Leilani (my wife) and I are environmentalists. We believe in minimalizing our impact on the planet (within reason). Everybody has their own point between the extremes of non-consumption and over-consumption, non-polluting and over-polluting, and what is right for us, is not going to be right for everybody. I do think it is important for each one of us to do something. I think it is important for each of us to do whatever we can. We subscribe to "think globally and act locally". If we all do something, we can all accomplish a lot.
Pollution and global warming go hand in hand. Here are some of the things that both Norton Music as a business and Leilani and myself as world citizens do both in our business and our home to minimize our impact on the environment.
We challenge others to post what they are doing on the web, let me know and I'll add your link at the bottom of this page. Perhaps we can get a lot of people to do the same thing and help improve the earth.
Trees and Large Shrubs
A single tree will absorb one ton of carbon dioxide over its lifetime and carbon dioxide is one of the gases responsible for global warming. Shade provided by trees can also reduce your air conditioning bill by 10 to 15%. When we bought our little house on almost a half acre of land, there were only 3 saplings on the lot, and I could touch the top of all three. Leilani and I have planted:
- 25 Oak trees (mostly Live Oak)
- 12 Sabal Palm trees
- 6 Royal Poinciana trees
- 2 Sea Grape trees
- 2 Ficus trees (well the birds planted these and we let them live)
- 1 Neem tree
- 2 Gumbo Limbo trees
- 2 Yellow Tabebuia tree
- 5 Frangipani trees
- 16 Barbados Cherry shrubs (delicious and high in vitamin C)
- 16 Surinam Cherry shrubs (more free food for humans and wildlife)
- 2 Wax myrtles
- 4 Star Jasmine shrubs
- 1 Night-Blooming Jasmine, and numerous smaller shrubs.
All the plants are xeriscape plants, most are natives (or long established in Florida) plants, and once each plan becomes established (most are already) the need no extra irrigation or other care.
We run our air conditioner fewer than 10 days per year, and only for a couple of hours per day of use. We both grew up in Florida in the days before air conditioners were in anybody's home. A.C. is nice but not necessary. And at what price? They eat up huge amounts of electricity and the amount of heat they pump out into the environment must contribute quite a bit to global warming when multiplied by the number of homes that use them. When the temperature gets well over 92F/33C and the breeze is from the west, We'll turn it on during the hottest part of the day and turn it off about 4:00 PM when the air starts cooling. When we do turn on the AC, we set it at 80F/26C.
When we heat the house, we only heat it to 70F/21C.
Almost half of the energy we use in our homes goes to heating and cooling. You could save about 2,000 pounds of carbon dioxide a year for every 2 degree (F) change in your thermostat toward warm in the summer and cool in the winter.
We keep the filters clean. Cleaning a dirty air filter can save 350 pounds of carbon dioxide a year.
There are many other little ways to save electricity, and if everyone saves a little, the world saves a lot.
- All our laundry is washed in cold water. (The hot water spigot in the laundry room is turned off.)
- We use the water from the washer to irrigate a few Live Oak trees.
- For everything that can take the sun, Leilani and I use the solar clothes dryer (a/k/a the clothesline). Other things get hung indoors and the electric dryer gets used minimally.
- We replaced all our light bulbs except the two on a dimmer switch with energy saving compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs). The two on the dimmer switch are usually kept dim, also saving energy (unfortunately CFLs don't work with a dimmer), and we are converting to LEDs when these burn out.
- We only purchase "energy star" appliances.
- We put our energy saving outdoor lights on motion sensors so they only go on when needed.
- We always turn off lights, appliances, and water when not using them.
- We put 'always on' appliances on an on/off switch or unplug them when they are not in use so they don't drain any power.
Perhaps the biggest source of pollution and global warming gases in the world is the automobile. So we pay attention to our vehicles and try to lessen their impact on the planet.
- As a musician doing one-nighters, we need a mini-van to haul around the PA system. We chose one with a 4 cylinder engine.
- Since every gallon of gasoline saved keeps 20 pounds of carbon dioxide out of the environment we drive in a way that consistently gets 5 miles more per gallon than what the mini-van is rated for. With a 20 gallon tank, We get 100 more miles per tankful of fuel that the vehicle is rated for!!! How do we do that?
It seems simple, and it really takes no longer to get to our destination (more often than not we catch up to those lead-footed drivers at the next traffic light) but it works to the tune of 100 extra miles per tankful of fuel. We compute our mileage every time we fill up, and we use that to gauge whether or not we are pressing the gas pedal too hard or not.
- Some added bonuses to the way we drive are -- after driving 97,000 miles on my vehicle:
- We keep the cars tuned up (if 1% of car owners properly maintained their cars, nearly 1,000,000,000 pounds of carbon dioxide will be kept out of the atmosphere).
- We check the tires and keep them properly inflated. Proper inflation can improve gas mileage by 3%.
- When choosing a vehicle, gas mileage is one of the most important aspects. Especially since I keep my cars for 200,000 miles or more. Unfortunately I need a mini-van to haul the PA gear around, but Leilani's next car is going to be a hybrid (probably a Prius).
Recycled products and smart shopping
- We recycle everything our municipality picks up.
- We "pre-cycle" -- purchase things with minimal packaging and less to trash or recycle.
- We choose to purchase recycled paper products whenever they are available.
- We re-use whatever we can, as re-use is even better than recycling for mother earth.
- We get our produce at a local market that buys from local farmers whenever possible. Some of the "fresh" food in the supermarket can be trucked over a thousand miles to your store. Buying local saves the fuel used to transport the food.
- We buy fresh foods whenever possible as frozen foods use a lot of energy to keep them frozen and 10 times more energy to produce -- And besides for that, fresh food tastes better and is more nutritious.
- When re-roofing the house, we chose a very energy efficient roof with a high insulation factor, limiting the need for air conditioning (the same foam that NASA uses to keep the liquid fuel cold on the space shuttle).
- We painted the roof bright white. Since the scientists say that the white color of the ice caps help reflect heat back out of the atmosphere, I figure a white roof will do the same. Plus the light color helps keep the home cool and reduce the need for air conditioning.
- I use a push lawn mower instead of a lawn tractor or a self-propelled mower -- I burn much less fuel and I get good exercise while mowing the lawn.
- I use hand tools for pruning and trimming the shrubs and NEVER a leaf-blower or chain saw.
- I do not herbicide or fertilize my "lawn" (native ground cover).
- We compost vegetable matter and use it to fertilize our plants.
- We read the local newspaper on-line (saving trees).
- We seriously consider a candidate's environmental record when casting a vote in an election.
- We make shopping decisions with the environmental policy of business in mind. We support green businesses by giving them our business.
- I send all my Norton Music disks out over the Internet, so that no delivery person has to drive a gas burning vehicle to deliver your software. To compensate you for burning your own back-up disk, I give you a $3.85 to $10.35 discount per disk (includes the postage and handling savings).
We inherited this earth from our parents, and it wasn't in pristine condition when we got it, but the average citizen of our parent's generation didn't fully know what they were doing to the planet. Today, the undisputable scientific evidence is in (although there are people who for individual or corporate monetary gains would like you to believe otherwise), so we have no excuse. Most of us of age have brought children and some grandchildren to the world. We have a responsibility to them to leave the world in better shape. If we don't mend our ways, there is a real possibility that our children will not be able to live to old age because of global warming and famine.
Remember, the first "Earth Day" was April 22, 1970. We are the generation that gave birth to it. Let's not lose our ideals. If each one does a little, we can accomplish a lot.
If only half of what was said in the movie "An Inconvenient Truth" is true, we are all going to be in big trouble soon. See the movie and go to http://www.climatecrisis.net/