Friday, April 28, 2006

How saving the environment can help save you money

Nowadays, when I look at the gas prices I shiver in horror. I thought there was no way it could get any worse than $3 a gallon but now even the cheap stuff is close to $3.25 a gallon. I'm not alarmed by the gas prices because I drive a gas guzzling SUV or drive an excessive number of miles and part of me is glad that the higher gas prices are making people think about alternative forms of transportation and conservation (the operative word in that sentence being "think"). Maybe more people will go out and by hybrid cars, making the actual cost of hybrid cars go down. Maybe more people will take the bus so that they will actually start adding more buses to the route and lowering bus fare. And maybe more people will start riding their bikes and they will see the need to make more bike lanes on the street (you have to be pretty fearless to ride your bike in the street where I live). I'm not going to get into a lengthy debate about whether or not the gas prices are justified or not because, well, it just makes me angry.

But I do want to point out that it's not just the actual price we pay to fill up our tank of gas that will be going up, it will be the price of everything. Think about it. Transport costs go up. Electricity prices go up. The cost to manufacture goods goes up. As the cost to do business goes up, companies will pass this on to the consumers as higher prices. I'm no economist but I foresee inflation. Not just your regular run of the mill inflation, but big mean bad angry inflation (can you tell I am not an economist?).

They say that gas prices are the result of "supply and demand" in the market. So what can we do as consumers to decrease demand for energy therefore bringing the market cost back down and saving the environment in the process?

Well there is the obvious DRIVE LESS and buy more energy efficient vehicles but there are also a lot of other things that we can do that will save us money in the short term as well as reduce consumption. By reducing consumption we not only cut back on the amount of waste that is created when we throw the product away but also reduce the amount of energy and resources that it took to create it in the first place.

One of those things we can do is to stop buying bottled water. Bottled water is one of my biggest pet peeves. Not only are you paying a ridiculous premium for something that you can get right out of your faucet, but the waste it creates is astronomical.

PEOPLE, you have got to get over your fear of the water in the faucet and stop buying bottled water! What a waste. We don't live in Tijuana where it probably isn't safe to drink the water. Do you know anyone who has ever gotten sick from drinking the tap water? I certainly don't. Studies have shown that bottled water is the same if not worse than tap water. And if it's taste you're worried about, I have found that by purchasing a filter and keeping water in the refrigerator I end up with water that is virtually indistinguishable in flavor from any water I have had from a bottle. And if its portability you worry about, just buy a water bottle that you can wash and use over and over again.

I use the Brita Pitcher and Nalgene Water Bottle, both one time investments that have paid for themselves many times over because I don't need to constantly buy bottled water. If you consider that the price of a bottle of water is approximately $.50, the total cost of these two items is about the same as 80 bottles of water. Assuming that you drink two bottles of water per day, the cost of both of these items will be recovered in less than two months.

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Have you ever thought about how much environmental harm is caused by those little water bottles? The Container Recycling Institute estimates that 1.5 million barrels of oil are consumed every year, just to transport bottled water in the United States. That is enough oil to fuel 100,000 cars for one year! That is not including the energy cost to produce the bottles or to transport the waste that will end up in landfills for more than 1,000 years, the time it takes for a single bottle to biodegrade.

Just by making one small change, you could be saving yourself money, reducing the demand for oil and saving the environment, all at once.

Ok, I'm going to go hug a tree now.

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Tex said...

Make an ethanol still. You can run your vehicle on almost pure alcohol if you want and then you don't have to pay $4+/gallon.

Buddha Mouse said...

Thanks for bringing this up; this is something that has been bothering me, but not enough to do anything about it.

I really hate the taste of tap water where I live, and I don't like the idea of drinking in all the chlorine, fluorine, etc. I'd be just as happy to filter it, instead of using bottled water... but here's my situation:

Currently, we have bottled water at work (it comes in those giant water cooler bottles). My current system is to buy a $6 24-pack of 0.5L Poland Springs. I'll reuse one of those bottles over the course of 2 - 3 days, continually filling it with bottled water from work; then I'll toss it in the recycling bin. I use about one 24-pack in two months or so, which means about $3/month spent on bottled water. Obviously, I am getting a subsidy on bottled water from my work place - this makes it harder to switch to filtered water which would be at my own expense.

Suppose I switch to a filter on my tap, fill a Nalgene bottle with filtered water, and avoid the bottled water at work. I'm not sure if this would end up costing me more than my current procedure; maybe it would pay off over the very long run, but I think it would take a long time to pay off, just because of the work-water subsidy.

But what about the environmental cost of the filter device and replacement filters? Probably over the long run, all the plastic bottles that I use (which do get recycled), are more environmentally costly than the filter device itself and replacement filter cartridges. I'm not totally sure though. I think this is why I haven't put in the effort to get a filter for my tap.

Maybe I'll try bringing in a Nalgene bottle for a few days and see how that goes. I find the Poland Spring bottle pretty handy for drinking in front of the computer. I may have to invest in a more suitable Nalgene bottle, the one I have is fine for camping but a bit large for desk work.

mapgirl said...

AMEN SISTER! I am with you!

One gallon of water weighs 8 pounds. Transporting it takes gas. It takes petroleum to make the bottle it goes into, etc. Water out of the tap makes much more sense.

D said...

Great point on the water bottles. Thanks for making me stop & think. We go thru cases around here. I have a whole house filter system and a water dispenser in my fridge with a filter, so we drink a lot of water around here. The bottles are only used for on the go things like softball games and such. But you are right there are ways around that too.

Anonymous said...

"now even the cheap stuff is close to $3.25 a gallon. I'm not alarmed by the gas prices because I drive a gas guzzling SUV or drive an excessive number of miles "

Did you mean yor DON'T drive an SUV?

Corrie J said...

You are so right. First of all gas prices have practically skyrocketed. It's amazing. I'm convinced that we will soon grow accustomed to the $3.00 per gallon prices we are currently paying. It's funny that people complain so much about gas prices but are so quick to buy a bottle of water. Quick math lesson: A 20oz bottle of water now sells for $1.19 on average in Virgina my home state. There are 128 ounces in a gallon which means that 1 gallon of gas is equal to 6.4 bottles of water. So you figure you can buy 1 gallon of regular gas for about $2.87 and 1 gallon (6.4 bottles since most of us don't buy it by the gallon) water for $7.62 + tax. Even worse consider the process of refining gas and parallel that to the process of bottling water. No comparison right? So to those of you who buy bottled water or hell even coffee at 3.00 per cup, do the math, compare the process and you'll see that we are getting quite a deal on gasoline! Check out my blog - You've inspired me!

LeighAnn said...

I think I will hug a tree now too!

the Prince of Thrift said...

another area of oil consumption is those damn plastic bags at the grocery store and department sores (wal-mart, Target, Sears, etc). Ask for paper, even wally world has paper hidden under the counter, if you's easier to re-use and doesn't use the oil that is in plastic.
- Kevin S. (aka

Jérôme said...

"You are right you are right"
they will all say:
But how many people actually move their butt and change their way of life. "Ohh but hybrid vehicles are very expensive for now, i can't afford it" they will all say, but those who can afford it won't buy an ugly vehicle , they will buy a Mercedes-benz. And if you can afford it you don't mind about gas.
The worst problem of our civilization is that everything has a cost, and when you look after profits, expressions like "at all cost" ,as saving the environment should be, is actually not, because saving the planet would mean losing money.
So in the current system, as long as saving the Earth is not a profitable business for some people, nothing will really change.
And do people really want to change? they will change only if technology can improve and save the earth without having them lose any comfort. Always more for me, less for the rest.

lpkitten said...

sorry abou the comments not showing up! i didn't realize that some of them didn't get approved. oops! said...

wow i really had no idea! thank u for this!