The Right Balance

January 12, 2009 by  
Filed under Featured, Guest Contributors

kc580Mandy and Sean asked a couple of tricky questions when soliciting articles for this website: Are we doing enough?  Are we crazy?  I think the answer to the latter is clear (yes, resoundingly, but not because of their desire to have a “green” wedding), but the former really strikes at the heart of what, to me, sustainability is all about.

The question of “are we doing enough” comes down to choices.  Life is all about choices, of course, but creating a sustainable lifestyle is fraught with high degree of difficulty choices.  For example, when renovating our house, our budget caused my wife and me to choose between installing solar panels and installing windows.  We, um, went with the windows.  We’re also expecting our first baby soon, and just found out that reusable cloth diapers have a slightly greater carbon footprint than disposable diapers do.  What to do?  But you came here for advice on weddings, not the musings of a slightly crazed dad-to-be.

What I’ve seen Mandy and Sean wrestle with is how to respect the environment while simultaneously respecting tradition.  Their desire to have a traditional Southern wedding has created a framework of expectations within which they have to work – some otherwise viable choices are no longer so.  It would be much simpler, cheaper and environmentally friendly to elope and honeymoon at the local CSA farm.  Unfortunately, that doesn’t quite allow Mandy and Sean to celebrate their love and marriage with family and friends in the way that they want.

In a traditional Southern wedding, the wedding party is quite large (question to Mandy and Sean: if I say “cast of thousands”, will that be too much of an exaggeration?).  Mandy has been working extremely hard to figure out how to clothe her bridesmaids.  There are, of course, environmental, social and economic implications to any course of action.  Does she use fair trade cloth, sewn in India, and shipped to Atlanta?  Can she find locally made cloth, a local designer, and a local seamstress?  Is there a “right” balance to be struck?

Unfortunately, I don’t know what that “right” balance is, but I trust in Mandy and Sean to make the right tradeoffs for them.  And, in fact, we must all make the right choices for ourselves in order to create a truly sustainable society.  Just ask me about that as I’m riding my bicycle to Vegas for Sean’s bachelor party.

Idle or turn-off

November 20, 2008 by  
Filed under Ask the Expert

Q: Dear GoGreenInStyle:

I have heard it is bad for your car to turn your car off when you have to run inside somewhere quickly. Is that true?


A: Dear Bill,

It’s a commonly held myth that it’s better to leave your car idling than turn it on and off.  Unless you’re car is really old, turn it off! The wear and tear is negligible. After 10 seconds of leaving your car running, you’ve wasted more fuel than you would have used by turning your car off and on. Furthermore you’re sending a lot of carbon into the environment.

I recommend taking your carbon footprint to better understand the impact of your daily activities on the environment.

For more information visit The Truth about Idling by the Clean Air Campaign.