The Benefits of Going Green.
Humans are constantly searching for the fountain of youth, and striving to live longer, better, and more efficient lives. Going green, or adopting an eco-friendly lifestyle, might just be the answer. And it is not as complicated or elusive as it once seemed; technology, lifestyle trends, and attitudes are changing, positively influencing one another and pushing green consciousness – and action – to the mainstream.
Going green is underpinned by the concept of sustainability – for our personal finances, food, health, and overall quality of life. Aside from the positive impact on the environment, here are the top benefits associated with going green.
For consumers, going green can save money in many ways. This is largely thanks to green technologies that have achieved economies of scale, reaching a point where it is cost effective for average consumers to incorporate energy saving and other eco-friendly measures in their lives.
Solar panels are one prominent example of this technology. In Thailand, with an abundance of sunshine all year round, solar panels are powering street signals, providing energy for outdoor lighting, and being mounted on homes and businesses to harvest energy for private consumption. The latter saves a significant amount in energy costs, without having to rely on power from the national grid; in cases where there is excess electricity generated, this can even be sold back to the government.
Another major cost reduction technology involves driving, an expensive (and unfortunately, integral) part of many people’s lives. In Thailand, a major car production hub, consciousness surrounding more sustainable energy usage and reduction of emissions has been building. Automakers are increasingly introducing more fuel-efficient cars and trucks, including those with bio-fuel, alternative fuel, and alternate propulsion capabilities.
The hybrid car is also a more financially and environmentally friendly option. This vehicle uses electricity as one of two power sources; there is a battery as well as an engine. Some models also feature other technology, such as regenerative braking, that encourages more efficient performance. On the whole, hybrids use considerably less fuel, helping to save money. At the same time, they give off fewer emissions, reducing one’s carbon footprint.
Boosts the Economy
Going green on a large scale has broad effects on the economy, helping to ignite investment, encourage production of new eco-friendly products, and create more jobs. In Thailand, the industries currently benefitting from the green movement are bio-fuels and automobiles.
When prices began to surge at the pump several years back, biofuels, including ethanol and biodiesel, were touted as the cornerstone of greener, cleaner energy. Obtained from renewable biological resources, such fuels promised to reduce reliance on oil imports, lower carbon emissions, and promote greater energy sustainability.
Not surprisingly, the industry drew support of Thai policymakers, attracted a flow of investment funding, and opened up opportunities for rural development. Governmental measures to boost biofuel usage within the Kingdom include providing tax incentives to producers of gasohol and biodiesel, and granting low interest loans to palm and other feed stock producers.
While Thailand’s biofuel currently has the greatest renewable generation potential, the rapid growth of solar development could conceivably see solar power becoming the Kingdom’s second most important renewable resource by the next decade. Solar plants are being developed in many provinces, especially those in the Northeast region, with financial support from private firms, development banks, and the public sector.
Auto manufacturers also benefited from going green, enjoying tax incentives to produce cars that run on biofuels. In recent years, they also received tax breaks to manufacture eco-cars, vehicles with smaller engines that meet stringent requirements regarding fuel usage, emissions, and passenger safety. Car manufacturers who have subscribed to these benefits are on the rise, with some of their production slated for export; over time, the automotive industry, a substantial contributor to economic activity due to its large base of supporting industries and significant labor requirements, will reach a tipping point where being green is the norm on a commercially viable scale.
Going green makes a huge difference on so many levels. Humans live better, healthier lives. The economy benefits, the environment improves. Sustainability is well within reach; our collective efforts will eventually get us there.
Going green improves health, especially when it comes to nutrition. Being green not only covers the consumption of more organic foods, it also extends to the reduction of processed foods. Such foods are typically high in calories, fat, sodium, and sugar; consuming these products increases the risk of chronic illnesses, such as diabetes and heart disease. Production of these foods also requires much energy and the packaging and subsequent disposal pose a problem for local landfills.
Whole, fresh foods provide greater nutrition and health benefits. Organic produce (defined as fruits and vegetables grown without pesticides and herbicides) contains higher quantities of antioxidants, phosphorus, magnesium, iron and vitamin C. They may also reduce the action of toxic compounds in the body and stop the spread of certain types of cancer cells. Organic produce, rice, and dairy products are becoming increasingly available in Thailand through a number of outlets, including supermarkets, wet markets, and farmers’ markets. Buying local organic foods supports and strengthens the growing organic farming economy in the country.
Reducing meat consumption is another way to go green. The amount of energy used to bring meat to the table is relatively large, and contributes to pollution and environmental degradation. The over-consumption of meat can also lead to health problems.
Living a greener lifestyle also includes the use of products that contain minimal processed chemicals. This applies to natural beauty and skin products, greener household cleaning supplies, and goods such as organic cotton clothing that come in contact with the body.