Re: Walking Lightly
From: Tom Hammer (
Date: Wed, 4 Jul 2007 06:29:49 -0700 (PDT)
Great note from Ruth.  Thank you. Buying used is
inherently less polluting than buying new.

However, some things cannot be bought used.  Also,
there are practices which are widely considered to be
"green" and are not particularly effective.

A famous example:  bringing a mug to work instead of
using disposable coffee/tea cups.  A study was done
which factored in the total cost/pollution of
manufacturing the mug, transporting it, washing it,
etc, and it takes 1000 or so uses for the mug to start
coming out ahead of disposables.  If one uses recycled
paper coffee cups, (not studied, I think) it may be
even harder for the mug to win.

As for homes, if we assume that the population is
going to increase (the biggest cause of pollution &
carbon use of all!), then more homes will inevitably
be built.  We might as well build and buy truly green,
well-insulated homes.

For a good list of what really helps and what doesn't:

Tread Lightly, Fly Directly  From the N.Y. Times 

Published: July 1, 2007
To reduce your carbon footprint in ways more
substantial than buying an expensive hybrid car or
jetting to an eco-spa, here are a few suggestions from
among 77 offered by ?The Live Earth Global Warming
Survival Handbook? by David de Rothschild, the
official companion book to the Live Earth concerts.

1. Whenever possible, replace meat with soy or other
vegetable protein in your diet. It takes eight times
as much energy to produce a pound of meat as it does a
pound of tofu.

2. Replace your light bulbs. Compact fluorescent bulbs
use 75 percent less energy and last 10 times as long
as incandescent bulbs. To save even more, turn off the
lights when you leave the room.

3. Sub-size it. Houses between 1,500 and 2,000 square
feet consume about 40 percent less energy than
McMansions over 4,000 square feet.

4. Downsize your car. Every extra 100 pounds a car
weighs requires 2 percent more fuel to move it.

5. Fly direct. Takeoffs and landings are where the
most fuel is burned. Takeoffs alone can burn 25
percent of the energy used on a short trip. For trips
shorter than 600 miles, consider taking the train.

6. Pull the plug. Appliances like televisions and VCRs
still suck power when turned off. An estimated 95
percent of the energy consumed by cellphone chargers
comes when they are left plugged in.

7. Skip the bottled water. For every one million
bottles of water that are manufactured and shipped to
consumers, 18.2 tons of carbon dioxide emissions are
pumped into the air.

8. Vote.

I don't own the book, so I wonder what some of the
other best practices are.  Does anyone have it?

Tom Hammer
Concord Village
Building homes which won't use any fossil fuels for
heating or cooling.

>Date: Tue, 3 Jul 2007 11:13:25 EDT
>From: Ruthpoet [at]
>Subject: Re: [C-L]_ [C-L] Walking Lightly - buying
used things
To: cohousing-l [at]
Message-ID: <c2a.142ac21b.33bbc195 [at]>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="US-ASCII"

Stuart - thanks for your comment about using it 'til
you wear it out!  
all of the conversations about greenness vs.
affordability, I've been
that no one has mentioned buying used goods.  
Frankly, I feel much better about buying used goods
than I do about
new cheap goods (e.g. WalMart), new not-so-cheap goods
(e.g. Macy's) or
"green" goods.  It is MUCH more affordable, giving me
much more
  flexibility and 
financial freedom, AND I feel like I've taken myself
(to some  extent)
 out of 
the consumerist loop. I would estimate that 90% of the
I own (car, clothes, electronics, housewares, 
furniture) were bought
 used, or 
in some cases gotten for free, at _www.craigslist.org_

(  (a great place to find 
any and everything
 - for any of you who don't 
already know about it), _www.freecycle.org_
 , or at 
a thrift store or  flea market.  It's been a long time
since I had a
 job where 
I had to dress  up, but when I did, I always found
good quality
clothes in thrift or  consignment stores at a fraction
of the cost of
 buying new. 
For me, buying  used is also more fun - there are more
surprises (you
know quite what  you'll find), it's more creative, and
more eclectic.
For anyone who doesn't know about _www.freecycle.org_ 
(  -- it's  international,
with myriad local
 chapters all over.  In just the 
 past few months, my partner and I have received, for
FREE, a great
and frame, two canoe paddles, a grill in very good
condition, and a
 bunch  of 
dishes -- and we've given away some stereo equipment,
some plants, a different futon mattress, an animal
cage, a set of
 chairs,  etc.  
Everybody's happy, and no new goods had to be produced
to meet any of
needs/desires. (OK, the only "cost" was a little
fossil fuel required
 to  pick 
the goods up. Which isn't nothing.)
Speaking of used items: I don't know how this equation
works out is in
buying a "used" (i.e. already existing) house, vs.
building a new, but
greenly-constructed house. Since there are so many
already-built houses
 on the  
market, it makes sense to me on the one hand that it
would be better to
 buy one  
of them, rather than using up materials to have a new
one constructed.
 On the  
other hand, most existing houses are not as well
insulated or set up
solar,  etc.  Comments, anyone?

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