If I ever hear another American politician say that we cannot afford the transition to clean energy I will scream. Why you ask?
In 2012 it was estimated that consumers in the U.S spent approximately $65 billion on soda. In that same year it was estimated that consumers in the U.S. spent approximately $11 billion on bottled water.  That is to say that American consumers spent over $75 billion on unnecessary drinks and, in the case of soda, a product that is generally regarded to be detrimental to your health. Not to mention the environmental impact of disposable, single use containers.
Okay, why is that relevant in the terms of this discussion? In 2016, the most recent year for which full year data is available, the U.S. invested $44 billion in clean energy including both private investing and government expenditure. 
Therefore, we spend more than 50% more on soda and bottled water per year than we invest in clean energy. If we just directed the money from soda and bottled water to clean energy investment it would represent an increase of 172%. That is a lot of solar panels and wind turbines.
Someone may argue that this scenario is impractical, but I would challenge such an argument on several fronts. One, spending on soda and bottled water—for the most part—is totally discretionary. No one needs a Diet Coke to survive and other than emergency situations no one needs bottled water. It could be argued that it would be better if no one consumed bottled water given the economic and environmental impact of a product that can also be obtained from municipal water supplies. Two, by and large individuals now have the power to redirect their discretionary spending toward renewable energy. As long as you have the capital or alternative financing arrangements are available you can put solar panels directly on your roof. Thus, your Diet Coke and Evian habit can be turned into clean energy. A direct substitution, so to speak.
My point is to illuminate that when we discuss the level of investment necessary to decarbonize our energy system it needs to be placed in direct comparison to some broader economic choices. Is the future our planet worth skipping that Dr. Pepper?
Posted in Eco-Activism, Uncategorized
Tagged bottled water, clean energy, decarbonize, Diet Coke, direct substitution, discretionary spending, economics, Evian, renewable energy, soda, solar panels, wind turbines
We all know that bottled water is bad. It’s usually just tap water put into plastic bottles and dropped off in pallets at our local grocery store. You end up paying dollars for something that costs cents when it comes out of the faucet in your home. Add in the plastic waste and you get a bad environmental actor that no one wants to defend.
But what about your shampoo and shower gel? Look at the first ingredient. I am betting dollars to donuts that the first ingredient listed is water. How much water? Seventy to eighty percent depending upon the formulation.  Shower gel is in the same boat and considering its rise to prominence over bar soap I am guessing that most people have multiple bottles of what is mostly water in their showers. 
Every one of those bottles of shampoo and shower gel are just a step up from buying bottled water. I have always been a bar soap guy finding the entire loofah and shower gel combo unsatisfying on a number of fronts. Foremost among those is what wondering what is lurking in the folds of that loofah that do not get clean. Sorry for that image, folks.
Bar soap is the easy answer to shower gel. Hell, it’s also one of the easiest things to get from a local provider because almost every farmers market I have been to over the past decade has a soapmaker or two. Or you could get the soap that I like the best…Pacha’s Dirty Hippie.
The shampoo angle seems a little harder until you do a little digging. I would not have thought twice about it until a friend re-gifted me a Lush Seanik shampoo bar. All I could remember thinking was why I did not come across this concept sooner. Now, I do not care to afford Lush’s products although I do love their ingredients and social bent. Once the Seanik bar ran out I bought some J.R. Liggett Old Fashioned shampoo bars and I am working through them currently.
Bar soap and shampoo bars come with none of the packaged plastic waste that comes from shower gel and liquid shampoo. If we really want to make a change in the way we consume things we really need to examine the nature of the products that we buy and the packaging that those products come in. A little paper wrapper seems like a much better solution than an empty plastic bottle.
Posted in Household, Uncategorized
Tagged bottled water, farmers’ market, J.R. Liggett, local, localism, loofah, Lush, Pacha Soap, plastic, shampoo, shampoo bar, shower gel, sopa, waste, water
There will be no linkage next week since I will be spending most of the week in Boulder, Colorado for work. Finally, work sends me some place that I actually like going.
On to the links…
The 19 Types of Beer Snobs—Which type of beer snob do you think you are?
This Kind Of Electricity Provider Is Already Integrating Renewables—As someone who lives in a state where rural electric cooperatives are alive and well this does not come as news. The key piece of information is that these cooperatives are beholden to the rate payers not investors.
Interior Launches National Conversation on Federal Coal—Coal mining companies need to pay their fair share for coal extracted from federally owned lands. If that puts the coal out of domain of economic feasibility then so be it. Maybe coal is in its death throes.
U.S. Coal Company Alpha Natural Resources Files For Bankruptcy—If you want proof that coal is in trouble look no further than once high flying Alpha Natural Resources. Since 211 the company has closed 80 mines, laid off 6,500 employees, and cut capital spending by 55%. These measures were still not enough to stave off bankruptcy.
This Insanely Detailed Map Shows every Power Plant in the United States—This map is an amazing piece of work:
Map: Stacking up the States under the Clean Power Plan—The Clean Power Plan is a great thing. It really sets the stage for a clean energy transformation in the United States, but it lets the states decide the best path. How is your state looking?
The $13 Billion Bottled Water Industry vs. the National Park Service… and American Hikers, Campers, Hunters, and Nature-Lovers—There is a fundamental disconnect between people enjoying the natural awesomeness of our national parks and buying single use beverages.
The Disturbing Things that Happen to Your Body when You Drink Coca-Cola—I remember a time in the late-80s when parents would tell their children that soda had the same chemistry as battery acid. It was total bunk, but it looks like the stuff might really be bad for you. It’s just not battery acid.
Diets Are a Lot Like Religion—When you stop and listen to people talk about diets it really does sound like religion or a cult. I am going with cult. Complete with Kool-Aid.
Posted in Linkage
Tagged Alpha Natural Resources, bankruptcy, beer snob, bottled water, Clean Power Plan, coal, Coca-Cola, corn syrup, cult, Department of Interior, diabetes, diet, Girst.org, HFCS, High Country News, linkage, links, lobby, National Park, religion, Thrillist
The bottled beverage aisle in the grocery store blows my mind. It is essentially an aisle of disposable—hopefully to be recycled—cans and bottles that are filled with water and maybe a few ingredients. Bottled water is the silliest item in this aisle of the grocery store because it is often no more pure than tap water and costs an exorbitant premium compared to tap water.
I, like so many other eco-minded people, use my Camelbak bottle a lot. I take it with me to the office and it is a constant companion at home as well. However, I also like fizzy water. It is a silly thing, but I like bubbles in my water and little else. Carbonated water is one of the craziest items in the beverage aisle because it is usually imported and it is usually in glass bottles. Transportation and packaging are huge contributors to an item’s carbon footprint. Just see what Coca-Cola found out.
The solution is simple: make fizzy water at home. The product: a Sodastream Genesis. I found it in a local Bed, Bath, & Beyond where it was bundled with a package of flavor additives, two bottles, and a carbonator for about $100. The great thing about Bed, Bath, & Beyond is that I get a 20% off one item coupon every other day in the mail. So, for approximately $85 I walked out the door with the ability to make my own fizzy water.
The operation of the device could not be easier. Chill a bottle of water—I usually let it spend some time in the freezer prior to carbonation—and hit it with three or four shots of gas…voila…fizzy water. I found the flavors to be a little sweet and I do not drink soda much anyway, but I have come to like putting a little lemon juice in for a refreshing summer drink.
I have had the Sodastream Genesis for about a year now and I hardly ever buy a soda or carbonated water anymore. I imagine that I have stopped buying a six-pack of 20 ounce sodas or carbonated water. Doing the simple math I have saved over 300 bottles from being made and I am still going. Pretty easy eco-argument in my opinion.
The only problem I have with the Sodastream product is that the carbonators do not last very long. I have yet to record how many bottles I get out of one 14.5 ounce bottle. The claim is that one carbonator of that size can complete 60 bottles. That number seems high. I need to get one of these.
Posted in Stuff I Like
Tagged bottled water, Camelbak, carbon footprint, carbonation, CO2 Doctor, Coca-Cola, plastic, recycle, reduce, reuse, Sodastream