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Live a One Earth Lifestyle with These Resources

| 2/12/2019 9:45:00 AM

For those talking about climate change, the environment, resilience and sustainability, a term known as environmental footprint, often enters the discussion. For use here, environmental footprint refers to the impact or damage, a person’s lifestyle has on the natural world - water, soil, air.  These impacts are the consequences of driving a car, food choices, size of home, vacation and whatever else a person does that impacts the natural world.

Important to add, that footprint should include impact and damage on the well being of society. One’s lifestyle not only affects the natural world, it also affects public health, politics and social cohesion.

The more energy and resources one uses, the bigger the environmental footprint.  Big homes with few residents and cars cause more damage to the planet than a modest home and a bike. Beef has a bigger footprint than beets.  

A map of the world that compares countries and their environmental footprints, shows the United States stands out.  The average person in the United States uses far more resources than the average person in almost any other country, even affluent countries like Sweden or Japan.

6/28/2019 5:37:51 PM

Tho more are climbing on the bandwagon of living more “green”, we need far more, in developed countries, to get with it in more meaningful ways. Seems like many articles are newcomers to it, suddenly awakening to things...good! But too little mention of do-able ways to achieve reductions in footprints. We’ve been early adopters of some DIY lower-cost ways to drop energy use, that have actually made a more countable energy reduction than, say, adding more insulation into the tract-house trusses. Like: getting 2 modest chest freezers + 1 add-on thermostat & 1 heavy-duty appliance timer. The 7.3 c.f. Unit runs as a fridge using that thermostat; the 14cf. unit runs as freezer, but off for a few hours per night. The 2 units, if on at same time, draw about 200 watts...dramatically less than the average energy star upright fridge (around 700 watts). Run from Grid, saves approx. $30 - $40 off utility bill, monthly. That allows running them from a Goal Zero Li1400 battery box, fed from a collection of solar panels. We also (‘cuz we could), cobbled an intake vent into a hall closet, connected with 6” ducting + duct fan, laid on crawlspace ground, covered with a Reflectix blanket, to isolate it to the ground temp a bit. Outlets are elsewhere in house. This does two things: allows filtering the air, & helps temper indoor air a bit, to help reduce heat/cool costs. It also provides “white noise”, to camouflage the sounds that carry so badly through this tract house. We made (2) 4’x8’ solar air heaters at the last place rented, & booted those to a small south window. At 1st, they leaked heat to outdoors, so, low-end coldest winter month only saved about 100 kwh’s off power bill; later improvements to them, boosted that to about 300 kwh’s saved off power bill, in coldest month. Dollars? Between $20 to $50 saved off winter heat bills...that’s meaningful. So, we plan to install more of that, at this place. Note: location: Olympia, WA; there’s only 2 or 3 weeks in deep of winter, when this does not work, & vents are closed. Simple thing: getting pre-made 90% shade cloth roll-up shades, hung from outer ends of rafters over windows. This prevents heat reaching windows, very effectively reduced room temp by over 10 degrees F. or more. One shades a window AC unit, which works better when shaded. At a previous location, this kind of shade helped make an apartment (CA) that got sun all day, drop from well over 110F., to the low 90F. That would have been even better, if we’d been able to hang shades from outer rafters over the large bedroom window, too. We bought Twinwall polycarbonate panels @ hardware store, cut to fit into the framing around windows, held in place, top & bottom, by spring-rods. This blocks temperature transfer at the windows, very meaningfully. Let’s in loads of light; gives a little privacy, when curtains are open. Front windows are single-pane aluminum..can’t afford replacement costs for awhile. But neighbor down street did theirs...we rescued those. Framed outside about 3” from around outside of ours, cleaned, caulked all old windows, then mounted those matching ours, forming a 3” air gap. This has been more efficient than most dual-pane windows, so we’ll keep them! Only product that might work better, is the Anderson triple-e-coat unit’s...but those are a king’s ransom we won’t have. we bot a place, lots of things are on the air heaters (must shade them in summer!); retrofitting exterior walls with R-30 insulation; digging large, meaningful cisterns to catch water. MAYbe get 3 or 4 solar water humidity distillers for all potable water needs...but those are about $5k per pair, which don’t cover all needs for 2, because they shut off during freezing weather. Building a 10’ transitional space across back of house, using mostly recycled materials (yes...slow!), prevents house getting too much solar gain. Once that is enclosed mostly, it will also prevent freezing temps infiltrating so much...already does...& is protecting whole back of house from deterioration that was happening. Been landscaping, trying to transplant native plants, mostly...because, many areas, the assessor is blocked from jacking-up valuation, if native plants are replanted to better locations, or if birds seeded something. You just gotta catch them at it, contest their higher assessment. Eventually, LOTS of things can be done here, if we last that long!

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