It seems you blend in with so many other ordinary things
As much as I admire and respect Mr. The Frog, he's wrong about that. It is easy being green. And I can prove it.
Many of these topics have been diaried before, so I don't lay any claim to great originality here, but there are so very many things you can do to save the world (or at least lay waste to a little less of it). I've taken many of these steps. I'll be taking more as time and money permits. The important thing to remember is that you don't have to huddle cold by the light of a single white LED to improve your working relationship with planet earth. Details follow.
Since that time, I did very little to advance the cause of environmentalism and renewable energy. I rationalized my inaction by thinking that my FAQ had helped others to go photovoltaic.
Well, I did little things, like using compact flourescent light bulbs, driving the highest mileage cars I could find, and so forth.
There are people opting for radical simplicity. And it well may be true given population, peak oil, carrying capacity, and whatever other facts will come calling at the door of our extravagant lifestyle that we will all be forced down that route one day. But until that time, for those of us with money to spend and who like being cool in the summer, we can still cut back without giving up all of our comforts. In fact, some of these steps can enhance your comfort.
1. Buy a TerraPass for each of your cars. TerraPass invests directly in non-carbon emitting energy projects. If you buy a TerraPass, you will "bring into being" carbonless energy production that is the equivalent of your car's carbon output. Strictly speaking, this doesn't reduce carbon or consumption at all. It suffers from the problem that all efficiency increases have, namely that it makes more energy available to others at low cost. Still, if this accelerates the economics and the replacement of aging polluting technologies with clean renewables, then it will be great benefit in the long run.
2. Get a home energy audit to see where you can save the most.
3. Move closer. Yes, I live in affluent, white exurbia, but I now live a full 50 miles closer to my metro than I used to. I haven't calculated the carbon effects of that, but they are huge. Even if you use public transport, it is huge.
4. Replace incandescent with compact flourescent lights. I have done this everywhere except over my wife's and my grooming mirrors and directly over my stove (the different color temperature of these light sources makes for undesirable colors in those contexts. I am also looking at white LED lighting but I have yet to buy and try these. I'll report when I do.
5. Take energy into account when upgrading. Part of our move closer included new appliances. We spent a bit more to get the lowest energy consumers we could afford. Front-loading clothes washer, two drawer dishwasher with "eco" setting. The one place we really could have done better is on our refrigerator. The very lowest power units I know of are Sun Frost refrigerators. We couldn't afford these (after our other expensive appliances). We went with the lowest energy consumer sold in our local big-box appliance retailer.
6. Telecommute. I am a self employed software engineer and I push for as many telecommute days each week that I can get the client to accept. Obviously this is only possible in certain professions!
7. Join a CSA Association. I found mine in Minnesota through the Land Stewardship Project. What is CSA? I'm sure it has been diaried many times here, but briefly it stands for Community Supported Agriculture and it is a system where you buy a share of a farm's harvest directly through cash, labor, or both. It is good for the farmer in that they get the money for the season up front and gets a higher price than he or she can get from the giant agriculture distributors like Cargill, ADM, and so forth. It is good for the buyer in many ways. You get very fresh produce, usually purely organically grown, every week during harvest time (for my farm, May to September). You get local crops. You get healthier food. You get greater variety in your diet and less processed food. You develop your cooking skills. You get real variety in your diet. Many of these operations are vegan by choice, some by pure practicality, but you can find CSA organic farms that do meats, poultry, and eggs. You get high quality food at a lower price than you would if they had passed through the middlemen. It is good for the environment in that more land is used organically, without bioaccumulating toxins. Less energy is used, if in no other sense than the food is not processed and doesn't travel. Unless you are going to home can and pickle like crazy, you'll still get food from the supermarket, but less and less. And I've started making homemade jerky with paper furnace filters and a big box fan. You'd be amazed how good it is!
8. Go renewable directly. I contacted a local renewable energy company called Innovative Power Systems and got a design and bid on a multi-element renewable energy system. My home is currently LP gas and electric grid powered. I have a high efficiency furnace, water heater, and central AC, the most efficient I can get in fact. But I plan to switch to natural gas now that it has come to my neighborhood. But no matter how you look at it, it is all fossil fuel (or at least non-renewable). Luckily, I have a large, south facing roof, a well sealed and insulated home with excellent passive solar gain, some acreage in the backyard, and roughed-in in-floor radiant heat in the basement. So, I'm switching from a LP gas 60 gallon water heater to a tankless electric water heater with a 60 gallon solar thermal heated pre-tank. I'm also hooking the solar thermal system to the radiant floor system, so I will have three zones of free heat during daylight hours. With luck, I will use very little electricity to heat my water, and very little gas to heat my home. While I'm at it, I'm putting in grid-intertie solar PV (about 3kW worth -- not much, but a start) and a 10kW wind turbine. I've mentioned this project before, and I will diary it in detail. I'll be years implementing it all, but I'll start with the solar thermal since that gives the biggest bang for my buck. I'm literally days away from a closing that will give me the funds to start these, my most ambitious efforts so far. I'm finally putting my money where my mouth is on renewables.
9. Turn things off. You'd be amazed how much junk is on sucking power in your home. All those gizmos that come on when you hit a button on your remote are there sucking power just to see if you've hit the damned button. The simple expedient of plugging all your stuff on to a single power strip that you shut off when you leave the room can save you $100/year and several thousand pounds of atmospheric carbon.
10. Use a laptop instead of a desktop. They really use less power and they aren't substantially less powerful computers anymore. I run an always-on network at my home for my business. All my "servers" are laptops with their displays shut off. It works well.
Well, that's what I'm doing so far. My effort? Pretty damned small.
I don't claim to be an authority. Before I wrote this diary, I did some looking around at other similar diaries and I got lots of good ideas. I suggest you do the same. If you've got simple and effective tips to add, please comment! I'd love to hear the ideas.
I very much applaud those going the whole route to simple living. But for those of us not quite ready for that, we can do so many things. I'd love to hear from you about what you do. I'd love to exchange conservation ideas.
Good luck to us all!