alternate pathways, tree roots and looking up

front walkway through vegetable beds integrated among perennials backyard pathway leading to wooded area and driveway pathway al...

Friday, March 9, 2012

carbon footprints, being an industrial nation

This week I have been reading Bill Mollison's Introduction to Permaculture and David Holgrem's Permaculture: Principles, Pathways and Beyond. I am taking the time to observe the site, record the connections among all the parts and identify the energy flows and cycles.

While I am off observing flows and cycles I have a wonderful small footprint of a story for you. My husband works in the RV industry, stereo-typically considered a big footprint industry. I have joked for years that I work as an environmental educator because I have to balance his carbon footprint. Well, he has been challenging me to reconsider this balance.

Last year he had a dealer ask him his opinion on the LED lighting market. The dealer was considering purchasing a display, but the display cost $7,000 compared to a mere $300 for an incandescent bulb display. My husband told him that he thought the display was a good investment.

Last week over lunch the dealer told my husband, "you know, I don't know why I question you on these things..." A customer had come in with some figures he had worked up on the cost of LED lights. The customer asked if he could save about 50%.

"Well, I don't know," replied the dealer. He offered to test the vehicle before installing LED bulbs and after, and if the customer was not satisfied he would replace all of the bulbs to the original.

The test results found that regular incandescent bulbs drew 45 amp, and the LED drew 8amp with the RV lit up like a cathedral. Further, the customer had a solar panel installed and a single 24 battery pack. The customer has since reported that he runs the RV lights on that single solar panel and battery pack. The dealer now promotes LEDs and solar panels on all new sales.

OK, what about the fuel driving that RV from place to place? Again, challenging my thinking, my husband countered with the cost to drive to a hotel or resort and the cost  of that facility to run lights, water heating, air conditioning and he went on... The typical RV user drives somewhere and stays put for some time. It's not perfect, but then he threw in jet fuel to go to Disney and I let him win this one.

Everything we do as humans has some impact on the environment around us, how do you balance your place in this industrial nation?