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Old 04-20-2008, 08:49 PM   #21
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Someday I'm hoping to erect a cheap house-shading PV pergola from these guys: Solar Suspension Systems
Just so you know, you are my guinea pig / trend indicator on the whole solar energy for the house thing. I'm holding on until you go in first and give the all clear.

A new subdivision near us includes GE solar cells on a backyard pergola. The advertisements said that they can provide up to 20% of the power for the house, and these are big houses, at least 3000 sf. While cruising back from some errand the other day I stopped off there to do some looking. They had a unit on display at the front gate next to the sales trailer. The sign there said the cells supplied 20% of the power for the sales center. The trailer had to be less than 1,000 sf, but it supplied the same percentage of power??
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Old 04-20-2008, 09:13 PM   #22
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Just so you know, you are my guinea pig / trend indicator on the whole solar energy for the house thing. I'm holding on until you go in first and give the all clear.
I"m driving myself nuts this weekend with PV envy. Not two hours after I put up the last post, spouse found a local business clearing out their excess inventory of panels on Craigslist. 50 panels, each 200 watts, at $4/watt. That's almost "fell-off-the-truck-on-the-Jersey-Turnpike" cheap.

10 KW is a lotta panels and $40K is a lotta money to spend on panels, but even if I just use half of them and resell the rest for $5/watt...
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Old 04-20-2008, 10:42 PM   #23
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Assuming that totally eliminating all store plastic and paper bags would help...
I just think this whole plastic bag thing is blown way out of proportion. I just weighed out 10 bags - less than 2 ounces of plastic. Plus, we get a second use out of almost all of them. I suspect the time taken to discuss this is just distracting from bigger fish.

I would bet that the excess packaging on the stuff we put *in* the bags far outweighs the bag itself. One of my 'favorites' is the industrial strength plastic shell they put on the CFL bulbs. Does no one else see the irony in that? Old 'nasty' bulbs came in nice earth-friendly recyclable paper, and seldom broke. I have broken a CFL trying to get it out of its plastic armor.

While I had the scale out... plastic package for 6 CFLs - about 2 ounces. 10x the bag it went into (with other stuff) to bring it home. And those old CFL plastic cases do a lousy job of lining a garbage can

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Old 04-21-2008, 12:41 PM   #24
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We recycle and try to reuse where we can. We keep the heat down but that's more to save money. I have a Honda Civic that gets 35 mpg. That's more due to that I'm too cheap to buy a new car. I have become more "Green" in the last 10 years. We've also become more "Frugal" in the last 10 years. For what its worth.
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Old 04-21-2008, 12:57 PM   #25
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i didn't produce the pitter-patter of having any kids. anyone wanna buy some carbon credits?
You're right! If everyone followed your lead, there would be near zero human caused environmental issues in only a few decades! By the end of the century, none at all other than perhaps the remnants of our infrastructure recycling itself back to nature.
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Old 04-21-2008, 01:19 PM   #26
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Actually, Lazy's comment about kids is very interesting to me. A lot of people I know who think that Global Warming is a vast anti-American conspiracy engineered by the UN, happen to have kids. I don't, yet I care about the environment. It sometimes makes me wonder why... After all, if people with kids don't worry about the kind of world their kids will inherit, then why should I? As long as earth remains livable for the next 60 years, I should be all set...
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Old 04-21-2008, 02:09 PM   #27
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We've always tried to recycle as much as we can. Lately, we've done the following:

- Bought stainless steel water bottles for DW so that she doesn't use bottled water every day. Why stainless steel? She likes the taste better than the Nalgene type plastic bottles. We did this about a year ago and can't believe we waited so long!
- As with other posters, take totes to grocery store. Also, refuse plastic bags as much as possible if didn't remember to bring the tote since we can carry it in our hand, although we do look like we're stealing groceries!
- Researching bags for take for buying fruits and vegetables. I'm not talking about the plastic bags during checkout, I'm talking the clear small bags that are very hard to reuse. We found a great, lightweight drawstring mesh bag but they are totally overpriced.

Plastics use really bothers me, I know it's a very small amount, but I hate to see these things end up in the ocean. Packaging is especially frustrating. Costco sells a bunch of apples that are individually encased in a hard plastic thing, presumably to keep them from being dented. What a waste!

Also have thought about bringing a container to a restaurant in case we have leftovers. I think this will definitely put us in the "green weirdo" category! Some restaurants seem to use a tremendous amount of packaging for leftovers.

Even with this and driving fuel efficient cars and having a small house, I think our resource use is probably above average since we fly a lot and have an infant.
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Old 04-21-2008, 03:01 PM   #28
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Actually, Lazy's comment about kids is very interesting to me. A lot of people I know who think that Global Warming is a vast anti-American conspiracy engineered by the UN, happen to have kids. I don't, yet I care about the environment. It sometimes makes me wonder why... After all, if people with kids don't worry about the kind of world their kids will inherit, then why should I? As long as earth remains livable for the next 60 years, I should be all set...
We are in the no kids camp and I must admit that I find it frustrating that family members with kids seem to care less about what is going on with the environment than we do. For a brief while I did think who gives a toss as we don't have an investment in what happens to this planet after we pop our clogs, and it is easy to argue if everyone else is doing nothing why should I sacrifice. However, the bottom line is we enjoy doing environmentally friendly things when there is a good affordable option. There is some reward, some feeling of satisfaction when instead of taking out 3-4 bags of garbage every week, we now only have 1 due to our recycling.
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Old 04-21-2008, 03:19 PM   #29
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I just think this whole plastic bag thing is blown way out of proportion. I just weighed out 10 bags - less than 2 ounces of plastic. Plus, we get a second use out of almost all of them. I suspect the time taken to discuss this is just distracting from bigger fish.
I thought about this, would agree with you, and almost didn't post that, but here's why I did:

1. The sheer number of plastic bags used is phenomenal. Every time you buy something you get one, and every time you buy groceries you get several.

2. You're not giving up anything or sacrificing when you use your own. It's much better with cloth bags, but people just don't realize it.
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Old 04-21-2008, 03:52 PM   #30
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Actually, Lazy's comment about kids is very interesting to me. A lot of people I know who think that Global Warming is a vast anti-American conspiracy engineered by the UN, happen to have kids...
I agree, but I have three kids... hmmm....must rationalize...

My oldest is earning his degree in BioChem. He has already done work with the USDA testing bio-fuel production processes. Maybe he will go on to develop processes to reduce pollution, far in excess of what he has added as an individual? How did that sound? Do I get a carbon credit?

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I thought about this, would agree with you, and almost didn't post that, but here's why I did:

1. The sheer number of plastic bags used is phenomenal. Every time you buy something you get one, and every time you buy groceries you get several.

2. You're not giving up anything or sacrificing when you use your own. It's much better with cloth bags, but people just don't realize it.
I thought about that - no definitive answer, but sometimes I wonder, if you did a real 'cradle-to-grave' analysis of those tote bags, would they really be that much better than plastic film? I don't have one handy to weigh (they are in DWs car), but I would guess there is about 100x the 'stuff' in one tote vs a film bag. Cotton as a crop is an environmental disaster. They have to get washed (water and soap wasted, the soap came in packaging...), and eventually wear out, or get stained, and are tossed or lost. Probably still better, but I wonder how much - it's probably mice nuts compared to just about anything.

But my real point was that there seems to be so much more focus on the bag, rather than the packaging of the products *in* the bag.

If 'we' (as a society) were really interested in this, I could see where packaging could be taxed. Give different packaging materials a 'score' based on their energy consumption and recycle-ability, multiplied by it's weight. That would give the manufacturers some incentive to provide more environmentally friendly packaging. Give credits for effective in-store recycling, etc. As Dylan said, 'money doesn't talk, it SCREAMS'.

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Old 04-21-2008, 07:24 PM   #31
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I actually agree.

I don't expect anything meaningful to happen regarding packaging. IIRC this was a cause of the month years ago (80's? 90's?), probably around the time individually wrapped cheese food slices came out, but nothing has been done, and the situation is worse.
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Old 04-21-2008, 08:42 PM   #32
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You're right! If everyone followed your lead, there would be near zero human caused environmental issues in only a few decades! By the end of the century, none at all other than perhaps the remnants of our infrastructure recycling itself back to nature.
Voluntary Human Extinction Movement
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Old 04-22-2008, 04:32 AM   #33
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The sheer number of plastic bags used is phenomenal. Every time you buy something you get one, and every time you buy groceries you get several.
They're everywhere - stuck in trees, blowing down the street... I was surveying a landfill once and plastic bags were everywhere - probably the most common item in a landfill. And they'll last for hundreds of years. Its good that people are starting to use earth friendly alternatives.
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Old 04-22-2008, 06:51 AM   #34
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Last summer I stayed in a beach house in Costa Rica for 2 weeks. I was astounded at the quantity of plastic junk on the beach. You could literally shovel it. Everything that you can possibly imagine that is made from plastic was there. I don't know if this is typical around the world or if trash is dumped offshore there and washes in.

In any case, it certainly made a lasting impression on me.
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Old 04-22-2008, 07:42 AM   #35
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I think littering should carry the death penalty.

There's simply no excuse for it. If someone can't put forth the miniscule amount of effort required to carry their junk to the trash, I have to wonder how they approach their other responsibilities to society that carry a heavier burden. It just strikes me that people like that must be a drain on society.

Fry 'em, says I! (and I'm only half joking, only 1/4 joking on some days....).

OK, I'll compromise - 80 hours community service work, picking up litter. Save the chair for the third offense.

Put 'not returning the shopping cart to the cart corral' in that category, too. I wish COSTCO would rescind the card of any shopper that leaves the cart loose in the lot. We don't need people like that, probably the same ones who abandon their cart , blocking the middle of the aisle!

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Old 04-22-2008, 08:55 AM   #36
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The worst is when you see someone littering. When you see a family of four at a rest stop just toss their McDonald's trash out the window, you lose all faith in humans. I'll pull the switch.
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Old 04-22-2008, 09:02 AM   #37
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The worst is when you see someone littering. When you see a family of four at a rest stop just toss their McDonald's trash out the window, you lose all faith in humans. I'll pull the switch.
Well, I wouldn't go so far as advocating capital punishment. But in these parts, it's not uncommon to shoot out their tires. No jury would convict you.
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Old 04-22-2008, 09:05 AM   #38
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I'll pull the switch.
So what is the most energy efficient way to execute someone?

Electricity vs lethal injection? Solar powered electric chair (All executions to take place at high noon?).

Soylent Green?

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Old 04-22-2008, 09:08 AM   #39
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The worst is when you see someone littering. When you see a family of four at a rest stop just toss their McDonald's trash out the window, you lose all faith in humans. I'll pull the switch.
I remember visiting Wisconsin when the first littering laws were in place growing up and hearing people say that they didnt want to litter because the fine was so high...things looked clean...now the ditches are full of trash and they need volunteers every year to pick the stuff out...I suppose more signs and higher fines would do the trick...
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Old 04-22-2008, 09:18 AM   #40
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So what is the most energy efficient way to execute someone? -ERD50
I guess this rules out running them down with your SUV...
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