With Earth Day 2010 approaching fast have you asked yourself what you can do to make a difference towards making our world a cleaner and safer place? I want to share a few insights I have had recently about the power of slow change. You know one person at a time change, grassroots change it is going on more and more in these challenging times on both sides of the political spectrum. Of course one individual can’t solve the worlds problems but that does not mean that one can’t live an examined life and work towards making small improvements in our own day to day lives surrounding how you impact the world around you via your everyday attitudes and activities. Making small and incremental steps towards a cleaner more efficient life is critical to our economic, social, and political future on the planet. It is our children’s future we are playing with and there are many scientists who believe we are dangerously close to the precipice surrounding emissions based climate change. We all know the age old battle cry for the environment , but this is different because it suggests that there are modifications we can make in our day to day lives that can change as well as reward us in the wallet which is usually pretty motivating to the average American.
As you probably know each one of us has a carbon footprint that is dictated by almost everything we do whether it be powering and heating our homes, transportation, shopping choices and day to day living. We drive to school, to work, to the store. We turn up the heat when we are cold and we blast the AC when we are hot. We forget to turn off the water, a light or fail to put the can in the recycling bin. We are busy people, how we are we supposed to effect change in these hard times? How can I remember to turn off the lights. Our prevailing attitudes surrounding these every day items is indicative of our precocious entitlements surrounding energy consumption. Just by modifying a few simple things and changing our entitlements one will be on the way to doing their part to effect climate change making our world a safer and healthier place. This Earth Day I challenge you to do five things to make a difference with climate change for the future generations. Some good friends of mine founded and operate the Climate Change Leadership Institue. There goal and mission is expansive and states :
“The Climate Change Leadership Institute is founded on a most challenging premise – that the United States of America can correct her mistakes and be at the forefront in achieving a sustainable way of life on earth. The act of taking responsibility is at the heart of the change we seek given that human-induced global warming poses a growing threat to the world and the US, the lead perpetrator of the problem, is only beginning to change. When we compel our Nation to fully own up to this injustice and take unparalleled measures of climate restoration and restitution, genuine security and widespread prosperity will emerge. As we revolutionize our economy – to be powered completely with clean energy and state of the art energy efficiency with a premium on conservation – we will once again be a beacon of light to the world”
The key to their mission is that each of us must take responsibility and thus action to correct the problem that we have created. For most this means taking some simple and small steps. Here are some of the things I recommend to begin living more efficiently. Own up and do your part.
1. Reduce, Re-use, Recycle: Most cities have recycling programs, eliminate waste by recycling pop bottles, cans glass, plastics, paper and cardboard. Composting is a great solution for organic waste and easy to do providing great natural food for your garden.
2. Turn Down your heater and AC: Heat and Air Conditioning are one of the largest energy drains on our homes. One can be wise about the use of heat and AC by buying a programmable thermostat and optimizing your heating use. Blasting the furnace for three hours while know one is home is wasteful. Same holds true for AC . a little management here will go along way towards the greening of your home and putting some green in your pocket. Wrap your hot water heater in a reflective insulating, lower the heat 5 degrees and save a little each month forever.
3. Change your light bulbs to CFL’s: Compact fluorescent lights may cost a little more up front but look what you are getting for just a little bit more. CFL’s are four times more efficient and last up to ten times as long as a traditional bulb. A 22 watt CFL has the same light output as a 100watt traditional bulb. Replacing a single incandescent bulb with a CFL will keep a half-ton of CO2 out of the atmosphere over the life of the bulb. If everyone in the U.S. used energy-efficient lighting, we could retire 90 average size power plants. Saving electricity reduces CO2 emissions, sulfur oxide and high-level nuclear waste. Oh yeah and your power bill goes down, thanks for the green
4. Drive Less, Drive Smart: What I mean here is although we all need to drive, planning your drive to combine a few tasks rather than making separate trips for each task can save you a ton in gas and CO2 emissions. If you have the option, try riding your bike a few times a week to work, the market, or your yoga class. Its good for you and its good for the environment.If you buy a new car, try to improve your efficiency by 20 or 30 percent. Use public transportation whenever possible.
5. Buy Energy Wise : The next time you have to replace a fridge, washer, dryer or any other appliance, buy Energy Wise technologies to modernize your home. The homebuyer of the future will look for these things in the same way they would have a roof checked. The cost of energy is only going one way long term and that is up. We may not be far from solar powering our homes this would demand energy wise appliances.I hope to power mine this way someday soon.
6. Lights Out: It can be easy to blow off turning out that one light or fan or appliance when leaving the house. Our cheap energy economy of the past afforded us the luxury of leaving things on and not worrying about. America’s phantom energy costs could power the entire country of Australia. Remember to try and be conscious taking the time to make sure that all unnecessary lights are turned out. Take the time to turn out the lights, If you don’t the power company might do it for you in the future while repairing black outs.
7. Phantom Power Suck: Did you know that even though it is turned off, if it is plugged in you are leaking energy. Those walls full of plugs for your modem, cell phone, computer, alarm clock, coffee pot, hair dryer, stereo, cable, TV along with the four hundred and fifty various chargers plugged into the walls around your house are robbing you of energy and I mean a whole lot. The US Department of Energy sates that “75% of the electricity used to power home electronics is consumed while the product is turned off . This can be avoided by unplugging the power or using a power strip”. Nationally the current phantom use in the US makes up nearly 6% of all of our energy consumption. This is pure waste and laziness.
8. Save Water: Fresh and potable water is key to all life on the planet. While probably the most widely know eco issue water should be treated as a resource more precious than gold. Can you imagine paying five dollars a gallon for gasoline, check the price of bottled water , if sold by the barrel it would be more valuable than oil. Turn the water off when brushing your teeth, wear your pants twice before washing, take shorter showers and buy a few rain barrel or two or three for the downspouts to water your landscape in the summer months.
9. Buy a Reusable Water Bottle: 30 million plastic bottles end up in the landfill every day! There are a hole lot of really cool durable and sustainable reusable water bottles out there, make a statement and say no to plastic water bottles. With a reusable bottle from Sigg or Klean Kanteen you can fill up for free. We would never need to make a new plastic bottle if every bottle in circulation were recycled every time it were used. Come on folks do the math here.
10. Buy Local : We have many buzz words floating around in the world of marketing right now like organic , green , sustainable and Local. This can be confusing as a consumer as marketers often misconstrue or bend the truth. Buying local means supporting local farmers, buying local produce at the farmers market, supporting a locally owned business or charity where you will see the greatest return to your community and your local environment. For every $100 spent at locally owned business, $45 stays in the local economy, creating jobs and expanding your cities tax base. For every $100 spent in a national chain or franchise store, only $14 remains in the local community. Buying local can be fun and it sure is nice to know where your food is coming from when you get to know the farmer who grows it or the local business person who provides it. Try to avoid giant chains and franchises, keep more in your home community and keep your town or city vibrant, unique and alive. Just visit anywhere America and one can see how quicky a Big Box landscape of gigantic proportion can set up destroying that which makes an economy unique. Trading surface local agriculture and business for Wal-Mart super stores is not a give it is a take.
11. Plant a Garden: Nothing is more rewarding than planting a little garden and teaching your family where food really comes from. So often in this world if you ask a child where food comes from they will tell you a store. I am a gardener and I love to grow my own tomatoes and veggies in the summer. We do go to the grocery store just like everyone else, we just try to get as much of our food from the garden and the local farmers and ranchers. Tastes a whole lot better.
12. Go Outdoors: Remember the whole essence of what we are doing here is working to preserve our planet. There is no better way to respect our earth than climbing and delving into the wilderness. Enjoy time outdoors, we live in a blessed and beautiful world. When we have destroyed ourselves through greed and stupidity, she will heal and go forward. We are present only for a mere click of the second’s hand on the geologic time clock. The planet will be fine, how about you and yours. Log off, unplug and get outside, you can only save it only if you love it.
13. Teach your kids and neighbors good habits: You can not do anything about how you lived yesterday but it is your responsibility to change how you consume energy in the future. If we do not change our attitudes and entitlements surrounding energy use we are doomed to failure. I think there is a quote in that somewhere. Making a game out of being environmentally conscious can be fun for everyone. Working to set energy use standards and forcing yourself to audit and work to improve incrementally can make a huge difference.
I have started on my journey and I am loving it. I have added three 65 gallon water barrels ( Look here buy local ) to reduce water use, wrapped the water heater, shortened my shower by a few minutes, and reprogrammed the thermostat. I take a quick walk around the house before I leave to make sure the lights are out. I am planting a garden , composting all organic waste, Recycling everything possible, biking occasionally to work and I am on my way to making a difference with your help it could be a measurable one.
I hope you will join me in my quest to make simple changes in life to reduce the energy we use working to simplify our lives knowing that the world is being pressured by the increasing demands of our human populace. We need to work towards living lives of quality not quantity. This is not some fad or trend, this is an “inconvenient truth”. Whether you believe in climate change or not, you still stand to benefit a great deal from implementing and teaching your kids, friends and neighbors some fundamentals about walking softly on this planet. Take time out this year on Earth Day to have a talk with your kids,parents and friends about why taking these steps is important for their future. Plant a tree , spin a knob, turn a dial, shut a door and plant a garden this year and take the first step to making the world a cooler place to be.
Sangre de Cristo Mountain Works