Wednesday, April 30, 2014

What would Going Green Mean to your Family?

Living with an eye toward protecting the environment is never easy, and realistically, isn’t very cheap either. Solar panels are expensive, organic foods are both expensive and somewhat hard to find depending on where you live, and obviously, teenagers “doing without” something all their friends have are simply the height of uncool. It should go without saying that making a move such as that isn’t an easy one, but in the long run, it will and does pay dividends that will more than compensate you and your family for whatever drawbacks might be incurred.

Of course, the first thing you have to do when thinking about being ecologically aware is to separate the political jargon from the reality. As with any other thing in life, politicians do their best to sway you to believe that one side of an issue is right and the other wrong, but you shouldn’t necessarily blindly believe what they tell you. We have two primary political “viewpoints” in the United States, and they both have vested interests in various parts of the green business. Don’t kid yourself. It’s a business. From organic foods to hybrid cars, being ecologically friendly is a niche market that is growing by leaps and bounds, and those with the means are making a killing persuading you that they’re right and the other side is wrong. 

All this ties in to the initial cost of “going green.” No one can deny that it isn’t cheap, and there are plenty of businesses out there sweating bullets every time someone says something bad that might affect their bottom line. Let’s take light bulbs for example. It’s a classic example of a two-sided issue in which both sides think they’re right and the other side wrong. The reality, though, is that there’s an upside and a downside, and for some consumers, the upside greatly outweighs the downside.

There are three primary types of light bulb on the market today. There’s the standard incandescent bulb, which is cheap, burns energy in a less than miserly fashion, and can be easily disposed of in any trash can. The second type of light is the big one these days- the compact fluorescent bulb. They’re a little more expensive, last a bit longer than incandescents, and unfortunately contain mercury vapor, meaning that they really should be recycled rather than just trashed. Finally, there’s the new kid on the block, LED bulbs. These are awesome. They use next to no energy, produce tons of light and last forever. What’s the downside? They are REALLY expensive! Plan to spend between $15-$30 PER BULB for these suckers, and you won’t likely find them on sale any time soon. 

The green side says that LEDs and CFLs are the greatest thing since sliced bread, while at the same time, plenty of politicians on the other side of the aisle are screaming bloody murder that these are communist light bulbs that are stripping away our freedom. Okay, maybe they aren’t being that dramatic, but you get the point. There’s an upside and a down side. Simple as that.

So, what’s right for your family? Spend hundreds of dollars to upgrade your home so you can save money over the long run, or avoid worrying about it and save money by not investing in these expensive new technologies? And furthermore, what’s the takeaway from this article? If nothing else, I hope it makes you think before making a decision one way or the other, rather than letting some politician make the decision for you. After all, it’s your money. Shouldn’t you be the one to decide how to spend it?

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