The Cost of Conservation RTP

Recycle GuyIt seems everywhere you look these days, someone is touting a new easy way to be green. These pushes to be green seem to crop up once every 15 years or so. Just think back to the early 90’s when Captain Planet ruled the airwaves and everyone wanted to be an eco-warrior. I even had a Little Archie comic where he started recycling at his school and roller-bladed as many places as he could. McDonald’s gave out tree seedlings with their meals. I got paid for my cans. Then it disappeared for a bit it seemed.

There were those of us that never backed down from being “tree-huggers” but most everyone else dropped it like it was a passing trend. This green trend, probably to do with the plethora of information (and misinformation) at our fingertips, seems to be taking a stronger hold.

While many people seem to really want to make a difference, there are still lots of people that feel that certain things are more of a headache than it’s worth. Remembering to carry extra bags to the store is something everyone tries to do and most fail at. A clip on bag helps. Buying 100% recycled toilet paper is a little more expensive and a bit unrealistic during these hard economic times. Contributing to the WWF or the NWF is not an option for those pinching pennies.

Besides this, there are the actual impacts of what some supposed “green” ideas actually have on the environment. Certain things which save trees, like online bill pay, seem like an easy way to be green and you do save a lot of trees, but using the internet does leave a carbon footprint. Google was very upfront about how much energy their searches consume, but look at the numbers and think of how many thousands of searches you have done. It’s not much, but it adds up quickly. So what can you do about that?

I am not saying throw your computer out by ANY means… I practically live on mine… but there are options. Love Google? Try Blackle. Same Google search power, just dark. Believe it or not, having a black website saves energy. It is SUPER negligible, but again, when there are literally millions of searches a second going on, it adds up pretty fast.

Another green idea that seems to be a bit misguided are green rallies. I am all for getting people together to educate. I love that sort of thing. But come on guys. Paper flyers everywhere, disposable goods… honestly, the amount of trash produced is a bit ironic. Keep it small. It’s more intimate and usually makes more of an impact.

Recycling has it’s merits as well, but be warned: just because it seems recyclable doesn’t mean it is. While recycling is up over all, many people are required to sort through the recyclables to take out things you can’t recycle but are in there anyway. There is also the economic view point of it not being very economically sound since the demand for recyclable materials is down. Shame. While this would deter most people (more and more work) there is hope. If it’s greasy and food covered, throw it in your food waste. It will compost. Bills and the like, still recyclable.

So what is the point of this post? It is just to make you aware. Think about things. You may mean well, but may do some harm in the process. You shouldn’t go green to brag about what you have done and get credit for it, it is a real lifestyle choice. You just should always know that EVERYTHING we do has an impact, and that is okay. Don’t stress on it too much. A lot of the impact we do have when living green is something nature can work with and use for something else. It’s a balance. It will work out. It’s just nice knowing you did what you could. Every little bit DOES count and it adds up quickly.

Originally posted at Potspoon! Keep up with Marizela and her love of all things science-related (with occasional pictures of her doggy) at her personal site, Potspoon!

7 Responses to The Cost of Conservation RTP
  1. [email protected]
    July 19, 2009 | 4:43 pm

    You’re totally right! Most people don’t want to do too much – because it takes too much to accomplish. If they could just do the small things on a daily basis, they would add up to larger changes over time. And who knows…they may actually expand their efforts!

  2. Angela
    July 21, 2009 | 9:38 pm

    Baby steps.
    We are not doing as much as I’d like, but we’ve made tremendous strides since this time last year. Our county has begun a recycling program (yea!!) and I was surprised to find out pizza boxes don’t qualify too! ;) We have a compost pile; we garden; we support local farmers. But this didn’t happen overnight, and we’re still working to get where we want to be.

  3. Morgan
    July 22, 2009 | 10:51 pm

    Even Hollywood actors/danger artists are trying to walk the green talk:

  4. ecogirl
    August 5, 2009 | 12:34 am

    When you read all of the articles on the internet regarding going green it seems like such a lifestyle change and the up-front costs of changing old bulbs to CFL bulbs and the like are not doable for some people in a recession. There are small changes every one can make to help the planet such as re using items before they are recycled. Re using can eliminate waste and the energy required to recycle items. Help the environment and yur pocketbook

  5. Morgan
    August 5, 2009 | 9:34 am

    Yes, not only are you helping your pocketbook, you are making your life less complicated, freeing up time to do what you want. All the convenience in our consumer culture ultimately leads to less convenience (more effort to throw away or recycle) and more clutter filling our creative space and crowding out nature.

  6. Robin
    August 16, 2009 | 11:20 am

    Anything worth while takes time……lots of time. Being green is, I believe in its third stage. And though most don’t want to believe or accept it, being “Green” is still more or less a fad. In the past it was more expensive not only on the individual but on the city / state as well. Technology has caught up with our need to be green and we have learned from our past mistakes. Solar and turban power are finally at a stage where they are not only beneficial but profitable as well. We were one of the few homes back in the 70s who plopped solar panels atop our home. Back then we had to have an electric pump to pump the water to the panels to be heated, that was then returned to a holding tank in the basement, which was monitored by an electric thermal heat monitor which would kick the system on when more hot water was needed or when the tank water cooled down. We were paying out 500 a month on our electric. When we removed the panels, due to an addition, our electric bill dropped to more that half that…about 150. Needless to say we didn’t replace them. But now times have changed and technology has improved. We love our tankless system that produces only what we need when we need it, but we have been looking again at solar systems. I have a sister who is totally off the grid. They have solar system, which creates electricity, which is embedded in the roof and can’t be seen from yard or street, and a geothermal pump for all their hot water and heating needs. Our city holding station tried to get into the recycling spirit a good 5 years or more ago. At first very few house holds were complying. Then as the years passed and recycling was again “cool”, the holding station became overwhelmed with the high volume of recycled trash. It was at such a high cost to the city, that they imposed a tax and a dumping fee to cover the cost. It was always at a cost to the city to recycle but now it was eating big into the funds. It is still at a cost to the city but taxes and fees help to lower that expense. I think people are eager to take part, but for the majority it must be convenient, thrifty and profitable…..there must be more to be gained that some abstract futuristic life enhancing promise

  7. Suzanne Griscom
    August 28, 2009 | 1:46 pm

    “I earned an extra entry with today’s newsletter.”