To Conserve Energy – Conserve Water

English: Energy flow charts show the relative ...
English: Energy flow charts show the relative size of primary energy resources and end uses in the United States, with fuels compared on a common energy unit basis. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

From ‘Forbes’ : So you got your new compact fluorescent lightbulbs. Now you’re wringing your hands over how to dispose of them so that you don’t unleash toxic mercury into the environment. An improvement? Or just another example of politicians and environmentalists trying to push us around?

Sure CFLs save electricity, but so do a lot of other efforts. In fact, in a new study (“Evaluating the energy consumed for water use in the United States“) University of Texas scientists Kelly Sanders and Michael Webber reveal the counterintuitive conclusion that water conservation could have an enormous impact on energy conservation.

Save water and you save energy. Here’s why.

The United States, uses 410 billion gallons of water every day, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Think of all the energy expended in pumping that water, treating it, spraying it on crops, heating it for your shower, making it into ice, Coca-Cola, paper, and on and on. These core uses (what they refer to as direct water and steam services in the commercial, residential, industrial and power sectors) eat up 12.3 quadrillion BTU per year. That’s 12.6% of primary energy use in the United States, or the equivalent energy consumption of 40 million Americans.

Add in indirect water use, such as steam generated in coal-fired power plants to spin turbines to make electricity, and you tack on another 34.1 quadrillion BTU.

Together, the amount of energy tied to water consumption totals just under half of all the energy this country uses. So the connection is clear: cut down on water use and you cut down on energy use.

Where to focus? Well the breakdown of who uses how much water in what ways is kind of surprising. Residential use was just 7.2% and commercial use is 3.4%. The researchers found that for residential users heating water (showers, clothes washers, cooking, hot tubs, etc) accounted for 75% of water-related energy use. But because the residential share of the pie is relatively small, what we as individuals do doesn’t matter that much in the scheme of things.

Much bigger impacts? Irrigation of crops and golf courses and other landscaping takes up 31.2% of water consumption. While the biggest user is power generation, with 49% of all water use.

Getting all that water to fields can be expensive. In California, for instance, the energy cost of piping water between basins amounts to roughly 13,000 kwh per million gallons.

And consider the electricity that needs to be generated to move and heat all that water. Based on the efficiency rates of industrial boilers and power plants, the researchers figured that 58% of the total primary energy consumed for water-related purposes is “rejected” or lost as waste heat. Indeed, on the tiny residential scale think about how much energy is wasted when you heat up a whole kettle of water to make just one cup of tea. Expand that idea to the industrial scale and it’s easy to see how much energy is wasted in our aqua-economy.

 

Recycling – Is Coke for real?

The Guardian reports Last week, in a bid to get a big green tick, Coca-Cola unveiled an advert campaign urging recycling. http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2009/sep/21/green-marketing-lucy-barrett

Call me cynical, but:  

* Are these corporations merely jumping on the ‘environmental/sustainability’ bandwagon, so customers will continue to buy/buy more of their goods and services?

* Reports suggest that we cannot cope with the waste we produce

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/8157745.stm and http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/green-living/kitchen-bin-war-tackling-the-food-waste-mountain-1698753.html

* With others saying it is working ‘Waste not: recession leads to big drop in amount of rubbish we are throwing away’ http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/green-living/waste-not-recession-leads-to-big-drop-in-amount-of-rubbish-we-are-throwing-away-1682289.html

* Putting things into recycling is one thing, but unless these recycled items can then actually be ‘re-used’ , recycling would become a process without an end – or purpose.

Don’t get me wrong, I am all for recycling and education thereof. But why not take a leaf out of the African book and follow countries like Kenya have goods – including Coke if you must buy it – in re-sellable ‘glass bottles’!   

These giant corporations might respond by saying that they acknowledge waste is a huge problem and ”at least they are trying’.  

But is it all lip service?

 

Some links (see also Resources):

http://www.wasteconnect.co.uk/ recyclin database

http://www.wasteonline.org.uk/resources/InformationSheets/Glass.htm glass  recycling

http://www.recyclingglass.co.uk/ 

http://www.britglass.org.uk/Education/Recycling.html

 

 

The Story: Coca-Cola’s green marketing falls flat

http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2009/sep/21/green-marketing-lucy-barrett

The soft drink giant’s move shows that sustainability is back on the marketing and advertising agenda, and there are two key events coming up that will propel the issue to the fore – the UN climate change conference in December, where a new worldwide treaty on global warming will be set out; and the Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC), the British government’s mandatory CO2 emissions trading scheme, which comes into force next April.

Many brands will be forced to take significant steps to reducing carbon emissions; and to do so, companies will have to remove some choices from their customers such as plastic bags, packaging, posted statements etc. So they will have to find ways to explain why. Brands that get their messages right, using language that keeps customers on board, stand to win.

But it’s not easy to sound sincere when you haven’t bothered in the past. Take car companies: they will now have to tell us not just to use their product less, but also to drive slower. The same applies to many utility companies, which love telling us they are greener than their competitors but have yet to prove their sincerity. But while there are quite a few cases of advertising as green washing, some brands are doing meaningful things. The best example is Marks & Spencer’s Plan A. It has been supported robustly throughout the recession, making it more credible to the public. It is an initiative driven from the top – by M&S’s chairman Stuart Rose.

This brings us back to Coke’s Keep It Going – Recycle, which I think belongs in the insincere category. The company has clearly not thrown money at this campaign and it shows. The ad resembles something my local council could have knocked up. Coke should be leading the way, finding a creative way to encourage consumers to cut their carbon footprints, not just paying lip service.