Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Going as Green as One Can (Comfortably)

This article:

about Coca-Cola setting a goal to recycle 100% of their plastic bottles made me think about my own green habits.

Things I've done in the last year to lower my energy use.

1. I've installed compact fluorescent bulbs in every capable light fixture in my house. I've been told that this will reduce energy consumption drastically. Since we never got a power bill in this house before we put in the bulbs, I can't know for sure, but I believe the box's promises.

2. I bought this composter and I bought a lawn mower with a bag on it. We put all of our household food scrap waste, and some paper, into this thing along with a good bit of our yard waste. It compresses it down, heats it up, kills all the weed seeds, and gives us beautiful compost, a natural fertilizer. It keeps the food scraps out of the landfill, keeps us from having to put the yard waste in plastic bags or out to the curb for the city to pick up, and come Spring, it will keep us from buying any kind of potting soil or fertilizer for the garden that we want to plant. The composter is sold by Green Culture, and is called the Cascadia. It is made from 100% recycled plastic, and took me about 3 minutes to assemble. If you live in the country or the suburbs, you can use one of these. If you do it right, it doesn't smell. They have ones you can have in the city, and even counter-top ones for apartment dwellers. Composting is something I see as making sense. My grandparents always had one by their garden. We cut a hole out of a milk jug and just put all the food scraps in there as we clean and wash dishes. It's amazing just how much food we throw away when you start to see it collected. It's also amazing how wasteful it is to bag your yard clippings up and throw them away. The garbage has to transport them to the landfill, where they won't decay quickly because of anaerobic decomposition. This is one little thing that we've done.
3. Bought a house closer to work. Granted, this option isn't available to many people due to crazy prices for houses. But, in my case, I paid a little more money to have a home less than a mile from where I work. My friend Tim Boisvert decided to live in an apartment downtown for more money rather than living in the suburbs for less. The decrease in fuel costs, coupled with more free time and an increased quality of life from not having to commute, more than balance the extra $200-$300 he pays for living in downtown Raleigh. This option is not open to everyone. But if you can make it work, do it.
4. Carpooling. If I'm going somewhere now, I see if I can take someone with me. If I head into Florence, I ask friends and colleagues if there's anything we can pick up for them at the places we're going. Anything to save someone some time, and save them some gas. Florence is 23 miles each way. That's 3 gallons of gas round-trip in my car.
5. Buy local. Instead of driving the 46 miles into Florence, I see how much it costs to buy something here at our local stores. The sales tax stays in the county, the dollars go to Hartsville's economy, and it saves us a trip. We paid an extra $15 for a box springs here vs. Sam's Club in Florence. And then we only had to drive 3/4 mile to get it home vs. 23 miles on top of the car.
6. Get all the junk out of your trunk. No sense paying to haul around all that crap in your car that you'll never use. I probably removed 30 lbs of junk from my car when I moved from New Orleans.
7. Order things online and use the USPS. The Postal Service is already headed to your house everyday, in a highly efficient distribution network. UPS for residential delivery is a waste of gas.
8. No more bottled water! Bottled water is awesome, don't get me wrong. But the idea of paying for bottled water is just ridiculous. If it costs $6 for a gallon of it, that's twice gasoline. Your tap water costs about $4 for a 1,000 gallons of water. You could fill up a 20 oz. bottle a day every day for seventeen and a half years for $2 less. To ship a bottle of Perrier or Evian from France to Chicago uses 2 ozs. of oil (Petroleum).
That's what I'm doing. Here's what I'd like to do, if I had the money.
1. Geothermal Heat Pumps.
2. Solar and Wind Hyrbid Electric Systems.
3. Air Sealing my house.
4. Demand Water Heaters

1 comment:

Tim said...

I love living downtown. As Mac noted, my gas consumption is way down from when I was living in Utah, I'm able to sleep later and get home sooner at night, and I'm close enough that I can walk to great restaurants. It's roughly a 4-minute drive to work. Since our office is on NC State's campus, I get to ride the city bus for free, so when I taking the bus I ride one that stops right in front of my apartment and takes me to work.

And my rent downtown is still cheaper than my mortgage in Utah, where I still had to drive 20 minutes to get to work each day.

I love living downtown.