Sunday, October 26, 2008

Simple Things... So Hard to Do

Sometimes people really irk me.

Recently I was sitting at my dining room table eating breakfast when I happened to see a neighbor walking outside carrying a cardboard box. She proceeded to walk and carry it to the trash dumpster in front of her house.

Okay, simple task, no big deal.

But, the morning she did this also happened to be the morning when recycling items were getting picked up. And for those of you wondering... yes, my township (Evesham) does pick up cardboard boxes as part of its bi-weekly recycling program.

This really irked me because it's typical of all too many people who simply take it for granted that we have things pretty good, and that we don't have to really worry about where our trash goes on a daily basis. We just chuck it and forget about it.

The thing is that recycling is probably THE EASIEST possible thing that people can do to make a positive impact on the environment. You don't even have to think about it most of the time, just take your cans, plastic bottles, paper, etc, put it in a separate bin from your trash can and take it out every so often. It's really mind-boggling that people are so stubborn to NOT recycle, especially when it benefits everybody when it's done.

Interestingly, our neighboring township Cherry Hill has reported tremendous success with its RecycleBank program where households earn points for recycling that can be redeemed for gift cards and the like. Previously, the recycling rates in Cherry Hill had been good, but are now quite astounding. In other words, people will only do something that truly benefits society if it benefits them directly. Pretty sad, folks.

While I don't disagree that the RecycleBank program is a wise one, I would just be so much happier if people could just conjure up that slight increase of energy and time to be able to do the right thing in the first place, and recycle on their own.

But that would be too simple I suppose...

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Presidential Candidates: Put Your Energy Where Your Mouth Is

Green, as we all know, is the latest buzz word in every corner of the country. "Green" alternative energy supplies, such as solar, wind, and hydroelectric, are talked about on a daily basis by laypeople on the street and congresspeople in Washington. Indeed, this topic is quite popular with John McCain and Barack Obama in their respective presidential campaigns.

Voters want to know what plans and ideas these candidates have about staving off our addiction to oil, due to its effects on climate change as well as its effects on our pocketbooks, among other reasons. And these candidates regularly bandy about how they would change things by investing in alternative energy sources, and so forth.

What I want to see happen is a candidate say-- "Okay-- I'm going to send a message to America and the world. When I get in the White House, I will turn it into a 'Green House' by installing solar panels on the roof, ensuring that the lighting fixtures use CFL bulbs, and make any other feasible retrofits to make this the most efficient building it can be."

Personally I can't think of a better way to make a point and encourage fellow Americans to do something about the dire situation we are in than by leading by example.

Unfortunately, leading by example is not always a hallmark of politicians. Let's see if either one of them goes for this alternative route...

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Next Revolution in Soap Bars

Yes, you read the title correctly. This post is about a revolutionary idea for soap. It finally came to me today and you heard it here first. Are you ready for this? It's going to blow your mind. The idea:

Soap bars with a sliver on the side.

What could I possibly mean by that, you ask?

Well let me start with some background.

It's always aggravated me that at the end of a soap bar's life, the last 5% of the soap bar becomes too small to use. So you either throw it out, or it drops down the drain, or it breaks into little pieces, or it gets stuck on the soap dish, or any number of futile, wasteful demises.

But now, with my idea, you get a new bar of soap, take the old, small bar of soap, and insert it into the small opening on the side of the new bar. Thus, you waste no soap and the old bar gradually melts seamlessly into the new bar as it gets wet from washing. You just saved yourself the aggravation of dealing with an otherwise useless remnant of a soap bar, and you saved a few cents as well. Why not?

Yes, I told you this idea would blow your mind.

Now who will be the wise person to clean up on this free idea?

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

More Green = Less Green?

I've long been a supporter of the so-called green movement and I'm encouraged to see it succeeding in everyday life, from people determined to buying cars with better gas mileage to shoppers using fewer disposable bags to homeowners replacing their incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent lights.

The increase in these types of actions, to me, is all great news. It means we're conserving our resources, helping to make our world more sustainable, and also in many cases saving money.

Which is where I'm getting increasingly curious as to whether or not the green movement is causing at least part of the readjustment in the stock markets.

Considering the fact that Americans are driving less year over year and that cars are getting more efficient, it should help to cut back on money spent on gasoline. Additionally, if people are using reusable bags to carry their groceries, that's another huge source of petroleum that is not wasted. Or having people use more energy efficient light bulbs means saving money on electric bills. All of these initiatives and others inevitably will result in less money for the oil, electric, and industrial companies. And as these initiatives increase across the country and worldwide, it will have a major impact on corporate bottom lines... read: less profit.

So perhaps part of the sell-off on Wall Street and other stock markets around the world is a result of this fundamental change in society of being more green. If less money is being wasted on oil, electricity, etc. then it means more money to spend elsewhere, but it would also mean less money for those industries and fewer jobs. The net result could end up in people saving more money, or it could result in deflation which could shake up the entire system. Perhaps it will be the starting point of taking wasted money away from companies and putting it back in consumers' pockets, which means a fundamental change in the way we spend money in the future.

I'm clearly not an economist, just a rational observer of what's going on and I would be curious to learn more about the impact of green practices on the bottom line regarding corporate greenbacks. Eventually we'll start to see long term trends, but in the meantime we will have to do our best to adjust to the changes.

Friday, October 3, 2008

FedEx and Today's Lingo

I just heard a fascinating quote by Alec Baldwin on Real Time with Bill Maher.

It's not the content of what he was talking about, but the wording he chose to use. The quote, as best I remember it, with specific names left out, went something like this...

"Somebody needs to FedEx [a script] to [John & Jane Doe] right away so they get a clue real fast."

This fascinates me because just think about that. He could have said any verb to insinuate "get something to someone FAST". He chose to use the branded term "to FedEx" rather than to "fax", "email", or even "PDF" the document, to imply fast delivery. Wow. That's a pretty impressive marketing coup.

It always amazes me to hear brand terms become standard lingo or verbs, such as Kleenex, Xerox, or Hoover... names that have become synonomous with a generic item, i.e. facial tissue, copier, or vacuum, respectively.

Well done FedEx, you've made the brand-turned-verb list. Score one for the marketing department!