City Launches GreeNYC Educational Campaign

As part of Mayor Bloomberg's PlaNYC 2030 initiative, the City is conducting a large scale public awareness campaign for people to take ten simple steps to help the city become more environmentally friendly. Here is a short TV ad that has been playing in NYC:

Here is the GreeNYC top ten list to become more environmentally friendly.

1. Switch to ENERGY STAR® qualified Compact Fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs).

2. Buy ENERGY STAR® appliances.

3. Don’t air condition an empty room.

4. Unplug chargers and appliances when not in use.

5. Switch to a green energy provider.

6. Walk or take public transportation.

7. Recycle your glass, metal, paper and plastic.

8. Bring your own cloth bag to the grocery store.

9. Use green cleaning products.

10.Switch to paperless bank statements and online bill paying.

Which of these are most important? How much of this really matters? What would be on your environmental friendly top ten list?
I have to say that largely absent from the city's environmental pitches is anything related to the carbon footprint of food and air travel, perhaps two of the most important contributions within the control of individuals. I would like to see a call to eat less meat, to eat more local/seasonal foods from greenmarkets/CSAs and to vacation closer to home - something that would benefit both local farmers and the local tourism industry.

And the city left off it's list a few items it is pushing in other areas, like encouraging people to drink tap water over bottled water which are just as important to reducing carbon footprint here and elsewhere.

Perhaps because the city is focusing on reducing the CO2 and methane released within the City from power plants, automobiles and carting around waste it is missing the fact that NYC residents are responsible for carbon released in other places. In fact, as I have often argued here, NYC can not only be a leader in urban design for a lower carbon footprint, but it can also leverage it's consumer market muscle to reduce carbon produced elsewhere and create a market for green products.

And I'm expecting more than just education on these issues - it's time for public policy to actively favor these activities.

Look, I understand when one moves to an urban area there are certain life-styles that must be encouraged, but God help you if you do #10 and your hard-drive fails.

Bring your own cloth bag to the grocery store? Why in the name of Maliki would we need to do that? I guess no one told the people of New York that paper is a renewable resource (dont' argue with me on this, half my family in Oregon is in the tree business).

Sounds like the standard of living for Americans in cities is about to get really, really bad.

We don't need to recycle paper. We're not running out of it. Paper use is way, way down thanks to technology.

I've talked to quite a number of people that know a lot of about the paper v. plastic debate and certainly from an energy perspective, it seems paper is the loser. It also takes up more room in a landfill.

I know we have many well managed sustainable forests in this country, but I think we should reserve that for other purposes heating and making furniture.

In Taipei it's illegal for a supermarket to provide any bag to shoppers. I think most people bring a wad of plastic bags from home, and reuse them dozens or maybe hundreds of times. This is pretty environmentally friendly, because the bags are reused so many times before being trashed.

I think Taipei's solution is a lot more reasonable than cloth bags for Greens vs. paper/plastic for Normals. The cloth bag is too small, making them requires a lot more fuel & water than a paper or plastic bag, and washing them wastes fuel & water too. I'm sure a lot of people will periodically buy new bags as fashion statements, then toss the old bag in the landfill. Some bags will be encrusted with rhinestones and other high-energy-waste decorations...

In my house in Los Angeles, we take paper & plastic bags home from the grocery store, where they pass through progressively dirty uses until they get broken or slimy. The paper becomes mulch for the garden, and the plastic is thrown away or used in the garden.

One very special paper bag gets to be my lunch bag, until it gets too broken or slimy for that, when it becomes mulch too.

To the top 10 recommendations for New York City I'd add:

x. bag your lunch, and reuse the paper bag. bring a thermos of coffee to work from home.

Today I went to "Vien Dong III Superfood Warehouse" and scored fixings for twelve bulging "Subway" style sandwiches, for about eight bucks. The savings is enough to buy a tank of gas for my car. Replacing a Starbucks habit with a thermos buys another 1/2 tank for me. :)

OT but - has anyone seen Japanese reality TV lately? It's all about forcing D-list celebrities to live together under survival conditions.

In one I saw tonight, two D-list comedians were put on a boat and told that, for the next few weeks they must live on the boat and eat only the fish they caught. They deftly prepared all kinds of meals. I never knew that D-list comedians could cook.

In another one, the Japanese equivalent of a "Spice Girl" made a complex four-course meal entirely of bread crust, in order to meet a $1 price requirement. Spice Girls are frugal cooks?

The Japanese sure do appreciate hardship!


"Some bags will be encrusted with rhinestones and other high-energy-waste decorations..."

DAMN those confounded fashionistas! SUCH troublemakers.
(heh heh)

The cloth bag is too small

Too small? Get a bigger cloth bag then. Or is there just one size of bag in LA? I have several cloth bags that carry more than a plastic bag, and I don't have to worry about too much weight breaking them or double bagging.

making them requires a lot more fuel & water than a paper or plastic bag, and washing them wastes fuel & water too.

Well, since cloth bags predate the use of fossil fuels, I'll go out on a limb and say that they don't need use that much fuel, and they also can be made from old cloth in recycling efforts. Washing them doesn't come up much either; you don't have to wear them, just carry them. The fashion sense concern is pretty minimal (perhaps a skewed LA perspective?). Hardly anyone who would carry a fashionable bag like you described (teenage girls, one would expect) would actually be carrying groceries very often.

And to really cut down on the bags, get a backpack, and carry the heavy stuff on your back (20-30 lbs on the back is a hell of a lot easier than in your hand).

If you're carrying fresh meats and vegetables home in a cloth bag, it had better be clean. If each meat or vegetable you put in the cloth bag already has its own plastic bag, or each dried good you put in the cloth bag already has its own cardboard box, then how are you saving the environment with the cloth bag?

Of course, if these products are all made by enormously fossil fuel subsidized processes to begin with, then the cloth bag is just a convenient way to enjoy the benefits of fossil fuels without feeling guilt for destroying the natural world. :)

I use paper bags for groceries because I can recycle them. I “favor” plastic bags because I have to pick up after a dog. My wife has a big canvas tote she hauls to work; still works fine 16 years later. Plastic effectively never breaks down, not even biodegradable plastic.

“Plastic bags clog everything from sewer drains to the gullets of sea turtles that mistake them for jellyfish. Increasingly, purportedly biodegradable versions were available. Thompson’s team tried them. Most turned out to be just a mixture of cellulose and polymers. After the cellulose starch broke down, thousands of clear, nearly invisible plastic particles remained.

Some bags were advertised to degrade in compost piles as heat generated by decaying organic garbage rises past one hundred degrees Fahrenheit. “Maybe they do. But that doesn’t happen on a beach, or in salt water.” He’d learned that after they tied plastic produce bags to moorings in Plymouth Harbor. “A year later you could still carry groceries in them.””

It would appear that you are, once again, pulling data out of thin air or, ummm, somewhere else. Where is the data on paper consumption? In addition, paper production is one of the most polluting industries we have. Just because you apparently need to waste paper, doesn't mean that the rest of us will experience a reduced standard of living by using cloth bags, which are reusable.

The energy and other inputs required to produce paper are not renewable any more than the inputs required to produce ethanol are renewable. It is a polluting, energy intensive process. When thrown in a land fill, it might as well almost be plastic given the amount of time it takes to degrade.

Why throw powerplant fuel into landfills?

Funny you should mention this. At Salon today:
"Plastic Bags are Killing Us."

It would appear that you are, once again, pulling data out of thin air or, ummm, somewhere else. Where is the data on paper consumption? In addition, paper production is one of the most polluting industries we have. Just because you apparently need to waste paper, doesn't mean that the rest of us will experience a reduced standard of living by using cloth bags, which are reusable.

Uhmmm...hate to break it to you...pollution isn't the problem it was in the late 60s and early 70s.

Secondly, most of the paper products we use aren't from America's forests anymore.

Cloth bags. Talk about doing the work for ADM. "Heh, heh, we'll save money on bags by convincing them they should bring cloth bags...", you want to be a tool of big Agriculture, be my guest.

geez, I guess you can fool some of the people all of the time (except me as I'm on to their game.

"...pollution isn't the problem it was in the late 60s and early 70s."

You might want to reevaluate...

Paper consumption is up about 10 times what it was before the computer became a household item. Everything is sent out in triplicate and printed four times to get it right, Instead of having a meeting over lunch to discuss it.

"Pollution isn't a problem"

Have you ever lived near a paper mill? The paper process itself isn't necessary. The modern sulfuric acid process which replaced hemp and created the Anti-Marijuana Government/Police Complex was a stock investment/crooked politician conspiracy of the Hearst family. Look it up.

Hemp bags, woven by hand. Baskets made from swamp reeds.
There's a lot of people in New York who will have nothing to do when the stock market melts.


Paper degrades very well in a compost heap, Worms love it, as well as ,unfortunately, termites and roaches. We have people around TOD who worry about fertiliser after the peak. Worm castings make a premium fertiliser. the only secret is keep the paper wet enough to be edible by the worms. Go to any decent garden supply and look in the organic fertiliser section...duh...its about 3 times the cost of chemical fertiliser

Many people are interested in a small farm as a way to survive the energy downslope. Worm farms are an excellent source of fish bait, or worms can be fed to chickens or farm-raised fish. The secret is to raise your bed, put screen in the bottom and collect the falling worm crap as fertiliser. Then you don't have to stoop to dig worms, and the worm castings can be collected on sheet plastic or recycled plywood, swept up put in a paper bag and sold. Worms themselves can either be sold or bartered for fish.

Paper, if clean, is also recyclable. Recycling companies buy it . Havent you ever noticed the bales of cardboard behind supermarkets? How about the dumpsters behind schools where they sell used paper to help pay for school items like band uniforms? Why do cities collect it and sell it at recycling centers? In Houston they even have probationers working off their community service sepatating paper, glass and plastic from the trash stream.

Tree farms help absorb CO2, and yes, they are renewable. They help both clean the atmosphere and since they absorb light, are positive on global warming. Tree farms, lumbering and paper mills are decent local jobs, and before we exported all those manufacturing jobs to China, the US made millions of tons of paper. Now we send bales of cardboard boxes around half the world. The container ships that go back to China after bringing in Wallmart crap go back with our recyclables-paper, used metals, and cotton rags for the better grades of paper. And this has to change back to the old, frugal methods or our whole world is doomed. And, theres talk of charcoal for terra preta all the time on this site. Paper would make a good source of cellulose.

Sometimes I get astounded at this site. We've got some true scientists and experts, and we also have a bunch of ninnies who talk through their ass. Talking about a forest as non renewable or how paper clutters up landfills when it should be recycled is just stupidity and insulting BMRussellNM and a putting him down is just abhorant and ignorant. Is this a hen party where we pick scapegoats apart?

My grandfather, Eugene D. Ebersole ran the Lumberman's Association of Texas from 1943 until he retired in 1969. Lumbering was the third largest industry in the state for many years, behind cattle and oil. I've recycled for 35 years, and had gardens since I was a kid. And I'm proud of my grandfather. He was a WWI hero, won the French Croix de Guerre for carrying out wounded French soldiers on a stetcher in the Argonne Forest. He was a perfect gentleman, and personally kind. He was a conservative, but of the old fashioned type who was frugal and hard working and believed in the Bill of Rights. Besides his service in running a trade association, he was a fundraiser for the Republican Party on a part time basis, and I loved him and miss him still sometimes.He also kept his family in good style through the great depression, which started when he was about 33 with a wife and two children.

Bob Ebersole

"The United States is one of the biggest consumers of paper in the world. Between 1990 and 2002, paper consumption in the United States increased from 84.9 million tons to 97.3 million tons." Wikipedia

Wiki is your source??

Okay.......right...sure...whatever you say..

You can get the raw data from (for 1992-1993)


for 2002-2005, in which period usage has continued to rise.

I agree that the technology already exists to enable us to use far less paper, but paper is still way too cheap, and hence gets used very wastefully.

Re: #10. Have you ever heard of backups? I store an encrypted file of important stuff in my Yahoo! briefcase.

Re: "paper is a renewable resource"/ "We don't need to recycle paper. We're not running out of it.". It takes energy and other resources to recycle paper, and even more to produce it from raw materials. Quite a lot of time too, as you have to grow the trees.

This is about conservation of energy and resources, and increased efficiency in the deployment of resources. It is not about continued, mindless consumption.

Why do so many people not seem to realise that efficiency can save you money while not impacting your lifestyle?

Here is the MoneyNYC top ten list to become more environmentally friendly [sponsered by Sarconal(tm)]:

1. Fresh Direct
2. Robert Moses + ICE + Roads
3. New fleet of Spruce Gooses to replace Boeings, MD jet planes (See Oregon.)
4. Compact media players.
5. Donate money to the winning political party.
6. Make sure to have your own black car.
7. Always throw your trash into the Hudson River, especially if it is Styrofoam.
8. Burn homeless people for heat.
9. Pour your bath water through your Brita filter.
10. Buy a typewriter.

My top list would be:

Do not waste energy withough getting something for it. Inefficient lightbulbs, lit and chilled unused rooms, dripping faucets, power sucking wall warts, etc is plain dumb.

Buy a bicycle and learn to use it.

Downsize your car and buy one with a diesel engine or one that runs on natural gas/biogas if it is sold locally. If you occasionally move sofas buy or hire a trailer. Hopefully this advice soon will chage to buy a plug-in hybrid.

Move closer to work.

Buy less stuff etc and invest the saved money. Either in renovating your house in ways that makes it more energy efficient, or in a new car, or energy efficient appliances or in businesses that build efficient stuff and infrastructure.

Buy stuff that you both want and need and would like to use for a long time. Try to check if it contains anything poisonous and if it can be recycled.

Learn a new skill. We are entering an era of change and it is likely you will need a new job and lots of new things needs to be done. Those things wont get done if people dont learn new things, buy new things and invests instead of pissing away resources on trinkets and sloppy energy use.

Be practical. I use cloth bags since they are strong, not for saving the world. The occasional plastic bag is burnt in the municipiality garbage incinerator producing electricity, heat and cooling.

Start with politics or something else that helps other people while providing you with a better social network. Its a time of change and you can do something good while making your future more likely to be a good one. (*)

Do not overdo it. Indulge yourself in some small luxuries. Now I am logging out for a nice shower. Next year I hope to travel to USA to see the cultural center of the western world and some of the good and bad things I have seen on TV and read about.

(*) Late spring I got a job to support environmental and farming policy work for my parties parliament members. You might end up someplace where you can do something good! Now part of my job is to whip up right wing interest in serious environmental work including lower CO2 emissions. Serious as in leading to constructive changes and investments that actually help with solving problems while preserving our culture. This probably mean that I should use my spare time in Swedish forums and not here but ToD provides me with some gems among all the rubbish. Some of you have such an absurd view of the world that my gut reaction against it gives me intresting ideas.

Thanks Magnus - I especially like the "Buy less and invest the savings". It's a pretty good general recommendation with or without Peak oil or Global Warming on the horizon.

"Move closer to work" also implies buying less stuff for most people, seeing as you have to be good with your finances to be able to afford it. It's certainly one of our primary motivations for being a bit more financially prudent: we both would love to be able to be much closer to our jobs and family, even though it will almost certainly meaning doubling our mortgage.

Living closer to work often also implies a more dense living environment where the average apartment size is pretty small, encouraging both buying less "stuff" and considering family planning very carefully!

Well, to be honest, we're not considering that. We might downsize somewhat on block size, but not living space: we use all the space we have currently, and are planning on another kid at some point in the next few years. I'd be happy with shared-wall (duplex or terraced) housing, but I suspect the wife will insist on stand-alone. Note that the area we'd like to move to is still 8km from "downtown"...we both work in that area, but live about 12km away. It's horrendously expensive though, 7 figure median house price!

Well, if you're using the money to buy usable things, that's good. If you're using it to buy needed services, also good. Using it to buy training or education, also good. Productive land, very good. All wise investments.

Investing money in making more money, not good. Especially risky at this point. MREs, stored fuel, and steam distillers will still be useful in a few years. The shares of XYZ Megacorp or your Weimar Republic notes may not.

My top list would be:

Do not waste energy withough getting something for it. Inefficient lightbulbs, lit and chilled unused rooms, dripping faucets, power sucking wall warts, etc is plain dumb.


Buy a bicycle and learn to use it.

Hey, I mountain bike, but dear god if you start flooding the roads and mountains with these fools who haven't ridden a bike since they were in grade school you had better bring a lot of body-bags to the paramedic station.

On my trail in West Los Angeles we had two fatailities on the same trail at the same spot within weeks of each other. I was there for the dust-off of one. These men were EXPERIENCED mountain bikers.

Sorry, I don't think this will work.

Downsize your car and buy one with a diesel engine or one that runs on natural gas/biogas if it is sold locally. If you occasionally move sofas buy or hire a trailer. Hopefully this advice soon will chage to buy a plug-in hybrid.

I agree with you on the Diesel gig, but the enviros won't let us. It is against California law to bring a diesel CAR into the state and register it there. Trucks are acceptable in Cali, but for how long? Diesel is the answer to our CAFE problem, hell they get better milage than those gasoline wasting hybrids! But the enviro-nazis are against it, no matter how clean buring the new engines are.

Move closer to work.. In L.A., I live 200 yards from my work. its like heaven. All those poor people driving 1-2 hours each and every day to work. I tell them to move closer to work and they just roll their eyes.

Buy less stuff etc and invest the saved money. Either in renovating your house in ways that makes it more energy efficient, or in a new car, or energy efficient appliances or in businesses that build efficient stuff and infrastructure.

You are correct. Consumerism is a major problem in the west. Nothing short of a depression will change that though.

Be practical. I use cloth bags since they are strong, not for saving the world. The occasional plastic bag is burnt in the municipiality garbage incinerator producing electricity, heat and cooling.

Agreed. The burning of trash, incinerators, will help with the land-fill problem and electricity problem. Two birds with one stone!

Good points.

There is not a city in the world with high bicycle usage that has anything like the road fatality rates that low bicycle usage cities (like the ones in the U.S. and here in Australia) have. You might want to compare Amsterdam to L.A., for example. To believe that more bicycling = more fatalities requires ignoring vast amounts of evidence to the contrary. I get this from my wife though - she doesn't want me to buy a bike seat for my 2yo son so I can take him to playgroup and child care on it, somehow believing that he's safer if I drive him. My reasoning is precisely the opposite - taking him in the car requires constantly switching over the infant car seat, usually in a hurry, and one of these days I'm going to not tighten the bolt properly, and upon braking suddenly, watch him fly from the back of the car and smash his head against the front dashboard. Worst that's going to happen on a bicycle is that I lose my balance and he gets a nasty graze on his arm, or a dint in his helmet.

read my post up above. But, you isolate yourself when you use the term "environatzis", why don't you just call them idiots? On this thread its a lot more accurate and has no ties to our favorite junkie, Rush Limbaugh.
Bob Ebersole

11. Kick Donald Trump out of New York.

The "wall wart" power packs and charger units that are so prevalent in so much modern electronic equipment today is probably one of the more evil designs foisted upon the consumer.
Whatever happened to internal power supplies anyway?
The space savings aren't that impressive, and it's damn near impossible to apply a conscientious effort to continually switch these things on and off in a practical manner.
Perhaps modern homes should start offering a new third type of programmable and adjustable electric outlet that is connected to a switching power supply for measured direct current and thus the consumer can do away with all of their wall warts.
When the unit is switched on the power supply senses the demand. I can scarcely see how devices which serve no good purpose being in "standby" mode 24-7 can earn the phony "Energy Star" certification.
That's my pet's time we rethink equipment power supplies entirely.

In my house we plug appliances into $5 six-outlet power strips. When we aren't using an appliance, we shut off the strip.

This is a very simple way to achieve your goal, without requiring a new kind of electrical outlet.

It's also the only way to turn off my wireless router and DSL modem - neither even has a power switch. It also kills all the stupid little LED clock displays on the microwave, VCR, DVD player, etc.

I'm not defending "wall warts," but they do have a significant cost advantage to manufacturers. The elimination of high-voltage components make certification simpler, as well. The wire is thinner, and the switch on the device end can be smaller.

Another advantage to the technically-inclined is the ability to run such devices from alternate sources. When deciding between two wall-warted products, I'll choose the one that takes 12VDC in, then I cut the wall-wart cord and put red/black Anderson Powerpole(TM) connectors on it, and plug it into my solar power supply. I also have a switchable converter that can supply 3.5VDC or 5VDC from the 12VDC that comes out of my battery/solar system.

That said, I agree that wall-warts are the product of a system that favours manufacturing costs over operational costs, and it could be that this trend will reverse in the coming energy decline and we'll see a return to switches that physically disconnect the 120VAC line -- marketed as "new, improved, energy saving" devices. It will be interesting to see how many memes from the energy up-slope will be reflected in its down-slope.

:::: Jan Steinman, Communication Steward, EcoReality ::::

The irritating thing with wall-warts is that they are not standardized and often use simple transformers instead of efficient switching electronics. It would be golden to have small and large power contacts and one standardized voltage on misc tiny appliances and then buy or reuse wall warts following the standard.

This is absolutely not effective!!!

1. Switch to ENERGY STAR® qualified Compact Fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs).

First ask yourself:
Why hasn't this happened already? In most cases these are more efficient than plain light bulbs.
Answer: Most people buy the chepest gods available. To few people take a bigger cost "now" for a possible saving later.

2. Buy ENERGY STAR® appliances.

See under "1."

3. Don’t air condition an empty room.

The most convenient sollution is to air condition everything all the time, otherwise you might have to use a room that is warm and humid.

4. Unplug chargers and appliances when not in use.

Not convenient

5. Switch to a green energy provider.

Doesn't matter since all elecrticity (regardless of how it is produced) is consumed anyway. A REAL green provider would be much dearer, hence people will not buy.

6. Walk or take public transportation.

In the mind of most people: Public transportation is a punishment, cars are a reward.

7. Recycle your glass, metal, paper and plastic.

Will not happen if there is no economcial benefit from it.

8. Bring your own cloth bag to the grocery store.

Stupidity (as explained by others on the forum)

9. Use green cleaning products.

The surfactants in cleaning products are readily biodegradable, green ones are only marketing tricks

10.Switch to paperless bank statements and online bill paying.

Is this a joke?

People (including myself) are in general short sighted and only respond to imidiate wallet issues.
1. Triple the price of electricity
2. Triple the price of gasoline
3. Give economical incentives for recycling
4. Lower the income tax with they money you make on the above so that people wont get hurt.

Other good things to do:
1. Ban cars on cetain streets
2. Build a district cooling system. 30 ft down in the sea the temperature is 4 degrees celcius, you get cooling for free. Stockholm has done this and it works like a dream.
3. Build a better public transporation system
4. Build lanes for bikes

Will I get any votes for my ideas? Probably not... :(

Absolutely agree that in the long run, increasing the cost of "harmful" activities is the only realistic solution that will impact a significant percentage of the population.
But if you say things like "triple the price of gasoline" you're never going to get support. If you can come up with a plan to gradually increase fuel taxes and provide offsets in other areas, plus couple it with an informational campaign with tips to reduce gasoline usage (most of which require very little self-sacrifice and are beneficial in other ways), you'll have a better chance.

Good to see that someone is talking about changing diets. As a vegetarian, I know well that the production of meat is one of the most harmful things we can do to the environment, and that most of our crops produced go towards meat production anyway (feeding a lot fewer people on much greater energy inputs).

I think that a lot of this "green" stuff simply makes people feel good without really changing much. "OK, I'm not getting paper bank statements. I'm making a difference." Um...OK... If that makes you feel better. It IS a difference, and the person who does try to help a little bit is obviously doing more than someone who doesn't care in the first place, but it also makes it seem like there's nothing else that could help more.

Of course, public transportation is a really good thing, so I give that a thumbs-up.

How about in addition to these things, let's see a "Don't have kids." or at the very least a "Don't have more than 2 kids." That right there will have more of a long-term impact than any other "solution", simply because if our population keeps growing, everything we do will be multiplied.

"Don't have kids."

I was wondering how long I'd have to read before seeing this! I'm glad I didn't have to be the first to post it. Limiting reproduction should be #1 in any list of ways to solve environmental problems, and is one of the central principles of Permaculture.

But boy, what formidable political, religious, and biological hurdles are involved. Procreation is the "third rail" of environmental politics -- touch it, and you're dead.

I favour a free-market "cap and trade" system. I like this for entirely selfish reasons -- I want to get rich off my unused reproduction rights (got myself "fixed" in my early '20's).

There is the argument that with the coming energy decline, population must reduce. Correlation is not causation, but Occam's Razor says it's generally a pretty good indicator. By the time fossil energy is effectively gone, we may need to be under one billion. We can fight politics, religion, and biology, and choose to do it voluntarily, or we can have wars, famine, and disease, and have population control imposed upon us by nature and the unforgiving laws of physics.

In the '70's, I despaired for the children of the world, and decided I wasn't going to contribute. A child born today will almost certainly see increased suffering in the world, and will probably experience Peak Coal, along with the consequences of global warming. A child born of a wealthy family may only have to watch as millions or billions of other children suffer -- a considerable psychic burden, if not a physical one.

Now to be really provocative: most children of middle-class parents in the developed world are simply self-indulgent hobbies these days. Gone is the need for communal labour to help bring in food and to care for elders. Perhaps those needs will return, but in the mean-time, most of us could just skip having children, and the world would be much better off. Certainly there is absolutely no "need" to have more than one.

:::: Jan Steinman, Communication Steward, EcoReality ::::

While I don't dispute for a moment that keeping an eye on total human population is important, a "policy" of having no kids at all for "environmental reasons" is almost certainly counterproductive. For a start, the way you bring up your own kids is quite possibly the best chance you have to help foster better understanding of the need for better environmental stewardship. I have one kid, and very much hope to have another, with the determination that both grow up to have a strong awareness of humanity's impact on the planet and the need for this awareness to be behind every major decision they make in life. Leaving procreation entirely up to the large portion of society that rarely give a second thought to environmental issues is not likely to help foster greater awareness in future generations.

Secondly, having children gives you a direct personal stake in the planet's future. I don't think this should be underestimated - I often find it very difficult to persuade my wife of the need for more "environmentally aware" behaviour, but in the occasions I do manage to get the message through, it's usually on the basis of our son's future.

Thirdly, too low a fertility rate will almost certainly cause social and economic difficulties that will significantly interfere with any necessary emphasis on long-term thinking.

Having said that, I think "no more than two kids" is perfectly reasonable advice: if everyone who wanted kids followed it, it would probably put the fertility rate at around 1.8 kids per couple, allowing for a reasonably graceful and manageable population decline.

I was vegetarian for six years. I appreciate the argument that vegetarianism is less energy-wasteful (I made the argument many times.)

But since hearing about peak fuels, I've changed my mind.

It no longer seems like we are going to the stars. It seems like things will soon revert to how they were before cheap refrigeration: Medieval Times. In those times, there were no evil CAFO (concentrated animal feeding operations.) Just humble local farming.

Before fossil fuels made grain extremely cheap, animals were not fed expensive human foods. Cows and sheep ate grass, and Chickens and pigs often ate human garbage.

Only the mega-rich enjoyed fresh meat daily. Common people relied on eggs, dairy, and dried meat from local farms for survival.

Without cheap refrigeration, dried meat was by far the most concentrated source of high quality food energy. In a very small space, a very high density of protein, fat, vitamins and minerals could be stored, for many months.

You could derive the same quality of nutrition through a mix of beans, grains, nuts, and pickled vegetables, but they require far more storage and variety of sources. If you don't have the storage or if one of your many sources fail, you don't get complete nutrition.

At least on small farms, just a few animals worked as local recycling plants for human garbage, and dramatically increased food security for common people.

Agriculture is largely to blame for destroying the natural environment - but small-scale animal domestication - on the scale that small farmers employed until 150 years ago - it's not obvious to me that removing it would have lessened the destruction much.

I've been using string bags for years. They hold a ton and the wide handles are nicer on your fingers than the plastic bags that cut into them. Depending on the store, each string bag ends up holding as much as six to a dozen plastic bags. The only real downside is that the baggers usually aren't use to them so it takes longer for them to do it. As someone who use to work as a bagger, I believe they'll get quicker as other bag types become more popular. On the good side, they're a conversation generator, both with the cashier and sometimes cute women in line behind me. :)

Strange thing about the power adapters is that when I plugged a couple of them into my Kill-a-watt, none of them came up with any power drain. I had been told that even when there is no device connected to them, that they still draw power. This might be true, but in the case of my cell phone and mp3 player, neither one consumed enough power while not connected to register.

In regards to appliances, it would be nice if they had multiple readiness settings. Scrambling around for power strips or wall plugs is a pain. It would be nice if on a LCD tv, I could select multiple levels of awareness of the tv when in "standby" mode:

1) Everything is turned off and only the actual physical power button on the unit can start it back up
2) The remote control senor is kept active but everything else is powered down.
3) Standard standby mode where everything is kept warm so it can spring back to life quickly.

Interestingly enough, now that I've written that out, it looks a lot like the options I have on my computer for shutdown/standby/etc. I suspect that much of this could be done with a minor increase in the design cost (which is spread over thousands or millions of units) but because energy is so cheap, the manufacturers don't feel there is a need to bother or to complicate the use of the device for the consumer. And the last thing they want you thinking about when considering plopping down a couple of grand for entertainment equipment is conservation.

I don't mind waiting for a tv to warm up (or whatever the term would be for modern televisions) but climbing under furniture to get to a power strip is a huge pain, not to mention that they tend to be very ugly. I try to hide all plugs and cables out of view. If the lowest standby mode can be set to where the power draw is a watt or two, while still wasteful, it would be a good balance between standby waste and consumers getting annoyed.

Your idea about setting "power modes" by hand for each appliance is good for big-ticket items like TVs and computers.

It's unworkable for me, because I have many small cheap appliances, some of which are behind furniture.

I have no problem stooping down to flip a power strip switch when I leave a room, because I do it only once every few hours.

You would probably prefer to plug a power strip into a "remote switch extension cord." Then you could hide the strip and mount the tiny switch somewhere handy.


Realistic Green Lists ought to come in different versions for people in different circumstances. For example:

1) Green list for home owners.

2) Green list for apartment renters.

3) Green list for co-op building members.

4) Green list for commercial building owners.

Some of the things that home owners can do make no sense at all for renters who do not own their physical dwellings.

Also, one problem with green lists is they are weighted toward small things people can do easily like carry their own bags to supermarkets. This tends to cause these lists to miss the biggest areas where savings can be made in energy usage.

I am pleased at the effort NYC is making to encourage people to stop buying bottled water. San Francisco is way ahead of us on that one.

There have also been coupons offered here to get consumers to switch to EnergyStar appliances. ConEdison just announced that they are offering coupons for compact fluorescent bulbs.

I'm not sure if this is still happening, but about a month ago, Brooklyn had an initiative going on called the "Brooklyn Free Lighting Project". They were randomly selecting people and offering to come to your home and replace all your incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescents free of charge!

Bloomberg's efforts to institute congestion pricing, and his NYC2030 plans are encouraging signs that cities are starting to make needed changes despite the lack of leadership in this area from the federal government.

Now if we could just get the mass transit system here to run reliably on rainy days...sigh.

In the Netherlands, the plastic bag is already gone for maybe already 20 years. There is no law against it, but the government made a deal with the retail lobby to stop the plastic bags.

1. Talk to your fellow apartment dwellers on your floor. Find out who has a half-empty refrigerator and unplug it. Let them keep their food in yours.

2. Throw the bloody TeeVEE out the window!! Stop watching something that tells you to buy more TVs and all the other junk that you don't need anyway. Do it. Now.

3. Turn off the radio. Sing. Hum. Talk to yourself. Stop letting the world decide what you want.

4. Ditch the desktop computers. Only laptops or handhelds should be used. Get a solar charger for them.

5. Leave the lights off. Go to bed.

6. Stop going places you don't need to go for vacations. You don't have to see your parents in Florida. You don't have to visit the Alps. You don't have to go the San Francisco. If New York is so great, stay there. Enjoy it. Make it better.

7. Grow something in every window.

8. Stop having babies. Plenty of people will be moving to the city looking for jobs and fame. You don't have to create more.

9. Sell your car.

10. Say goodbye to cheap energy.

Good ones!

How about these?[not all apply to individual apartment dwellers but some could be done by apartment companies]:

1. Replace at least one household water toilet with a composting toilet equiped with a front urinal divider. Locate this converted bathroom where a collection system could be installed beneath it. Subcontract with a recycling company or an organic farm to collect the separated compost and urine.

2. Use a solar cooker to heat meals on clear days: saving wood, coal, natural gas, and or electricity for household winter heating and overcast days' cooking.

3. Start/join a car share coop for errands. Carpool to work/school.

4. Recreation/education: learn how to tandem bike, drive a horse-drawn vehicle, or row or sail a boat.

5. Dump fast food joints. Switch to in-season local 'slow' foods. Buy your groceries from local suppliers or direct from the farms [CSA].

6. Dig up your community lawns and install your own rain gardens, perennial food gardens, and/or orchards.

7. Eat fresh meats less often. Eat more fibre instead.

8. Collect rainwater from your roofs. Recycle grey water from your showers and sinks. Use in your garden.

9. Don't rely on central AC or central heat: use breezes /open windows in spring and fall; open blinds in winter and shut them in summer; dress in layers. Install doors/heavy curtains in 'open floor plan' doorways/hallways/stairways to conserve room temperature. Attempt to frequent cooler north sections or basements of home in summer and warmer south /window sections of home in winter.

10. Never pay full price. Shop [and trade your old stuff] at thrift stores, consignment stores, pawn shops, internet trading pages, and garage sales. Don't feed the debt dragon.

Now if we could just get an Energize America -type program to subsidize some of these changes! But I seriously doubt there are any billions left to pay for it at this point....

Happiness is... a peak-nik in his victory garden!