Sustainability checklists: Recognizing how green you already are

(By Matthew Hornung, Wellesley High School Green Team Member, grade 9)

It caught my attention.

At one of Quentin Prideaux’s recent Climate Reality Project seminars co-hosted by Sustainable Wellesley, I picked up a “Residential Sustainability Checklist.”  As I scanned down the items on the checklist, I realized that my family had already completed most of them, so I went home and finished it off to turn it back in.

As I later learned, the checklist I completed for my family is part of a series Sustainable Wellesley created that share actionable items residence can do, going up in level from Sapling, to Tree, and so on.  With each new level, the requirements become more stringent and have a stronger positive impact on the environment.  For example, to qualify for the Sapling level (the first), one must only observe their home’s energy use, but for the Redwood level (the third), one must sign up for Power to Choose 25% green electricity.

Russell Hornung helps his family observe its home energy use.

Russell Hornung helps his family observe its home energy use.

When I approached them, my family was happy to try and finish the set of checklists.  The first one was a breeze; most of the items we’d naturally been doing for a while, like consolidating car trips and using full loads in the dishwasher.  The second level, Tree, has also come pretty easily; now we’re only waiting to schedule a home energy audit with the Municipal Light Plant.  We plan to have all three existing levels finished by the end of the academic year.

“The checklists are really good, because they make you think about different ways to conserve energy,” says Jere Hornung (my dad). “It made our family think about and start using ways of saving energy that we might never have thought of.”

For Wellesley residents not old enough to own a home, there is also a checklist option to help the town become greener.

Called the Kids’ Sustainability Checklist, it involves ways kids can “green” their lifestyle.  These include habitually recycling, turning off lights in vacant rooms and eating healthier.  Kai Wilson, a sixth grader at Wellesley Middle School, was the first to complete it.

“Our family had already done some of the residential checklists,” says Wilson, “and then we found out about this one, which I thought was great, since it gave me an opportunity to save just that much more energy.”

Wilson says that although his habits and lifestyle already qualified for most of the requirements on the checklist, one of the initiatives he hadn’t heard about until he started working on the checklist was that of trying to remove “vampires,” or electrical power users that consume energy even when turned to the “off” setting.  He says that now that he’s completed the checklist, one of his personal goals in “greening” his lifestyle is taking shorter showers.

Wilson recommends the Kids’ Sustainability Checklist to others, saying that the document does a great job achieving its goal of achieving non-controversial awareness about helping to save energy and money in a green way.  He looks forward to future opportunities to help the town become a greener community.

 

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