As Triathletes, we are always trying to become faster and more efficient. Efficiency is the name of the game. How efficient and how fast can I swim so that I’m not exhausted by the time I get on the bike? How much power can I exert on the bike to hold a certain mph, yet keep my HR at a manageable pace? How Aero can I be on the bike? Running is much the same. How do I get in better shape to run faster at a maintainable HR?
I look at Environmental issues in much the same way. Given a situation, what is the most efficient way to handle the need so waste is minimized? It’s hard to beat the efficiency of Nuclear power.
I’ve never been or considered myself to be hardcore about recycling. Though I do try to do my part if the convenience is there. If there are recycling bins, I sort my stuff into the appropriate bin. If not, I’m not likely to haul a bunch of stuff around with me in the car until I find an acceptable place to recycle. I just find a trash can and move on…
So, I’ve been thinking about Earth Day recently…(mainly b/c I’ve received about 500 reminder emails at work). In the United States, Earth Day is celebrated each year on April 22. Earth Day is a day designed to inspire awareness and appreciation for the Earth’s environment. It was founded by U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson as an environmental teach-in in 1970 and is celebrated in many countries every year. Earth Day is celebrated in spring in the Northern Hemisphere and autumn in the Southern Hemisphere. Many communities celebrate Earth Week, an entire week of activities focused on environmental issues.
While reflecting, my thoughts on Earth Day fall into 2 camps
- Recycling is successful if you can make it convenient(efficient). I’ll try to find some good examples.
- Energy efficiency will only be successful if it ends up saving money(efficiency) in a reasonable amount of time.
With that I set out to find easy ways to recycle and ways to do it better. The folks at Whole Foods seem to do a pretty good job. They have recycling bins everywhere. So if you dine in, use the washable plates, if not you can toss just about everything that is biodegradable. And if you aren’t sure what you have, they put some examples behind the Plexiglas….What could be easier than that?
The following are just some of the things that we do, not just because they are energy efficient, but because then tend to cost a heck of a lot less.
Rain Barrel: Holds 65 gallons. We put this under one of the gutter downspouts several years ago during a drought. This made quite a difference in the amount of water used for watering your plants, flowers, etc. You would be amazed out how much water runs off your roof. We have a small townhome, and this entire 65 gallon container will fill up after a good 30 min rain shower. It cost about $75 and was super easy to install.
Fluorescent light bulbs: This is a no brainer. 4 20w fluorescent bulbs vs. 4 100w bulbs saves you nearly $40 with the payoff being only around 6 months. Here is a nifty calculator from Energy Star. We have these all over the house and they work just fine. They may not brighten instantly like traditional bulbs but you really don’t even notice.
Low Flow sink/shower nozzles: I must say that I was skeptical when we first installed these 3 years ago. I thought that the water would just trickle out, but that turned out to not be the case. Actually, you just have smaller holes on the nozzle to allow the water to flow through, so you actually can have higher water pressure coming out of the nozzle. The nozzle for a sink is like $1-2 at the local HW store. Shower nozzles cost anywhere from $15 on up, depending on how nice a nozzle you would like. Either way, they work great.
Space Heater: These little gizmos are super cheap (around $20 – $30) and they can make a huge difference in your heating bill during the winter months. Is it really necessary to keep your entire house at a constant temperature? During the evening while everyone is home, 1 little heater in the main living room area is all that is needed. It’s more comfortable to sleep in the cooler temps so usually no other space heaters are needed. So just heat the rooms that you’re occupying the most.
Floor Fans: Ok, so we got 2 of these little fans because our AC sucks. Our AC cools the downstairs of our small townhome, but leaves a bit to be desired for the upstairs. So instead of buying a new AC unit (because it does work), we place a fan over the floor vent and point the fan up the stairs. Place a similar fan at the top of the stairs in the evening and problem solved (around $20 – $30).
Alternative Transportation: Ok so this isn’t for everyone, but if you live relatively close to work(I have an 18 mile commute), this little bugger saves a lot of $ on gas. This one gets 100MPG, and goes up to 40 miles an hour. I don’t use it as much as I could, but if the weather is nice out, and I’m just going back and forth to work, it’s a blast! So 5 days of commuting to work and back cost less than $5.
Over time you can save a some cash and probably help the environment as well. Piece of cake. You can take that savings and buy a new TRI Bike, Wetsuit, etc….