Thursday, May 21, 2009

Affordable Sustainability by Mistie Beaudoin

Affordable Sustainability
PHS 100 Professor David Terrell
May 12, 2009 Warner Pacific College
While growing up I am sure we all fantasized about the future and what its technological advances would bring; flying cars, robots, super computers that did just about everything for us. Though not many of these things have come true, the advancements we have made, even since the 1980’s are astronomical. However, with these advancements have also come a price we have paid, or yet, our environment has paid for what we consider everyday necessities and some luxuries. Now in the 21st century we have had to reevaluate our way of life and see how we can perhaps take a step backwards in protecting our environment. Although we cannot turn back time on what we have done, we can change our way of life just slightly to make our world and our children’s world a better one. Though our past technological advances may have put a major dent in our ecosystem, our current and future advancements seem to be making steps to be more sustainable and consciences of our environment, without causing major inconveniences to our normal daily routines. We now have homes that have electricity completely sourced from solar panels, electric and hybrid cars, and building materials made out of all recycled products. Each person in this world has new ways of contributing by buying products that will greatly reduce their impact on the world, but with all the new advancements of sustainable products, how much are they costing, and how does the average, and even below average person afford these products. It seems as though the majority of the population in the United States is middle to low income families, and with the majority of sustainable products being at a much larger cost how are the majority of us suppose to contribute more than the everyday recycling or riding mass transit?After researching the cost of solar panels, I found that it costs about $16000 to have a home and all its contents run completely off solar energy. This high price does not include the cost of a battering bank or something called an inverter, needed due to the sun not shinning 100% of the time. Though the savings on an average electrical bill was quite high after installing solar panels, on a very fixed income, it is nearly impossible to come up with an amount close to the cost of the average solar panel install. A much higher price tag seemed the case for just about all items that were “more sustainable”. Even everyday products like a washer and dryer were far more expensive with the energy star logo attached. A price difference of $200 for someone with not a lot of money to begin with, buying a new item in general is quite a stretch, but to add $200 because it is rated more efficiently is an even bigger stretch.Presently I am a single mother, I work full time, and barely scrape by, and unfortunately this seems to be the case for the majority of single mothers in the world. So how do I, or anyone in similar situations, afford to purchase the newer, more sustainable products? Currently I am working on my degree to work in the social service field with other single mothers and low-income families like myself, and it seems that it would be very beneficial, for our environment, for companies market these products to everyone and not just those who can afford them. Even though there are tax credits for those who purchase more efficient and sustainable products, this is not enough to attract a lower income bracket of people to purchase such costly products.Though the government has made some steps to provide more sustainable products to lower income families, such as providing free fluorescent light bulbs when getting electricity bill assistant, not enough is being done to help them move closer in being stewards for our planet. Perhaps greater emphasis on educating about recycling could help or making it mandatory that every low income family is provided with reusable grocery bags because for many who think that these are such small things, such inexpensive items, others these are very out of reach.While recycling and being green seem to be the “in” thing, not all are as educated in doing so. Moreover, while buying the latest sustainable products may be an easy task for those willing to go the extra mile; these items are at a very far reach for those with little income. Although, another government handout is not the answer in creating more individuals willing to sacrifice a little in order for our environment to thrive, with a little education and more affordable and sustainable products, everyone can make the steps in helping our environment.
References: Unknown (2009). How many solar cells would I need to provide all of the electricity my house needs? Retrieved on May 12, 2009 from, efficiency/question418.htm

No comments: