So you want to be green?
by Scott Anthony
It may be trendy and seem a bit self-important, but the buzz phrase for the new millenium,‘being green’ has taken root and is growing. In explanation, being ‘green’ has nothing to do with a color of paint, Kermit, unless you’re building an eco-sensitive barn for your tractor and you want to paint it with a product that is environmentally responsible.
In the very old days, people lived in caves. Think about it; no roof to worry about replacing, no siding or windows to lose heat through. Landscaping was a non-issue and you never had to paint, unless you had a thing for wildlife art. The temperature underground averages about 56 degrees year round and a small fire in that cave, with walls that are many feet thick, would heat it up nicely. That’s low-impact living, alright.
Alas, it is our failure as humans to always want more. And so as we began to assemble grass, mud bricks and logs to shelter us, erecting structures to thwart the elements, we created a problem in the process.
According to a website called, The Union of Concerned Scientists, the average American’s carbon footprint is about 21 tons. A carbon footprint is the measure of the amount of carbon dioxide - the major man-made global warming greenhouse gas - that goes into the atmosphere as you go about your daily life. To understand what this means, it is approximately the same amount of carbon dioxide emitted each year by three new cars. With over 320 million people living in the United States, that’s a lot of excess gas, amigo.
So if you are you wandering around your euro-manse feeling guilty about contributing to global warming, take heart, I am here to remind you that there are easy, meaningful things you can do to reduce your carbon footprint and save some dough as well.
Replace your incandescent bulbs with some of those LED units and you’ll save money every time throw the switch. Just three bulbs replaced with the energy-efficient ones can save about $60 a year. Low Flow shower heads save water, and if you are resistant because you think the aren’t powerful enough, try one out anyway, they’re inexpensive and they’ll soon pay for themselves. You can find them at nearly any hardware store.
And while your at the store, pick up a plastic rain barrel and have your Uncle Herman cut one of your downspouts so that it fits directly into the barrel. Prop the barrel up on some landscaping bricks so you can add a spigot on the bottom and you’re all set. I do it and I use the water for my tomato plants.
When your major appliance finally goes south for the last time, look for a new one with the ‘Energy Star’ rating, and if you’re shopping for a new car, nearly all the major manufacturers have Hybrid models now that are not much more than a regular, less efficient car of similar style. The next time you go grocery shopping, pick up a few of the thick plastic, reusable shopping bags that most stores offer. ‘Phantom power’ is the juice your DVR and TV use, even when they aren’t turned on. Installing a switchable multi-plug power bar will nip that in the bud.
I can see a few of you out there cringing at all of this save-the-planet stuff, and that’s ok. All of us becoming ‘carbon neutral’ isn’t likely to happen anyway so those of you who insist on driving your Hummer down to the end of your driveway to get the mail can relax knowing that a few of us are willing to cut back on our consumption so that maybe the planet will have a chance. It’s still the only one we have.