We are hearing this expression a lot more these days “Green”. The federal government does not have a specific definition for “environmentally- friendly”, so we have to rely on organizations that will set standards to qualify a product or usage of a product to meet minimum requirements to be labeled for energy efficiency or environmental safety. In this time of high oil prices, and climate change, there is a new awareness of how we effect the environment we live in.
Environmental concerns have become popular conversation. While some of the ideas and practices have been around for ages, the practical use of these concepts in our modern times is new. We hear and see it in everything from clothing, alternative fuel, building products, and cleaning products. We are seeing it in businesses (banks, colleges, municipalities) that are cutting back on mail-outs and billing, trying to lessen the use of paper. There is also a lot of discussion on what makes a product “green”. These the words have been used loosely and with-out directive or management. There are organizations on a national, state and local level that offer a set of specific guidelines or criteria for products to be able to garnish their label of “environmentally safe” or “energy efficient”. For the most part consumers have to educate themselves and look for reputable companies, read labels and research products.
Green building has become a popular concept and along with all the great products and professionals that are available, there are also plenty of scams and scam artist associated with being “green”. The term “green wash” typically describes the exaggeration or overstatement of terms used as “being green” or” good for the environment”. Check with your local government and other organizational offices for information about product providers or a list of professionals who can guide you in products for your home. From new home builders who are building homes that have to meet energy efficiency standards of the local city ordinances or to products for home owners who want to improve their homes energy efficiency. Local offices can provide information about professionals who have the ability and training to perform energy audits and other services that can help in your decision to make minor or major environmental or energy efficient changes. Consumers need to have the ability to understand how features and products that make claims of being green or good for the environment will be of a particular value to them. As a single consumer you may think that your efforts do not make a difference on the whole but every little step or action adds up to a greater end.
Being green does not mean you need to be wealthy or compromise your comfort and health. In most instances living green should not require any special effort. There are many cities that work with energy companies to help consumers switch to efficient products with rebates and other incentives, including such products as low water flow toilets, programmable thermostats, solar panels, thankless water heaters, fluorescent bulbs, weather stripping and the list goes on. A little energy saving here, a little less trash in our land fills there, one less gallon of gas, all of these can add up to a lot of savings. And not just in monetary gains, but in a safer and cleaner environment for all of us. The world is getting smaller due to technology; maybe if we can make small changes to our own surroundings, there will continue to be changes on a larger scale. So what is environmentally friendly? Maybe it means to live and treat the earth around us like there is a tomorrow.