Shopping your way green?

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Yesterday, my sister sent me a link to The Daily Green's $250,000 home/car/life "eco-makeover" drawing. "Grand Prize Winner will win $250,000 which can be used to purchase products and services to help make your life and home more eco-friendly."

So, let me get this straight. You want me to consume more - a lot more - in order to be "green", which typically requires pursuing happiness more efficiently, or, in other words, consuming less. Gotta love America!

Now, okay, fine. It's true that there are capital costs involved in making a house consume less energy in operation, for example. With $6-8k, I could install a solar water heating system that would eliminate my use of natural gas for all but cooking for half the year. I could use some money to blow insulation into my walls. I could do a lot of things. But, even if I did everything I could justify to make my house and commute greener than they are, I can't figure out what I would do with the additional $200-odd grand!

Some ideas:

  • I could pay down my mortgage, eliminating a significant portion of my household's need for work, reducing our need to commute and also providing more time to garden and otherwise DIY. But that would be less than half the award. Significantly less. I could bank the rest and handily pay property taxes, homeowner's insurance, and utility bills off the interest.

  • I could use the money to buy a few acres outside of town and pay the start-up costs of a small poultry and vegetable farm, providing local food to my neighbors.
  • The sister suggested that I green my whole block - let's take that one further and set up a neighborhood greening revolving loan fund. I loan all of my neighbors $6k a piece to install solar hot water heaters, and they pay it back over ten years at a modest interest rate, allowing me to make further loans. (After first setting up non-profit to donate all the money to, so that I can do this without taxes.)

Would the program administrators let me do any of those things? Probably not. They probably want me tp spend the money buying Hybrid Escalades or tearing out my perfectly good old-growth hardwood floors and replacing them with bamboo so that they can get fat advertising dollars out of it.

But I'll submit an application anyways and see what happens.

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It was at

this dinner I heard about this guy, son of this guy.

He tore down a big lakeshore mansion in Evanston to build an environmentally friendly house. I threw up in my mouth a little.

Maybe you could create a personal endowment and live off the proceeds.

EcoLab Survey

I racked up a Score of 366 or 16 tons of carbon. My first try was 13 tons.