Today is Blog Action Day, and the topic is climate change. It's a huge topic, with significant impact, usually presented in either intensively data-driven or doom-and-gloom scenarios. Last year, I attended a fascinating series of interdisciplinary presentations at Colorado State University on climate change. There were weather folks and poets and social scientists. Solving, or, rather, effectively responding to, what's going on with global climate change will require communication and coordination among lots of different people who know lots of different things. It's interesting to read down the list of disciplines of people involved with the CSU programs.
At a personal level, I'm tempted to believe that anything I do as an individual will have such a small effect that it's inconsequential.
However, there are things I can do, and have been doing. Each of them has enhanced my life. I have to trust that there are beneficial results for the planet as well.
Over the past three years, my daughter and I have transitioned to biking almost everywhere we need to go in the city. We do pick up the car keys when the streets are icy, it's pouring rain or snowing hard, there is so much wind that forward motion becomes impossible, or we need to travel after about 10 p.m. It's amazing how often we can bike. This has brought us both a lot of joy. Also more muscle and lung power.
The photo above shows that bike's first day in our household. It has since been outfitted with a back rack and a folding basket, has taught us how to change flat bike tires and lubricate chains, has logged a lot of miles, and has improved the general climate around our house on a daily basis.
We are eating more locally produced food. Wow, does it taste good. We already ate low on the processing scale, but this has taken the flavor up several notches. It's also fun to know who is growing what we're eating, and that our small contributions are helping them sustain their independent businesses.
These potatoes (there were about seven varieties) were so simple to cook and tasted divine.
The next actions we take are bigger, but they only peripherally affect
our family's quality of life. So far, these efforts require more work
and cost significantly more than their non-ecologically informed
alternatives, and don't, as far as we know, increase our income at all.
Some businesses, like ours at Nomad Press, need to reach out to communities that are not local. We publish books on traditional and ethnic approaches to knitting. Nomad Press belongs to the Green Press Initiative, and we use recycled paper whenever possible (which is almost always). We also carefully watch other aspects of the requirements of publishing, including minimizing the impacts of transportation.
We've been with Green Press Initiative (GPI) a long time. In our first qualifying book (the revised and expanded edition of Priscilla Gibson-Roberts' Knitting in the Old Way), there's a text statement about GPI on the copyright page. Later, we added the GPI logo in the same location (Priscilla's Spinning in the Old Way and Donna Druchunas' Arctic Lace). Our more recent books (Donna's Ethnic Knitting Discovery and Ethnic Knitting Exploration) have it on their back covers.
I hope some day (soon) the ecologically based actions we take will begin to make sense for our business's financial bottom line—not so much for our sake (although that would be nice) but because if these decisions were easier to implement, more cost-effective, and did increase sales, even more publishers would be inclined to make similar choices.
There are a few rudimentary marketing efforts for green-aware books in place, although they are not yet very high-profile.
Powell's Books has a Green Press section on its website. It's been in existence for several years, but I don't think many people know about it yet. (To locate it, if you don't have that link I just provided: on the main page, scroll to the very bottom and click on the link in tiny type that says "Green Initiatives at Powell's"; on the new page that opens, scroll down to just above the "tell us what you think" box and click on the Green Press Initiative link within the paragraph of text.) To find our books once you are in the Green Press section, go to the categories in the lefthand column, click on "crafts," and discover that three of the four listed titles are ours. (It looks like I need to remind Powell's of two more . . . we could apparently have five out of six entries in the category.)
Here's a brand-new idea that I hope gathers support more quickly: Eco-Libris is coordinating a green-lit awareness campaign called "It's Time for a Green Book: 1 Day, 100 Bloggers, 100 Green Books, 100 Reviews." The reviews will be released on November 10. We shipped off four books to their assigned bloggers yesterday morning.
We do what we can. Our choices, small as they are in the overall picture, may make a difference.
At the very least, these choices feel like the right ones for us to make. We have also signed the 20/20 pledge, and are finding it easy to keep up with the commitment.
Tonight I've ridden my bike to the coffee shop—a local business—to finish this post and work on a book project. It was windy when I left home, but not too windy. It will be dark when I ride back again, but I have good lights. And I might see deer again—in the city—as I did the other day when I rode home from the same coffee shop.*
That's one of the huge benefits of climate change: I have a bike that I love to ride.
(I'm the one on the right, in back. That's my sister on the left, in front, happily on her very own bike.)
* No deer this time. Two foxes, though!