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It's not easy being green

No plastic bags? OK. But no bottled water? Come on.

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I do my part for the planet: I recycle, and I've been known to bring a canvas bag to the grocery store. Yet I'm starting to find all these messages on greening hard to take.

The advice is often impractical. For instance, I should walk, bike, or take the bus to work. Sounds great in a perfect world, but my job requires trips to a city 70 miles away, a compromise for my two-career family. I'd drive a hybrid car, but they're still a bit pricey for the likes of young professionals such as me. I'd ride light-rail, if they'd build it, and if cities offered reliable public transportation, I'd be there.

Article after article says to unplug everything because chargers and outlets suck power, even when they're not being used. But many appliances, like alarm clocks, need to be reset every time they are plugged back in – and if you don't keep cellphones charged, you risk the battery dying just when you need it most. When I bought those energy-saving compact fluorescent light bulbs, I read on the box that the bulb might interfere with my cellphone reception. Sure enough, with a new bulb in my desk lamp, I couldn't take important calls. Out the bulb went, and back went an old-fashioned, regular bulb.

In Madison, there's a movement to outlaw plastic grocery bags in retail stores and bottled water at public events. I get it about the plastic bags, but let me get this straight: I am not supposed to purchase water at summer festivals? Why not outlaw all other beverages, or, for that matter, festivals? Maybe we should all just huddle around the light of a candle, using as little energy as we possibly can. OK, so maybe we won't go that far. I suppose I'll just try to remember to bring a thermos on my next outing.


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