Monday, September 26, 2011
Homemade/DIY projects are fun to do and can be extremely beneficial to the environment. If you are not ready to grow your own food then buy fresh, local, unprocessed foods and cook up a nice recipe. If cooking isn't your forte, then maybe arts and crafts are. Consider giving homemade greeting cards based on your own photography!
The reason that making things yourself is green is because it does not require much economic activity. You are not buying plastic goods produced at an environmentally degrading factory halfway across the world, then paying for pollution causing transport and then retailing costs, both financial and environmental.
Many people like to make household items that the can actually use. For example, instead of buying wasteful paper towels, re-use old rags or make new ones from old garments. Others may consider making their own soap, cleaning solutions, or toothpaste. This saves a TON of money and also limits the damage done by commercial factories.
In general, making or doing things oneself allows us to totally control and thus limit environmental damage. When you buy something at a store, you never truly know all the details regarding where it came from and what methods were used to produce it, including their relevant environmental damage. In addition, it can be extremely satisfying to make something using your own creative meddle. Making something could spark a new hobby or even a potential small business!
Friday, September 23, 2011
running full loads will save both electricity and water.
One simple way that I try to employ and think will be incredibly easy to implement in your lives is taking shorter and less frequent showers. I am not advocating any stop bathing completely and become a dirty hippy, but certainly there are ways to shorten your showers so you can save valuable water. Showers use gallons and gallons of water, and at minimum 25% of the water used is probably wasted. There are water conserving shower-heads available as well, for those who want to take the next step.
Another pet peeve of mine is when people leave the water running while brushing their teeth. This is completely unnecessary and pure laziness. Simply turn of the water while you are brushing, and turn it on and off to rinse off. This also applies to washing dishes by hand, turn off the stream while you are scrubbing!
I truly believe that water will and should become much more expensive in the next years. Whether this is from a "green tax" imposed by governments, which would go to providing for other green pursuits, or if it is due to dwindling resources. Like the bottle deposit, there should be a high cost for wasting water, which will cause people to reconsider their water usage. Punishment, especially financial, works a lot better than rewards. The people who decide to continue wasting should suffer a much larger penalty and some of those dollars diverted to other ways of going green.
Thursday, September 22, 2011
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Monday, September 19, 2011
In our house, there are three places that we put trash: compost, recycling and the trash barrel. (as a last resort) Many things can be composted and recycled, so they do not have to be thrown out. Old food can be composted and used as a fertilizer for you to grow your own food. Almost all paper plastic and metal can be recycled, and since we have single stream recycling, they all go in the same barrel.
Finally, if all else fails and you simply have to throw it away, then do so. Make sure to dispose of electronics properly as chips and batteries contain corrosive ingredients which can hurt the environment substantially, if thrown into a landfill. Also consider donating items of clothing, furniture, and media to thrift shops or onto the free section of Craigslist. This will give others a chance to give your stuff a second lease on life!
As you can see, none of these suggestions will take that much additional time or effort, but I assure you the benefits will be worth the increased effort. Consider the implications of what you do before you do it, that's the motto here at Think Act Prosper.
Saturday, September 17, 2011
Friday, September 16, 2011
Thursday, September 15, 2011
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
Monday, September 12, 2011
Saturday, September 10, 2011
The food industry is one of the things I think about the most, and I am sure will be a common topic on Think, Act, Prosper. So much of the American diet is based on processed foods created by large companies. Even the fruits, vegetables, and meats which should make up the majority of our diets are altered or grown in ways to make them more profitable, and less healthy. I definitely do not advocate becoming a vegetarian, as we are humans, we evolved to eat meat, and I believe meat is one of the best sources of nutrition. I am a follower of the primal food philosophy, which encourages eating WHOLE foods, that have not been processed, cooked simply, avoiding added sugars and grains, which are body is not designed to eat.
Let's think about the food industry from an economic perspective, using the apple as an example. Obviously the most basic way to sell an apple is just raw and fresh, but you are not going to make much money from selling a simple apple. There is a lot of competition and the only way to make more money is to produce them cheaper. Ways to make food cheaper to produce are by producing it in such large quantities, you can not pay attention to individual plants closely. Other techniques are using pesticides to ensure none of your crops are spoiled. This results in apples that are not grown naturally, lets not even mention genetic modifications! All of this is before we even get into processing.
Food companies can only make so much of a profit from selling plain, raw fruit, so how can they increase profits? Their answer is by processing the apples into some other kind of food. Candy coated apples? Great now we can charge $3 an apple instead of 50 cents because we added caramel to the outside. Or maybe we can bake it into a cake using 20 cents of ingredients and sell the cake or pie for $5. Most of the time when they process these foods, they are using the lowest quality (cheapest price) ingredients and are definitely going to add preservatives which are essentially just chemicals. Your body did not develop to eat these chemicals or the ingredients that have to be cooked and processed to be appealing, your body developed to eat APPLES. All of this economic activity is very costly to the environment, shipping the apples across the country to be processed, cooking new things at an industrial scale, all of it just to make more profit off of YOU, at the expense of the planet's resources.
By purchasing the raw, whole ingredients rather than processed food, we are saving the planet, not to mention our health. If you can obtain your food from a local source, that's even better for the planet, and if you can meet your farmer, you can see they are not some faceless corporation existing to serve their shareholders at your expense. Organic products are guaranteed to be completely natural and pesticide free, as they are inspected and required by law. If you find a local farmer who follows these principals, then you do not necessarily need the organic guarantee.
Many people will use the excuse that they are on a budget, to cover up the fact that they are lazy or stuck in their ways. Think about what I said about the processing increasing profits for companies, just because it "seems" cheap to buy these processed foods, think about the implicit costs you are costing your environment as well as your body by eating this crap. If we stop buying it, the companies will stop producing it, each time you buy something, its essentially a "Vote" of confidence.
Wednesday, September 7, 2011
The writing industry uses a ton of paper and by regularly buying books, magazines, videos, DVDs, and CDs you contribute to this process. Luckily there are many ways in which you can get the same items in a much more environmentally friendly manner. We have talked about clothing and furniture purchases, there are many ways to find these items used and at a discount. Yard Sales, Thrift Shops, Craigslist, Ebay, and Amazon are all great sources of used media, so that there is no need to buy a brand new copy at Barnes and Noble.
My favorite way to acquire books and other media is at the library. Libraries are funded with the tax dollars you are paying as a resident of your state, town or county. You simply need to walk into a library with proof of your residence and claim the right to use the service you are paying for. Not only are libraries filled with books, but there are also periodicals, tv shows, and movies in a variety of formats. You are also not limited to the single library in your hometown. Almost all libraries have an agreement with a network of libraries and they can deliver content to your local library within several days.
There are also a number of sites that offer credit for trading books or simply just give them away for free. Check out FreeCycle.com. Also, along the same lines as clothes, thrift shops stock a number of books, although they are not as easy to search for as other options, they generally will run you a dollar or two. Thrift shops are a much superior option for old records/vinyl if thats what you are into.
There are a large number of websites offering used books including the well-known Amazon as well as Ebay, and Half.com, its subsidiary. My favorite is http://www.addall.com/ which allows you to search a large number of vendors at only one site, giving you the best possibly price as well as inventory! Use this as a last resort if you can simply have to OWN the book.
Newspapers may be very quaint and nice to read during your morning routine, but the are especially wasteful. All of this information is stored electronically and can often be accessed for free. I like to check out local news at Boston.com which is a subsidiary of the Boston Globe, but will also check WSJ.com for business news, and various other specific news outlets based on the type of information I am looking for. This means you save money and save the environment.