Christmas Trees: Real vs. Fake

Every year my husband and I debate whether we should break down and buy an artificial tree or continue to make the trek to a tree farm to cut down a living tree. Real tree has won out so far. But even though the smell of pine is lovely, part of me is filled with guilt about the waste of all those living trees. Wouldn’t it better to get an artificial one that lasts for years?

Well according to a Ellipsos, a company dedicated to sustainable development, natural is the better option with respect to the impacts on climate change and resource depletion. Most fake trees are made with polyvinyl chloride (or PVC, otherwise known as vinyl), one of the most environmentally offensive forms of non-renewable, petroleum-derived plastic. Several known carcinogens, including dioxin, ethylene dichloride and vinyl chloride, are generated during the production of PVC, polluting neighborhoods located near factory sites (mostly in China).

Natural trees can be a big problem for towns and cities that aren’t prepared for the amount of trees being discarded. However, many cities and towns collect trees and recycle them into mulch. Continue reading “Christmas Trees: Real vs. Fake”

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5 Tips for a Greener Holiday Season

I am not referring to those folks who live in a no snow zone. I am talking about having an environmentally friendly holiday. The holidays are a time of family, food, and thankfulness. Unfortunately, they are also a time of waste. In North America we are consumers of everything and events like Black Friday seem to make over-consumption and greed part of the holidays.

I am not suggesting that you shouldn’t gift-give with your loved ones, but perhaps there are ways that we can cut down on how much we give and consume, and reduce the carbon footprint we leave behind. Here are some tips to have a greener holiday season.

1. Buy fewer gifts. When I was a kid, we got one gift from my parents. And we were really excited about it! Now, my children receive multiple gifts from each relative, and my house feels like the inside of a Toys R Us. And my son soon becomes bored and is looking for the next gift. So this year we have asked for donations to their college fund instead of another Lego set. Continue reading “5 Tips for a Greener Holiday Season”

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10 Simple Things You Can Do to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

Reducing your carbon footprint depends largely on using less carbon-producing energy. Even little actions can add up to create a worthwhile environmental benefit.

Here are 10 easy ways you can reduce your carbon footprint at home. There is literally no reason that almost anyone cannot take these simple, energy-saving steps.

1) Set your refrigerator temperature at 36° to 38° and your freezer at 0° to 5°. They will use less energy when you reduce the differential between the temperature of the room and the temperature set point inside the refrigerator and freezer.

2) Clean the lint filter in your dryer after every load so that it uses less energy.

3) Use a microwave oven instead of a conventional oven or cook top when possible to conserve energy when cooking. Savings are particularly striking when reheating food or liquids.  Continue reading “10 Simple Things You Can Do to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint”

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Going Green: Actions (and Cash) Speak Louder Than Words

When it comes to going green, do you follow through on good intentions?

People talk a lot about living a greener lifestyle, but when the time comes to actually go green, most people seem to be commitment-phobic. The problem is that most normal folks are not yet willing to pay a bit more to lower their carbon footprints.

Recent car-buying behavior is telling. A USA Today/Gallup Poll surveyed car buyers and found that 35% said they would “strongly consider” buying a hybrid car. But how many actually bought one? Only 4.3%. What is the reason? Almost certainly it is the other kind of green: money.

A Ford Escape hybrid that gets 32 miles per gallon is priced at $30,825, but the non-hybrid version netting only an average of 23 miles per gallon is available for as little as $23,225 (that ‘s stripped, not equipped). Saving $1000 per year on gas still requires about 7 years to earn back the cost premium for the hybrid. Most consumers won’t fork over that much extra for a hybrid, preferring to pay more for gas but quite a bit less for the car.

This is just a guess on my part, but I think gasoline prices would need to be about $6 per gallon or more to push a significant number of car buyers toward the hybrid. What do you think?

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Why I Don’t Buy Carbon Offsets and Why You Shouldn’t Either

How to go green in the best way is a question many serious-minded people ask themselves. Green living habits and environmentally friendly practices are worthwhile and should be encouraged.

Finding ways to reduce, reuse, and recycle are the cornerstones of a greener lifestyle, as is attempting to repair any damage done to the environment by our lifestyles. It is the latter goal that has given rise to the proliferation of carbon offsets.

Carbon offsets have become part of the current green lingo. In broadest terms, a carbon offset is a payment made to compensate for carbon emissions. In principle, this payment is directed toward an action or technology that precisely reverses the carbon emissions caused by something done by an individual. For example, a 500-mile flight on a Boeing 737 airplane produces a relatively well-defined  amount of emissions. Divide that amount by the number of passengers, and you can calculate the greenhouse gas contribution by each individual on that plane. Continue reading “Why I Don’t Buy Carbon Offsets and Why You Shouldn’t Either”

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