Dear Umbra,

Sorry to crowd your inbox, but I just want to thank you for answering my question about paint disposal … it was very helpful (as always).

I’m SO glad you’re back from being kidnapped. I hope it wasn’t too awful an ordeal.

Thanks again,
Erin
Chicago

Dearest Erin,

Happy New Year! Happy 2008, everybody!

Photo: iStockphoto

I hope 2007 wrapped up nicely for everybody, ended on a good note, with nice friends and/or family, tasty baked goods, sparkly lights, warm tropical breezes, enjoyable movies, and avoidance of any personally unpleasant holiday-related events. I am of course writing this letter prior to the New Year celebration, but by the time it occurs I hope to have made several batches of cookies and two Yule logs (traditional in the pagan chocolate-worship cult), seen old friends, and learned to make those delicious salty-yet-sweet candied nuts. Oh, and given novelty eco-gifts.

That is what I call a good end to the year. Mwah! Kisses to you all, dearest readers.

Of course I am thinking hard about 2008 and the perhaps required words of wisdom or vow of resolution. I mentally scanned my year, and there’s a little something at the end of 2008 that gives me a feeling of hope mixed with despair: the presidential election. Our next president may have better environmental policies. Maybe he or she (!) will mend global relations, take a leadership role in addressing climate change at home and internationally, and encourage Americans to step up and engage with the potential crisis we all face. Can we dare hope? Will sense start to rule our nation, will pollutocrats be made unwelcome in the halls they now haunt? I feel queasy. As Erin says, it’s been too awful an ordeal. I don’t think I’m going to be able to take the suspense. In 2008, I resolve to remain calm and not become nauseated by political anxiety.

There is no revision to my personal resolve to improve my own conservation and assist you all as best I can with your own conservation. I will think hard about what role a humble advice columnist might play in an election year. Your suggestions are, as usual, welcome.

Meanwhile, I do have a little electronic gift for you: a clip-and-save guide to useful online resources for conservation decisions. Here are a few thorough sites for a few basic questions about life; I hope they’ll be helpful in answering the questions I don’t have a chance to answer.

Safer alternatives to toxics in consumer products: Pollution in People

Alternative energy and household efficiency, especially when remodeling: U.S. DOE Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy

Cars: Union of Concerned Scientists, American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, and maybe the Yahoo! Autos Green Center, a collaboration with Environmental Defense, which retired the tailpipe tally.

Eco-groovy gadgets, consumer goods, and trends: Treehugger

Appliances, including computers: Energy Star and ACEEE

Anything plant-related, including pesticides and composting: Search “topic + Cooperative Extension” (+ your state if it needs to be local)

Recycling and disposal: Earth 911 and your local recycling business

Happy New Year!

Synely,
Umbra