This month’s Notes for Earth is the first of our occasional testimonials about improving our recognition of the Seventh UU Principle. Thanks to Cindie Cobb for stepping up first.

John Hilke for WUUC’s Advocates for Social Justice Climate Justice Ministry, Wendy Condrat, Chair.

By Cindie Cobb

I would like to share with you this month some of the steps I have taken so far to live in a more earth friendly sustainable way and reduce my environmental footprint.

When we built our house in 1990, we didn’t have access to the technology, knowledge or means to build as green as we wanted. Since then I have been fortunate to be able to take steps to make green improvements to my house as things wore out, new materials and technology developed over time, and as I could manage. In the 29 years since building the house, I replaced my getting old electric furnace with a heat pump which saves about half of my prior heating electricity usage. When my shake roof needed to be replaced, instead of using cedar shakes which would require replacing again in 15 years or so and would require trees be cut down, or using a petroleum-based composition roof that would also need to be replaced eventually and would not be recyclable, I had a life-time metal roof installed that is completely recyclable. Some years after that project I replaced half of my original carpeting with environmentally friendly sustainable bamboo flooring rather than using hardwood flooring that would have required removal of trees. It’s an ongoing process, I am still saving up to replace the other half of my 29-year-old carpet.
Most of the changes I made over the years were much smaller and cheaper than these bigger projects. Last year I removed the hot tub, saving an additional 35% on my already reduced electricity usage. When I need to drive somewhere I always combine appointments with errands and grocery shopping to reduce my gas usage. I planted lots and lots of trees from the Snohomish Conservation District’s yearly plant sales on my property to reduce my carbon footprint. I replaced light bulbs with energy conserving ones and put in timers to reduce electric use. I started with 2 vegetable beds and eventually put in a 12-bed vegetable garden and fruit trees to grow my own organic produce, which reduces food waste and food transportation energy use. I put in three simple compost bins to compost my kitchen and yard waste instead of letting this material go to landfills where it would create methane gas. I used something called a kil-o-watt to measure how much electricity electronics and appliances were using when they were plugged in even when not being used (my VCR, for example, was using 7 watts of electricity the whole the time it was plugged in). Anything with even a little red light on is using electricity. I try to follow the five Rs of recycling, so things I don’t need any longer recycled to others by listing them for sale or for free on Craigslist or Nextdoor and this spring 29 boxes of stuff was donated to WUUC’s rummage sale (Yeah!).

None of us can do everything but we can all do something.