In Minnesota, we are having a never-ending winter this year.  It’s May 3 and has been snowing off-and-on today… thankfully it’s not sticking, but definitely cold and dreary.  We had a taste of the 70s last week, several days of no coats and everyone rushing to be outside, but not this week.  We are used to getting some spring-y, balmy days by April, so there are a lot of crabby and complaining folks out there.  Radio stations playing Christmas music to make a point!  We want our daffodils and sunshine, and we want them now!

As we wait for green, we did have a little excitement on our block this week (think Nerdy Environmental Excitement…).  We finally got one of these:

recycle

Yes, the neighborhood forums were all excited because we got our new One-Sort Recycling bins! (Hey, we know how to have fun!).  Previously, we had squat rectangular bins that we had to sort our recycling into– separate brown paper grocery bags with plastics, glass, metals, newspapers, office papers and flattened cardboard.  With the new bin, we just toss everything in, willy-nilly, and the city collects and sorts the recycling.

Now, sorting our own recycling wasn’t that big of a deal, but it was a chore  I don’t mind giving up.  Apparently, the city will create more jobs with this new method, and it will increase the amount of recycling that gets done.  How nice to have a win-win situation.

In case you havn’t guessed, I’m one of those green nerdy types.  I’m currently re-reading a favorite book:

no impact

This book chronicles author Colin Beavan’s year of trying to make as little impact on the environment as he could, which he did in 2007 along with his wife and 2-year old daughter.  They did this in several stages, increasing in difficulty as they went.  They attempted to eat locally (food grown within 250 miles of their New York City apartment), make no trash, use no carbon-based forms of transportation (no elevators, cars, subways, planes or trains, which meant walking and biking), throw out their TV, buy nothing new, and even use no electricity for part of the year– a tricky feat in the heart of the city!  The book covers the trials and tribulations of that year, and most importantly, attempts to explore the question:  does the way we are living now as Americans actually make us happier?  And if the answer is no, then what would make us happier?  How would we live if that was our goal?

I discovered Colin Beavan back in 2007, when he was living that year and blogging about it.  While I’m not an extremist, a lot of what he talks about appeals to me.  I don’t like the way our country uses so many resources, I’m afraid about the future, I worry about our health as humans on this planet.  I’m willing to explore and make changes.  I appreciate that he did this project and explored these issues… the more we learn and question and become aware, the better things will get.  So I believe.

An entertaining documentary was made about the Beavan family during their year– No Impact Man.  A fun watch, currently on Netflix.

A lot of people still poo-poo the idea of making any of these kinds of changes.  Global warming is still a concept that some choose to deny (“snowing in May… that’s not global WARMING, right?”).  But I like Beavan’s underlying question– if living this high-consumer lifestyle isn’t actually making us happy, then what would?  It’s a question worth exploring.