Years ago I remember national campaigns to get people to quit smoking. Sure there were compelling medical reasons to quit smoking. But what really made people quit in my opinion is that it became "uncool" to smoke as well. Today, Going Green" is cool, but I sometimes think it's equated with "buying" green only. I think that a lot of bologna and Gong Green has been hijacked by many companies looking to make a buck off of you buying something.
With that in mind I wanted to make it clear why going green is not just a fad and not about purchasing, but something that needs to be done if we are to maintain our life styles. Here are some facts about commodities like food, agricultural raw materials, metals and energy that may startle you or help persuade you to begin taking the green movement seriously.
The Imperatives behind Going Green
- Prices of commodities from 1900 to 2000 were declining.
- But beginning in 2000, price increases have erased 100 years of that decline.
- 3 billion new middle-class consumers will make their presence felt in the next 20 years.
- The global car fleet will almost doube to 1.7 billion vehicles by 2030.
- In India, caloric intake per person will rise by 20 percent.
- In China, per capita meat consumption could increase by 60 percent a year.
- China will add the equivalent of 2.5 Chicago's in terms of floor space each year. India is close behind
In the past, we have been able to produce enough resources to meet the demand on common commodities. What's changed now is that global warming is having an adverse effect. Most scientists believe that we have to keep temperature rises below 2 degree Celsius or or face catastrophic effects. Even is you think that global warming is nonsense, where is it written that to maintain our lifesytle you have to waste water, electricity, food, and just consume until you
It's also getting hard to supply the common commodities to keep up with global demand. Water shortages are taking their toll and are coming front and center as critical resources. Remember that 70 percent of water is consumed by agriculture while energy production consumes another 12 percent.
1. Save energy
- Change your thermostat a few degrees lower in the winter and a few degrees higher in the summer to save on heating and cooling costs.
- Install compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) where they are needed- when your older incandescent bulbs burn out and only in places where lights are used for a long time. Please don't throw all of your incandescent bulbs away and run out to buy CFLs. Use the incandescents, but switch those security and porch lights that stay on all night to CFLs.
- Unplug appliances when you're not using them. Or, use a "smart" power strip that senses when appliances are off and cuts "phantom" or "vampire" energy use. Note your Flat Screen TV is a real energy hog.
- Wash clothes in cold water whenever possible. As much as 85 percent of the energy used to machine-wash clothes goes to heating the water. Wash at night after peak power periods so you can save money and not stress the power grid.
- Use a drying rack or clothesline to save the energy otherwise used during machine drying. A lot of delicate clothes will last longer this way too.
2. Save water to save money.
- Take shorter showers to reduce water use. This will lower your water and heating bills too.
- Install a low-flow showerhead. They don't cost much, and the water and energy savings can quickly pay back your investment.
- Make sure you have a faucet aerator on each faucet. These inexpensive appliances conserve heat and water, while keeping water pressure high.
- Plant drought-tolerant native plants and grass in your garden. Many plants need minimal watering. Call your State or County to find out which occur naturally in your area.
3. Less gas = more money (and better health!).
- Walk or bike to work. This saves on gas and parking costs while improving your cardiovascular health and reducing your risk of obesity.
- Consider telecommuting if you live far from your work. Or move closer. Even if this means paying more rent, it could save you money in the long term.
- Lobby your local government to increase spending on sidewalks and bike lanes. With little cost, these improvements can pay huge dividends in bettering your health and reducing traffic.
4. Eat smart
- If you eat meat, add one meatless meal a week. Meat costs a lot and it's even more expensive when you consider the related environmental and health costs to raise livestock.
- Buy locally raised, humane, and organic meat, eggs, and dairy whenever you can. Purchasing from local farmers keeps money in the local economy and cuts down on transporting food to market.Watch videos about why local food and sustainable seafood are so great.
- Whatever your diet, eat low on the food chain. This is especially true for seafood. Swordfish and tuna are high on the food chain so they concentrate things like mercury in their flesh.
5. Skip the bottled water
- Use a water filter to purify tap water instead of buying bottled water. Not only is bottled water expensive, but it generates large amounts of plastic that ends up in our landfills and oceans.
- Bring a reusable water bottle, preferably aluminum rather than plastic, with you when traveling or at work.
6. Think before you buy.
- Go online to find new or gently used products. Whether you've just moved or are looking to redecorate, consider a service like craigslist or FreeSharing to track down furniture, appliances, and other items cheaply or for free.
- Check out garage sales, thrift stores, and consignment shops for furniture, clothing and other everyday items. Repurpose your furniture.
- Borrow or rent instead of buying.
- Borrow from libraries instead of buying personal books and movies. This saves money, not to mention the ink and paper that goes into printing new books.
- Share power tools and other appliances or just rent them.
- Get to know your neighbors while cutting down on the number of things cluttering your closet or garage.
- Buy in bulk. Purchasing food from bulk bins can save money and packaging.
- Wear clothes that don't need to be dry-cleaned. This saves money and cuts down on toxic chemical use.
- Invest in high-quality, long-lasting products. You might pay more now, but you'll be happy when you don't have to replace items as frequently (and this means less waste!).
- Keep electronics out of the trash.
- Keep your cell phones, computers, and other electronics as long as possible.
- Donate or recycle them responsibly when the time comes. E-waste contains mercury and other toxics and is a growing environmental problem.
- Do you really need three computers?
- Recycle your cell phone.
- Ask your local government to set up an electronics recycling and hazardous waste collection event.
7. Make your own cleaning supplies.