Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Take the Eco-Color Test - Just how "green" ARE you?

Just what is "GREEN?"

Lately, I've had a lot of trouble communicating with others about "going green." There is a wide range of what people think that really means. Is it owning a Toyota Prius...or walking to work? Is it a dual-flush toilet...or an outhouse?

When one person says they are "going green" they may mean something entirely different from what the listener thinks.

So I have taken it upon myself to start promoting
"BROWN"—to give brown a slice of the green pie.

Here are
my definitions:

—not green at all.

GREEN—new, expensive, cool stuff. Live the same life as red without wasting quite so much.

BROWN—A whole different way of living and being.

So take the Curmudgeon's "COLOR TEST" to see where you fall—are you nearest to RED, GREEN, or BROWN? Be honest now...just how eco-conscious are you? To what degree do you really care about the environment?

Your Stove/Oven:

Is still my old, non Energy Star rated clunker, but I love it just the same.

Is Energy Star rated.

Is a solar oven. Or an earth oven and wood stove—powered by deadfall wood.

More on earth ovens HERE.

Your Dish Washer:

Is old, not Energy Star rated, and makes noises it didn't use to make.

Is Energy Star rated.

Dishwasher? That's me!

Your Refrigerator:

Is NOT Energy Star rated and the door is ready to fall off.

Is Energy Star rated.

What refrigerator? You use an ice box, evaporation cooler box, and/or a root cellar.

HERE and HERE for more on living without a refrigerator.

Your Water Heater:

Is old, not
Energy Star rated and is leaking a little out the bottom—but you figure it will go another year or so.

Energy Star rated. Or even greener—has solar assist.

Is solar-only, with an insulated storage tank. Or browner yet—you set your plastic jugs out in the sun to heat your water or use the wood stove/rocket stove that is already heating your house.

HERE for more on rocket stoves.

Your Washer/Dryer:

Is NOT Energy Star rated.

Is Energy Star rated.

I don't even have hot water hooked up to my washer, and I dry all my clothes outside on a clothesline. (Believe it or not, clothes will dry outdoors even in sub-zero temperatures.)

Your Shower:

You're still using that leaky old shower head.

You've installed a new water-saver shower head (1.5 gallons used per minute).

You use a solar shower (1.5 gallons used per shower) or a "beer bottle" shower.

More info Here

Your Toilet:

You use an old 3-5 gallon flusher,
but boy does it flush great!

You use a new 1.5 liter flusher; or even greener—a dual flusher.

You use a manufactured power composting toilet;
or even browner—a handmade non-powered composting outhouse.

HERE for more info on a composting outhouse and HERE for info on the book.

Your Sewer Drains...

...into your city's sewer system.

...into your septic system (the leach field waters some plants). Or greener yet—your black water goes to your septic system and your gray water goes to a planter bed.

...What sewer waste? (You use a composting toilet and all gray water is reused or waters your plants.)

Your Water Supply:

All comes from your municipal water system.

Is power pumped from a well. And greener yet—you also water your plants from a rain water catchment system. ($$$)

You hand pump your water from a well and water your plants from that wooden barrel at the end of the downspout.

Your Power:

All your power comes from the electric plant.

Some of your power comes from that $30,000 solar voltaic system you installed last year.
Or greener yet—ALL of your power comes from that $70,000 system you just installed.

Your only power needs are your 12-volt lights which run on one 40-watt solar panel and a car battery. Or browner yet—you go to bed early and read by candlelight.

Your Swimming Pool:

You just love relaxing by your nice big heated pool.

You have a small unheated pool. Or greener yet—your pool is now a koi pond.

You turned your pool into a planter. Or browner yet—what pool?

Your Heating:

You're still heating your entire house with its original furnace.

You only heat the parts of your house that you are using with zone heating. Or greener yet—you get by mostly on a combination of your home's passive solar design and radiant space heaters which only heat your body, right where you are.

Your house has large amounts of thermal mass and is passive solar in design. When needed, you heat it with a rocket stove or box stove. And browner yet—you wear more clothes and use more blankets.

HERE for more on rocket stoves.

Your Cooling:

Central Air...what a godsend. You use it all summer long.

Central Air is nice but you get by some of the time with evaporative cooling. Or greener yet—you have no air conditioner. You only use an evaporative cooler and a few fans.

You get by on thermal mass, passive solar design, and cross ventilation. You open your windows at night.

Your Garbage:

ALL goes in the same can and from there...into that big truck with the huge back-side. It all goes to the same place anyway.

Is carefully separated into separate recycling and garbage cans, then set out for the garbage man. And greener yet—all the table scraps are composted.

ONLY recyclable waste leaves your home. You find a use for EVERYTHING else and you compost your scraps.

Your Transportation:

You drive a normal car/truck. Or redder yetyou drive a big SUV.

You drive a hybrid. Or greener yet—an all-electric vehicle.

You don't have a vehicle. You ride a scooter or take public transportation. Or browner yet—you ride a bike. Browner still—you walk.

By now you should have a pretty good idea where you fall. Are you RED, GREEN, or BROWN?

Most of us will fall somewhere in between colors.

Ask yourself: What color am I now? What color do I want to be?—Are they the same color?

Some would call BROWN "hardcore"—and not living in the real world.

Others would call GREEN "wimpy"—and not living in the real world.

Still others would call both BROWN & GREEN "tree-huggers"—and not living in the real world.

And others would call RED $#@&!—and not living in the real world.

Time will tell who was more correct.

In the meantime, maybe we can get the term
"GOING BROWN" started. At least that way, the greenies and the brownies won't get so confused when talking to each other about environmental issues and saving the earth.

There is no symbol or organization for BROWN at this time. There's no money in it. But maybe we can come up with our own someday. I, for one, would love to live in a LEED certified BROWN house!

Addendum: After all that, there still are questions out there about what I mean by the term BROWN, so here are a few examples of what it is and what it isn't:

BROWN—means small, inexpensive, hand-built, organic, natural, earthen, and one-of-a-kind. Artistic, sculpted, original, quaint.

means incorporating obtainium (found objects) into all aspects of living and building. It's public transportation, riding a bike and using your library.

is NOT about LEED certification, bamboo flooring, dual-flush toilets, low-flow shower heads, no VOC paints, expensive solar voltaic systems and fancy rain water catchment systems.

It's an old wooden barrel under a downspout and a hand-built composting toilet. It's a thatch, rusty tin, or sod roof. It's walls made of mud, paper, straw, stone, tires, bottles, cans, and/or anything else you can get for free. It's rocket stoves, box stoves, passive solar, sun showers and gray water.

It's...well, you get the picture.

Check out the Curmudgeon's new BROWN Tribe: The Brown Building Network. Join the tribe and post your brown pics, topics, ideas, listings, and more!


Anonymous said...

Hmm. I agree with your over-all approach here, but something about the definitions of "red" life-ways isn't working for me.

It's well on the green/brown end of things to continue to use (think use-up) an older, less efficient product, since the fact that it already exists means you're not consuming/causing the consumption of the resources that would go into production of a new (even if greener) product, yes?

The Cheap-Ass Curmudgeon said...

Point well taken. I was focusing on the amount of energy used ie. old-most, new-less, non-best.
But you have a good point, too.

orange said...

Well, on this quiz I am well within the "brown" zone, but I refuse to label myself "brown". Come on, -brown really isnt a very cool colour!!

Couldnt it have been light green vs dark? or lime green vs rainforest?

There has to be a better label..

The Cheap-Ass Curmudgeon said...

Glad to hear that some of you are leaning "brown."
It may not be a fashionable color, but brown is dirt, mud, used lumber, rusty tin, rocks, a lots of the other free stuff, used stuff, and earthen stuff, that we can all use to build with. So in that way, the color seems appropriate.

solquartocrescente said...

I was half red (7) but also green (4) and brown (4).
The problem is that I live in a temporary rented house. I only recycle everything, only use public transportation, no central air.

I would like to go off-grid, but how do I get the money to buy that house, spring, property?

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