Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Bathroom Betterment

Earth Days past displayed a disturbing lack of interest or desire to change in students at school; many of them continued to lob barely used notebook paper into the trash can, or if they were feeling extra virtuous that day, would aim it a foot to the left into the recycling bin and loudly proclaim that they did their bit for the day. Though altering your habits takes some effort, it is worth it for the future of the world and does have some added personal benefits.  

 One of the easiest ways to help the Earth is by conserving water, which can be done in a variety of creative and unique ways, right from your very own bathroom. The average person uses around 120 gallons of water per day with 10-20 percent spent just on toilet flushes.  A standard toilet can use 3.5 to 7 gallons of water per flush – by not flushing afterwards, you can save just that much water. A good rule of thumb to go by to keep the situation from escalating into some disgusting swamp in your toilet bowl is “if it’s yellow let it mellow, if it’s brown flush it down.” However, if even yellow seems off-putting to you, you can add a toilet cleaner tablet that turns your water blue (chemical-free, of course) to end up with a charming shade of green. You can also perform a leak test in your toilet, placing a few drops of food coloring in the tank and waiting a few minutes. If the dye seeps into the toilet bowl, you have a leak and water is being wasted. To decrease the amount of water used in a flush, you can displace some water in the tank by placing inside a water bottle filled partly with rocks and the rest water. This can save another ten gallons or so per day.

While showering, you can place a bucket in front of you and collect extra water to hydrate your plants. Shortening your shower will also help conserve water, and another resourceful method is to do your business in the shower (liquid only, of course). Not only would you save the water flushing the toilet would use, you would be providing yourself with a lovely makeshift bidet, which happens to be very popular in Europe.
 Additional ways to preserve our supply of freshwater is to go meatless a couple of days a week or set up a rain barrel. And estimated 1800-2500 gallons of water (or 515-715 flushes) are used to produce just one pound of beef and by eliminating meat from your diet one or two days a week you can save 3-6 weeks’ worth of water. By collecting runoff water from your gutter or just leaving an open barrel to collect rain, you can create a supply of water to use to water your plants or wash your car with.
Not only will the environment and future generations appreciate your contribution to the environment, your good deeds will manifest in other ways. Lower water bills will add up to substantial savings and you can develop that warm feeling in your chest that do-gooders often experience.

ECO Teen

What do Plano Residents think about Solar Energy?

In late March of this year, Plano Senior High School (PSHS) Advanced Placement Environment Science (APES) classes participated in a homework assignment with their families to complete a survey about solar energy. The survey was completed by over 200 respondents.

The purpose of the survey was to obtain a sampling of the views of residents regarding their awareness, interests, concerns, and potential barriers to deployment of solar energy in Plano. The survey consisted of approximately 30 questions. These questions were a compilation obtained from citizen surveys performed in Houston, San Antonio, and Austin over the last few years. The results from this local survey sample were somewhat similar to the results of the other Texas cities. 

Here is a sample of some of the questions and local results:

· Which of the following concern you about the future of energy and the environment?

o top responses - increased energy prices; decreased availability of energy;

· How concerned are you about future energy prices?

o 95% responded either very concerned or somewhat concerned

· How likely are you to invest in solar power for your home or to buy a home with solar power already installed?

o 55% responded either very likely or somewhat likely

· How much of a factor is cost in purchasing and installing a solar power system?

o 95% responded either very important or important

Other responses indicated:

· 67% were not aware of existing solar rebates or tax credits

· Aside from the concern of cost, the top three reasons cited for not having pursued installation of a solar power system were:

o Lack of confidence in selecting the proper system

o Don't know where to buy it

o Don't know who would install it

The purpose of this solar energy blog posting and previous blog postings over the last few months is to increase awareness of solar energy and its potential in Plano. The sample survey completed by the group of students' families from PSHS was intended to obtain a better understanding of the current views and concerns of residents. While this survey represented only a sample of Plano residents, hopefully these initial results will help facilitate the implementation of a wider survey of local residents. The results from a wider survey could enable interested citizens groups to create action plans to communicate opportunities about the great potential over the coming years of expanding the deployment of solar energy right here in Plano.

And SPECIAL THANKS to the APES teachers and students at Plano Senior High School for their involvement in the process and participation in the survey!

Need more info about promoting the use of solar power generation in Plano? Please contact me! ptsea047@gmail.com

Plano Solar Energy Advocate