Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Burning Questions, Hot Answers

The December issue of Mother Jones is titled "how to RESCUE THE ECONOMY and SAVE THE PLANET" and offers alot of interesting news on the climate change/sustainable living front. One particularly useful segment offers answers to "20 econundrums". Here are a few for your consideration and implementation. Painless, simple, effective - small actions that are bricks to begin building an entire sustainable living home. Go to the link above for the entire article.

Laptop or Desktop? Laptops remain more energy efficient than desktop systems, but they're harder to upgrade, and it's usually better to replace individual parts than to buy a brand-new computer. Smaller desktops get better energy performance: Apple's Mac Mini has been estimated to draw about a fifth as much power as a Mac Pro when both are in idle mode.
Netflix or Video Store? The mail carrier takes the same route every day, so a few dvd envelopes add little to his carbon footprint. Online rentals' computer use and packaging create a small amount of carbon, but the video store—and the schlep there—generates about 65 percent more emissions.
Wash Your Car or Keep It Dirty? It's true that a wash 'n' wax can reduce your wind resistance and boost your fuel economy. On the other hand, a layer of filth might even mimic a golf ball's dimples, encouraging air to follow a car's contours and minimizing the energy-sapping zone in the wake.
Disposal or Trash Can? Disposals use less water all day than a single toilet flush and increase electricity usage by only 0.1 percent—and that's more than offset by the savings from flushing waste instead of trucking and dumping it. New York's Department of Environmental Protection found that ground-up kitchen scraps didn't clog sewers or treatment plants; another study suggests that trash collection produces four times as much greenhouse gas as disposals. Composting is best, but if your backyard pile isn't aerated—by a fistful of worms, for example—noxious bacteria will churn out more greenhouse gases per pound of waste than filthy city dumps.
Death: Buried or Burned? When a conservationist croaks, what's the greenest way to say goodbye? The average cremation releases more than 35 pounds of carbon (burials generate fewer than 9), and high temperatures can vaporize dental fillings—in the UK, cremations create up to a sixth of the country's annual mercury emissions. Mowed and fertilized graveyards are hardly carbon neutral, so some cemeteries now recycle old plots; others are considering vertical burials. Swedish researchers have figured out how to freeze-dry bodies in liquid nitrogen; the resultant corpsicle can be ground into ecofriendly dust. But for now, best to splurge on a biodegradable coffin and plan on pushing up daisies.

Always remember, doing a little is more fulfilling than thinking that a little won't matter.

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