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Conservation, the environment, and you

Maister

Chairman of the bored
Messages
26,298
Points
51
mskis said:
The report regarding climate change came out and contradicted everything that Trump says about it.

But the biggest question is what can each of us to to help the environment? 100% serious and sincere knowing that we can’t wait for the federal government to do something about it. We need to be the change.

Personally, I am going to plant several trees on my property, we are going to reduce miles traveled, will be eating at home quite a bit more, shorter showers and bath, and with my woodworking, I am going to make as much effort as possible to use reclaimed wood from local sources. At work, I am going to propose several amendments that will require increased tree protection areas, better storm water mitigation, and additional incentives for other green building techniques.

We have already swapped out all of our lights to LED, made sure that our house is super tight, use energy efficient appliances, and we set the thermostat to maximum savings.

There are many things that each of us can do to help the environment, the question is will we?
Moderator note:

split from the neverending politics thread. This really isn't a political question/issue (or it really shouldn't be at any rate).


We're keeping the thermostat down two degrees lower than usual, planting an extra large vegetable garden next spring, and just finished shrink wrapping the windows for the winter.
 

WSU MUP Student

Cyburbian
Messages
9,373
Points
29
We replaced our hot water heater this fall - our old one was so old and inefficient that holding a Bic lighter under a giant pot of water would probably be an improvement in efficiency so I like to think our new hot water heater is helping!

Other than that... I've finally got my wife to start utilizing the ceiling fans to help circulate hot/cold air and keep the heat cost down and we've lowered the thermostat a few more degrees in the evening (put on a sweater!) and at night this year than in the past (we'll see if I can convince my family to keep that going once the temps get really low). I also did not water the lawn at all this past summer.

Our windows are pretty thin and inefficient compared to what's available these days. I think I might try putting the shrink wrap on a few of the ones that fell especially drafty.
 

DVD

Cyburbian
Messages
13,238
Points
33
We have led lights and some stock piled for when we move back into a house. We keep our thermostat low in the winter and high in the summer. Taking the train to work and my wife drives a hybrid - because that's everyone's solution.
 

kms

Cyburbian
Messages
5,748
Points
28
We use LED lights.
Thermostat is low during the day. I seldom run AC.
I don’t use household cleaning chemicals, just vinegar and water. I do use laundry soap, as you all know I abhor smelly clothes.
When I wash my car, most of the water sheet flows into my lawn and not into the storm drain.
I recycle and put out very little household trash.
 

kjel

Super Moderator
Moderator
Messages
11,870
Points
30
My house was rehabbed to be Energy Star certified and is super efficient. I installed a Nest thermostat three years ago and that has helped on heating and cooling costs-I have year round equal pay for combined gas and electric which is $133/month. All of my faucets and toilets are low flow as well. RT has a Nest in her house as well which has reduced the gas and electric bill dramatically from the prior owner's.

Some other things we do:

Buying food or household items with one layer of packaging, preferably that is recyclable
Reusing or repurposing things when feasible
Combining errands to make few trips in the car
Carpooling/using public transportation

Honestly the biggest thing we can do is reduce the amount of stuff we buy or use. It's often the forgotten "R" of the recycling triangle.
 

Whose Yur Planner

Cyburbian
Messages
10,259
Points
31
I recycle. I help out at several environment events. I am a long term subscriber to the National Wildlife Federation. For the past several years, I've adopted an animal through them. When I think about it, I bring reusable bags when I go shopping.
 

Super Amputee Cat

Cyburbian
Messages
2,113
Points
28
I had been trying to ride the bus more, but recently they eliminated my route. The stop used to be less than 150 feet from my house, but now the nearest stop is half a mile away. So I have to drive to the stop and take the bus into work from there. Though I still save 12 miles of driving every time I take the bus, just getting into the car and having to wait for the bus is an ordeal (especially when it's dark and cold) and defeats the whole purpose in the first place. The whole point is to not have to drive at all.
 

Linda_D

Cyburbian
Messages
1,725
Points
19
I recycle glass, plastics, paper & cardboard, and metals. My city has had a recycling program in place since before I moved to the area (20+ years), and recycling has just become a way of life here -- and in surrounding communities. I had a new HE gas furnace installed in this house when I moved in 15 years ago, and replaced it with a better model last year. I've also had a programmable thermostat that long as well, although since I retired, the temp only significantly lowers overnight.

I have taken several steps to make my yard much more wildlife/environmentally friendly, probably the most notable one planting a row of arborvitae along my northern property line to create a windbreak as well as provide privacy and shelter/food for birds. I have also kept a few "volunteer" trees -- two choke cherry and two red oak trees that sprung up and now are large enough to provide food for critters. I planted a couple of native hemlock saplings I dug out of my rural property, and this past spring I added a white spruce. Eventually these will provide more diverse evergreen nesting/shelter area for wildlife. My gardens are filled with flowers/plants that attract pollinators, including Joe Pye Weed which is a variety of milkweed which attracts monarch butterflies.

My brothers and I actively manage our rural property -- our former family farm -- to provide wildlife habitat and sustainable timber production. We have the woodlots logged for hardwoods about every 20 years, but we regularly cut the scrap hardwoods (crooked or crowded younger/smaller trees) for sale as firewood. We also cut black locust, which can become invasive, for fence posts (we have lots of Amish farmers in the area who still use wood fence posts). These trees grow in groves and are descended from trees my dad planted more than 50 years ago. We also keep many of our fields in clover/timothy hay so that there are open meadows surrounded by shrubby borders to provide cover/food sources for wildlife as well as provide sunny areas for native white pine and hemlock seedlings/saplings to flourish. We also make brush piles in the field edges to provide shelter/nesting areas for smaller animals like rabbits.

Over the years -- my dad started planting trees when he was a teenager in 4-H back in the 1930s! -- we've also planted thousands of trees, mostly pines and spruces, but also apples, oaks, and hyrbrid chestnuts. This past spring, we planted a row of several hundred (I lost count at 200+) of white spruce seedlings along the property line that borders the road to eventually provide a living privacy screen. We had a couple of "tree planting parties" for the family/friends who want hunt on our land later in the year. They provided extra manual labor early in the day, and we provided food and libation later.
 

RandomPlanner

Cyburbian
Messages
1,502
Points
21
Wow, you guys are great!

I think my biggest impact on the environment is that I almost never buy new items. I prefer vintage anyway but, other than clothes and food, I pretty much buy at goodwill/ antique shops and take hand-me-downs. I try to pass things along as well; I'm always sending pictures of stuff to my family and asking "does anyone want anything here before it goes to goodwill?".

I'm not saying my house is a junk pile from the 1970s. Far from it. I prefer 1940s-50s kitchen decor and have super cool artwork that's either hand made or was architectural salvage or the like. I do have an amazing couch that we bought new (made in North Carolina) but most of my furniture is vintage or antique -- back when things were made better anyway.

In 2019, I'd like to do some more canning. I didn't do any thing year but am looking forward to raiding my parents' pantry when I go there this month.
 

TOFB

Cyburbian
Messages
2,088
Points
21
Living 1.5 blocks from my wife's office and 3/4 mile from mine probably has more impact the the incremental things we do around the house.
 

michaelskis

Cyburbian
Messages
19,065
Points
41
I think that the overwhelming majority of us want to do things that are right for the environment and there are a ton of little things that we can do each day.

My wife and I were talking about this topic the other day and we decided to reduce the vicinity of our activities and try to stay as local as possible. There are several restaurants that we would eat at on a regular basis that were a 20 to 30 minute drive each way, but we decided that we are going to start eating at home more and driving much less. Furthermore, we are going to start composting and in the spring plant a vegetable garden in raised planter boxes using the square-foot gardening method. I have been reading a bit about the lack of biodiversity in the soil organisms for the mass farming operations and some of the chemicals that they put on the plants. While we will not be able to completely do away with buying veggies from the store, I know that I will be able to supplement our food with healthier stuff from our backyard.

The neighborhood that we live in is planned to be a very comprehensive mixed use area and part of that includes having grocery stores and restaurants nearby, and we bought our house knowing that in a few years, we will be able to walk to the store with a wagon to get what we need.

One of the things that a guy named Matt Grocoff told me years ago is that we need to do more to fix the existing infrastructure if we want to make a real difference. While yes, we live in a newly built house that was 'green' construction, there is still more that we can do. I am always looking for ways to make the house both energy efficient and healthier for my family. This includes tightening up air leaks, insulating the garage door, adding additional insulation under the first floor in the crawl space, and maybe installing a heat recovery ventilator. We also started buying window shades and blinds that will reduce the heat transfer but allow light into some rooms and make others (like bedrooms) blacked out.

Finally, we need to do a better job of helping and encouraging others to be green as well. Not just within our neighborhoods and our cities, but I think that this is one thing that the Federal Government needs to do a better job of in terms of our regulations and the regulations of other countries. The US is in the middle of the pack when it comes to the environment. Not only can we do better, but there many other countries, such as China and parts of the Middle East that are doing far worse that we are. (LINK)

But overall, I think that we as planners can do a profound amount within our local communities to help guide development to be more environmentally friendly.
 

Bubba

Cyburbian
Messages
4,548
Points
25
Living 1.5 blocks from my wife's office and 3/4 mile from mine probably has more impact the the incremental things we do around the house.
1.25 miles to Mrs. Bubba's office, and a ~12 minute walk to MARTA for me. You win. :D

There are several restaurants that we would eat at on a regular basis that were a 20 to 30 minute drive each way, but we decided that we are going to start eating at home more and driving much less.
I'm on board with most of the rest of your post, but forget this. Life's too short to not enjoy the simple pleasure of other people preparing damn good food and bringing it to your table. Not counting walking somewhere to grab some lunch when I'm in the office, we eat out on average three times a week (generally dinner Monday and Friday, and lunch/brunch on Saturday or Sunday), and I have no problem with that including a decent drive somewhere.
 

Linda_D

Cyburbian
Messages
1,725
Points
19
. We also started buying window shades and blinds that will reduce the heat transfer but allow light into some rooms and make others (like bedrooms) blacked out.
Window shades, blinds, and exterior awnings can make a major difference in comfort while reducing A/C use and may add some solar gain in the winter as well. While I have central air, I only use it when the hots and humids settle in for an extended stay. I have exterior fabric awnings on my south-facing and west-facing bedroom windows that keep the sun out in the summer, and since they come down for the winter, they allow the sun to shine in during the winter. My sunroom has four skylights, two of which face due south, which is great in the winter but made the sunroom unbearable during the summer (it's not air conditioned) -- until I invested in insulating, room darkening shades a few years ago. I can now use my sunroom during the summer except on the hottest days because of how much sunlight is reflected away by the shades.
 

RandomPlanner

Cyburbian
Messages
1,502
Points
21
I keep seeing this sentiment lately -- We don't need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly.

That being said (and inspired by the recent conversation about our throw-away society), here's a list of the other little things I do at my house:

  • use cloth napkins almost exclusively
  • use real plates, cups and silverware, even for parties
  • attempt to buy food in glass containers, then reuse the glass for a million other things
  • refuse a shopping bag when I can fit it in my purse
  • walk to meetings within a 1/2 mile of my office
  • always carry a refillable water bottle or coffee cup (and use it)
  • get creative with leftovers
  • use up what I have before buying new
  • skip the produce bags (I really need to make myself some cotton ones)

I feel like there's more I can do but I think I'm headed in the right direction.
 

Salmissra

Cyburbian
Messages
5,490
Points
25
I work for an entity that is a regional promoter of recycling, iSWM, Smartscape, and other environmentally friendly ideas. Many of the smaller things I already do:

-no plastic bags: use my reusable grocery bags and produce bags
-recycle anything and everything that is recyclable, including things I have to bring to the office recycle bin because the city doesn't pick it up
-reusable drink cups, which includes a coffee cup that can't go in the dishwasher so it's a great office mug
-drive a hybrid (no mass transit within several miles of my office)
-combine trips, be efficient with my errands
-use dinner leftovers for lunches
-low water, high heat/sun tolerant native or native-adapted plants
-buy new when I have to, donate and shop at secondhand places
-use the oven less in the summer, more in winter
-room-darkening curtains or blinds on windows
-LED lights

I'm sure there's some stuff I'm missing. I admit I don't compost.
 

JNA

Cyburbian Plus
Messages
24,355
Points
46
I can recycle
Newspaper, Shredded paper, magazines at a city park.
Plastics at a commercial recycler drop off.
plastic grocery bags at the grocery store.

At work I have a 16 oz water glass and a coffee mug.

At home I have
room-darkening curtains or blinds on windows
 

luckless pedestrian

Super Moderator
Moderator
Messages
10,956
Points
32
Recycle
Bring my own bags to grocery store
compost
keep heat very low
looking into solar roof tiles

bad thing: drive a VW diesel (was fixed at the mother ship but...)
 

Gedunker

Moderating
Moderator
Messages
10,937
Points
31
I was taught to recycle a long time ago when my Dirty Jerzey county mandated recycling through curbside pickup in like 1980 or so. I have carried it forward in my adult life and recycle with curbside pickup here, too. (Fortunately, I no longer have to separate recyclables like my parents did in NJ.)

LED lights in all lamps in my house and they are turned off when not in use.

I mostly use my own bags at the grocery. However, plastic sacks are perfect for cat litter, so I do occasionally get them.:confused:

Getting ready to refurbish all of my original wood windows this summer at home. It looks like the first time in their 50+/- years anybody has reglazed most of them. I'll also be caulking as needed. (My windows are spring loaded, not rope-and-weight, so there is no drafty air pocket beside each window. That was luck and not good planning on my part.)

I keep the heat as low as I can tolerate, but my cardiologist has me on an 81mg chewable aspirin everyday and I get cold easily and don't warm up very well. I do adjust it whenever I'm not home. I plan to install a smart thermostat this summer.

I never water my lawn.

I traded in a small pick-up truck for a fuel efficient auto. I combine trips and have a very short commute. (When we move to our new, historic city hall this fall or winter, I hope to start biking the commute more often.)
 
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