Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Status on Our Sustainable Efforts

Recently, someone at corporate at Kim's work questioned whether consumers would be willing to spend extra money on things they didn't perceive to have a direct health benefit (i.e. spending money on carbon credits to avoid something bad perhaps happening in a number of years. Here's Kim's response, which nicely sums up a lot of our efforts over the past couple of years (except for food, which of course is another major focus for us):

Thanks for bringing this to the attention of those in Dallas that people really are willing to pay more for items they believe to be sustainable. My family is currently working to increase our use of sustainable practices and decrease our carbon footprint.

With this in mind, over the last three years we have:
  • Built a new house which was pre-built in a warehouse. By pre-building sections of the house in a warehouse less wood is consumed and wasted – everything can be pre-measured and the small sections of the 2x6s that are left over are used elsewhere in the construction. We paid a bit more for this, but felt that by doing so we reduced the impact on our forests. The house is two stories with a finished basement, and overall living space is 3500 square feet.
  • All ceiling lighting (not floor lamps – yet!) utilizes CFLs.
  • Outdoor security lighting is tied to a solar panel and timer to turn on and off throughout the year.
  • About 6 months ago we started purchasing green energy form our local energy company. We purchase enough green energy to off-set all our electric needs.
  • Since we are not yet ready to buy a hybrid car (which our next one will most certainly be), we are purchasing carbon credits to off-set the gas that we purchase for both vehicles each year.
  • We have invested in prairie plants and built rain gardens in our yard to keep the run off form our roof on our property and out of the storm sewers. The upfront cost of a rain or prairie garden is a bit higher than for your traditional garden plants, but well worth the investment.
Future plans:

  • We plan to add additional rain gardens as well as rain barrels to our city lot to decrease the amount of city water we need to pull from the lakes and water table.
  • We are currently looking into solar energy panels and what it would cost to install them, as well as what our ROI would be.
  • As an alternative to solar energy, we are looking into solar water heating as well. The up front costs are lower and the ROI is better, so this may be our entry point into the world of solar. Before we can install any solar, however, we need to get plans drawn up which need to go before a review committee for our neighborhood, and we need to get he covenants changed to allow solar panels. Neither of which will be easy, however we feel it will be well worth the battle.
  • I recently found out about “paper plates” and “plastic-ware” that is biodegradable and (I believe) corn based. Instead of throwing it in the garbage after your July 4 picnic, you can just throw everything into the compost bin. We will definitely be using them the next time we plan a picnic gathering!


Aquabarrel said...

When you are ready to purchase your rain barrel you might want to take a look at the Co-op America approved rain barrel manufacturer:

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