Green living has become a way of life for millions of people for a number of reasons. While one of the benefits that comes from this lifestyle is protecting the planet by making environmentally friendly decisions, the main reason people go green is to live clean. This means eating foods grown organically without the use of harmful chemicals, driving automobiles that get better gas mileage but without emitting pollutants, and embracing alternative energy sources for home and transportation, plus more.
Because this is such a vital way of living, one that improves a person’s health but also ensures a healthy planet for generations to come, we felt it important to provide some key information specific to green living. Although many people have a general idea of what this involves, we believe the information provided in this article will open eyes to a much broader way of adopting green living.
History of Green Living
By having an understanding of green living history it becomes much easier to appreciate the changes that need to be made. Sometimes referred to as “sustainable living”, this lifestyle has been adopted by people around the world interested in using natural resources opposed to conventional solutions that wreak havoc on the environment and cause devastation to humans. With green living, people have a unique opportunity to make changes regarding transportation, diet, energy consumption, and more, all reducing carbon footprints.
Although much of the green living experience has been in the past decade, historically, the concept dates back to 1954 when Helen and Scott Nearing published “Living the Good Life.” While this was the beginning of change, the back to the land movement introduced in the publication did not come to fruition until the late 1960s and early 1970s. By 1962, “Silent Spring”, another publication was released, this time written by Rachel Carson in support of the movement for sustainability.
Ten years later, a book that would become a bestseller around the globe was published by Donella Meadows. Called “The Limits to Growth”, this was unique in that information associated with a study that had been conducted over a long period about population, environment, and economic trends was provided. The following year a collection of essays in “Small is Beautiful” was published by E. F. Schumacher regarding changes made toward achieving a sustainable lifestyle,
With so much attention being given to green living, Earth Summit conferences were held by the United Nations from 1992 to 2002. Realizing vast interest by the public, it became clear the only viable means of conserving natural resources was with improving on existing efforts and increasing sustainability. Just five years down the road, the “Sustainable Consumption and Production, Promoting Climate Friendly Household Consumption Patterns” was published by the United Nations, with the focus on promoting both home and community lifestyles based on sustainability.
Green Living Technology
With the development of the World Wide Web (www), people around the globe began adopting the concept of sustainability, followed by making significant changes. The internet is a one-stop-shop that provides a wealth of information while being a platform on which people throughout the world can gather to learn and share. Because of the power of the World Wide Web, having access to green living technology has never been easier.
Thanks to thousands of websites being dedicated to green living, information on every possible technology that supports sustainability can found. Because of this, commercial and residential changes can be made to water systems, heating and cooling systems, electricity, roofs, construction, air quality, and more. In addition to people having access to helpful information about new building and modification aligned with green living, these sites provide lists of natural or sustainable materials that could be used, as well as resources if needed.
Transportation Embracing Technology
Climate warming and the depleting ozone layer have been issues for some time but with carbon emissions exacerbating these problems, levels of concerns have increased. This coupled with the high cost of fuel and unrest regarding overseas oil and gas production, one of the areas that has seen great change specific to green living is transportation.
Although vehicles have been developed to run on electricity, grease, and water, making change to the transportation industry creates serious challenge due to massive expense and some resistance. However, transportation experts have taken the green living concept seriously, resulting in urban transport systems being revised, which ultimately has made transportation more affordable and the environment healthier while still providing necessary mobility.
Not only do these systems include large systems such as bus and rail, change has also involved walkways for pedestrians and pathways for bikes. By promoting use of public transport systems and human mobility, fewer vehicles are on the road emitting pollutants. Along with green living transportation being better for the planet, there are health benefits as well.
For instance, getting people to walk or bike to more destinations promotes good health and well-being, which in turn reduces the need to rely on conventional medication or undergo expensive and potentially dangerous surgeries and medical procedures that only add to the rising cost of insurance. Even carpooling helps the environment while giving people the chance to spend quality time with friends, also providing a dual benefit.
Alternative Fuel Sources
In addition to alternative fuel sources being developed for automobiles, we have seen massive change pertaining to the airlines, rail systems, and even shipping. Just as stated above, the high price of fuel has hit hard, pushing more and more people to make choices that consist of alternative fuel. As a result, people have the chance to save money but still do their part to help improve the environment.
The primary alternative fuel source is electricity. Again, new automobile designs have been introduced that run on electricity opposed to gasoline or diesel fuel. Even standard fuel has been changed so it burns cleaner and provides more miles per gallon. However, there is much more to understand when it comes to alternative fuel sources for personal and commercial use. The following are some of the more popular alternative fuel sources, along with a brief description of each.
- Ethanol – Corn is used to create ethanol, which is being slated as a key component of the nation’s future energy. Using 13 million bushels of corn, 35 million gallons of ethanol can be produced annually, enough to replace 55,000 barrels of high quality petroleum imported from other countries.
- Ethanol/E85 – Ethanol is formally known as Ethyl Alcohol but in this case, a blend of fuel is created using 85% ethanol and 15% conventional gasoline, something now being sold at gas stations around the country. With regular gasoline, the BTU level is 124,800 but with Ethanol/E85, BTU is 80,000, which means using this unique blend, a person would use 1.56 gallons opposed to 1 gallon of regular gasoline to drive the same distance in exchange for a clean burn and better vehicle performance.
- Methanol/M85 – Methanol is a type of wood alcohol, or formally Methyl Alcohol. Produced with a special process consisting of a catalyst and steam, rather than coming from natural gas, in support of green living, it is now made from a variety of organic matter to include manure and sewage waste. In this case, 85% of fuel would be methanol and 15% standard gasoline, which dramatically improves gasoline efficiency. The only downside is that methanol is corrosive so it must be used in association with special materials.
- Compressed Natural Gas – While this is another alternative fuel source, it is very limited at present time. Because a vehicle would need to use significantly more compressed natural gas to travel the same distance using conventional gasoline, a compressor/refueler would be required for compression but this is only available in nine states and for Civic GX car owners.
- Biodiesel – Specific to diesel engines, biodiesel uses grease and oil that would otherwise be tossed out by fast food and regular restaurants for frying foods. In this case, rendered chicken fat, used fry oil, and vegetable oil are processed so glycerin and other contaminants are extracted. As a result, more energy is provided per gallon and less energy lost through exhaust.
- Natural Gas – Many people are unaware that this type of gas can actually be used in internal combustion engines. With the correct blend and used in the correct way, natural gas would actually optimize thermodynamic efficiency and make exhaust cleaner.
- Hydrogen – Simply put, this alternative fuel source comes from water. Today, some vehicles are designed to run on hydrogen power while others can be adapted using special kits. However, hydrogen for fuel cell vehicles will not actually be available until around 2020 but present technology works well and the future for this alternative fuel source is bright.
- Future Hopefuls – While not yet viable options, there are several alternative energy sources being developed. For instance, algae fuel, which is derived from algae, biomass briquettes made from plant matter, biogas digestion in which methane gas is harnessed and biological hydrogen production are just a few examples.
Green Living at Home
In addition to people building new homes that are environmentally friendly, there are multiple ways to make changes to existing homes in support of green living. By using energy efficient materials, processes, practices, and technologies, people have the ability to save a tremendous amount of money but also reduce negative effects on the environment.
For someone interested in building a sustainable home, the first consideration would be location. The goal would be choosing a site on which to build within close proximity to businesses frequented most. That way, trips to the grocery store, doctor’s office, schools, libraries, and so on could be made by walking or biking, or driving as a means of using less fuel. The next decision would be choosing an on or off-grid home.
For an on-grid home, a person would need to depend on electricity, water, and gas from public utilities whereas with an off-grid home, energy in some or all forms would be produced using a variety of natural resources, such as those listed below. Although a person would experience the greatest savings and do the most in promoting a healthy planet by being off-grid, there is an advantage in some on-grid homes in that any surplus energy produced naturally could be sold to a local utility company, providing a person with a unique source of income.
- Solar – This would involve energy being produced naturally by the sun
- Wind – In this case, energy would be generated from wind
- Geothermal – Using steam or hot water from the interior of the Earth would produce both electricity and heat
- Hydrogen – Using water, energy could be generated
When looking at homes that support green living, there are specific design elements involved. Obviously, the goal would be to have each of these elements included in the overall design but even adding a few would prove beneficial. The factors deemed most critical include using passive solar, wind, or hydrogen energy for lighting and heating, creating buffer zones to maintain a comfortable temperature, using construction designs to make positive microclimates, and using recycled, composted, renewable, and reclaimed materials that are low-impact and non-toxic.
The list below are the most popular materials used to build green living homes or make modifications to existing homes.
- Composite Wood
- Insulation made from Cellulose, Concrete Forms, Organic Cotton, Soil, and Structural Panels
- Lime Render
- Lumber from Approved Sources
- Natural Rubber
- Natural Fiber to include Coir, Jute, and Wool
- Rammed Earth
- Reclaimed Materials to include Brick, Concrete, Metal, Stone
- Recycled Paper
- Soy-Based Adhesive
Finishes would need to be organic or water-based, windows should be insulated with Low-E gas, appliances should boast an Energy Star label, and nothing should go to waste. For instance, old bath or washing machine water could be reused for garden water or irrigation. In fact, for someone to build or modify a home to support green living to the maximum, processes used should also be environmentally friendly.
Basic Architectural Designs
A person could go all out if wanted when building a new home or modifying an existing home in connection with green living but overall, there are some basic architectural features that should be included. In addition to using materials and systems such as those mentioned above, a person should consider other options for creating an amazing green living home.
This might include collecting rainwater, using photovoltaic cells to collect surplus energy, adding a heat pump that would make it and inexpensive but also efficient means of keeping the home warm during cold winter months, choosing a waste management system whereby things that would otherwise go to waste are used in one way or another, and even creating a garden for growing organic foods.
Although a volume of information is available online, anyone who needs help in choosing appropriate architectural designs that fully support sustainability, there are many experts who are dedicated to helping others make a smooth transition to the green living lifestyle.
Green Nutrition for Better Health
Green living is not only about choosing the right materials, systems, and technologies for vehicles and homes, it is also about adopting a healthier diet. Some people with limited time and/or space will choose to purchase organic foods at a local whole or natural foods store but if possible, the better option would be in creating an incredible garden whereby organic foods are grown.
Along with growing foods the entire family would love, it would be important to grow foods to can. For instance, tomatoes are great for soups, sauces, and salads but they are also excellent for making and canning homemade sauces for future use. With a garden of this type, only natural pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, and insecticides would be used opposed to commercial products that contain harmful chemicals. Additionally, supporting vegetables and fruits would be planted in a systematic way as natural protectors against bugs and wild animals.
In addition to creating an organic garden, there are other ways to enjoy better nutrition but without going against the concept and belief of green living. Some of these alternative options include the following:
- Eating Red Meat – Instead of eating a lot of red meat, it would be helpful to reduce the amount consumed. For one thing, this would be healthier but with livestock accounting for about 18% of global warming issues, this would encourage a healthier environment.
- Buying Red Meat – Another important change would be to purchase only red meat that had been raised organically. By choosing meat that comes from a farm certified as organic, a person would not be consuming growth hormones and antibiotics, or being exposed to other contaminants that can be passed down through cattle.
- Buy Locally – Purchasing locally grown food of any type would help reduce the need for long distance transportation, thus reducing consumption of fuel and lowering dangerous emissions. This would also support local farmers, and yield foods with higher nutritional value.
- Buy in Bulk – Making food purchases in bulk is a great cost saver and if there is more food than what a family could consume, extra could be used for making meals ahead of time, which could then be frozen.
- Fair Trade Certified – Whenever possible, buying Fair Trade certified foods would ensure fair pricing for all farmers in developing countries, which means that sustainable farms are being provided with needed support.
- Best Seafood – Buying seafood from fisheries or other habitats that are professionally managed allows fish in the ocean the chance to spawn so even ocean friendly choices are possible with green living
- Free-Range Poultry – Finally, if buying chicken, turkey, duck, eggs, and other poultry or poultry products, always look for free-range, which means the animals were raised in humane conditions and cared for naturally
Green Commerce, Industry, and Economy
Along with green living practices for people in their personal lives, this environmentally friendly concept also impacts commerce, industry, and economy. Today, more and more companies have turned to changes in the workforce, some having to do with architectural design and others pertaining to the way in which the business operates. For example, many companies have installed purified water systems, hold clean-up days whereby employees can bring in clothing or household items for recycling, and set up carpooling groups to save money but also help the environment.
It has been recognized that for green living to work, companies and the government have to work together as a team. This involves continued conversations about things that are and are not working, potential problems, and revolutionary breakthroughs. Sights have been set on the future and the value that green living offers. Having a shared responsibility makes both parties responsible and accountable for getting things done.
Today, the government is using a number of policy tools to make the transition to a green economy smoother and a number of new opportunities have been created to make this all possible. The bottom line is that green living would provide a huge economic boost, something desperately needed especially after the recent financial crisis. Because green living would also save businesses around the world tons of money, as well as create collaborations, there is no doubt this is the future.
Future of Green Living Technology
In looking at the information provided in this article, it become clear that green living has come a long way but it is also here to stay, impacting people and businesses around the globe. Although current green living technologies are impressive, many innovative things are on the near horizon. The list of things to come is quite lengthy so we pulled together a few samples of what green living technology will soon look like.
- Enhanced Geothermal Systems – With this, heat that is naturally generated by the Earth would be captured as a means of producing electricity. By drilling down into the Earth’s high temperature basement, a reservoir would be created into which cold water would be pumped to absorb heat.
- Nanosolar – Another green living technology being worked on involves solar power that would be generated for less money using nanosolar. The cost savings is significant, making this a tremendous development.
- Orbiting Arrays – Another technology involving solar power consists of using various solar panels that would actually be constructed in space to beam power back to a receptor on Earth to help with electricity conversion. Although this technology is still being investigated, experts have been in serious discussions.
- Concentrated Solar Power – In this case, solar farms would develop rows of mirrors as a means of concentrating rays from the sun onto a fluid-filled vessel that works to steam turbines or power generators.
- Smart Grids – These grids have been a major project in which $16 trillion has already been spent. With these grids, energy would be more efficient but also more cost efficient, eliminating current problems associated with grid systems.