Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Confessions of an eco-terrorist or what I learned via jet travel

I know it's been awhile since I've posted. Bad me. I spent the last week and a half expending a ton of carbon emissions (especially when coming back from BIL to LHR and LHR to SFO where the planes were, ehmmm how can I say it, empty) but I did learn a lot about the greenness of other countries. I'll share some pics and experiences in the posts to follow the next few days.

It is really interesting to see how the rest of the world looks about being green, my hope with Obama is that Green is not looked at as a sacrifice but instead as an alternative of the long term over the short term. What made me really bummed is progressive Silicon Valley company that I work at, tons of disposables, vs larger telecom giant, they use reusable mugs. I hope to change that soon.

More to follow, but don't think of your life as toil, think of it as art and get creative. (or else visit three art museums in four days and get inspired).

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Save the thermostat, save the world.

Or something like that. The New York Times David Leonhardt explores the "paradox of thrift"

McKinsey & Company recently analyzed household spending on energy, for example, and found enormous waste. People heat their homes when they are not there and, thanks to leaks in their walls and heating ducts, also heat the airspace above their roof.

A programmable thermostat, which adjusts the temperature when people are out of the house or asleep, can cost as little as $50. For less than $1,000, people can buy the thermostat, as well as hire a contractor to fix leaks and replace their light bulbs with more efficient ones. In either case, the spending often pays for itself in just a year or two.

“There is a difference between consuming and investing,” says Ken Ostrowski of McKinsey. “And energy efficiency falls more into the category of investing.”

So get out there an invest, buy a programmable thermostat. Save the economy, save the world. Another great investment is to invest in services, get a massage or ten instead of buying a flat screen TV. Borrow some board games, and have a fun night out with your friends and family.

The definition of investment is that which returns beyond your outlay. Learn a skill, learn an instrument, read to a kid. The investments are out there, we just have to discover them.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Breaking Green, or at least even...

Too long to summarize, but the Wall Street Journal has a nice article on different green refurbishments you can do to your home and what the expected break even point. Note that the break even will become even sooner as these items become cheaper through mass production. Put it on your list to get low flow faucets and programmable thermostats since they payback is quick and the out of pocket is low.

Others will need more analysis depending on where you live.

Will the Recession make us more green.

I've noticed a lot of changes in behavior lately due to the economy straits we are in. And while most of the changes are motivated by economic realities, they have green side effects. For instance I am seeing more and more that people are willing to carpool. In the past people favored their freedom to come and go as they wish, now they are more willing to adjust their schedules to share a ride. This is especially the case here in the S.F. Bay area which covers a huge geographic area.

Another change is in how people spend their money, I've seen a clear substitution of buying things and stuff with spending time with people in pursuits such as board games. Will we see a return to bridge night as a social past time. It's not a coincidence that Scrabble and Monopoly were created during the first great depression. I myself play a game as I look at common objects in the house and try to figure out games I can create with them. Are coins markers or currency? Given how many dice you have, can you do something different with them. Yahtzee anyone.

People also seem to be trying to eke out a little more out of what they own. Refurbishing things. There was an article in the on the "Return of Cobblers" into people's minds as they try to a little more out of their shoes.

Will these green habits take hold after the recession, when people figure out that it's not that bad. Thoughts anyone.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Could old jobs be made green jobs?

The other day I was in downtown Palo Alto and it struck me as odd that the meter people rode around in these little gas powered carts. They basically go around looking at chalk marks on the car tires that they had marked earlier. It was fairly low speed motoring around the downtown area. So I was thinking, would it make more sense to have the meter people ride bicycles as they zip around town. They could modify the bikes to mark the tires efficiently. It would save gas, be good for health or so Northern Californian.

We know that in some cities, the fastest way to move things is bicycle couriers? What else would bicycles be an advantage?