The 40th anniversary of Earth Day, April 22, brought attention to helping make our communities cleaner, healthier and greener. “Going green is all about what a person or community decides. It’s about making good decisions,” states Denyce Singleton, AARP Virgin Islands Senior State Director.
In 1970, the VI opted for an electricity generating system that utilizes fossil fuel to generate electricity. Thus, as fossil fuel costs rise, consumers are affected. Had the VI opted for alternative systems like wind, geothermal, and/or solar systems, the associated financial and environmental costs would have been reduced.
“The good news is that our territory is conscious of making better decisions”, continued Singleton.
As individuals, there are small things that can be done that can have an impact on wallets and the environment. These include:
Reusable shopping bags – reduce your dependence on “paper or plastic”, and you can reduce waste at home. This is a start to saving trees and keeping plastics out of the landfill.
Bottled water drinkers should switch from plastic to stainless steel or glass containers. Plastic takes years to decompose and takes up space in landfills.
“Go green” with paper items. Recycle old magazines, give old newspapers to animal shelters, bank and pay bills on line, and a tough habit to break – limit using paper towels, plates and cups. Trade these items for cloths that can be laundered and re-usable dishware.
Switch traditional light bulbs to energy efficient CFL bulbs. Changing bulbs in key locations in a home can make a big difference in electrical bills and the impact on greenhouse gases.
Insulate and place water heaters on timers. Money will be saved on electric bills and water will be kept hotter longer. Better yet, install solar or gas water heating to save more money.
Car pool. Why not ride with a friend? Save gas, wear and tear on vehicles, use only one parking space and have additional time to socialize.
“One innovative ‘going green’ suggestion”, adds Singleton, “is to change lifestyles, or essentially recycle ourselves.”
Studies show that baby boomers may hold the key to creating an environmentally friendly future. Early trends indicate that “boomers” who have completed their traditional careers are now beginning to adopt lifestyles and “second careers” that are more “green”. Combining a desire for a greener community with previous career expertise, many are helping to create a healthier and cleaner environment.
A good example of career recycling is typified by AARP VI Executive Council member, David Barber.
While employed at the Department of Labor, Barber utilized skills to scrutinize trends that impacted the VI labor market. Today Barber combines this expertise with a passion for “going green” and is enjoying a second, greener career.
Barber is a partner in a business that encourages homeowners to take advantage of one of the Caribbean’s most plentiful, and cost free resources, solar energy. Barber’s company manufactures solar water heating systems to replace traditional water heaters that consume vast amounts of electricity.
“It’s all about good decisions,” concluded Singleton, “At AARP we encourage individuals and communities to reconsider their impact on the environment and take steps to reduce waste of all kinds. Every little bit helps and if everyone makes ‘going green’ a priority in their life, the end result will be a much greener tomorrow for everyone.”