Sunday, August 2, 2015

Save the planet and save money: some practical ideas that will make a difference!

Rolling out the "green carpet"
with a do-it-yourself graywater system
The presentation on “Living Sustainably and Abundantly”that Jill and I did a at the Arroyo Food Coop went well and we were very pleased by the enthusiastic response. Around 30-35 people showed up and they were keenly interested in practical ways they could reduce their water and energy usage. We were especially impressed by Pastor Clayton Golliher who started a gray water business that is truly innovative and inspiring. He has invented gray water kits that don’t require tapping into existing plumbing and therefore don’t require permits. He has checked with LA City officials and all his devices are completely legal. You can install them yourself or get help from his team at a very reasonable price. He hires ex-gang members and donates profits to help the homeless. As far as I can determine, this guy is a saint, yet he is utterly practical and down-to-earth. You can find out more at How will gray water make a difference? A UCLA study of gray water concluded:

“…If just 10 percent of Southern California homes reused their graywater, that savings would equal the output of a desalination plant.” See

As Jill and I did our homework for our presentation about gray water, solar panels, and other responses to the climate crisis, it became clear that we need to do more than just recycle our bottles and change our light bulbs to LEDs. Our planet is in crisis and we need to take serious action as individuals and as a nation. Fortunately, there are some actions we can take that would make a significant impact, and they can actually save us money as well as help save the planet. Here are some links that could make a real difference.

Save money and save the planet:

·         Replace your ride. It is clear that we need to get rid of our gas-guzzling cars and invest in electric and electric hybrid vehicles. Wealthy people can get tax write ups of up to $7,000 to purchase cars like our Chevy Volt. This Replace your Ride program allows lower income people to turn in an older, higher polluting car and receive $2,500 to $9,500 in vouchers toward a newer model. Our next-door neighbor is taking advantage of this program, so we know it works. Please spread the word about this and other programs on this list.
·         Obtain easy, affordable financing for solar panels, gray water, and a host of other conservation and energy-saving measures. I checked out this program and found that it makes it easy to make living sustainably affordable. For instance, if we had taken out an $18,000 loan to pay for our solar panels, gray water system, and turf removal, we would have to buy back $1,600 a loan for a 20 year loan. This sounds like a lot, but our savings on electricity and water bills would be $1,800 the first year and would increase by at least 4% a year after that. This means that it’s cheaper to make your home sustainable than it is simply to leave it as it is. If you want to save the planet and save money, I recommend checking out
·         Pasadena Water & Power and SoCal Water$Mart*: Find out about city rebates for water-wise and low energy products that could save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars. For example, laundry to landscape gray water systems, $300 rebate for efficient washing machine, etc.     
·         Learn about low-cost Earth-friendly cleaning products. Most of them are cheaper than the toxic chemicals we purchase from the super market, and they work just as well.
·         Learn about the latest developments in gray water.
·          Graywater systems you can install yourself. This is the cheapest and easiest way to save water.
·          Reliable local solar installer!
·           Solar panels: Sustainable Solutions Partners:   http://sustainsp.com4

Offset your carbon footprint by investing in renewable energy sources:

·         Calculate your carbon usage and offset it. If you travel by plane and want to offset your carbon footprint, you can donate to terrapass and they will invest in planting trees, solar and wind energy projects, etc. Obviously it would be better to stay home and conserve energy, but if you must travel, this is a good way to “make amends.”

·         Purchase 100% sustainably produced energy from the city of Pasadena for only 2.5 cents extra per Kwh. I love this program! You don’t have to install solar panels or be a home owner to power your appliances with sustainable energy. Just be willing to up an extra $5 or $10 a month. This seems like a relatively small price to pay to save the planet! Call 626-744-4005 or go to  

OK, if all this sounds too hard, try what  Bill McKibben suggests:  

   "If we all used clotheslines, we could save 30 million tons of coal a year, or shut down 15 nuclear power plants. And you don't have to wait to start. Yours could be up by this afternoon. To be specific, buy 50 feet of clothesline and a $3 bag of clothespins and become a solar energy pioneer."

Check out my "solar-powered clothes dryer." We still use one to dry our sheets and towels!


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