Associate News Editor
Today’s economic standstill has one important potential advantage: cutting costs often benefits the environment.
In times of financial trouble, people often cut down on any expenditures they can. This can mean anything from fewer toys for the kids to moving Grandma to a cheaper home. Often one of the things people look at is how much they are spending on energy.
The Green Book, written by Elizabeth Rogers and Thomas M. Kostigen, offers ideas that decrease one’s energy usage without costing money. Utilities and transportation are both necessities, but when times are good, many people do not bother to turn off all the lights or walk the five blocks to the video store. As layoffs continue and bonuses disappear, people are forced to look at these behaviours and change what they can.
Luckily for these people, and for students who often make do with constricted budgets regardless of the financial climate, cutting down on costs often cuts energy wastage as well.
“It’s easier to be environmental on a low budget,” said Victoria Martinez, a third-year physics student. “There is an extra financial impetus” to conserve energy and other expenditures.
Martinez has been interested in environmental issues since early childhood, when she watched the cartoon Captain Planet and considered Jane Goodall her hero. She advocates walking or taking public transit as easy ways to save money and the environment.
Gord Androsoff, the executive director of Roadmap 2020, also advocates public transit or carpooling as a cost-friendly way to cut emissions.
“The U of S bus pass is a really good idea,” Androsoff said. “I would encourage students to utilize it when they can. Also, carpool.ca is a national registry for carpooling, and it has a registry for Saskatoon. You put in your name and usual destination and you can hopefully find someone going somewhere close.”
Roadmap 2020 is a local non-profit initiative geared toward effecting environmental change in Saskatoon. It focuses on working with businesses to educate and facilitate change both in the workplace and beyond. Of special interest to the group is reducing the level of greenhouse gas emissions Saskatoon produces.
The Green Book has ideas beyond transportation for people to reduce their energy needs and save money.
Compact fluorescent light bulbs are a popular innovation for homes. They are comparable in price to the traditional incandescent bulb but save both energy and money on one’s electrical bill. There has been some controversy surrounding CFL bulbs because, by dint of containing small amounts of mercury, they cannot simply be thrown in the garbage. There are, however, safe disposal sites at every Home Depot and Rona in Canada.
Unplugging appliances like the television and microwave when they are not in use can have a surprisingly large impact on both energy and power bills. When turned off but still plugged in, a typical TV still uses 10 to 15 per cent of the energy required to run it.
“People just decide their actions carry no weight when they really do,” Martinez said. “No, it isn’t going to reverse global warming if one person cuts down his or her shower time, but if you do, and I do, it adds up.”
In light of the fact that Canada is, as of 2008, the world’s heaviest energy consuming nation per capita, the idea that individual changes can snowball to effect large-scale change seems especially salient.