Green Lancaster header displaying a picture of an Amish buggy, and corn field, horses in a field, cows being milked, and windmills.

Case Study > The Marquez & Poole Way of Life

Your W5 title (FLASH)

The Marquez & Poole Way of Life

Dr. Lynne Marquez and Todd Poole

Imagine if you will, two people with different careers, two different hobbies and one car. Almost sounds like a nightmare doesn't it? But for this environmentally aware couple, it has become a dream come true. Check out how this eco-friendly couple handles two different careers and lifestyles with one vehicle available to get them where they need to go. Read about how they made the risky decision to rely on one vehicle to take them where they need to go and how to handle emergency situations. Learn what other eco-friendly behavior they participate in and what you can do to start being environmentally friendly yourself without drastically changing your lifestyle.

What Does it Really Mean to be Environmentally Friendly?

City Living Can Be Eco-Friendly

One Car, Two Lives

The House Breathes

Gardens in Your Home

Compost, Not Just For the Country

What Steps Can You Take?

It's Easier Than You Think.

Background

Dr. Lynne Marquez and her husband, Todd Poole, live together in a 1920s brick duplex home, just outside of Lancaster City, Pa. As a geology professor at Millersville University, Dr. Marquez began her interest in leading an economically friendly lifestyle when she was a young adult.

As a child, Dr. Marquez did not grow up in a household that was environmentally oriented. Her parents were not particularly strict with energy efficient products, organic foods, or even recycling. It is a common misconception that adults who choose to lead an energy efficient lifestyle, are always brought up to live environmentally friendly.

Ironically, it was Dr. Marquez who was an example to her mother to begin recycling. “After years and years of pestering my mother, she finally gave in and started recycling,” said Marquez.

During an interview with Marquez about her choice to begin an environmentally friendly lifestyle, she mentioned that she did not view herself as someone who depicts the way of life of someone who is considered an environmentalist. For this reason, she had been chosen as a candidate for this Web page.

What does it really mean to be environmentally friendly?

As a whole, the general public views those who are environmentally conscious and choose to do their part to conserve energy as “hippies” and “earthy-crunchie.” It is a general consensus that the stereotypical environmentalist is a “tree-hugging hippie” who presses their beliefs on everyone who is not as interested in saving the environment as they are. This is entirely untrue. Sure, there are some people who are intense about saving the environment, as though it is their religion, but for the most part the average person can also be considered to be environmentally conscious through simple and small efforts that do not interfere with their daily lives.

Dr. Marquez and her husband are perfect examples of the average person doing their part to help the environment by performing simple tasks and making minor choices to suit their lives. They might even give you some ideas as to what you can do to make your life a little greener.

According to Lohas online, the definition of “going green” is an “action that a person can consciously take to curb harmful effects on the environment through consumer habits.”

There are various ways for a consumer to “go green,” including, learning to be energy efficient, eating healthier and being environmentally conscious. Before a consumer can begin to “go green,” they need to understand what it means to be energy efficient, and environmentally conscious.

Energy efficient, by definition, is “a term used to describe the use of minimal power, with little or no wastage, to achieve a result.”

With the new inventions in technology, almost every appliance that the average consumer purchases and uses on a daily basis can be bought in an energy efficient form; dish washers, light fixtures, refrigerators, etc. This makes it easier for those who want to be more energy efficient to do so without it interfering with their daily chores or habits.

It is a common misconception that in order to be “environmentally conscious” a person must always consider the environment before purchasing food, appliances and before throwing away garbage. This is only partially true. To be environmentally conscious, aware, or friendly implies the intent and desire to purchase food and industrial items that would cause less damage to the environment. The key word in this definition is “intent.”

Just because someone would like to be more aware of the environment and the effects certain chemicals and industrial items may have on the environment does not commit someone to a life-style bound by eco-friendly materials.

With the stereotype that in order to “go green,” you have to be an environmentalist hippie with cloth diapers, organically grown foods and burlap clothing, it is hard to encourage many people to begin making an effort to “go green.”

There are simple, affordable and reasonable ways that the average person can begin “going green” without dramatically changing their lifestyle. Dr. Marquez and her husband are a perfect example of the small things that the average consumer can contribute in order to keep the environment clean and healthy.

Back to the top

City Living Can Be Eco-Friendly

Dr. Marquez and her husband live right outside of Lancaster City, in a home that was built in the 1920s. They did not choose the location to build their family based on its location to work, or the architecture of the neighborhood, rather its environmental convenience. The city’s close proximity to work, however, was not overlooked when making their decision to purchase their home. As a Millersville University Professor of Geology, Dr. Marquez lives approximately five miles from the University. Her husband works for Respond First Aid Systems and travels to Lititz, Pa. for work every day.

Living in a concentrated area, with a large amount of pollution due to constant incoming and outgoing traffic from those entering and leaving work, does not usually classify as environmentally friendly. City living is stereotypically dirty, unsafe and certainly not an ideal place to pursue a lifestyle of energy efficiency, but as the previous paragraphs have shown, stereotypes are just that…stereotypes.

One of the conveniences for Dr. Marquez living in Lancaster City is its close proximity to Millersville University. Marquez is so close to work is that she is able to ride her bicycle to work if she chooses to do so. This not only allows her to maintain a healthy life-style exercising to and from work every day, but it also allows her to minimize the amount of fuel she uses and the amount of car fumes escaping from her vehicle.

Riding her bicycle to work on occasion is not the only reason for the Marquez’s to live in Lancaster City. Living in the city allows for a more concentrated area. A more concentrated area allows for more buildings and businesses to be within walking distance from any given household. This creates the opportunity for the Marquez family to walk to dinner when they choose to go out to eat, or to walk to the park with their family dog. If needed for short trips, they can walk to the grocery store to pick up food for the rest of the day. Running errands without the use of a car is far easier when living in the city allowing for those who aspire to “go green” to do so when performing simple tasks each day.

Back to the top

One Car, Two Lives

Aside from living in Lancaster City, Dr. Marquez and her husband Todd make numerous efforts in order to lead an energy efficient lifestyle; one of these efforts is owning one car. Dr. Marquez and Mr. Poole pursue their own individual dreams working full time and not at the same location. Dr. Marquez works as a professor of geology at Millersville University and Mr. Poole works for Respond First Systems in Lititz, Pa.

On nice days, Dr. Marquez chooses to ride her bicycle the five miles to work in order to save the environment from gas fumes. However on days where it is not so nice, her husband takes the company car to work while she drives the family car.

Yes, yes Mr. Poole has a company car…However, due to their goal to be environmentally friendly, the company car is only used in order to transport Mr. Marquez to and from work. After work and on the weekends, the company car is off limits and they rely on one vehicle for their transportation.

By reducing the amount of cars owned by the household they are reducing gas fumes and saving money on gasoline each year. In the event of an emergency, the Marquez family chooses to rent a vehicle for the duration of the emergency and return it as soon as possible. Although this may sound significantly more expensive than owning a second car for those emergency situations, in reality the cost of a rental car averages to less than it would cost to insure the second car. This ultimately saves the family money and energy.

What made Dr. Marquez and Mr. Poole decide to purchase one vehicle? After they were married, the couple owned two old cars that were purchased before they were married and were prefect for getting them where they needed to go. When it came time to replace their cars, they considered potentially buying one newer more extravagant car or buying two cars for convenience purposes only.

Because Dr. Marquez and Mr. Poole had decided they wanted to pursue an energy efficient and economically cautious life-style, they decided to take the risk and buy one car, leaving money left over in case it became too much of a hassle.

When asked if she regretted the decision of buying one vehicle for her and her husband, she responded saying that it was one of the best decisions she ever made. She claims she and her husband do not have issues related to having one car, and that it allows them to do things together instead of taking their own cars and doing individual errands.

Back to the top

The House Breathes

Dr. Marquez and Mr. Poole live in a brick duplex house built in the 1920s. They love their house; they love the old charm and the architecture of their home and would not want to build their lives together anywhere else.

As a family, the Marquez’s consider themselves to be conservative with the amount of energy that they use. Dr. Marquez reflected on the activities she and her husband partake in on a daily basis. She explained that she and her husband tend to go out with friends regularly and go out to eat. By the time they come home, they may watch an hour of television before they turn off the lights and go to bed.

She said that partial blame for their conservative ways is the amount of time they spend away from the house. Because of their every day activities the Marquez’s don’t use a lot of energy in their home.

One day they discovered the ability to have their energy usage audited by an energy auditor. Energy auditors are available for every household to measure the amount of energy used in your home. Auditors will measure the amount of energy used through appliances, lighting and electricity. They will also measure the amount of energy used through heating and air conditioning units.

Dr. Marquez and Mr. Poole received a very good energy rating. They were told that they were in fact very conservative with the amount of energy that they use on a regular basis. Their house, however, was not as good at conserving the energy that was being used throughout the house.

The way it was explained is the best way to explain it to the average person: houses breathe. They absorb air from the basement or the first floor windows and they will release the energy through the attic or the upstairs windows. In order to decrease the amount of energy passing in and out of a house the home owners have the option of getting their house sealed by a professional.

The couple had two options for sealing their house. They could either seal their entire attic to avoid air and energy leaving through, or they could seal the basement making it harder for the outside air to enter the house in the first place.

As it turns out it, is significantly more expensive to seal an entire attic than it is to seal the basement of a house. That is what they decided to do because their house is an older house and the basement is more susceptible to leaking in air from the outside. By sealing their basement windows, the amount of air that is leaked in through the basement will significantly decrease.

Depending on the size of your house, the cost for your audit and the cost of sealing your attic or basement perimeter will vary. However, you can simply find all the information you need on various energy auditor Web sites. When entering the Web site, you will be asked to fill out an information sheet with the approximate size of your house, the location of your house, etc. in order to receive an estimated cost for the audit.

How would someone insulate their windows? With insulating window film. When installed properly the film will significantly increase the efficiency of a window. The film is mounted over the interior face of the window frame. Once the film is put into place, a heating device (a hairdryer will suffice if this is a “do-it-yourself” job) will be used to shrink the film, pulling it tight and sealing the window.

If the house is an older house with wooden window frames, the wood shrinks and swells seasonally. In the winter, the wooden sashes on the window will shrink allowing more air to enter the house. This problem can also be solved by sealing the windows with the insulation film.

Other household efficiency problems? Do your windows rattle when the wind blows strong? This could be a problem. Your windows may not be bolted down enough and are therefore letting cold air in the house in the winter and hot air in the house in the summer. This will cause your energy bill to increase and the level of energy conservation in your house to decrease.

Back to the top

Gardens in your home

Being energy efficient in the city is simpler than people initially imagine. As stated above it is easier to be energy efficient when there are more buildings and businesses around you at any given location. One of the downfalls to city life is also the fact that there are numerous buildings and businesses in a condensed area.

Many times when living in the city, people will not have the luxury of owning their own back yards, and for those lucky enough to have a back yard to call their own, it is usually shared or very petite.

Fortunately for the Dr. Marquez and Mr. Poole they have a back yard to that they are able to call their own and they are able to garden as they please. This is another way that the couple have chosen to be environmentally friendly. Instead of purchasing produce that has been chemically altered and sprayed for growth and pesticides, they have decided to try gardening their own vegetables.

Now, for the Dr. Marquez and Mr. Poole, this is a new project that they are very excited about. But for those who are in an apartment complex or confined to a small area, there are a few options they have to create their own garden.

You don’t need a lot of land in order to grow your own tomatoes or squash, all you need is a plant container. You can purchase a plant container at any local Walmart, K-mart or Lowe's at a reasonable price. Fill the container with soil and plant the seeds for the vegetable you are trying to grow. Place the plant near a window that receives ample light in the daytime and water regularly. When possible, open the window in order to let the fresh air in, this will help your plants grow and lower the cost of your heating and air conditioning.

Eventually, depending on the plant chosen, you will have created your own small garden in the comfort of your home and you have made a small environmentally friendly contribution that tastes great. It is a nice family activity.

For those who have smaller yards, they may also use the plant container idea in order to keep the garden manageable. Another option is to designate a small plot of land, for example 3ft by 3ft, to create your garden. By limiting the area of the garden it allows you to keep your garden manageable and away from interfering with neighboring properties while still being able to enjoy your back yard.

Till the current soil and place new soil on the potential gardening ground. By planting the seeds and watering your plants as needed, you will be the newest farmer on the block. Just make sure you are keeping a watchful eye on your garden to avoid weed infestation.

Back to the top

Compost, not just for the country

Soil for your garden can get expensive and with these economic times, people can be often discouraged from starting a new project based on the cost it takes to begin. So how can those worried about the economic cost of beginning a garden start one with the least amount of impact on their wallets? Starting a compost bin.

What is a compost bin? A compost bin is a designated container, or bin which holds “decomposed organic material that is produced when bacteria in soil break down garbage and biodegradable trash, making organic fertilizer.”

So what does compost have to do with gardening? For those who want to be very environmentally friendly, or just want to save money on fertilizer, starting a compost would be an excellent idea.

A compost consists of vegetable and bio-degradable substances that you would normally throw away in your garbage. These bio-degradable products eventually decompose in a dump where they will not likely be used again. Instead, you can create a compost with the garbage and week old left overs.

Usually composts are fenced off squares designated for throwing away food and other bio-degradable products. It takes approximately one year in order for the materials in the compost to create new and organic “fertilizer.”

This fertilizer can be used to create and maintain a garden if the creator of the compost chooses to do so. This will effectively cut the cost of creating and maintaining a garden while lowering the amount of waste piling up in the city dump.

Because the fertilizer from the compost is natural and organic, it is believed that the vegetables produced from using the organic soil is better for the people who eat it and better for the environment.

In order to create a compost bin, it is necessary to own a private back yard. Because it is garbage essentially rotting away in your backyard it is important that if you have a small back yard that you keep your compost bin small so the potential smell does not bother your neighbors.

Another factor contributing to the size of your compost is the size of your family. Small families such as Dr. Marquez and Mr. Poole, have a small compost bin in their back yard. However, big families who have more waste than smaller families should have a larger compost bin in order to accommodate the waste of the house hold.

Back to the top

What steps can you take?

Simple and small changes can make a huge difference, the only problem is that the general public does not understand that. It is another common misconception that if you are going to make a difference in the world something drastic needs to be done, whether in your life personally or to the community in which you live.

One person CAN make a difference, but two people can make an even bigger difference, and so on. So grab a partner, or include your family and take small steps together to go green.

Some small steps you, your family and your friends can take are recycling, walking, car-pooling, using cloth instead of paper towels etc. These are simple changes that can effect your body and your environment.

By recycling your bottles and plastics your are allowing their re-use instead of letting them rot and burry underneath the decomposing bio-degradable products. By throwing away your recyclable glass and plastic bottles along with your other waste it saves money. Occasionally, you will find that some glass bottles offer monetary incentives for returning the bottles for recycling. This will also create incentive for those who are watching how they spend their money during these economic times to begin recycling and returning their glass and plastic bottles. Walking is a healthy alternative to driving everywhere you need to go. This will reduce the amount of money you spend of gasoline and it will reduce the amount of gas fumes invading the atmosphere.

Walking is also good for your body and helps you maintain a healthier lifestyle. Studies have shown that those who are attempting to create or maintain a healthy lifestyle are more apt to be environmentally conscious.

Carpooling is also an excellent attempt to be energy efficient and environmentally friendly. In this day and age it is understandable that people simply cannot get everywhere they need to go by simply walking, so it helps when people who are traveling to the same destination travel together. This significantly reduces the amount of gas fumes polluting the air and it decreases the amount of money that is spent on gas for each person involved in the carpool.

Using cloth towels instead of paper towels is also environmentally friendly. By purchasing a cloth towel instead of a paper towel, you will initially pay more for the towel. However you can only use a paper towel once before disposing of it, but you can wash and re-use a cloth towel over and over again. This will not only save the amount of trees that are being cut down in order to produce the paper towels but it will also save you and your family money.

Back to the top

It’s easier than you think!

It is easier than you think to begin the effort to go green. As previously stated, it is always assumed that once you make the commitment to “go green” there is no turning back. This is not the case, although discouraged, if the energy efficient lifestyle is not for you, there is nothing stopping you from returning to your original lifestyle. What do you have to lose? Except more money on less environmentally friendly products and gasoline.

Don’t do it alone, grab a friend, a partner, or your entire family and work together to improve the energy efficiency in your life.

 

Back to the top

 

 

 

.

 

 

 

 

 


This site was created by Melissa Leary (contact) who is a student at Millersville University of Pennsylvania

© 2009 Millersville University. All Rights Reserved.

...