How green is my valley? I suppose a more important question is, how much greener could my valley be? We recycle paper, glass and cans. I haven’t gotten around to putting in those compact fluorescent light bulbs yet, but I’ve been thinking about it. But I really can’t claim that we’re overly focused on reducing our carbon footprint here at Chez PunditMom.

I’m sure the environment is feeling pretty left out in this presidential campaign. We’re talking a lot about the war, the primary fight, the declining state of our economy. So maybe with Earth Day approaching, now could be a good time to shake the current presidential candidates by the shoulders to get them to pay a bit more attention to our lovely planet. There are plenty of women in the blogosphere who could school the candidates on how to take those first, tiny baby steps toward being a bit more eco-friendly.

Things are getting scary, though, so time really is of the essence when it comes to going green — at least that’s how it’s feeling to me these days. Everyday items we thought were innocuous just aren’t. Those plastic sippy cups? Not so fine. Mommy Off the Record participated in a conference call last month where the dangers of Bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical used in the production of certain plastic products, was discussed:

Researchers have found that the toxic chemical BPA leaches from popular plastic baby bottles when heated, including Avent, Evenflo, Dr. Brown’s and Disney/First Years. Importantly, ninety-five percent of all baby bottles on the market are made with BPA.

BPA, a synthetic sex hormone that mimics estrogen, is used to make hard polycarbonate plastic. Studies conducted on laboratory animals and cell cultures have linked low doses of BPA to obesity, diabetes, thyroid disease, breast cancer, prostate cancer and other illnesses. BPA exposure is widespread and has been found in 95% of Americans tested.

BPA is also found in some toddler sippy cups, polycarbonate water bottles such as some Nalgene bottles, dental sealants, and the linings of many food and beverage cans, including all infant formulas.

I don’t have to worry about baby bottles or sippy cups anymore, but this was a slap in the face that said to me that going green ought to mean more than recycling a few newspapers. Here I thought I was on top of things by giving PunditGirl organic milk and 100% fruit juice as a todder, only to now experience the guilt of her oft-washed sippy cups possibly being cancer-causing conveyances.

Not all politicians are keeping their distance from our environmental concerns, though. Julie Pippert over at Moms Speak Up, writes about up-and-coming Democratic star Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius and her bold efforts at keeping the air clean for her constituents:

Recently, Sebelius threatened to veto a bill that she says puts public health and the environment at risk. She made good on this threat, blocking the bill on March 21, 2008.

The [coal-fired power plant] project [that Sebelius vetoed] is estimated to cost $3.6 billion, and Sunflower [Power Electric Corporation] said it would provide affordable energy for the citizens of Kansas. This did not persuade Sebelius, however, who maintained that the greenhouse gas emissions and pollutants overrode the good gained from the power the plants would produce.

I have a lot of friends in Kansas (Rock Chalk, Jayhawk!) so I was pretty pleased to read that. Maybe other governors will follow her lead?

The adventure of trying to go green can be challenging both at the macro govermental level and when it comes to the minutiae of our daily lives, but at The Simple Family, Rachel is coming up with ideas that I’m embarrassed to say I should have have thought of a long time ago:

Bring your own “to go” container to a restaurant. Easy. Keep it in your purse and when you’re done and doing that “hey waiter, don’t ignore me, you know I want my check” dance, you can grab that enchilada off your plate, put it in the Tupperware container and be done with it. No squeaky Styrofoam boxes, no bags filling up your fridge.

Next time you go out for coffee, get it “for here.” Yes, you can really get coffee in a real coffee cup at the shop, including Starbucks. I went out with my friend Debbie recently and we both thought that my “for here” cup seemed to have a bit more latte in it than a “to go” of the same size. While you’re feeling cool about getting more mocha and saving the environment, you can feel hip and pretend you’re on the set of “Friends.” Did Ross and Rachel ever drink out of paper cups? I don’t think so.

I’ll admit, this last one takes a little bit more effort but is rewarding. Wash your dishes by hand. But, here’s the kicker: Don’t leave the water running. Put the soapy water on one side of the sink and have the other side clean and empty. Once you wash off the dish, place it on the other side. Wait to run the water for rinsing until you have all of your dishes over there. A quick go over with the sprayer and bam, you’ve got clean dishes. Place them in a drying rack and you’ve just saved water and energy!

There are so many things to think about as we approach Earth Day to hold ourselves and our politicians accountable for keeping our planet in good enough shape that our children won’t want to boot us off because we hand it to them in such bad shape.

I think we’re up to the challenge, though, don’t you?

Cross-posted from BlogHer, where PunditMom is a Contributing Editor for Politics & News.