Isn’t it expensive?
Do I really need to?
Will it help?
Isn’t recycling enough?
Those are all questions that I hear constantly. And they have a lot of validity. In today’s economy, no one wants any “solutions” that cost more money than they save. And, when people are struggling to pay their mortgages, it’s easy to wonder if “going green” is really a necessity. The helpfulness of doing so is mostly a philosophical question, but it needs an answer as well. And, yes, recycling is a quick and easy way to make a big difference.
The purpose of this quick article is two-fold. First to tell you why. Why I put myself out there to help others live a more sustainable lifestyle and why I believe it to be necessary. Second, I’d like to answer those questions.
At the risk of sounding like a cliché, I do this for the children. We have three wonderful kids and would love to have the opportunity to drive them crazy in the future by spoiling their children. But I don’t just do this for our children. I do it for yours and for those without a voice in the world arena. For those who live in areas blighted by environmental disasters or areas too poor to develop their way out of unsustainability. I do this because it does matter. It needs to be done, I can do it, therefore I am doing it. That’s my belief.
The individual answers to the questions posed above are often as unique as those asking the questions. However, I feel that I can give some answers to those that have universal applicability.
Is it expensive? No, it doesn’t have to be. Depending on where you live and a myriad of other factors doing a large project like solar electricity can be very expensive and have a long payoff. However, most often, the most beneficial actions are not expensive at all. A home energy audit ranges from $120-400 and produces a detailed report that can outline the easiest steps first and an estimate of their cost. In my experience, one of the simplest actions to take is to convert your toilets to a dual-flush system. The kit is available at any home hardware store and ranges from $15-30 each. They take about 20 minutes to install and the savings range from 500-5,000 gallons a year. After that, take a look at your hot water heater. An insulating blanket on a tank water heater is very cheap and helps lock in the heat that your system worked so hard to put into that tank. Try insulating the pipes coming from your water heater. Look into increasing the insulation in your attic. All of these are very cost effective. Making your home more efficient has a very quick return on investment (ROI).
Another point on cost… I’m a big proponent of what I call “stacking.” Maybe you’ve heard of this in reference to paying down debt. You pay the small ones first, then roll that payment into the next higher bill, etc., etc. Here it can be used to help pay for bigger and better projects. Insulating your home and saving money on your water bill creates more income to use for other things. If we were to take a percentage of that saved income, we can use it for more expensive projects. Windows are often a large heat sink for a home. Installing efficient windows is very cost effective, but also tends to have a large upfront cost. However, using the savings from other projects makes replacing windows much easier. So, remember the concept of “stacking.”
(This is article 1 of 4… keep coming back for the rest)