vespa purchase, I researched my options. I knew the moment I returned from my test drive that I was buying the shiny red one in the showroom. Some friends have asked why I didn't I get a bicycle, as it would be better exercise. I told them that I have a bike, but for quick trips into town for errands or even for going to work, using my scooter saves time, gas, and money. In the event I need the exercise, I'll just push it!
If a Vespa or any other scooter is not right for you, here are some other green choices you might consider coordinating into your life:
- Carpool to work or to regular events like fitness classes or community meetings—have you ever stopped to look at how many single passenger cars are on the roads? It's amazing. Teaming up with a friend or two is not only a smart choice, it's more fun to have company, right?
- Bicycling – Two wheeling can be a fun way to cut down on gas consumption and get some exercise. Plus, it's a fun way to see your neighborhood in a fresh new way.
- Go natural when it comes to cooling your home. Turn off your heating and cooling systems whenever possible. One of the best aspects of living in New England is the weather. Open the windows and invite in the breeze and don't be so quick to turn on the heat. A cozy fleece can take the chill out when necessary. I've gone weeks without using my system, saving money and energy in the process.
- Plant more gardens and less lawn. The fertilizers used to make lawns "perfectly" green can seep into the groundwater. By planting multiple natural gardens in your yard, you'll get peace of mind and lots of beauty all around. I like this one!
- Prune your shrubs and trees by hand versus using electric or gas powered tools. I do this each and every year by hand as it gives me better control over the design shape that I'm looking to achieve.
- Use something old and make it new again. It's the fundamental idea of the "reuse" arrow of the Reduce, Reuse, Recycle symbol. Lots of items can be retooled for a new purpose, and if you can't think of one, donate items to Goodwill or the Salvation Army so someone else can. I know I've found some wonderful old items that have a new use in my home.
Being green is not just about doing one or two things. It's about changing our day-to-day lives and incorporating new and better ways of doing things for our environment. My red Vespa is one way of acknowledging that I too have many things to change in my lifestyle to help my beloved Mother Earth. Consider the green options small or large and your new awareness will grow like a weed.
And there you have it.