My Wasteful Cubicle Neighbor

The following story is a guest post.

I try to do my best to recycle plastics every time I am disposing of them, and I also do my best to pressure people around me to do the same. For the most part, I can convince people how important it is to recycle their waste plastic, but there’s one person that I just can’t seem to get through to: my cubicle neighbor, Sandy.

Every day, I see Sandy come into work, disheveled, unshaven and smelly. He immediately goes to the break room, pours a cup of coffee into a Styrofoam cup and gets a plastic bottle of water from the vending machine.

Every day when he sits down I try to explain to him how massive the floating plastic continent is in the Pacific, and how there are little things each of us can do every day to reduce humanity’s impact on the environment. I even went so far as to buy him a ceramic mug so that he would stop using Styrofoam every day, but it’s sitting in the corner of his cube collecting dust.

No matter how much I scowl at him, he tosses his plastics in the trash, “When I don’t feel like standing up.” Some people just don’t accept that they have the power to do anything. I’d bet he doesn’t even think twice about where his electricity comes from, or how much he spends on energy rates. New York, for example, allows people the power to choose their energy providers, and that means you can pick a retailer that places a priority on green energy production.

For now, I’ll keep digging Sandy’s plastic bottles out of his trash can when he leaves for the day, but I’d like to get through to him someday. At least he doesn’t put anything gross in there that I have to dig through.

We can’t get through to everyone, but we have to try. Going plasticless is possible if enough people understand how wasteful and damaging plastics can truly be.

Posted in Energy, Environment, Guest Post | Comments Off

Sitting Outside with Less Plastic

So, I was driving back to our secluded cabin after a milk run and I noticed a short stack of stereotypical plastic lawn chairs by a dumpster. My better half is helping me kick my scrounging addiction, so I didn’t stop to inspect them. I slowed down enough to see that they were cosmetically impaired. They had probably been too close to too many campfires. They will last almost forever in a landfill somewhere but they will never again serve their intended purpose.

We used to have chairs with metal frames and ‘canvas’ seats. I am pretty sure the fabric was plastic but I can’t say for sure as they have been stolen. Thanks, young offenders, now I can try my hand at making a couple of the chairs shown in this image:

This is so simple. I am only going to make one to start with as I am sceptical about comfort and stability.

Posted in Inspiration | Comments Off

How the Government’s Green Deal Will Save You Money and Energy

Whatever type of home you live in, we all have to pay bills for heating, lighting and water. It is costly to run a home so here are some ways you can make your home more energy efficient, including options for installing environmental technologies by a trained installer.

We are all being encouraged by Government to reduce our carbon footprint and look at the different ways we can do this. Later this year, the Government will launch its innovative Green Deal, providing a number of financial incentives we as homeowners can benefit from. These mechanisms will enable you to have work carried out and completed on your home without having to pay for the work upfront. There are a number of schemes which are covered by the various environmental technologies available, each with their own strengths and benefits, depending upon the property type you live in. Even if you are living in rented accommodation, private landlords will also have access to these financial incentives so you will be able benefit from the environmental technologies available.
Environmental technologies vary and include air and ground source heat pumps, biomass, micro-combined heat and power (CHP), micro/small scale wind turbines, micro-hydropower turbine systems, rainwater harvesting systems, grey water reuse systems, solar thermal and solar photovoltaics (PV).

The key schemes available to homeowners include Feed-in Tariffs (FiTs) which will help you reduce your electricity bills and the Renewable Heat Incentive scheme (RHI) which can provide a reduction in your heating bills. The schemes work in a similar way and you will be paid by pence per unit of the energy generated. The Renewable Heat Premium Payment (RHPP) scheme is a voucher based plan that can help homeowners and community groups. To be eligible for any of these financial incentives, the system(s) you choose must be installed by someone who is certified by the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS).

Before considering which type of environmental technology to choose, there are a number of measures you can consider, assuming your home is in a sound condition. First, look at how you can reduce the building’s energy demand – this can include taking showers instead of baths, closing doors and windows when the heating is in use, not leaving appliances on or in standby mode etc. All these ways will reduce the energy demand on your home.

The next step is to improve the energy efficiency of your home. Simple and easy ways include adding or increasing and loft/wall insulation, fitting low energy light bulbs, fitting draught proofing and installing double glazing, for example. Only then is it worth considering and investing in the various environmental technologies available to reduce your household bills and make a difference to the environment. This overall approach is referred to as ‘fabric first’.

The Government aims to reduce our yearly carbon emissions by 15% between now and 2020. The Green Deal and the other financial incentives can only be assessed through a Green Deal Provider (GDP) who will then access your home and put you in touch with an authorised trained installer who will have been certified by the MCS. In order to be eligible for the Green Deal your home will need to meet the ‘Golden Rule’ – the expected saving from the improvement measure (i.e. the environmental technology installed) must be equal to or greater than the cost of the measure.

We all live in homes and we all use energy this is the way to do your bit and to help achieve this goal, we can adopt a ‘fabric first’ approach and use trained installers to fit environmental technologies into our homes.

Posted in Education, Energy, Environment | 1 Comment