Cheap living a good step toward being ‘green’

By Tom Gocze, BDN Staff
Posted April 24, 2009, at 10:52 p.m.

I write this with some trepidation: I am sick of “green.” I probably should have ended with this statement instead of starting with it. But I am not always tactful.

The problem is that I have been around for a while. As someone who is on the other side of 50, I, along with my wife, have been trying to save energy and “do the right thing.” This used to be called “ecoliving.”

I didn’t like that term, either.

What we and a lot of people our age did, and still do, is what makes common sense. That’s a term I still like.

There is a lot of green stuff on TV. There is Planet Green TV, Green Living, the G Word and much more. I like green, as a color. I like green as an Irish thing (no offense to the Orange!).

The problem with green living is it is subjective. Buying used lumber for $50 a board-foot is considered green. You do not need to spend a lot of money to be green. In fact, I think being cheap is possibly a good step toward being green.

There is no better solar device than a clothesline. It is inexpensive and easy to use. There are no big disposal costs. In fact, it might make a great jump rope once it wears out. And it can be biodegradable. How many of us use one? Maybe it needs a tax credit?

We have a major recycling issue with old electronics. Why are so many electronic devices not repairable? Why are computers not made to be upgraded instead of made to be obsolete?

Which one is a greener product: plastic siding that might not have to be replaced or wood that needs to be repainted every five years? This one I am not sure about.

Is cement siding a wiser choice? Who makes that call? The green czar? Who is the green czar? Should President Obama appoint one?

Let me poke someone with a stick — what about garbage disposals? An electric device that grinds up food waste that might otherwise go on a compost heap? What is greener than a compost heap? Why would we want food waste to go down a drain? What is less green than that? Do we kill this entire industry to be green?

Does green mean we need to spend $40,000 on a photovoltaic roof and get a 30 percent tax credit back for it? How about if we did away with the big-screen TV or movie room or man cave? (I hear the rumbling crowds amassing.)

Is it green to spray chemicals on the lawn or golf course? How about mowing the lawn? Would it be greener to burn off the thatch on the lawn once a year in the springtime?

Shouldn’t we all be superinsulated and use a wood stove instead of oil? Well, yeah, but you knew I would say that.

Oh, here’s a great one: Should we all drive more slowly? Should we get rid of the big SUVs for smaller ones, at the very least? How about a hybrid? I drive a Prius. I like it a lot. It makes me drive more slowly and it upsets everyone. If I observe the speed limit, as I do in the Prius, can you guess what happens?

I couldn’t afford a new one, so I rebuilt a salvaged one. I think that might be green. I rebuilt (with a lot of help) a car that might have been crushed.

I buy a lot of stuff at Marden’s, which is mostly salvage material. That is green, right?

I could say, “It’s not easy being,” but I won’t. What I will suggest is that we all think about how we invest our money and energy.

And don’t believe everything the pundits say, even me.

Questions for Tom Gocze may be mailed to The Home Page, Bangor Daily News, P.O. Box 1329, Bangor 04402-1329. A library of reference material and a home-project blog are at www.bangordailynews.com/thehomepage.html.

http://bangordailynews.com/2009/04/24/living/cheap-living-a-good-step-toward-being-green/ printed on September 19, 2014