Green Living Tips

Lighting for the Future


A comprehensive life cycle assessment study conducted by German lighting manufacturer, OSRAM, has found that the total energy used by an LED bulb from manufacture to disposal is only one fifth of that required by incandescent models. The study, “Life Cycle Assessment of Illuminants,” details the energy required for raw material production, manufacturing and assembly, transport, use, and end-of-life management. Incandescent lamps were reported to use approximately 3,300 kWh during their entire life, compared to less than 670 kWh for LEDs. OSRAM expects that the market will shift in favor of LEDs in the coming years as developing technologies yield even greater efficiency throughout the product’s entire life cycle.

Tap Water for the Greener Choice


Oregon Department of Environmental Quality’s new assessment of drinking water delivery systems bolsters the argument to “reduce first, then recycle.” The study, “Life Cycle Assessment of Drinking Water Delivery Systems: Bottled Water, Tap Water, and Home/Office Delivery Water,” evaluates 48 different delivery scenarios among several variables to determine their overall environmental effects. Whereas common knowledge holds that tap water is an environmentally preferable method to bottled water, many often point to the buildup of used plastic bottles in landfills around the world as the culprit. This study, however, finds that it is not the disposal that has the greatest environmental impact, but the manufacture of the bottle itself. Regardless of whether a plastic bottle is 100% recycled or thrown in a landfill, its environmental impacts are still far greater than the tap water delivery system because of the energy and resources needed to produce the bottle in the first place. Even the best-performing bottled water scenario, requiring a light-weight recyclable bottle, has overall global warming effects greater than 46 times those of an identical volume of tap water.

Interesting Books

Dave Bonta and Stephen Snyder,New Green Home Solutions: Renewable Household Energy and Sustainable Living. Green living begins at home, and New Green Home Solutions tells you how. Most of the energy-derived pollution we produce comes as a direct result of our homes-how we heat them, how we cool them, how we keep them well-lit and full of things that make our lives so comfortable. The good news is that we have tremendous power to create change

New Green Home Solutions offers easy “whole house strategies” for using renewable energy. “The days of building cookie-cutter mcMansions are over, and the era of thinking about the real cost of a house has begun. And this is the guide to doing it with enormous elegance, real frugality, and a commitment to the health of the world beyond your walls.”
– Bill McKibben, author Deep Economy

Jim Merkel, Radical Simplicity: Small Footprints on a Finite Earth. Jim Merkel, currently a Corinth, Vermont resident working as Dartmouth’s Sustainability Manager, quit his job as a military engineer following the Exxon Valdez disaster and has since worked to develop tools for personal and societal sustainability. He founded the Global Living Project to further this work and conducts workshops around North America on this topic.
The book builds on steps from Your Money or Your Life so readers can design their own personal economics to save money, get free of debt, and align their work with their values. It uses refined tools from Our Ecological Footprint so readers can measure how much nature is needed to supply all they consume and absorb their waste.  Combining lyrical narrative, compassionate advocacy, and absorbing science, Radical Simplicity is a practical, personal answer to twenty-first century challenges that will appeal as much to Cultural Creatives and students as to spiritual seekers, policy makers, and sustainability professionals.

Michael Brower, Consumer’s Guide to Effective Environmental Choices: Practical Advice from the Union of Concerned Scientists. In these pages, the Union of Concerned Scientists help inform consumers about everyday decisions that significantly affect the environment. For example, a few major decisions – such as the choice of a house or vehicle – have such a disproportionately large affect on the environment that minor environmental infractions shrink by comparison.

Learn what you can do to have a truly significant impact on our world from the people who are at the forefront of scientific research. 

Alan AtKisson, Believing Cassandra: An Optimist Looks at a Pessimist’s World. Consultant, raconteur, and musical performer Alan AtKisson sees a parallel between Cassandra’s situation and that of today’s environmentalists – concerned citizens and scientists who see the world hurtling toward self-destruction. Is it true that most of the human race could care less about their dire warnings? “AtKisson provides us with a bridge passing over the brink of despair to the crest of an enticing future. He enables the reader to join the pioneers who embrace the ideas techniques, and practices of sustainable living – the people who are “believing Cassandra.”On a nationwide and global level, we can greatly reduce our resource depletion by basing our economy on “Development” instead of “Growth.” Growth can be defined as increasing the total number of resources extracted and used up. Development can be defined as finding more efficient and less material-intensive ways to meet our needs. Development means being smart and thinking our way into a sustainable future without sacrificing what we call our standard of living.
The Development scenario contends that services might just as well be provided without the use of materials. For instance, many of us would like the service of learning about what’s going on in the world. Currently, we buy newspapers to fulfill that service. The actual paper is not what we need, it’s the information on it. If we could read the Times, the Globe, and the Wall Street Journal on our computer with comfort and ease, the same service would be provided without the destruction of trees, the use of harsh chemicals, the burning of fuels to move the material, and the waste product at the end.

Helpful Organizations

The most recent science tells us that unless we can reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to 350 parts per million, we will cause huge and irreversible damage to the earth. All around the world, a movement is building to take on the climate crisis, to get humanity out of the danger zone and below 350.

Our first job is to make sure everyone knows the target so that our political leaders feel real pressure to act. Reaching 350 ppm will require unprecedented international cooperation. will bring millions of new voices to the table, united by our common call to action.

The Donella Meadows Institute, a local organization focuses on understanding the root causes of unsustainable behavior in complex systems to help restructure systems and shifts mindsets that will help move human society toward sustainability. Their staff includes biologists, writers, social scientists, system dynamics modelers, and facilitators bringing a wide variety of experiences and skills to their work.

The New American Dream, a national organization, helps us to “Live Consciously, Buy Wisely, Make a Difference.” By changing our consumption patterns on a household level, we can greatly reduce our waste stream with no real effect on our “standard of living.”

What We Can Do: Priority Actions for American Consumers

1.  Choose a place to live that reduces the need to drive.
2.  Think twice before purchasing another car.
3.  Choose a fuel-efficient, low-polluting car.
4.  Set concrete goals for reducing your travel.
5.  Whenever practical, walk, bicycle, or take public transportation.

6.  Eat less meat
7.  Buy organic produce

8.  Choose your home carefully.
9.  Reduce the environmental costs of heating and hot water.
10.  Install efficient lighting and appliances.
11.  Choose an electricity supplier offering renewable energy.

From “The Consumer’s Guide to Effective Environmental Choices: Practical Advice From The Union of Concerned Scientists” by Michael Brower and Warren Leon