Going Green

  • #1
18,675
8,682
What are you doing/using in your daily life to help the enviroment?

I have EnergySaver appliances. Use GE Smart Bulbs. Plant a small garden every year. Use Seventh Generation products. Recycle everything I can. Walk to destinations as much as I can.
 
Last edited:

Answers and Replies

  • #2
JasonRox
Homework Helper
Gold Member
2,323
3
I don't eat beef, or pork.
Recycle when I can.
I'm walking everywhere right now!
I re-use my paper and then recycle. I'm using my thesis rough draft as rough paper right now actually. It's like I'm double recycling.
I don't watch TV.
I have plants in my room.
I use 30-40 watt bulbs. (I won't blow money on those GE bulbs that cost much more.)

I don't really know much more.
 
  • #3
1,031
19
I buy offsets.
 
  • #4
67
0
I walk whenever I can.
I use energy efficient bulbs.
I reuse containers when I can.
I recycle aluminum cans.
 
  • #5
lisab
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
1,955
620
We just bought a push-mower. It's a pain in the neck, but it always starts :smile: .

We're switching from a traditional gas-burning furnace to a heat pump (but we're keeping the furnace for when it gets very cold).
 
  • #6
Moonbear
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
11,558
53
We just bought a push-mower. It's a pain in the neck, but it always starts :smile: .

I just wait until the neighbors complain about the height of the grass, then call the landlord, who does nothing about it, then the neighbors complain to the HOA, and the HOA secretary leaves a note on the door, to which I reply with the landlord's phone number and address. We've gotten it down to only one or two mowings a year. :rolleyes: (I don't mind the tall grass because it's filled with wildflowers too, and property is such a steep hill it's unusable land anyway, but apparently that's not what the HOA covenants require...but that's the landlord's problem, not mine, and the reason I rent rather than own here.) That reminds me that I need to explain this system to the new neighbors (so they know I'm not the one responsible for mowing the grass and don't get mad at me).
 
  • #7
mgb_phys
Science Advisor
Homework Helper
7,819
15
A friend discovered HOA facists when he moved to the USA.
Solution was to abandon the lawn to local weeds, then identify each weed and put a little label naming the species on it - then claim that they were all protected wildflowers
 
  • #8
vanesch
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
5,092
18
I use mostly fluorescent saver bulbs, do waste sorting and recycling and I plan to work on weapons of mass destruction :approve:

(for the totally humorless, the last part is a joke).
 
  • #9
vanesch
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
5,092
18
We just bought a push-mower. It's a pain in the neck, but it always starts :smile: .

We're switching from a traditional gas-burning furnace to a heat pump (but we're keeping the furnace for when it gets very cold).

Do you bake pizza on a heat pump :confused: :redface:
 
  • #10
Evo
Mentor
23,552
3,245
I have always conserved without ever thinking about it. I don't waste water. Unless I have something I'm holding under the running water, I turn it off. I like it dark, so there is very little light on where I live, and only when I am in the room. At work I have made them remove half of the over head lights, they're too bright anyway. In the winter, I keep the heat at 65F and wear warm clothes. I don't run the dishwasher unless I have a full load, which rarely happens because I tend to wash dishes as I use them, and when I use it, it's the short cycle and no heat dry. I also don't run the washer or dryer for small loads and I wash my clothes in cold water. I have a small fuel efficient car and I shop on my way home from work at stores between my office and my house, with only a rare exception. If I run out of an item, I don't run to the store, I wait until my next scheduled trip. I take short cool showers. I reuse plastic containers that food comes in instead of buying new ones. I don't use my disposal very often, that is what the cat and dog are there for. I rarely use paper towels. If I could find a use for the hair my dog and cat shed, I'd probably be independantly wealthy.
 
  • #11
18,675
8,682
I have always conserved without ever thinking about it. I don't waste water. Unless I have something I'm holding under the running water, I turn it off.

Good one! my GF is always yelling at me to turn off the water
 
  • #12
Evo
Mentor
23,552
3,245
  • #13
I'm not very environmentally conscious but there are a few things I do.
I try to buy used books, they're cheaper and environmentally friendly, but unfortunately I can not always find what I want in a used book store.
I try not to drive around alot and I always walk places that are near by.
I reuse my water bottles. Ever since I was taught as a kid to cut those plastic rings that soda sixpacks come with it has become an ingrained habit. If I see one in someone elses trash even I'll pull it out and break it up.
Ummm.. that's about it really. Like Evo I have a tendancy to conserve in various small ways just because of the way I am and not so much because I think of it. Short showers, reusing things, extending the usable life of things, ect..
 
  • #14
239
0
Live in passive solar, straw bale house with in floor radiant heating and a woodstove.
Recycle paper, plastic, glass and cans.
Grow plants indoors and out. Outside we have mainly sagebrush and rabbitbrush for landscaping (low water, native)
Drive a hybrid.
Yeah, I'm to tired to figure the rest.
 
  • #15
russ_watters
Mentor
21,520
8,558
Do you bake pizza on a heat pump :confused: :redface:
That would be an oven. A furnace is what you use to heat your house.
 
  • #16
239
0
Ha, pizza in a solar oven...ha ha...ha
 
  • #17
Chi Meson
Science Advisor
Homework Helper
1,807
10
High efficiency "Quadrafire" woodstove heat. 1-1/2 cords of wood, and 75 galllons of oil was our total heating bill this last winter. Gathered, cut and split wood myself, so include about a gallon of chainsaw gas for that. The wood was about 50% fallen and standing deadwood. The rest were trees in the neighborhood that friends asked me to cut down.

Clothes dryer is vented indoor. Here's the trick: put a nylon "knee stocking" over the hose, then point the hose into a 5 gallon bucket with a gallon of water at the bottom. No "dryer dust" at all. And you keep all that warm, moist air.

Umm... 90% CF bulbs in my house (a few incandescent for color balancing). I never water the lawn, and no fertilizer! (it makes the grass grow extra fast)

And I bike to work. And last summer I installed solar hot water panels on the roof, reducing our already low electric bills by 1/3.

And no, I do not believe I am doing anything that will save the environment. I'm doing it to save money.
 
  • #18
239
0
put a nylon "knee stocking" over the hose, then point the hose into a 5 gallon bucket with a gallon of water at the bottom. No "dryer dust" at all. And you keep all that warm, moist air.

Sounds like a reverse bong...
 
  • #19
Chi Meson
Science Advisor
Homework Helper
1,807
10
Sounds like a reverse bong...

A gnob. yes. It's what it sounds like too.
 
  • #20
Evo
Mentor
23,552
3,245
High efficiency "Quadrafire" woodstove heat. 1-1/2 cords of wood, and 75 galllons of oil was our total heating bill this last winter. Gathered, cut and split wood myself, so include about a gallon of chainsaw gas for that. The wood was about 50% fallen and standing deadwood. The rest were trees in the neighborhood that friends asked me to cut down.
I was going to say I should be burning things, but isn't that what AGW advocates are against? Burning fuels are bad according to them. I used to use peat logs, but they are bad since they release C02 that was previously sequestered. Burning any oil, coal or peat is bad. I guess using recently dead wood is ok. But then you have the smoke.
 
Last edited:
  • #21
Moonbear
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
11,558
53
Okay, since my first response wasn't terribly serious (as sadly true as it is), here are some of the little things I do that really aren't intended to conserve, but achieve it anyway.

I only use plastic water bottles to take to the farm with me (keeping my water supply closed between sips is kind of important there and the water fountain hasn't worked in over a year, so I have to bring my own water if I don't want the unfiltered tap water out there...though, it's drinkable, it just tastes too metallic...high iron content). Otherwise, I don't use water bottles at all. At home, I just use a glass and get it from the tap. At the office, the water fountain is close to my office if I just want a sip, or else I fill my coffee mug with water (when I'm not drinking coffee).

Like Evo, I reuse plastic containers (though, also don't buy very much that comes in plastic containers...this does mean sometimes supplementing my stock for larger cooking/freezing projects). Part of avoiding unnecessary packaging automatically comes from cooking a lot of fresh foods rather than pre-processed heat and eat stuff. I don't buy produce from the stores that put it into cellophane wrap on a styrofoam tray (it really annoys me when they do that...produce comes in a perfectly good wrapper of its own, called the skin...and I don't want to buy 3 zucchinis in a package, I just want one).

I don't turn on the heat unless the inside temperature drops below 65 with the heat off. I keep the heat set with a programmable thermostat so I don't have to remember to turn it up and down when I'm not home or getting ready to go to sleep or getting up in the morning, etc. (I used to forget to turn the heat down during the day when I'd leave for work when I had a manual thermostat control.) When I'm not home or sleeping, it's 65, most of the rest of the time, I keep it set about 68 (good insulation and windows make this comfortable when there aren't any drafts) and only turn it up to 70 or 72 for a short time when I'm first waking up in the morning and showering because I can't get myself out of a toasty warm bed if the room is cold.

I usually keep air conditioning off until the temperature is above 90 (sometimes not even then...depends on the humidity). I prefer just keeping the windows open in summer.

I take short showers (though I do like hot showers), and let my hair air dry rather than blow drying (that's as much for avoiding damaging my hair as anything, but it does help conserve electric).

Lights are only on in the rooms I'm in, and only one usually.

I avoid using things like paper towels when a cloth towel or kitchen sponge will do the job (yes, the cloth towels need to be washed, but they don't take a lot of space in with a load of other laundry...I've never had to do a second load due to kitchen towels).

I'm going onto week 3 with a single tank of gas (and only about half way). I only drive to work and home and combine as much of my shopping into a single trip as possible, and maybe once a week drive someplace else, but most of the places I even go out are close to work or between work and home, so doesn't add much driving. With gas prices going up, I'm being even more conscientious about extra trips out for stuff.

These are all just things I normally do anyway, not something specifically intended as conservation though.
 
  • #22
turbo
Gold Member
3,147
55
I have always conserved without ever thinking about it. I don't waste water. Unless I have something I'm holding under the running water, I turn it off. I like it dark, so there is very little light on where I live, and only when I am in the room. At work I have made them remove half of the over head lights, they're too bright anyway. In the winter, I keep the heat at 65F and wear warm clothes. I don't run the dishwasher unless I have a full load, which rarely happens because I tend to wash dishes as I use them, and when I use it, it's the short cycle and no heat dry. I also don't run the washer or dryer for small loads and I wash my clothes in cold water. I have a small fuel efficient car and I shop on my way home from work at stores between my office and my house, with only a rare exception. If I run out of an item, I don't run to the store, I wait until my next scheduled trip. I take short cool showers. I reuse plastic containers that food comes in instead of buying new ones. I don't use my disposal very often, that is what the cat and dog are there for. I rarely use paper towels. If I could find a use for the hair my dog and cat shed, I'd probably be independantly wealthy.

:!!)Wow! You'd fit right in here. If only you'd learn to skin and gut moose and re-build outboard-motor carbs - this 10% ethanol gas is screwing them up,big-time.
 
  • #23
vanesch
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
5,092
18
That would be an oven. A furnace is what you use to heat your house.

I stand linguistically corrected... :redface:
 
  • #24
vanesch
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
5,092
18
I was going to say I should be burning things, but isn't that what AGW advocates are against? Burning fuels are bad according to them. I used to use peat logs, but they are bad since they release C02 that was previously sequestered. Burning any oil, coal or peat is bad. I guess using recently dead wood is ok. But then you have the smoke.

Have you tried burning cat and dog hair ? It's a biofuel...
 
  • #25
Chi Meson
Science Advisor
Homework Helper
1,807
10
I was going to say I should be burning things, but isn't that what AGW advocates are against? Burning fuels are bad according to them. I used to use peat logs, but they are bad since they release C02 that was previously sequestered. Burning any oil, coal or peat is bad. I guess using recently dead wood is ok. But then you have the smoke.

If you are going to heat your home by non-solar methods, no matter how you do it (there is one exception) you will be burning something. Even if you use electricity, somewhere a lump of coal is burning. (The exception is nuclear-ly generated electricity).

The question is: which method puts less CO2 and polutants into the air? IF you burn oil or natural gas, there are less bad things coming out of your chimney, but the real bad stuff has already come out during the processing (during mining, drilling, refining, delivery, etc). The least impact involves the least transportation to the point of use. I get wood from a radius of 1/4 mile around my house. The amount of wood we burn is not ridiculous because the woodstove is extremely high efficiency (Aladdin Quadrafire: I can't recommend it enough!). Less than 2 cords got us from October to April, with house temperatures staying around 70 degrees.

The gasses and particulate matter are reburned and re-reburned and there is very little smoke or creosote created. About 70% of the heat is kept inside the house.
 
  • #26
vanesch
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
5,092
18
If you are going to heat your home by non-solar methods, no matter how you do it (there is one exception) you will be burning something. Even if you use electricity, somewhere a lump of coal is burning. (The exception is nuclear-ly generated electricity).

Well, all non-fossil electricity is essentially CO2-free (or is at least an order of magnitude lower in CO2 emissions if you take into account the construction, blah blah).
These are:
- wind
- solar
- hydro
- nuclear
and maybe a few more exotic ones, like geothermal, tidal, neutrinos, gravitational wave heating (:smile:)...

Burning biomass is a priori also not CO2 producing, if at least you raise as much new biomaterial as you burn. If you cut a tree to burn it, and you plant a new tree which will grow, then the balance is 0. A special case is food. The CO2 you breathe is not contributing either, because it comes from the food that was grown somewhere.

If you can use waste-heat from an already existing industrial process to heat your house, then that's ok too (say, there's a coal fired power plant next to you, they coal is burned in any case, so if you use the waste heat, that won't add a thing either).

That said, it would be totally crazy to put photovoltaic cells on your rooftop to power an electric heater inside the house :rofl:
 
Last edited:
  • #27
Chi Meson
Science Advisor
Homework Helper
1,807
10
That said, it would be totally crazy to put photovoltaic cells on your rooftop to power an electric heater inside the house :rofl:

It's amazing to find that many people think this is what my panels are doing. Most people can't distinguish between "Solar heating Panels" and "photovoltaic panels." I point out that most of my hot water is from my panels, and they ask "does the electric company pay you money if you make extra?"

I'm gonna make a million bucks selling my idea for a "solar reading light." Place it in direct sunlight and it will produce enough luminescence to read any book or magazine.
 
  • #28
turbo
Gold Member
3,147
55
We grow most of our own vegetables in a 1500 + sq ft garden, using mostly composted cow manure and composted vegetable waste as fertilizer. We pick fiddleheads, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, and apples in season and freeze whatever doesn't get eaten immediately. We already have enough fiddleheads in the freezer for the coming year.

Nearly all the screw-in bulbs in the house are compact fluorescents. We recycle anything that the town's recycling facility will take and arrange to sell or donate to charity items that we no longer need but that are still usable and have value. We cook with propane (cheaper and faster than electricity) and when we use the oven to bake beans or a casserole dish, we try to arrange to bake something else at the same time. Our water heater runs on propane, too, and we keep the temperature regulated so that we don't heat water unnecessarily.

We stockpile newsprint and some clean cardboard to start fires in the wood stove, and get our wood split and stacked under cover in the spring so that it is dry and clean-burning for the next winter. We make lists. Living over 20 minutes away from hardware stores, grocery stores, etc, means that trips to town must be consolidated - you don't run to town to pick up a single item except in case of an emergency. We have an oil furnace, and I run it once or twice a year to check its operation, though that's only for one burner-on/blower-on cycle. All our heat comes from wood. When we had a new metal roof installed, we had a 1" thick layer of rigid foam insulation installed over the old roof before the new metal went on, and that cuts down on heating/cooling. We have a portable air conditioner for the most sweltering days, but instead of using that, we open the windows every night when the air is the coolest and close them in the morning when the outside temperature gets close to the inside temperature. That's about all I can think of now, but I'm sure that there's lots more - my wife and I were both brought up in families that were large and not to well-to-do, so frugality has always been a way of life.
 
  • #29
Borek
Mentor
28,979
3,614
Well, all non-fossil electricity is essentially CO2-free (or is at least an order of magnitude lower in CO2 emissions if you take into account the construction, blah blah).
These are:
- wind
- solar

From what I have read recently, amount of energy required to produce ultra pure silicon for photovoltaics solar panels is so high, that is not at all obvious whether there is a net gain or lose in terms of energy consumed to made/produce throughout the useful lifetime.

Unfortunately, I don't remember original source of this information. It was some professional magazine for engineers and an article about solar power.



 
  • #30
vanesch
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
5,092
18
From what I have read recently, amount of energy required to produce ultra pure silicon for photovoltaics solar panels is so high, that is not at all obvious whether there is a net gain or lose in terms of energy consumed to made/produce throughout the useful lifetime.

Unfortunately, I don't remember original source of this information. It was some professional magazine for engineers and an article about solar power.

http://www.energybulletin.net/17219.html

According to this study (couldn't find out if it is peer reviewed or not but it looked serious), there is a slight advantage to PV, but the energy payback time is still several years.
 
  • #31
Borek
Mentor
28,979
3,614
According to this study (couldn't find out if it is peer reviewed or not but it looked serious), there is a slight advantage to PV, but the energy payback time is still several years.

I believe more important is comparison of total (lifetime) payback, and it looks much better then what I read before. The better for PV :smile:
 
  • #32
Chi Meson
Science Advisor
Homework Helper
1,807
10
http://www.energybulletin.net/17219.html

According to this study (couldn't find out if it is peer reviewed or not but it looked serious), there is a slight advantage to PV, but the energy payback time is still several years.

According to http://www.solarwrights.com/" [Broken]guys, and as of last year, the energy payback for the standard silicon wafer PVs is down to two and a half years, and falling. When thin-film PVs reach mass-production stage, that time should be down to months.

Just a short while ago, in the past year, thin-film PVs got a bump in efficiency due to the application of silver nano globules to the surface. This boosted the efficiency (incident light vs electric power output) from 15% to 19%. I think that was in Physics Today, last February? I can't find it right now.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
  • #33
It's amazing to find that many people think this is what my panels are doing. Most people can't distinguish between "Solar heating Panels" and "photovoltaic panels." I point out that most of my hot water is from my panels, and they ask "does the electric company pay you money if you make extra?"

I'm gonna make a million bucks selling my idea for a "solar reading light." Place it in direct sunlight and it will produce enough luminescence to read any book or magazine.

My grandfather used to have these, or something like them. They're essentially large flat water tanks on the roof with solar heat collectors to heat the water inside yes?
 
  • #34
Borek
Mentor
28,979
3,614
My grandfather used to have these, or something like them. They're essentially large flat water tanks on the roof with solar heat collectors to heat the water inside yes?

Not exactly, at least the type I see from here on the roof of my neighbor doesn't contain water, but some other liquid, with much higher biling point and much lower freezing point. Something like brake fluid. Then there is a pump, a heat exchanger and a water tank.



 
  • #35
vanesch
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
5,092
18
According to http://www.solarwrights.com/" [Broken]guys, and as of last year, the energy payback for the standard silicon wafer PVs is down to two and a half years, and falling. When thin-film PVs reach mass-production stage, that time should be down to months.

I'm a bit reluctant to take the numbers from a manufacturer at face value, but even 2 or 3 years of payback time is ok with me.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Related Threads on Going Green

  • Last Post
Replies
7
Views
3K
S
Replies
6
Views
1K
  • Last Post
Replies
4
Views
1K
Replies
9
Views
1K
Replies
4
Views
3K
  • Last Post
Replies
11
Views
2K
  • Last Post
Replies
10
Views
2K
  • Last Post
Replies
8
Views
2K
  • Last Post
Replies
4
Views
2K
  • Last Post
Replies
1
Views
2K
Top