By now, we all have read stacks of environmental articles, received plenty of earth friendly newsletters, joined social green networks, been to numerous gatherings and discussions on green awareness and environmental care. We are informed, we are aware – but how green are we really?
What makes us green? Green is a very wide term and when we look at dictionaries, all we find are explanations relating to the color green or green foliage. In environmental terms there is no clear definition and the term can be used widly. In household terms, however, we could assume that a house is only termed green when it runs on a system that has as small an ecological footprint as possible. This includes minimal impact upstream (before resources enter a home) and downstream (after a resource has left a home). Minimal impact on our environment in all household actions can be achieved through numerous things such as renewable energy and conscious shopping; the main one however is efficiency.
Efficiency is the production of a desired effect with a minimum amount of effort pollution or waste, it is using less to achieve the same result. When “greenness” is being stripped to its core, it means elimination of squandering wasteage: Less water, less electricity, less fuel, less non-biodegradable stuff, less consumer goods, less rubbish.
But being green means not that we work in a barely lit room, that we shower once a week, that we sit in a cold unheated home … No, it means we do what we normally do but with less resources. In other words we utilize the same amount of light using less electricity, we shower as usual using less water, we enjoy a warm home causing less pollution. Overall this means that we have to be less wasteful in all actions. That's it, no magic or fairy dust, just plain that:
efficiency. It can be achieved through measuring and improving the environmental performance of an entrenched home and is categorized into 4 areas:
• Water: how much water is used for toilets, taps, showerheads, garden irrigation, pools, washing and cleaning, etc
• Energy: how much energy is used by appliances, cooking, hot water, light, heating, air conditioning etc
• Waste: how waste is handled and disposed of
• Detergent and toiletries: how many toxins enter a home, are absorbed or inhaled by living creatures, and left to flow into the environment through the sewerage works.
Once inefficiencies in these areas have been identified, appropriate efficiency measures and mechanisms have to be chosen and implemented, some of these are operational methods others are more advanced technical retrofits. The opportunities to be greener are seemingly endless yet do not always suit every household, budget or circumstances.
So, let's roll up the sleeves and become truly green. Let's reduce our environmental impact. Let's get into our home and look at every single corner, every single device, every single water outlet, every single bottle of stuff …. Let's look at everything in the home, which could possibly have an ecological impact. Then let's find a solution to lessen our ecological impact on all of the above.
By now, some of you are probably giving off a silent sigh: “oh gosh – not something new I have to learn and do.” Mmh, do you sense a feeling of being overwhelmed? Do you feel modern life is challenging enough? Many of us can barely keep up with our own lives: job, money, home maintenance, shopping, cleaning, washing, kids and schools, sport and health, legal issues and all other problems that might draw on our energy at any given time.
Can we honestly expect people to spend hours researching and investigating green home options? Can we really expect people to take their green awareness and turn it into practical implementation?
1. Yes, because only we are responsible for our own home.
2. Yes, because having no time is no excuse.
Let's look at the first point. The world population growth is expected to reach 7 billion this year. Where on earth do all these people live? In countries? In cities? Along coasts?
If we zoom right in, where do all people live? In houses. Every single person lives in a household. Be that a house, a flat, a hut or a tent, rented or owned, it is neverless a household with human needs for cooking, warmth, water and light, all things that have an environmental impact. Our home belongs to us; it is only us who sleep bath eat cook and wash in it. So, it is only us who can minimize the ecological impact and there before it is only us who are responsible for the household's environmental performance. Everybody can benefit from seeking better efficiency. Regardless of whether you want to make small, incremental improvements, or grandiose, world-shaking changes, you do not need to sacrifice your quality of life. Yet you need become skilled at greening your own personal life-style.
In regard to the time issue, there is a very helpful service called Residential Eco Auditing or Eco Consulting. This service is designed to facilitate green changes in your household and lifestyle, and to advice on how to save water and energy and reduce pollution. A residential eco auditor is trained to thoroughly inspect a home and analyze resource consumption. Then the auditor establishes a detailed strategy and chooses appropriate measures to take this particular home and the occupants' lifestyle to a more efficient level. A theme you see running through residential eco auditing is the idea of payback – how long it takes for an efficiency investment to saving you money. The result is a comprehensive plan to establish long lasting environmental performance which benefits both the home owner and our planet. If you do not have the time to address your house's green issues, if you do not have the know-how, simply call for help. Residential Eco Consultants and Auditors are keen to assist you in making a real and tangible difference on our planet Earth.
I think it is time to walk the talk, together. Either roll up your sleeves and do it yourself- or seek a green service that does it for you: Let's move on from “hugging trees” to implementing our environmental awareness and thenby create green life-styles that are true and evident.