10 ways to be green

10 ways to be green


Guest Column
The Saint Petersburg Times
June 1, 2007, June 12, 2007, July 11, 2007

Finally, the late-night shows have stopped making fun of Sheryl Crow’s call for banning too much use of toilet paper. She suggested using only one square per bathroom visit. I say do not give Sheryl a hard time as she is blessed – she needs only one square.  The rest of us think that mega rolls and jumbo packs of tissue paper are the best things invented since sliced bread.

All this is part of the conservation of energy fad.  Let me make something clear – conservation of energy does not work unless it is pricey to be otherwise or if the government mandates it.

Waste of energy is a sign of prosperity. Show me a country with low energy use per capita, I will show you a poor country.

No matter how much we conserve, our energy demand is only going to go up. As an example, look at the new scientific field of nanotechnology where you want to manipulate a material molecule by molecule. Imagine how much energy that would consume on a per unit volume basis.

But since we are all on the conservation of energy bandwagon and everyone is coming up with ten ways to be more green (I wore a green shirt yesterday), here is my list – some serious and some tongue-in-cheek.

  1. Stop circling. Are you a driver who circles around a parking lot to find the nearest spot to your final destination. We should start issuing anti-green tickets to these drivers. You will be able to make a killing at USF where students are always circling around to find a place close to their classroom.
  2. Take cold showers.  All teenagers should be required to take cold showers. Unwanted teenage pregnancy will decrease, and we will have less little ones graded right out their womb with their Apgar and carbon footprint scores.
  3. Impose Gas Guzzling Tax: There should be a minimum allowable weight of driver to weight of the vehicle ratio. A 100 lb driver in an 8000-lb SUV is just plain wrong on so many levels.  An annual tax based on this ratio should be imposed – lower the ratio, higher the taxes.
  4. Use CFL bulbs.  Yes, those compact fluorescent lamps (CFL) are ugly. But these lamps for 13W of power give you an equivalent light of a 100W incandescent lamp. However, remember that the bulbs have as much as 5mg of mercury. If the bulb breaks in your home, good luck with your home insurance company willing to pay for the cleanup. Five years from now, when people start disposing of the burnt out CFLs improperly, mercury pollution in your groundwater would become an issue.
  5. Use wind energy. Well, I am not talking about the wind energy of teenage boys and middle-aged men. The cows have us beaten in that area; livestock creates more greenhouse gas effect than all the cars running in the world. I am talking about windmills.  Before any environmental club member shows his card to me, I have this to say – modern windmills are quieter and every year cats kill more birds than windmills do.
  6. Stop drinking bottled water. You are getting clean water, even cleaner in many cases, from your tap. All the energy spent in bottling, transporting, and recycling is unnecessary. “Because it’s not bottled in Cleveland” was a recent catchphrase of a bottling company.  Cleveland municipal officials found 6.3 micrograms of arsenic in the bottling company’s water while Cleveland water had no measurable arsenic. If you are still unconvinced about the safety of your tap water, buy your next refrigerator with a filter or get a portable filter pitcher.
  7. Lose weight. In his article, Time For Something Lighter: Obesity, Transportation and Energy Use, Steve Polzin of CUTR at USF writes that more than 50% of American adults are overweight, and if they lose just 20 lbs each, we will annually save half a billion gallons of gas – a small dent in our yearly 150 billion gallons of gas consumption.
  8. Adopt locally. Just calculate the amount of energy you are spending on adopting a kid from Africa and China. The kid’s carbon footprint increases several folds as soon as he is in your arms.
  9. Turn off vampire devices. Even when not in use, rechargers and plugged-in TVs, CDs and VCRs consume energy. Put them on outlet strips so that you can turn them off at night or when not in use.
  10. Have a clothesline. All HOAs reading this are clenching their teeth, getting on their knees and giving a primal cry of despair as if I have killed their firstborn. God gave us the sun – nature’s own clothes dryer. We not only save the energy but clothes last longer, maintain their colors and get sanitized.

CITATION: Autar Kaw, “10 Ways to be Green”, Guest Column, The Saint Petersburg Times, June 1, 2007, June 12, 2007, June 11, 2007, last accessed at http://autarkaw.com/10-ways-to-be-green/