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Save Energy And Grow Your Own Food!

As I ponder the debate of alternative energy solutions and the pros and cons of alternative energy, I keep coming back Conserving Energy is Good for the Environmentto the fact that it is not just about energy but lifestyle. Every lifestyle choice we make affects our energy usage.

Take for instance the choices we make concerning what we eat. Have you ever considered how much energy is consumed transporting fruit and vegetables? We take for granted that there will always be fresh produce available and if things are out of season we can still buy them because they are imported from overseas… but at what cost to the environment? It seems to me that this system is both inefficient (energy-wise) and wasteful due to the amount of spoilage at the end of the supply chain. The fact is, if the produce does not look good it never even gets to the shelf!

So what is the answer? Become more self sufficient and less choosy! This is a new area for me but I believe that we all have to start somewhere. I have a standard quarter acre suburban block but instead of just growing grass I have started to grow some of my own fruit and veges. I have had some success with a few basics like pumpkins (which require a bit of space) and tomatoes (both cherry tomatoes and Conserving Energystandard ones). I am now trying to get a herb garden going and a few fruit trees established. I am hoping to harvest my first apples soon, and I have some figs coming on as well.

So, instead of using my limited water supply (and grey water) trying to keep the grass green, I am now producing at least some of my own food. OK, I still have a long way to go, but at least it is a start.

I also found that we have a local farmers produce market some weekends, which costs less than the supermarket, is fresher and though it may not always look as good, it sure reduces drastically the amount of energy used in the supply chain! Therefore in energy terms, growing your own fruit and vegetables is another excellent alternative energy solution in assisting in preserving our environment.

It is a worthwhile saving and better for all in the long term.

Recycle Facts on How to Reduce our Carbon Footprint

Recycle Facts to help Reduce our Carbon FootprintI have to admit that even though the evidence has been mounting up over the last 20 years I have been slow to accept the fact that I have contributed to the current world environmental crisis. I am part of the western world that uses far more power, water and other resources per capita than is equitable! I have also come to realise that as a Christian I have a God given responsibility to protect this world and be a good steward of those limited resources. Sadly, history shows that the western church has been a willing partner in exploiting and destroying the environment and is strangely silent in this current debate.

It seems to me that the message of the Bible is that injustice makes God angry, and that when nature is in pain He takes notice! God is on the  side of the powerless and downtrodden and He expects us to be accountable Recycle Facts on Reducing Carbon Footprintfor what we have done with what He has given us. Just like my mother expected me to tidy up the mess in my room , so too I believe that God expects us to do something about the mess we have made in the world and adjust the current inequitable distribution of resources.

The key to all this is knowing where to start! Most of us get overwhelmed because it seems too hard, but here are three things  that we can all do:

  1. Reduce! If we would all stop and reassess the difference between what we want and what we need, we would probably be able to reduce both what we buy and what we use. That would in turn reduce our consumption of resources and power! Do we really need all those things that the media is telling us are essential?
  2. Reuse! What we need to recognise is that we have grown up to be a throw-away society, yet we can choose to buy a reusable bag and NOT to accept and use a plastic one. Our landfill tips are full of things that could have been reused, but in our affluent western culture we just don’t bother, we buy a new one. Stand against this trend and be different.
  3. Recycle! We are getting better at this but we still have a long way to go. With just a little effort on our part we can recycle  all the aluminum, steel, paper, glass and some plastics we use – this will reduce consumption of raw materials. By choosing recyclable items over non-recyclable we can all do our part for the environment.

Acting on these simple recycle facts will help reduce our carbon footprint, our power consumption and our waste, with the result that we will have a healthier and more equitable world. You’ve got to be happy with that!

Solar Energy History Facts

From earliest recorded history Solar power has been important. The ancient Egyptians (and other ancient cultures) worshiped the sun as the ultimate source of power, and so who are we to challenge the concept. They were able to use solar energy to bake clay brick and build temples that stood for thousands of years. In fact over the last two or three  thousand years we have more and more reasons to recognise it’s power over our lives. The trick, as always, is how to use that power wisely.

Leonardo daVinci in the 15th century also recognised the power of the sun and with a series of concave mirrors was able to focus the solar energy on a cooking pot and boil water. Five hundred years later we know you can do things like that but lack the patience and the inventive genius to actually do it!

In 1838 Edmund Becquerel recognised that some materials were able to turn sunlight into energy, and though he published his findings nobody was particularly interested. A few others played with these ideas but it was not till 1921 when Albert Einstein published his theories on photoelectric effect and was awarded the Nobel prize that many people even noticed its possibilities.

The fact is if it wasn’t for the need to power satellites it may have been entirely forgotten! The research into how to power the Vanguard 1 satellite in 1958 resulted in some quantum leaps forward for Photovoltaic cells (PV cells) and these cells have continued to be a part of satellite programs ever since.

During the 1970′s there was another surge forward when the manufacturing costs dropped from about $100 per watt to a mere $20 per watt, and this resulted in making them much more available for a range of new applications such as railroad and road warning signs, lighthouses and warning buoys.

During the last 15 to 20 years the price of PV cells has continued to fall and the efficiency has continued to increase, making them much more available to ordinary citizens to power holiday homes and other locations that did not have access to the national power grid. The most recent development has been the tax incentives offered by many governments to encourage domestic premises to install Solar panels with the excess production being fed back into the commercial grid.

Yet for all that, solar energy technology produces less than one tenth of one percent of global energy demand! Yes, we have made some great progress but here is still a long way to go.

So, where to from here? Solar energy facts are good to know, an important first step, but we also need to act on this information.

Shell Oil predicts that by mid century, up to 30% of the world’s energy could come from renewable sources. However, that will not just happen we will have to make it happen by accepting some short term pain to get that long term gain.  What are you prepared to do to help?

This ebook, GREEN ENERGY 101, is an excellent resource for those who are interested in learning more about alternative energy. This e-book explains alternative energy systems, going into detail the different types of alternative energy available and what systems are available to homeowners as well as their advantages and disadvantages. Well worth reading!

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle Facts

In my discussion with a new group of people this week I was amazed by the fact that many of them wanted to be ecologically sensitive but just didn’t know where to start. They are now aware of the need to go green for the benefit of the planet, but thought it was too complicated and so fail to do anything. The fact is it is not all that complicated, the idea is to start small and build up to bigger things. Here are six things that we can all do:

1. Drive less! This week I was in a new city and I really enjoyed just walking around getting a feel for it – which was much better than just getting a quick glimpse through the windscreen. These days I try to walk (or cycle) as much as I can for all short trips, getting the benefit of the exercise and the reduction in fuel costs.
2. Reuse! My current passion is the need to reuse water bottles. They are a fairly new innovation that have quickly become essential! WRONG! They may be handy, but the cost and the fact that so many end up in landfill tips mean that they are bad for the environment.
3. Recycle! My next bug bear is grocery bags. I am old enough to remember before we had plastic bags, and walking to the shops with with our own shopping trolley on wheels. We cannot turn back the clock, and I can no longer walk to where we do our main shopping, but I now try to remember taking our own recyclable shopping bags. Plastic shopping bags are bad for the environment so choose not to use them.
4. Save water! as population expands so does our need for water, but we can no longer just build another dam. Therefore we all need to do all we can to conserve this precious resource. we now have our own tank to catch our rain water and we use our gray water from the washing machine to water our lawn and garden.
5. Insulate! Even modern houses are not well insulated, so adding insulation to the ceiling space and remembering to open and close your heavy insulated curtains can minimise heat loss in winter and keep you house cooler in summer. This will save you money on your heating and cooling bills and be better for the environment.
6. Generate! It is now getting easier to generate your own electricity, so consider whether it is now time to invest in solar panels for your roof, or install a solar water heater or build your own wind turbine. The energy you produce can then be fed back into the commercial grid and you can get paid for it.

It has never been easier to go green, so what are you going to do today to apply these suggestions to your life.