Green Living. It's Not About a Label.
When many people think about living 'green', they think about the products they use; are they organic, recyclable, "natural", etc? While this is a good start to a more sustainable planet, we need look no further than our lifestyles to find ways to live a greener life with greater impact.
Reduce. Reuse. Recycle
Many people remember this mantra, harking back to their grade-school days, but may not realize that the order in which these ideas are presented was intentional, based on importance.
Reduce- The first thing we can do is to simply reduce our consumption. Living more with less is catching on all over the world, from the popularity of tiny homes, minimalism, buying local foods that do not require packing, to reducing our energy consumption, less is now more.
Reuse- Reusing items for different purposes (repurposing), the same purpose (reusable water bottles/shopping bags), or elements that can be replenished (renewable energy such as solar and wind energy systems) is also critical for a sustainable environment and is becoming mainstream as innovations in this field continue to flourish. A simple search for "repurposed pallets" yields plenty of creative, and even artistic, ways in which this seemingly simple item can be reused for years to come instead of a lifetime in a landfill; Reusable shopping bags and water bottles are another easy way to keep items out of landfills. Furthermore, the increase in efficiency and decrease in cost of solar energy systems has led to an energizing (pun intended) in the renewable energy market; solar energy is renewable (reuse) and affordable, savings consumers money on energy costs.
Recycle- When neither of the previously mentioned options are available, recycling is our last resort; it requires a lot more resources to turn 'used' glass or plastic into a 'usable' product (recycling) than it does to apply the above principles. Not to mention, 'fifty-five percent [of all materials to be recycled] gets buried in landfills, 33 percent gets recycled, and 12.5 percent goes to incinerators," according to the National Solid Waste Management Association.
Practice Green Living
Did You Know?
Leaving the computer running 24/7 uses over 900 kilowatt hours (kWH) at a cost of approximately $120. In comparison, if you were to use the same computer for only 2 hours out of the day, it would use around 70 kWh/year at a cost of under $10. That's over $100 in savings!
Similarly, turning off lights when a room is not in use can save a substantial amount of electricity and money; Implementing energy efficient lighting can reduce your residential energy consumption even further at an even greater savings to you. For those who have trouble remembering to turn off the lights (we understand, we'll just blame it on the children), the use of programmable timed and motion sensing light switches can be a cost effective and easy way to cut down on home energy costs.
Renewable Energy for Your Home or Business
People often feel that the cost of solar energy systems make them beyond their reach or that it's not worth the investment without actually knowing what their cost would be; There is a perceived cost based on outdated information and without looking at the alternative (paying for electricity...forever). Financing through green banks allows individuals to own their solar system with as little as $0 down, replacing their electric bill with a small monthly payment towards their solar system. With the average solar energy systems return on investment (ROI) being around 6-8 years, and average warranties for solar systems at 25 years (they usually last far beyond the warranty), that's over 17 years of FREE energy. In comparison, if you paid $1,200/year in electric bills, you will have paid over $30,000 in electric utility costs over 25 years (assuming the price didn't increase, AT ALL, during those 25 years. HINT: Utility companies increase their rates by 3.5% yearly, on average).