Small differences you can make

Those who know me well, know that I have very few passions in life. Computers being one, the second being trying to live on this planet with the minimum impact, hopefully leaving more behind than I consume.

Here is a small list of things you can do, today, to be more eco-friendly. I’ll preface this by saying that I’m no hippie, I don’t believe in sacrificing life quality to be eco-friendly. I feel in the 21st century, we need to find a way to achieve both, and use capitalistic economic forces to do so.

Anyway here is my list,

Drive an electric car.

I drive a Tesla Model S. I am lucky to be able to afford one. Actually no, it was a stretch for me too. But, I knew that the money I paid for the car will be put to good use. In a few years, given the current market forces, EVs will be cheaper than ICE vehicles. There are two links I’d like to present here,

a) Debunking the myth that my “coal powered car” pollutes more than an ICE, it does not. .. my Tesla puts less CO2 in the air than a Prius that gets 50mpg, not counting transmission losses (a truck loaded with fuel rolling down the freeway).

b) The subsidies that dirty energy receives, is enough to put solar panels on every american roof in 55 days.

I realize that a Tesla may be very pricey, but consider other alternatives, a Nissan Leaf, or any other hybrid. Ride your bike in the summer, you’ll absolutely love it. Use more public transport, it isn’t as bad as you think, even in America.

Also, driving an EV is awesome. Car drives amazing, and it’s cheaper in the long run.

Reduce or eliminate meat intake.

Over half the global warming gases, especially methane, are emitted by factory farms. Beef especially is a big polluter. I realize we need to eat, and bacon tastes good. But make small changes,

a) Replace beef with chicken,

b) Replace chicken with responsible fishing

c) Go plant based

And if you can’t go 100% vegan, do partial vegetarian. It is good for you, and it doesn’t feel like a huge change. Try Indian food, they have excellent vegetarian choices, you won’t miss meat.

Also, vegetarian diet is not only better for you, it is also cheaper.

Also, if you MUST eat meat, try alternative meats. Like the invasive non-natural species, Asian Carp, Pigs in Florida, etc. They taste better than your typical industrialized farm meats.

Get solar panels.

Solar is the cheapest energy source today — over the lifetime of it’s usage. It makes a ridiculous amount of sense to get solar panels. If you can’t, explore community solar options, and if you can’t do that either, source your energy from green sources.

This option will also save you $, while improving your life.

Say NO to bottled water.

Those plastic bottles are killing our oceans, and all that water has to be transported. The funny thing is, all that water is actually worse in quality than most American cities (not all). Even if you don’t trust your city water, there are ways to clean it locally. Bottled water is a HUGE waste. And reduce plastic usage in general.

Plus you’ll save $ in the long run.

Grow some stuff yourself

Search for how tomatoes are turned red by spraying ethylene. Yeah, nasty! Even at your 100% organic store. Grow them yourself, it’s not hard. Plus they taste ridiculously good if they are not artificial. Also compost if you can. And get rid of that 3 acres of grass.

This also is cheaper than buying them. There are many other things you can grow, blueberries is another good example. Share your ideas for me to learn also :-)

Replace your bulbs with LED

When you turn on a light bulb — yes you are emitting carbon dioxide. Replace it with LED bulbs, they work just as well. Actually they work better. They are not a fire hazard, and they last forever. And they pay for themselves in 1–2 years. That’s a rate of return of 22% annually on your money. Versus 0.001% that Bank of America currently offers.

Replace your HVAC, water heater and fridge

If your water heater, AC or Furnace are > 10 years old, most likely you are burning money by running them. Upgrade to a newer unit, most likely the utility costs savings will pay the unit off in 4–5 years. Fridge pay off takes longer (10ish years), Dryers are pretty damned inefficient, the new washers are very efficient. Also turn that water heater down to 120F.

Hang dry your clothes

This is a great idea in winter. The air is so dry, especially if you have forced heat. Instead of using the dryer, just hang dry the clothes. It bumps up the humidity (bonus), and saves a bunch of cash. Plus the clothes last longer. Win win!

Buy and encourage local

No you don’t want watermelons in winter that taste like plastic anyway and have been flown from God knows where. Buying local means putting money into your community, and it means not transporting stuff over long distances. (Bottled water?)

Turn stuff off

That old VCR in stand by mode? Yeah turn it off. Standby takes a lot of power, once you add all those things in the house.

Insulate your home

Simple tips,

  1. Put a film on windows
  2. Get an energy audit done, seal the drafts
  3. If you cannot spray foam insulation (expensive) cover with rugs
  4. Add storm doors
  5. On a nice day, turn the AC off, and open the windows.
  6. Ensure windows seal shut properly. You can replace the seals very easily yourself, costs very little, and pays for itself in days.
  7. Get new windows if they are really old
  8. Go to your utility room, and feel the pipes or vents. Are they too hot/cold? Insulate them (wrap a simple styrofoam around them is enough). Also if you have hot water pipes going into the garage sink, insulate those too. Use your judgement, don’t set things on fire ;-)

I have employed the above, plus changed my appliances, and I was able to reduce my utility bills by 60%.

Cook at home, and avoid pretentious restaurants with ornamental fires

Cooking at home is great, it tastes far better anyway, and it’s cheaper. But most of all, a lot of pretentious restaurants have a huge ornamental flame outside. Why!? Don’t give them your business. Instead, support the local eco-friendly non-pretentious mom and pop restaurant.

Don’t waste food

We waste an incredible amount of food. Considering what it took to grow it, ship it, package it, it is simply inexcusable. Buy what you need, those expiry dates are not always accurate ;-), and well, eat what you buy. It’s cheaper that way too. The money you save, divert it towards food grown responsibly, so you’ll be eating better and healthier.

Plan for afterlife

Don’t get cremated. And don’t spend a huge amount of money on a fancy burial plot.

Finally, A man walking down the beach saw thousands of starfish brushed ashore. And he was grabbing them one by one, and tossing them back into the sea. Someone asked him, there are thousands of starfish here, how can you possibly make a difference? He picked another one, and tossed it back into the sea, and said, “well it made a difference to that one”.

All these tips, will save you money, and improve your health. Lets do them :-) (and please share any additional tips you may have, thanks!)