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Chapter 5 - Do more
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5 Do more
We talked a lot in the previous chapter about the many daily and simple changes you can make to positively impact the environment, by reducing your contribution to pollution, resource drain and the like (check out the "checklists" section for many more ideas).
But there are many other choices you can make that will also impact the environment. While the cumulative effect of those daily choices is significant and impactful, there are other changes you can make that with one swift and single change will have even more an impactful result.
In this chapter, then, we'll examine some of these impactful changes. Perhaps you might choose to make regular daily changes and add one impactful change. That's excellent. Maybe you aren't interested in changing too much about your daily choices, but are willing to buy a new car or add a composting toilet to your home. That's good, too.
Remember our adage - you can make a difference. Every little bit helps.
Let's get the dirty stuff out of the way first. This is a concept that's catching on in some areas, with some people who are already comfortable with and dedicated to the concept of composting. Here we just take it a step further.
Essentially a composting toilet turns human waste into organic matter. There are different styles, with different capacities, but the end results are the same - at some point, the waste needs to be removed and the organic matter used as a fertilizing substance for certain crops (though not those that will eventually be eaten).
Some of the larger composting toilets are large enough to be emptied only every decade or so, as long as the storage tank is three times the size of the annual waste added. Smaller composting toilets will need to be emptied a bit sooner.
Proponents of composting toilets argue they are a much better use of either water or electricity (some are operated by one rather than the other), and are an excellent source of organic matter for a garden.
Though composting toilets have reached some popularity in Europe and other areas, there are still many areas of the world that are unconvinced. But proponents offer these arguments in favor of the composting toilet:
|They can save up to 60% of previous bathroom use of water (though 20-50% is more likely)|
|The air flow that's in most composting toilets helps to remove odors, acting as a constant fan|
|You could reduce your sewage service costs|
|You can compost your food scraps and small trash through the composting toilet as well, helping you to reduce the overall waste your family contributes|
|You have a natural and always available fertilizer that you know is organic and rich|
Several styles of composting toilets are available in a variety of sizes, so they are excellent for home use, but also for use on boats, in cabins, in your RV or pool or even in a yurt.
Solar panels are really nothing more than a method of using sun power to create electricity or provide heat.
You can install solar panels to provide heat for your pool, or heat to your home. Businesses can install solar panels to provide electricity to their business operations.
There are several different kinds:
|Photovoltaics (PV) - This is what people often think of when they think solar panels. These large panels use the light from the sun to turn it directly into electricity. Three countries (Canada, United States and Japan) collectively account for 90% of the PV installations worldwide, though China is currently building a PV plant.|
|Solar thermal collectors - These collectors are designed to absorb the sun and provide heat. These types of collectors are usually used in solar power plants, where the heat is used to generate electricity, but they can - in smaller versions - be used on homes and businesses.|
|Solar hot water panel - These panels are popular as methods to heat swimming pools in backyards and to heat homes. If used to heat water in the home, the heated water is kept in a storage vessel such as a hot water heater. The panels can also provide heat to a home. These are considered especially useful in areas where heat is very expensive.|
The concept behind solar panels is revolutionary when you think about it - using the natural light and heat from the sun to provide electricity and heat. It exacts no damage to the environment, yet provides great benefit.
Have you ever thought about the windows in your home? Older windows or those that are not efficient can leech energy from your home, costing you more in energy and heating bills and requiring the delivery of more electricity to your home.
Old windows that leech heat or cool air can account for as much as 30 to 60% of your heating or cooling bill.
Experts recommend installing double pane windows which are much more efficient.
Depending on where you live, you might get tax credits for installing the better-quality windows. If you are building a new home, get the best quality windows you can afford. Not only will you not have to replace them for a long time, but you will be doing well for the environment by reducing your need for more heating and cooling energy during the particularly hot and particularly cold seasons of the year.