2010 has a distinctly futuristic ring to it, especially if you’re one of those people who say ‘twenty-ten’ rather than the clunkier ‘two thousand and ten.’ Of course, now that we are officially living in the future, there’s no excuse for any decidedly twentieth-century behaviour regarding the environment. Out with the old and in with the recycled!
Start the year by clearing out your wardrobe and cupboards. If you haven’t worn something since Madonna was in a pointy bra, then bag it up and throw it into one of the charity clothing bins around town. Next, make a promise to stop buying stuff you don’t really need. It’s difficult for a Zara-addicted person to admit this, but it’s true: another navy blue V-necked jumper is not going to change your life/make you happier/help you meet ‘the one’/stop your worrying about having eaten too much panettone over Christmas, et cetera. If you can’t bear to part with your favourite clothes, take a course at Usato Bene in Scandicci (www.usatobene.com) and learn how to transform them into patchwork bags. Usato Bene runs four- and six-hour sewing courses, depending on whether you already know your way around a sewing machine or not.
It’s true that it’s difficult to consume less when even the prime minister is telling us to spend our way out of the economic crisis (easy for him to say) and when our standard answer to everything is to buy, buy, buy. Still, do you need to update your mobile phone to the latest model just because it has an inbuilt missile launcher? Do you need a new computer with more memory than the UN, FBI and European Central Bank combined? If your computer is starting to hiccup every now and again, take it to Libera Informatica (www.liberainformatica.it), a Florentine company that specialises in reviving stuttering computers by installing new and, more importantly, free software. Waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE), known as Rifiuti da apparecchiature elettriche ed elettroniche (RAEE) in Italy, is a huge environmental problem. An enormous amount of energy goes into making and then dismantling computers, not to mention the problems posed by the toxic components they contain. If upgrading is necessary, responsibly dispose of your old computer by taking it to one of the many Ecotappe around Florence. Go to www.quadrifoglio.org and click ‘Ecotappe’ on the left for a list. In addition to old electrical appliances, these stations accept old spray cans, empty toner cartridges, flat batteries and out-of-date medicine.
Take the 2010 cloth bag challenge and never leave the house without a re-usable bag tucked in your handbag or pocket. This is my personal resolution this year as I always seem to forget to bring a cloth bag with me on the days when I need one (and I have many, many re-usable bags: my cloth bag addiction almost equals my Zara addiction). In particular, I hearby do solemnly swear to absolutely never again accept one of those tiny and useless plastic bags that aren’t even any good as rubbish bags. If I can remember a whole shopping list for a week in my head, including the brand of shaving foam my other half uses, then I can remember to bring a couple of cloth bags to the supermarket.
Seek out the secret sneaky energy sappers in your house and turn those bad guys off. You can’t unplug your fridge every night, but you can make sure that you never leave the TV and DVD player on standby. Kill energy vampirism by investing in a few power strips for your computer, cell phone charger and other items, then flick the switch when it’s not in use.
Of course, there are many, many other small green changes you can make this year: stop buying bottled water, eat a little less meat, buy local produce-you get the picture.
Green guilt sometimes throws such a shadow that we often forget to give ourselves a pat on the back for all the tiny, environmentally friendly actions we do habitually every day. Feel proud for every envelope you recycle and every drop of tap water you drink. Let’s make 2010 the greenest year ever, one organic Tuscan carrot at a time!