Can I spend money and be green? by Lucy Siegle

27/6/2010 Observer Even freshly minted money looks dirty to an eco warrior.Despite the Royal Mint’s laudable efforts to lower the environmental impact of notes and coins,
making money is ecologically expensive: there’s growing and processing linen and
cotton for notes that don’t last long, while it takes 109 megajoules of energy
to mine and smelt 1kg of copper for coins as opposed to 60 megajoules to produce
credit cards. However, since the latter are made from PVC they don’t win awards
More to the point, philosophically, money is filthy. Perhaps you feel moved to
ditch cash altogether. Mark Boyle, aka the Moneyless Man, went without money for
more than a year. His Guardian blogs show him faring well.
Or you may prefer an alternative. A localised system offers the only true social
and environmental bailout. Paperless systems swapping time and skills, such as
Lets (Local Exchange Trading Systems, or time banks, are the
first rung on the ladder. The next stage is a paper currency that pays for time
and skills, such as Ithaca Hours in New York. Once a community has bought in,
you can move to a designated local currency – the Brixton Brick launched last
year. Peter North’s new guide Local Money: How to Make it Happen in Your
Community offers workable systems that never lose sight of the big prize: a
resilient, locally owned economy. He advocates regional currencies and even
those dealing in watts or tonnes of CO2. Until his more radical vision takes
hold, the book will cost you £14.95 in cold hard cash.
If you only do one thing this week
Put your computer to “sleep” mode when not in use. Don’t just logout. On average
it will use 1-6 watts and the monitor will draw very little power. At the end of
the day shut it down completely. Unless you’re using a laptop that will carry on
drawing power, you don’t need to unplug.
If you have any ethical questions, email [email protected]
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