ISSUE 121 ISSN 1712-468

We shall never understand the natural environment until we see it as a living organism. Land can be healthy or sick, fertile or barren, rich or poor, lovingly nurtured or bled white.

Paul Brooks
The Pursuit of Wilderness, 1971

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This Week´s Inspiration
I'll Have That Green Please!
Green Relating to or being an environmentalist political movement; concerned with or supporting environmentalism; tending to preserve environmental quality, as by being recyclable, biodegradable, or nonpolluting

What does living on purpose have to do with being green?

We are all part of our environment. That´s something we cannot avoid.

Do we want to live in a healthy, sustainable environment? Through simple everyday choices, each of us can participate to make a difference.

Let me offer specific context to this discussion.

  • Some extremists believe we should go back to living in the woods and abandon all modern conveniences. That is not going to happen.
  • Others would change nothing.
  • I suspect our reality is somewhere in between.

I live in British Columbia, Canada, where the environment is top of mind.
My background includes growing up on a dairy farm. I have a diploma in Agricultural Nutrition and Genetics and worked as an animal feed and crop specialist.

There are many myths and false information about the green movement.
I´ll mention some of them here and suggest some easy actions we can all consider in the near future.

The US and Canada are the number one and number two worst offenders in the environmental-footprint game. We consume and pollute more per capita than any other countries in the world. Oddly, individuals in developing countries like China and India pollute less, mainly because a large percentage of the population ride bikes and have very limited means.

Let´s understand the definitions.
This information is not intended to be all-inclusive but to get everyone thinking about impact.

  • A carbon footprint is the total amount of greenhouse gas produced to directly and indirectly support human activities, usually expressed in equivalent tons of carbon dioxide (CO2).
  • Renewable energy effectively uses natural resources such as sunlight (solar), wind power, water (hydropower), tides, geothermal heat, biomass, and biofuels. There is an ongoing debate about whether nuclear power is renewable but it does present an alternative to other limited resources. In 2006, about 18% of the world´s total energy consumption came from renewable sources. Technology is just now focusing on those opportunities.
  • Off-the-grid or off-grid refers to living in a self-sufficient manner, without reliance on one or more public utilities.

Completely off-grid homes are independent—they do not rely on sewer, natural gas, or the electrical power grid. A true off-the-grid house can operate completely independent of all traditional public utilities services.

The off-grid idea has proved of enduring interest to architects.

In spite of all the information provided by the media, there is still much misinformation out there. Here are some facts and observations to consider.

  • There has been significant promotion of hybrid-powered vehicles. Most individuals don´t realize the total carbon footprint for a hybrid is, in some cases, greater than a nonhybrid vehicle. One of the reasons is the extra energy required to manufacture and then dispose of the special batteries hybrids need. And some hybrid cars achieve less gas mileage than traditional vehicles in comparable market segments (sedans, SUVs, and so on).
  • Ethanol has been in the news the past weeks because people have finally figured out that when you use corn for fuel, you take it out of the food chain. The downstream effect increases food prices in many other commodity groups such as chicken, beef, and pork. It is estimated that it takes over a gallon of fuel to produce a gallon of ethanol (from corn). Last time I checked my math, those figures produced a net loss. Recently, several government agencies have considered banning the sale of ethanol as a statement of public policy, and yet other government agencies are mandating ethanol as part of the fuel mix. Stay tuned. The debate over ethanol fuel has just begun.
  • Some groups make statements like don´t eat meat or dairy because it is an inefficient use of resources. Unfortunately, the facts do not add up. In the grain industry, there is a product called feed grain—fit to feed animals, not humans. The land that grows that grain cannot support crops for human consumption. Many pastures (grasslands) can be grazed only by cattle, which are a source of food. I admit that from a nutrition point of view, I have a bias. Sourcing all our protein from plants is not practical or palatable.
  • Banning certain products without a viable alternative is not socially or economically responsible. The move to ban plastic bags in supermarkets is gaining momentum. Most agree that waste and landfill pollution must be addressed. Suggestions include purchasing fabric bags to replace the plastic alternative.

My wife Brenda observed that was not a practical option for us because she usually buys 20 to 30 bags of groceries during a regular shop. I could not imagine storing that many fabric bags at our home or in the car. One expert in recycling suggests we need to look at it from the opposite perspective—the development of technology to recycle plastic bags is as important as banning them.

The Future is Here
With the cost of energy going up, new technology and alternatives soon will be viable for everyone to consider.

  • A local company has just invented a florescent light that will save 60% over traditional tubes.
  • LED lights use 10% of the energy that incandescent lights do.
  • There is technology in its early stages that helps gasoline produce 500 to 1000 mpg.
  • BC and California recently signed an agreement to create the first hydrogen highway. That refers to the hydrogen fuel cell that has H2O (water) as its emission.

Going Green, One Step at a Time
Several simple steps can reduce your carbon footprint and, in most cases, save you money.

  • Wasting energy is one of the worst offenders.
    • Turn off lights when they are not in use.
    • Unplug cell phone and other chargers from the wall when not in use. They are what the industry calls power vampires, drawing energy when not connected to an appliance.
    • Turn off your vehicle if you are just idling.
  • Replace the lightbulbs in your home with high-efficiency bulbs.
  • Save yourself money by ensuring you have properly insulated your home and office. Many building code standards have been upgraded over the past few years. We personally converted to a heat pump exchanger to heat and cool our home last year.
  • Replace single-pane windows with double- or triple-pane options.
  • When purchasing appliances, pay attention to their energy consumption ratings.
    • What appliance uses the most energy in your home? Your fridge—it runs 24/7. In some cases, you can pay for a new appliance in just a few years with the energy savings from the upgrade.
  • Recycle and reuse everything you can. We are always taking unused possessions—from clothes to toys—to a local charity to be dispersed throughout the world.

I admit that even a few years ago, green was not on my radar.

I am not an alarmist like some global warming advocates, but that doesn´t mean I don´t do my part. In fact, the majority of our family´s own green initiatives have directly benefited us by saving us money, being more convenient, or enabling us to enjoy an improved and healthier environment.

There are hundreds of Action Steps you can consider.

If each of us does even a little, it will add up to a lot.

Choose to be informed and start taking Action Steps now.

This Week´s Action Steps

Going Green!

  1. For most of us, going green does not and will not mean a different lifestyle. It means a new approach to living.
  1. For the mainstream individual, green means achieving similar results with a smaller carbon footprint.
  1. On a scale of 1 to 10, how informed are you about living green? What do you need to learn to make better green decisions?
  1. Understand these terms: carbon footprint, qualifiers for renewable energy, sustainability, off-the-grid, plus other new green terms.
  1. What steps have you taken to live greener in the past year?
  1. What actions do you plan to phase in over the next year to reduce your carbon footprint—switching to more efficient lights, recycling, and so on?
  1. Living a healthy life includes what we eat, buy, and place on our bodies. If possible, your choices should be natural products.
  1. I would argue that living green means to live on purpose. Use My Source EXPERIENCE JournalTM to help you live your life on purpose.
  1. As part of the clarification process, we recommend four specific assessments.
  • To understand how your level of self-worth is affecting your success, complete the Self-Worth Inventory.
  1. Decide to be part of the solution. Don´t discount what you can do—no matter how small it may seem. It will be a step in the right direction.

Until next time, keep Living On Purpose!.

Ken Keis

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