Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Does Green Attract Green?

As I was biking home from the Clips Film Tour the other night, I couldn't help but pose the question "Does green attract green?"  No, I'm not talking about all the lushness we are experiencing here in Wisconsin after a surplus of 13 inches of rain.  I'm talking about how environmentally conscious circles overlap and sometimes collide.  Although there is a good possibility that cyclists and pedestrians make other healthy environmental choices, don't assume they do.

One of the two compost stations at Clips Film Tour

My volunteer position this year at Clips (a fundraiser for the Wisconsin Bicycle Federation) consisted of trash talking.  Essentially I, along with several amazing volunteers, tried to make the event a zero waste zone.  Paul Abramson, from Zero Waste Planning, taught us how to set up the compost stations and how to educate folks on what can be composted or recycled and what goes to the landfill.  This should all be easy, I thought.  Most of the people at the event were earth loving cyclists--they'll know the drill.  Not so quick.  I was actually quite surprised how many people didn't know what could be composted or recycled.  Instead of waiting for them to leave, so I could fish out their paper plate from the trash bin--something I really don't mind doing--I chose to chat with them about what Madison allows to be composted and why it's so important to compost first, then recycle and finally trash it.  It's kind of like the "three r's--reduce, reuse, recycle".  Not only is it important to know the three words, it's equally important to know which order they go in.  Luckily, everyone was game, and I only had to fish out one plate.

A quick look beyond the actual festival grounds and another green movement was occurring.  You would think that anyone who bikes also bike commutes, but alas, it's not always that way.  I actually know quite a few roadies who wouldn't ever consider using their speed machines as transportation.  Why waste training energy getting from point A to point B if it isn't on the training schedule?  I was delighted, however, for the fourth year in a row, to see a long line of commuters waiting to have a bike valet park their bike for free.  B-cycle (Madison's bike share program) volunteers for this each year.  I've seen the parking area go from half full the first year to overflowing now on the fourth year.  Always a wonderful sight!  No emissions were being spewed out while people waited patiently in line.  People took their waiting time as a chance to catch up with other cyclists vs. going into a ball of road rage.  Just as it should be.

This is just a small section of the bike valet line

So getting back to my initial question...does green attract green?  Thankfully, I am seeing more of a movement in that direction.  I also see we have a long way to go--this includes me.  I can't possibly feel righteous bike commuting everywhere when I still produce a fair amount of waste.  Each year I try to reevaluate what my personal impact is on the environment and try to make a couple small changes.  It's not perfect by any means...but I am trying.  This is just something to ponder as we not only look around us but also within--because change always starts with personal awareness and responsibility.

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