Go Green, Save Green
By Martin Brown
For many years I thought that thinking green was simply beyond my reach. Buy a Prius? But that’s a lot of money, and after five years my Camry is paid off and running great. Go solar? Yikes, that’s even more money. Not to mention that every time you think you’re tuned in and turned on to the latest and greatest technology in solar energy, the field once again reinvents itself and your multi-thousand dollar investment just became obsolete.
So what’s a person on a modest budget to do to make a positive change for the environment and save the earth? After all, I am an American, and the inescapable fact is that we are 5% of the world’s population, but we’re consuming 30% of the world’s resources, and creating 30% of the world’s waste.
Then I realized that I can only do what I can do, and the good news is: that’s a lot.
How to go green and save money
If you tend to be a little less wasteful than the average American, that can add up to substantial savings for your budget, and for the carbon footprint that your lifestyle leaves behind. Here are some simple life changes that you can make starting this very minute:
1. Take a European approach and simply follow some of their behaviors.
For example, whenever it’s a chilly winter’s night, from London to Munich, from Paris to Milan, people first put on a sweater in their homes before thinking about turning up the heat. For the Europeans, fuel— whether for autos or home heating—has never been cheap, and so they are naturally more conservative in its use. Many Americans would do a double take to see a German family wearing turtleneck shirts with a sweater over them inside their homes on a cold night, and sleeping under warm goose down covers. Those same Europeans would be equally surprised to see us wearing loose fitting short sleeve shirts and sleeping under a light cotton quilt on a night when it’s cold outside.
2. When it comes to green, wrapping deserves a bad rap.
Around the home and in our food establishments, America has become the land of the individually-wrapped everything. From sugar packets to a dash of salt or pepper, too many of our preplared foods are pre-packaged, and for one. Then we wonder where those mountains of garbage come from. Remember the old sugar cups, and salt and peppershakers? Ever wonder where they went? Well, they’re alive and well, and living in Europe.
Small things true, but times them all by millions of packages and the damage they can do to our environment is impressive and depressing. In the land of the disposable everything, you can take your own stand against senseless waste. Individual servings are also more expensive than bulk quantities.
Look around your house and see what items are part of a disposable mindset. How about all those water bottles? They’re everywhere we look now; and this is America’s newest ecological catastrophe. We survived drinking water from a tap for generations. If you don’t like the taste or are concerned about the safety of your tap water, get an easy to install water filter. But do it now, and stop creating thousands of more empty plastic bottles that will never actually be recycled.
And while we’re talking about plastic, how about plastic grocery bags, that in a landfill need one thousand years to breakdown? Get cloth grocery bags, or simply put the bags you brought home from the store back into the trunk of your car for your next run to the store.
CFLs, those compact fluorescent lights, are an astounding energy saver. You need to know how to dispose them safely, and that’s a downside. But I can give you a great upside example: in my home our average energy bill dropped 25% when I replaced all our old light bulbs with CFLs. Most amazing is that some of these bulbs are now in their fourth year of service, and I have not replaced a single one.
3. Want to do your wallet and your environment another big favor, ease off the gas pedal.
I’m amazed at how often the same people who complain the most about the cost of a fill-up are also the ones who drive jamming down on the gas and then slamming down on the brake. All this silliness about EPA average miles per gallon ratings on various car models means very little if in truth you have a passion for speeding up, tailgating and then going hard for the brake. Ease up! You’ll save big at the pump, and you’ll help out the cause of clean air everywhere.
The website Earthshare.org has dozens of wonderful, easy to follow, tips for spring 2008 that can turn you into a friend of the environment in no time. while you save some serious coin to boot.
It took us decades to get to this point, and we’re not going to have a healthier Earth overnight. But it can happen in time, and we all can play an important part. As for me, I’ve got wrap this article up, I have a cold water clothes wash that needs my attention, and it’s getting a little chilly in here so I think I’m going to grab a sweater.
Just one final thought for you to ponder: From one end of our solar system to the other ,we have lots of uninhabitable environments. You’d burn up on Mercury, the gas of Venus is deadly, Mars is a barren red dessert, Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune, and Uranus, are gas giants, forget about them, and Pluto is so dismal it got booted out of the family of planets all together. Earth’s a gem beyond anything we fragile humans could have ever imagined or deserved. It’s our garden of delights. Let’s show it the respect this big blue diamond deserves.
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