The Lazy Person’s Guide to Saving the World
Not all of us can be the kind of eco-warrior who knows their carbon footprint better than their credit rating. Bless their little green hearts; they could probably save the world if it weren’t for us slackers. This article isn’t for them.
For the rest of us, though, it’s time we stop mumbling guilty apologies and do our bit for the cause. We can even do it without losing any of that all-important quality time with the couch! Here are a few simple things we can do that are both environmentally sound and easier than what you’re doing now. Not every suggestion will work for every lazy person, but most likely, you’ll find at least one thing on this list that works for you. You may think of them as drops in a very large bucket, but it still beats doing nothing. As an added benefit, when people ask where you get all your newfound free time, you get to tell them you got it while saving the world.
Stop watering your plants
Standing around with a hose in your hand is time you could be loafing around with a drink in your fingers. If you have to water outside, use a timer on an in-ground drip irrigation system. Once you’re set up, which is easier and cheaper than you probably think, your landscape or garden will thrive as if by magic.
Basic drip irrigation set-ups start around $40, and timers at about $7. The Agricultural Science Center in Farmington has created a fabulous document explaining the how and what of drip irrigation (bit.ly/1bdP7Es). If you like having things explained to you by real people, try the Albuquerque Area Extension Master Gardeners, which has a helpline set up at 292-7144 or 243-1386. The organization also sends emissaries to the public libraries for a Q&A on Saturdays; check abclibrary.org/
You may think of them as drops in a very large bucket, but it still beats doing nothing. As an added benefit, when people ask where you get all your newfound free time, you get to tell them you got it while saving the world.
Carpool or take the bus
I know all the common objections to these, but having someone else do the driving is pretty freakin’ sweet. You can read, sleep, catch up on gossip or social networking, or calculate how much you’re saving in gas money. Reducing your carbon footprint from a 10 wide to a 9 regular is just one of several benefits. A lazy person who needs a little extra kick up the back of the trousers to get to work on time might really get a lot out of this one.
Chances are you already know people who go to the same places as you, and often at the same times. (Hint: We usually call those people co-workers, family members and friends.) Ask around; see who is into ridesharing. You can also make connections on the internet; just type “carpool albuquerque” or “rideshare albuquerque” into your favorite search engine to get headed in the right direction. The city’s public transit routes, schedules and easy-peasy trip planner are accessible online at cabq.gov/transit or by calling 724-3100. If you call, be aware that the person on the other end is almost certainly going to end up reading the web page to you. This scores high on lazy, but kinda low in terms of good uses of tax dollars.
Pretty much any regular financial transaction you have will offer you an option to go paperless. This means you won’t get bills or statements in the mailbox. You’ll get an email or an automated billing reminder on your bank account. Sometimes you’ll just get a text, as I do when my mobile service hits me up for the monthly fee. This saves you the trouble of opening, reading, thinking about, filing or shredding, and getting paper cuts from any of the many documents generated by accounts and transactions. As a bonus, it’s pretty common for service providers to offer discounts to customers who can conduct business without all the slices of dead trees, like banks offering to waive monthly fees if you sign up to get your paycheck direct deposited.
If you call, be aware that the person on the other end is almost certainly going to end up reading the web page to you. This scores high on lazy, but kinda low in terms of good uses of tax dollars.
The easiest way to make the transition is to check each bill that comes in for the details. Look for words like paperless, go green and online. If you don’t see anything like that, call them up and ask if they are working on it. Many of them can do the switch-over for you or at least get the process rolling. Don’t forget to ask for discounts and special offers for folks who make the switch.
Shade your hot spots
Cooling a hot house can be a very expensive habit, using a load of power and, in the case of evaporative cooling, a great deal of water. It’s also an uphill battle if you’re going to keep living in the high desert during a decades-long, severe drought in a century of temperature increases. Besides, modern construction methods just don’t offer the same cave-like cool of real adobe and stucco. The fastest, easiest way to dodge the afternoon heat is with shade, and that goes for your house too. Sun shade cloths are inexpensive, lightweight, easy to install and can make a significant reduction in the therms soaking into your home during those hot afternoons.
Generally, you’re going to want to shade the west side of your house. Even installing some reflective film on your west-facing windows can make a big difference. If you get hooked on beating the burn with passive cooling, check out this great publication from the EPA about Urban Heat Islands: 1.usa.gov/1zCGJ7n. You can get shade cloth in finished shapes with grommets or rolls of unfinished material from any Ace or True Value shop in town.
Air dry some laundry
We’ve been trained by the appliance industry that washers and dryers operate in pairs, like a Sith Lord and apprentice. In fact, there are some things that benefit greatly from not going in the dryer, and because we live in the desert, these things can be dried as fast or faster without pushing any buttons. Anything made of cotton will last much, much longer and stay in better condition if you air dry it instead of tumbling it. According to a study published by the American Chemical Society, heat drying cotton creates cracks in the fibers, reducing their strength by 25 percent and eventually causes them to fail. This is why jeans and t-shirts gradually become softer and then start developing holes with repeated laps through the laundry room. Towels get shaggy and threadbare.
The lazy way to skip all that is to just put your cotton items on hangers as they come out of the washer and hang them up to dry, indoors or out. Later, just transfer all the hangers into your closet, and you’ve put away all that laundry with no effort at all. As a bonus, sunlight is a disinfectant that’s more effective than bleach, killing all kinds of microbes and germs—so if you can hang things up to dry outside, all the better. Your favorite jeans and concert t-shirts will thank you.