Steps for a Greener Soul

I've been trying to figure out how green I really want to be. I recycle, I use compact fluorescent bulbs, and I drive a fuel-efficient car, but there's a lot more I could be doing. I just don't know if I really want to do it.

For the most part, I only want to take the eco-friendly option if there's a clear benefit to me. CFLs save me money in the long run, plus they eliminate the hassle of having to change burned out light bulbs. Easy peasy. But what about shopping bags? I have a number of reusable bags, but I can't for the life of me remember to toss them in the car when I'm likely to go shopping. One would think if it was really important to me, I would remember.

Recycling is something of an exception--it actually costs me money (a small charge tacked onto the monthly trash bill), and forces me to keep an extra trash can in the house. And yet I do it; I suppose I've successfully internalized that letting my cans, bottles, and cardboard boxes clog up landfills is a Bad Thing. Perhaps it would help if I read more articles about the evils of plastic shopping bags.

The husband and I have a long-term goal of building an eco-friendly house, though once again, mainly because of the clear benefit to us. We could get tax credits to offset the additional price of the green features, and in the long run, the savings in our utility bills could help us have a comfortable retirement. A well-insulated house is comfortable year-round, and using passive solar design would give us bright, cheerful rooms full of sun. What's not to love? I wouldn't mind installing a dual-flush toilet to save water, but I draw the line at low-flow shower heads or giving up soaks in the tub. Bathing, for me, is time to luxuriate.

I want to do more, but almost purely for the feeling of self-satisfaction I get from it, not because I have a clear image in my head of the impact my actions have on the world. I care about the environment, but lowering my carbon footprint isn't that high on my list of priorities. What can you do to save the environment when you don't really care?

Obviously, I can start with the shopping bags.

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