Some of the most popular and enduring (mis)conceptions regarding “green” technologies are the result of the media’s incorrigible addiction to hype and entertainment.
Images of someone installing low energy domestic appliances or simply shopping online are nowhere near as distracting as some borderline barking mad hippy showing off his solar powered tepee surrounded by several acres of home grown organic food and an equally vast underground heat exchanger, not to mention the natural reed bed sewage system. Oh, and not forgetting either, the banks of solar panels mounted on a home-made automatic tracking device constructed from recycled car tires?
No wonder most “normal” folk switch off and conclude that none of this is for them. Which is a shame, because contrary to popular opinion it is not necessary to own half of Kansas in order to make use of green technologies. And whilst we’re at it, can we also drop the “alternative” label with its overtones of half-assed and inconvenient?
Many modern eco-tech devices are as cutting edge and efficient as any mainstream rival, if not more so in some cases, and will quite often save more money than their conventional counterparts as well as going easy on the environment. Contemporary LED lighting anyone? Looks fabulous, uses a small fraction of the energy that conventional light bulbs consume, and actually saves a great deal of money on account of being so much cheaper to run.
And the point I am finally getting around to is this: you don’t actually need wide open green spaces in order to practice green living (though in a grand gesture of irony I’ve only gone and attached a photo of a green space).
Much of the energy waste in the world today is accounted for by inefficient appliances and travel, both of which can be addressed without recourse to so much as a window box.
But why cut down on energy consumption and travel anyway? Simple really; the less energy we consume (and moving people and products around also wastes epic amounts of energy) the less we plunder our planet’s resources and the less we pay it back in pollution (think principally carbon dioxide, but every other waste counts too). And why should we want to do that? Again, it’s a no-brainer; we live on this planet, if we screw it up we have no place else to go.
We tend to use energy for heating, lighting, running domestic appliances and getting around. Each of these can be reduced by anyone – even if they live in a city apartment. The need for heating (and cooling) can be massively reduced by the simple expedient of installing modern insulation products. That’s it – one off investment and endless payback. Lighting is similarly straightforward – invest in high quality LED light spot lights (which will cost a bit, but not as much as you would otherwise have paid in electricity bills over the next year or two). That’s that done – sit back, admire the pretty lights and feel suitably smug.
Most domestic appliances can be replaced by more efficient versions, sometimes also giving a surprisingly quick return on investment. Have you any idea how bad most conventional electrical kettles are? Still got any CRT monitors or TVs? How about that old dishwasher or washing machine? You get the idea. The cost of replacing some of this stuff can look somewhat daunting until you calculate the savings to be gained by doing so.
Reducing travel is also rather easier to affect than many might suppose. Obviously if it’s possible to work from home via a computer then use the opportunity to do so occasionally. But you can also influence how much traveling others do. If you buy groceries and other goods online then you save your own personal transport costs (which can mount up), but more importantly, the more people who do the same, the less overall traffic (and fuel consumption) there is. A single delivery van can deliver stuff to dozens of households vastly more efficiently and cost effectively than having every householder go out shopping.
Another way to affect travel costs is to identify where products are sourced. Why buy apples from a different continent when there are commercial orchards in your own locality? Force suppliers to cut down on the insanity of shipping stuff around the globe by buying whatever alternatives are located closest. An even better solution where food is concerned is of course to grow your own.
Admittedly, if you live in an apartment then the harvest from your window box isn’t going to exactly see you thru the winter. But even if you only have access to a small garden or allotment then it’s astounding how much food you can in fact grow yourself. Saving you much money, hopefully getting some exercise and enjoyment out of the process and providing another small sanctuary for the many other creatures that live alongside us.