Many of us are concerned about the environment but don't know where to begin. Others have just jumped in, adopting many green practices in order to live more in harmony with nature. I've been planning to share some of these stories, to inform and inspire our readers. Talking with Susan Agate and Mike Slutsky is a great way to kick off the series. Welcome to OpEdNews. I've known the two of you for over thirty years. You've always been environmentally conscious. What got you started, way back when?
Susan: It's difficult for me to remember how I originally became interested in environmental concerns. I do remember writing a letter to the editor of our local paper about recycling. That was back in the early '70s, when I was in college. Not many people were recycling then. Sometimes I tell my students that when I was their age, no one had recycling bins, or knew what recycling was, and they are amazed. We used to have to drive our recyclables to a recycling center - no one picked it up in front of your house.
When Diet For a Small Planet came out in 1971, it made a lot of sense to me that we should not be eating high on the food chain. We were struggling graduate students at the time, so eating less animal protein and more plant protein made sense economically as well.
We were supporters of Sierra Club and later the Nature Conservancy. In recent years, I've become more concerned about the environment and perhaps more knowledgeable about the problems. So as I've learned something I've tried to put that knowledge into practice in my life. For example, when we were remodeling our kitchen, before there were actually green architects and renovation companies, we chose to put in a bamboo floor. Our designer didn't know anything about bamboo, which grows back in three years, so I had to find a company and pass the information on to her. There were only two colors of bamboo at that time, so we designed the kitchen around the color of the floor. The same thing happened when we asked our painters to use clay paint. They had never heard of it. We sent them to a store we'd found and they got it and started painting. We also wanted compact florescent light bulbs, which were hard to find in those days. We had to order them ourselves.