Before working at Bluegrass Greensource, I truly felt I was doing my part in reducing my carbon footprint and I encouraged my family to do the same. We recycled our paper, glass and cans every week. We used our reusable grocery bags — as much as we could actually remember to bring them into the store. We tried to reduce our waste by using reusable containers instead of plastic food storage bags. We used some green products like environmental friendly laundry detergent and cleaners. We even programmed our thermostat for when we weren’t at home. All of this made me feel like I was really doing something for the environment.
Then I started working at Bluegrass Greensource.
It was intimidating to think of what I may be doing wrong and not doing enough of. The day before I officially started, I remember wondering what I should wear? Will everyone be wearing hemp clothing and Birkenstocks? Will everyone be a vegetarian and only eat organic food and drive electric cars?
Luckily, Executive Director Amy Sohner eased my nerves. She said, “we encourage people to make small changes, not restructure their whole lives. Every little bit helps the environment. Be realistic in what you can do.” Wow, what a relief!
With that message, I have been motivated to step up my efforts. This summer, my husband and I installed a rain barrel at our home. Ironically, it stopped raining soon after, but no matter, we have used what water we have captured to save our flower boxes.
Next spring, I will look into adding some native plants to our landscape. I like the idea that they need fewer fertilizers and pesticides to grow and thrive. Plus, their water needs are more compatible with the local climate.
Inside our home, we’ve made more small changes. Before starting at BGGS, I thought FOG was suspended water in the atmosphere that made driving difficult. I didn’t know it really stood for Fats, Oils, and Grease and the picture above shows the effect it has on our pipes and drains.
Imagine what all your neighbors might be pouring down their drains. Can you envision the cumulative impact in the pipes on your street? My disgust has motivated me to encourage everyone I know to put a can with a lid under the sink to collect their FOG and keep it out of the drain.
Speaking of the community, I never really noticed storm drains like the one shown here until I started working for Greensource. And now I see them everywhere! I see some painted, some not. Some filled with trash, some with leaves.
Do you know where all the trash in the storm drains goes? To our local streams. Think of what an impact we could have on the quality of our water and streams if we all took responsibility for our own litter and pick it up when we see litter from others. Do you know that if everyone in Lexington committed to picking up two pieces of litter per day, we would have 610,978 fewer pieces of litter in our area each day?
My family and I will never be Ed Begley Jr. and live completely off the grid. That’s just not realistic for us. I do know that every day we are taking steps, small steps, to be kinder to our environment. I know that in my lifetime, I will make a difference, one step at a time, and I will have passed this commitment on to my children.
If you are interested in making small green changes in your life, contact Bluegrass Greensource to learn more at 859-266-1572 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chris Clabes is the development and public relations coordinator at Bluegrass Greensource. Before joining Greensource, Chris worked as a consultant for numerous nonprofit organizations across the state, including the formation of Kentucky Philanthropy Initiative and Gov. Beshear’s Commission on Philanthropy. She was Kentucky 4-H Foundation’s executive director and served as the director of finance for the National Association of Home Builders’ Political Action Committee in Washington, D.C. She is a graduate of the University of Kentucky.
This article appeared in KY Forward on October 10, 2013.