Jeannie Leggett Sikora, an agricultural engineer in Lancaster County, has found a way to incorporate her passions for the environment into a successful career and unique life style. Sikora began her efforts to reduce the carbon footprint on the environment 20 years ago with a simple goal; to get her college roommates to recycle their plastics and paper. Since then, Sikora has continued to consciously incorporate being green into her life at home, in the community, and in her career making her one very green individual. Below I will expand upon the green tactics that I have learned for Jeannie and expanded upon her ideas so that the readers of this website will feel confident in their ability to become green and reduce the carbon footprint of human life on this planet.
Photo of Jeannie Leggett Sikora (case study)
Why Should YOU Become Green
When Should YOU Become Green
Where Should YOU Go to become Green
What can YOU do and How to Become Green
Benefits of Becoming More Energy Efficient
Passive Solar Energy
5W and H of Becoming Green
Question like how do I become greener, what do I do to become green, who should I ask about becoming more energy efficient, where do I go to purchase green products, when should I start, and why are all more than reasonable questions when considering a greener lifestyle. Some of the answers to these questions are easy but not always. Below I will look to answer these questions by drawing from external recourses and information I have gathered from my case study.
Why Should YOU Become Green
Why you as an individual should become greener is an easy question to answer. In the last 50, years human consumption of energy has grow significantly and the amount of greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere has nearly doubled. The effects of this can be seen all over from the smog that forms of the horizon of big cities like Los Angeles to the poor air quality of our own Lancaster County. The only way to prevent the progression of environmental problems is to get involved, make life style changes, and spread the word of a greener life style.
When should YOU become green
The question of when is another relatively easy question to answer when it comes to becoming green. YOU should get involved now and try and continue to live a green life style consistently so that YOU can impact the environment and the world around you in a positive way. WHO should YOU contact about going green The answer to, “Who should live a green life style,” is YOU although know who to talk to about becoming green is not such an easy answer. Fortunately, as citizens of Lancaster county we have plenty of green resources available to use. Organization like Buy fresh By Local and stores like the George Street Café are great places to get information about becoming green as well as giving you an opportunity to network with locals living a green life style. In addition there are numerous websites, life this one, which can provide you with ideas about going green and how to maintain a more eco friendly life style.
Where YOU can go green
You can incorporate becoming green into all aspects of your life. Living a green lifestyle can be incorporated into all aspects of your life including school, work/career, social, and home. Changes can be made in all areas to make you and perhaps even those you associate with increasingly eco friendly.
What YOU can do and how to become green
What to do to become a greener individual and how to make these changes have more than just one answer. There are hundreds of ways to begin living a greener lifestyle but I think its best to start small. Below I will look at several of these ways. Remember to keep an open mind and remind yourself to think green and see what strategies you can incorporate into your life with ease to make the change from being a litter bug to a green individual.
Benefits of Becoming More Energy Efficient
Most average American citizens become hesitant when it comes to changing their day to day life style making it difficult to convince people to adapt to more energy efficient ways of life. Although, by becoming greener and changing your life style to become more energy efficient can benefit YOU in many ways.
The first of these benefits is saving money! Let's be honest here, everyone hates to see their money go into other people’s hands and becoming energy efficient can reduce home energy costs. The average American citizen spends thousands of dollars on home energy cost each year. This cost can literally be cut down by hundreds of dollars by simply implementing a few key energy efficient strategies. Ecogadget.net estimates that you could save nearly 400 dollars a year by simply taking the following steps to become more energy efficient.
A second benefit of becoming greener is having a positive impact on the world around us. With the large amounts of pollution and green house gases in our atmosphere and on the surface of our planet it is no surprise that our planet is drastically affected. Cities worldwide include your home, Lancaster County, suffer from large amounts of air pollution that effects everyone’s way of life.
A final benefit to becoming more energy efficient is that it can make you money! If you create unused energy in your home you can receive actually money for your saved energy. The United States government issues energy shares which can be purchase as a commodity by energy companies. You actually MAKE MONEY by saving money, and that’s a pretty sweet deal.
Getting started is perhaps one of the most difficult tasks for individuals looking to live a greener life style. Starting small is always the best option so don’t get over whelmed. First, it is important that you evaluate you current life style and decide what aspect of your day to day your willing to alter in becoming greener. Then begin to do some research on what you can do to start implementing a greener life style. In this section I hope to provide you with some suggestions so that this research process is potentially short and painless.
1. Alter the way you do your wash!
Washers and dryers use an enormous amount of energy so changing the way you clean your clothes can drastically impart your energy consumption. Here are some suggestions when it comes to changing the way you do your wash. (1) Use coldwater detergents, these laundry detergents are designed so that you can clean your clothes just as well in cold water as you do in warm water so you can cut down on water heating. (2) If you have to option to invest in a front loading washer and dryer take advantage of it. Many home improvement stores have several models that are a great investment. (3) Do your laundry all at one time. By washing clothes in large loads you cut down on energy used by both the washer and dry. (4) Finally hang clothes on the line to dry or use Dryer Balls to increase the efficiency of your dryer.
2. Cut down on electricity cost!
Home lighting is in large part responsible for increased electric bills so here are 3 easy steps to reducing this cost. (1) Remember that old rule when you leave a room turn the light off? Well turning lights off in rooms you’re not occupying is one of the best energy saving rules. (2) Open your blinds and use sunlight to provide light to your home during the day this decreases your use of artificial light and lets you enjoy the outside even if its winter. (3)Invest in CFL lights for your home. These lights cost perhaps a little more than the average light bulb but in the end will have a greater return on your investment.
3. Make sure you are using your car in the most energy efficient manner or cut down on vehicle transportation all together.
Gas used to power our cars makes most Americans shutter as we see prices for gas only grow in past years. These ways to cut down on gas for your car can make you feel even better than receive 20 cents of the gallon once a year when redeeming your bonus card point. (1) Car pool – Using a car pool system with friends can impart your energy consumption greatly. Think about perhaps car pooling you children to school or even with colleagues at work. (2) Use public transportation- Often public transportation is a great alternative to driving your own car. Prices for rides are reasonable and the benefit of sharing a ride is commendable. (3)Walk-Visiting a friend’s house down the street or heading to the town café. Use your feet and get to walking. Taking a stroll instead of driving your car is a great alternative and a recommended source of exercise. (4) Purchase an energy efficient car- Investing in a car is no small step but its benefits can be huge. Hybrid vehicles are changing the car market and can save you hundreds on gas costs each year.
4. Recycle, Recycle, Recycle!
Recycling is probably one of the easiest and most common ways to begin to live a greener life style. The following items can be recycled. (1) Plastic water bottles, aluminum cans, milk jugs, and glass containers will be accepted for recycling at most local waste disposal companies. (2) Household hazardous waste products like T.V.s, cell phones, paints and chemicals are accepted at the Lancaster Solid Waste Management Authority (LCSWMA). (3) Number five plastics including packaging from cottage cheese, hummus, medicine, ice cream and take-out containers can be sent to Preserve’s Gimmi 5 program (http://www.preserseproducts.com/gimme5/). (4) Newspapers and magazines can be dropped of for recycling at several locations including Penn Cinema in Lancaster city. (5) In addition Millersville borough and Lancaster city takes dead batteries. These ways are all very acceptable ways to manage your waste in an expectable eco friendly manner. At earth911.com I have found some other very creative and fun ways turn your waste into usable products. (1) Use old CD cases to create desktop frames of wall murals. (2) Use old medicine bottles are organizational tools or perhaps even a watering device for your plants. (3) Old to go containers can be used as compost collectors or a tool to begin growing small plants. There are many options when it comes to efficiently and effectively recycling old material you just need to think out of the box. Check out some great ideas at Earth911.com.
5. Shop local and in season
Local farmers, especial here in Lancaster county, provide a great resource for shopping greener. The Central Market in Lancaster city and many other shops work closely with the organization Buy fresh Buy Local providing Lancaster country residents with local food grown and distributed with the environment in mind. Buying local and seasonal cuts down on transportation of food products and gives you a health source for food.
Reusable products cut down on the amount of trash enormously when considering the number of plastic water bottles or paper lunch bags are used each day. It's simple to just purchase a reusable water bottle, plastic ware, or perhaps even a stylish new lunch box to cut down on the amount of trash you create each day. This simple step can make a huge difference.
7. Building or Buying a new home? Incorporate Passive solar energy.
Passive Solar Energy
The United States Department of Energy defines passive solar design as a way to, “integrate a combination of building features to reduce or even eliminate the need for mechanical cooling and eating and daytime artificial lighting by understanding how solar energy works.” The use of passive solar design uses the sun to help decrease the amount of energy your home uses each day. Using energy provided from the everyday sunlight can provide your home with more than enough heat, light, and shade in a home designed to utilize all the benefits of solar energy. The key concept that passive solar design is developed around is simple, “maximize solar heat gain in winter and minimize it in summer.”
Most commonly when architects incorporate passive solar design into a home they categorize passive solar heating techniques into 3 groups’ direct gain, indirect gain, and lastly isolated gain.
Direct gain is defined as, “solar radiation that directly penetrates and is stored in the living space.” This is one of the simplest ways to collect heating energy because it can simply be done by keeping your home window blinds open during the day and closed during the evening hours. Through the day uncovered windows allow energy to be collected and temperatures in rooms will increase so that during the night when temperatures drop, trapped heat will reduce the use of mechanical heating devices. An example of this would be the heat in your living room increasing during mid day hours when the sun is directly entering room through windows.
Isolated gain systems, “collect solar radiation in an area that can be selectively closed off or opened to the rest of the house.” For example, a sun room or closed in patio area can be used as an isolated gain area. Sunlight can be collected to heat this area while during cold winter months this area can be such off from the rest of the home to low the amount of space needing to be heated in the home.
Indirect gain which is defined as being, the collection, storage, and distribution of solar radiation using a thermal storage material which is then transferred into indoor energy. An example of this would be a Trombe wall or Barra system. This ancient technique uses materials including stone, metal, concrete, or water tanks to build walls that collect energy from the sunlight during the day so that it can be converted into and used as heating energy evenly released throughout the evening hours. Some examples of Trombe walls can be seen in the design of buildings including the Visitor Center at Zion National Park, at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s (NREL) and the National Wind Technology Center. These buildings have effectively implemented the use of indirect gain and the use of Trombe walls to become incredibly energy efficient and model for those interested in using this technique on a smaller scale (i.e. in the home). (Image of design for Trombe wall by Frank Koester, inventor of modern Trombe wall can be seen below)
Techniques used in solar design
1. Minimize energy loss: Making sure that your home is insulated properly is essential to being energy efficient. A huge amount of energy can be lost through poorly insulated doors and windows during cool winter months and the warm summer too. Assessing your homes insulation can make an enormous difference in your energy consumption.
2. Utilize windows: Keep blinds open during the winter days. This allows sunlight to enter into the home and have a warming effect. During the summer keep blinds closed during peak sunlight hours so that sunlight is block and sun heat is kept out of the home.
3. Natural lighting: Using the sunlight to light your home can seriously cut down on electricity cost. Though during the night this is not an option the money you can save during peak sunlight hours is astonishing. Try keeping you lights off and your windows open during the day to observer what sunlight can do for you.
4. Natural heating/cooling: Similar to the idea of utilizing windows make sure to try and use your home to absorb sunlight during the winter and block sunlight the create shade during the summer. This will cut down on heat energy and air conditioning costs.
5. Building Location: It important to consider th direction your home is build when incoporating passive solar energy.
Becoming greener and living a green life style is impairative to the preservation of out planet and human life itself. So take the next step and start going green!