March 03, 2008

7 More tips to environmental goodness

This is the second in a series of posts about environmental goodness.

In my last post I talked about 7 tips you can apply now that will cost nothing, save you money and help to make you more environmentally friendly.

In this post I will be talking about things you can purchase as replacements for existing items and be more environmentally friendly at the same time. Unlike the last lot of tips, these will probably end up costing you money, but at the same time you did save a lot of money from following the tips I gave you in the last article didn't you..?

1) Get a single serve or environmental kettle:
There are several companies out there that produce single serving kettles. i.e. appliances that will heat only the amount of water needed to make a cup of tea or coffee. Or you can try the eco-kettle which holds water in a reservoir and allows you to only boil as much as you need. It is estimated that if everyone in the UK only boiled as much water as they needed we could run the streets lights for free on the saved energy, and the carbon emissions would be far, far lower.

2) Buy organic produce farmed locally:
Buying locally produced food will reduce the cost of shipping goods to you both in a literal sense and in a carbon emissions sense. If you're buying food that needs to travel 10 or 15 miles to get to you then it will emit less carbon into the atmosphere than flying a load of bananas from the West Indies or Africa. In the UK one of the best national organic food producers is Able & Cole, but you may be able to find organic producers locally who sell in your high street. In the US there is a network of locally grown food producers that does pretty much the same thing. Organic food is generally more expensive than non-organic so make sure you budget appropriately.

3) Buy a dual fuel or hybrid car:
If you are at the point of replacing your car look at some of the dual fuel, electric or hybrid cars that are out there. Or look to cars that can run on LPG (Autogas). LPG cars are popular at the moment in numerous countries including Australia, Belgium, Bulgaria, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Italy, Korea, The Netherlands, Poland, Serbia and Turkey. Autogas is also available at larger petrol stations in Czech Republic, France and United Kingdom in the larger urban areas. The former Soviet republic of Armenia may, however, be the world leader in Autogas use. Autogas is between 30% and 40% cheaper than regular petrol mainly due to the lower taxes imposed by governments. It also reduces CO2 emissions by 20% compared with petrol. Many local and federal authorities have converted their vehicles to run on Autogas (and as this usually includes public transport vehicles such as buses it does make them a better environmental choice than cars).

4) Replace your bulbs with long life low emission bulbs and buy a set of timers for lights so they turn off at a certain hour everyday:
This has two benefits: a) From a security point of view it ensures you are never left with a house that appears to be in total darkness, and b) environmentally this will keep lights that you don't need off and uses less electricity through the lower wattage. The UK government is planning to prevent the sale of conventional bulbs by 2011 to cut carbon dioxide emissions and is consequently encouraging owners to purchase replacement low energy bulbs. I personally have low energy bulbs all over the house.
There are a couple of things to watch with these, though
1) They don't work particularly well with dimmer switches
2) they have been linked to skin rashes in photo sensitive people
3) They can trigger epilepsy like symptoms in sufferers.

5) Use Safety razors rather than disposable or electric ones.
Those expensive, flash multi blade things that are advertised by David Beckham, Thierry Henry and Tiger Woods are actually over engineered, expensive and wasteful. Use an old fashioned safety razor. There are lots out there and the cost savings are tremendous (As are the shaves!). A typical purchase and years supply of David Beckhams razor will cost you upwards of $100, but for that you can buy a complete safety razor and refills that will last much longer. Ten replacement blades for a safety razor cost $6.00 (60c per blade) whereas 8 replacement 5 blade units cost $25 ($3+ per unit). In addition disposal is easier with far less plastic and non recyclable waste. Couple that with a complete shaving set based on original soaps rather than aerosol based foams and gels and you're well on your way to an environmentally safe shave.

6) Cycle to work
I have a friend who was challenged by Billy Bragg (yes, that Billy Bragg) to get rid of his car and use public transport or cycle to work for 1 year. He promptly sold his car and cycled to work. In fact he cycled everywhere. He said it was fantastic as he got so much fitter. He was, of course, also at the mercy of public transport, but he considered this a small price to pay for helping the environment. When I commuted for a living I used to take the train. However it proved to be unreliable, uncomfortable and relatively expensive. But nowadays the trains (particularly where I live in England) are much better then they were - although they're still quite expensive. Good bikes are not cheap, but they are certainly a lot cheaper than cars and, of course, heaps more environmentally friendly.

7) Don't fly on Holiday. Take a boat or a train
Not easy if you live somewhere like England and want to visit somewhere like Hawaii (But then again you have to ask why would you want to go to Hawaii when there are so many nice places a lot closer to home?). Try to think environmental when it comes to your travel plans.

In the final entry in this series I will talk about some major modifications you can make to your home to reduce your carbon footprint and help the environment.

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Original posting at Musings Cafe


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