Tuesday, April 29, 2008

"Tax Stimulus"...Stimulate CHANGE!

They're here! News has it that the IRS has begun depositing tax stimulus rebate checks even sooner than expected, as part of President Bush's plan to hopefully inject funds into a sagging consumer economy. People I've talked to have mentally spent the money several times over, and I'll admit I was one there for a bit. Granted, even the maximum amount doesn't exactly add up to a winfall, but who couldn't think of a few things they could buy with it? Assuming it isn't gobbled by gasoline and food prices that conveniently rose just prior to this bonus.

But wait! "Money talks," the saying goes, and these dollars in particular are some bits o' green the government is most interested in hearing from. So I thought to myself, since we have the White House's rapt attention on the matter, just what would we have our dollars say?


What Would Nature Do? With so many average Joe taxpayers about to be on the one-time dole, why not send a loud message that what Americans truly want most--what they're willing to invest these dollars in to see happen--is NOT a glut of here today, trash tomorrow consumer goods,but rather a sustainable future?

What better use of the money our government could be spending on the environmental crisis than to do so ourselves? Shout loud and clear that we are willing to take action with the funds they place in our hands...as they should do themselves.

Some ideas for things we can acquire to send this message AND help our cause at the same time:

Low flush toilets
Water saver shower heads
Solar rechargers
CFL lightbulbs for every fixture in the house
Locally grown produce
Vegetable/fruit seeds and plants
Native plants/vegetation to replace that "All American Lawn"
Permaculture supplies
Reusable totes for groceries
Composting kits
Water filters (to replace bottled water)
Join an organic food co-op (like organic.meetup.com)
Donate to environmental causes
"Vintage" clothing and goods
Energy Star model refrigerator/dishwasher to replace older models
Eco-friendly household detergent and cleaners
Solar lighting for outdoors
...and so on. And instead of seeking the Cheapo Deal from the Big Boxes, why not make as many of these purchases from local Mom and Pops?

Ever watch the news when disaster is impending or has just hit? People flock in a panic to stock up on supplies of water,canned goods, batteries, flashlights...anything they need to prepare for the siege ahead. Well, the environment is in a state of disaster, and we are under siege.

What might our government do if they see its citizens using these leisure funds to "panic buy" conservation and sustainability, rather than a glut of here-today, trash-tomorrow impulse goods?

Such action could speak louder than dozens of global warming films or tens of thousands of activists.

So why not use this IRS green to GO green? Let the Almighty Dollar shout from the solar-paneled rooftops that WE WANT CHANGE...and we "consumers" must have it NOW. Supply and demand.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

I Dream of Green

It's been nine months since I first dreamed up the Green Writing Challenge, and with Earth Day coming April 22 I've been reflecting on changes I've made to reduce the impact of my love of reading and writing--and what needs improvement.
My Green commitment for the first year was as follows:
1. Submit only electronic queries/manuscripts.
2. Keep lights off at night.
3. Publish eBook only for 1 year.
4. Read more eBooks.
5. Do a walking book tour to promote green living in the book community.
6. Limit the amount of snail mail promotions and correspondence.

Thus far I have kept these commitments,except the walking book tour. Since I also committed to publish eBook only, I did not know how best to do a live tour without print books in hand. I could tout my 2007 print release, VISIONS, but that would involve ordering a run of books up front and the fuel to ship them to my house...with the likelihood of either wasteful over-ordering (not that my publisher would find that a waste!) or running out before the tour is finished and then what? I'm very proud that VISIONS uses POD technology, a more eco-friendly method than mass market. But my goal for the walking tour is to be even lower impact. So, I'm still conceptualizing the best way to adapt a traditional signing tour for this.

As for keeping lights off at night...I admit that's been a bit tougher than I'd hoped as well. I do a good deal of writing work late at night, and it strains my eyes to squint at a bright computer screen with the rest of the room shrouded in darkness. I experimented with candles and a battery-operated camping lantern, but wound up switching over to the new spiral energy-saving bulbs and simply keeping nighttime lights to a minimum. Progress, one step at a time!

In addition to minimizing the paper, energy, and fuel use of snail mailing, I'm also seeking ways to reduce energy consumption on electronic communication devices. I'm purchasing a solar recharger to power my cell phone, PDA, and music player; eventually I'd like to upgrade to a unit capable of powering laptop and desktop as well. We use solar lighting on our patio, which makes for a nice spot to sit with the laptop while working on a book or promoting.

Naturally, my dream of green extends far beyond the pages of the books I love, and my household is gradually switching to sustainable forms of living like recycling, reducing vehicle use, growing food, buying more local goods, etc. Many good resources are out there for home conservation, but I found none when looking for eco-friendly reading and writing. So I started the Green Writing Challenge to show that everything we do likely has a greener alternative.

Whether you are a reader, writer, or publisher, consider celebrating Earth Day this year by signing up for the Green Writing Challenge to show your support for green living...in all aspects of life.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Love a Tree, Read an eBook

As part of the Green Writing Challenge, I made a commitment to pursue only non traditional publishing methods for one year. So off to eBook publishers I went. But was ePub really the way to go? Was this truly a good option to offer my readers?

I have five e-titles out now, and I can answer this with a resounding YES. I hear quite a few comments about why print books are preferable, but I'm here to shed light on the page. Here are some reasons to consider making your next reading purchase an eBook:

1. eBooks kill far fewer trees. I can't say NO trees, since the companies and authors producing them do likely use paper for marketing and correspondence. Still, eBooks are much more environmentally friendly than traditional, mass print run methods. POD (print on demand) improves on this approach quite a bit, but eBooks take that a big step further.

2. eBook production/consumption requires minimal fossil fuel use. Consider how many trucks, planes, vans, and automobiles are put into service shipping the hundreds of thousands of book titles (that's TITLES, not total books) put into production each year. eBook manufacture requires a miniscule fraction of all this energy consumption.

3. eBooks are less expensive than paper books. Typical prices for new eBooks run between two and six dollars, as opposed to between six and twenty-five dollars for a new print title.

4. eBooks take up much less room. Find yourself hanging onto favorite titles for years? Then you have to have room to store them, dust them, and lug them around when you move. eBooks can be kept forever with very little space (or dusting) required.

5. Paper books degrade/damage easily. Pages wear and tear, yellow, and eventually crumble. Hang onto your favorite stories far longer by backing them up on sturdier media.

6. Have trouble reading small print? With a regular book, you're only in control of the glasses you can put on your face to magnify print. With eBooks, you can tweak the font size itself so it's easier to read.

Despite the many advantages of eBooks, many people still cling to the idea that paper books are superior. A couple common reasons I hear are that paper books are more portable and easier to lend out. I disagree! Even the most avid reader would be hard pressed to tote around more than two or three books at a time (and that with a bit of shoulder strain). Yet one lightweight handheld reader, palm pilot, or smartphone allows you to "carry" many books with you at all times--with instant access to thousands more wherever you go (with online access). Books can be "beamed" to other readers, or CD copies easily lent--and are less likely to be returned damaged, torn, or with coffee stains on the cover!

Think only a few small potatoes authors are going eBook? Think again! Pocket readers are adding the likes of Sherrilyn Kenyon, Dean Koontz, and Michael Crichton to their libraries. What's more, eBook lending libraries are beginning to pop up on the Internet. "Borrow" titles by downloading to your reader. These expire at the end of the lending period. No more worries about lost books, late fees, or fines for accidental damage!

eBooks aren't a perfect medium, and I don't expect they'll replace our beloved paper books any time soon. But in a time where we are looking in every corner for ways to reduce impact on an overstressed planet, consider checking your book nook, too. Start small--just commit to one or two eBooks to try it out--and keep an open mind. If you don't want to rush out an invest in a reader and lack a smartphone, your desktop or laptop computer will do. Of course, if you want to test this out with one of my eBooks (see lisalogan.net for details) I'd be thrilled! But any will do...and thank you for indulging your love of a good story AND Mother Earth!