Yesterday's Random Dozen included a question about being green/organic. Which prompted me to take this quiz on cnn.com this morning. Boy, were the results embarrassing! Three out of six. Definitely need to get my green on!
Albertson's grocery chain has opened four state-of-the-art stores in San Diego, significantly reducing their carbon footprint by:
~ incorporating a 400-kilowatt fuel cell that produces 90 percent of the power used by the store, virtually taking the store off the power grid
~ using highly-efficient LED lighting throughout, reducing energy consumption by at least 50 percent
~ installing over 32 skylights -- with photo sensors that measure how much sunlight comes into the store and automatically adjusts the lights
~ using night curtains to keep the cold air inside the refrigerated displays, reducing compressor usage
~ installing water-saving fixtures in the restrooms
I don't know about you, but I'm impressed! I also want one of those fuel cells :)
We became a little more aware of energy consumption while in Uganda for a year...where we lived in a home without electricity. Instead we bought, begged and borrowed a total of four small solar panels that we used in conjunction with four truck batteries. It wasn't the most efficient system but it provided enough power to have light for a couple hours a night and listen to the radio as well. Since Uganda is on the equator, the sun rose and set at the same time every day so by 7 p.m. it was DARK and we were thankful for the low wattage light; not really good enough to read by, but sufficient for our needs. We rarely ran out of 'juice' except when, on those VERY RARE occasions, we had several overcast days in a row.
During that time we also depended on two sources for water: the cistern for washing clothes (by hand), flushing the toilet and cleaning the house. For drinking water we used water drawn from the bore-hole well that supplied our community (Kasana Children's Center) and nearby village. Water was precious and not to be wasted!
For showering we could have used water straight from the cistern but that was pretty cold. A team from the U.S. who arrived about the same time but was only there for three weeks, left three solar shower bags for us to use, which were GREATLY appreciated! The bags held something like 3 gallons of water; not a lot, but enough to take a "jungle" shower: get wet, stop the water and lather up, then turn it on long enough to rinse off. At the beginning I marveled that we could actually manage to shower and wash our hair with so little water but half way through the year two of us were able to shower with the contents of one bag! Amazing how you can adjust. However, those solar shower bags are not really intended for daily use and by the end we were limping along with only one bag intact. Thankfully it held out until we left!
Almost nothing was thrown away. Food scraps went to animals. Paper products were used to light fires. Metal and glass containers were recycled. When you have almost nothing, you don't waste what you do have. I would throw something away without even thinking about it only to see one of the house workers digging it back out.
That year definitely made us re-think energy usage, especially power and water. A study by researchers determined Americans are pretty clueless when it comes to how much energy different appliances and electronics use. Despite our experience in Uganda, I sure proved the statistic when I took the quiz. How about you -- why don't you take the quiz and see how you fare?