By Paul McRandle
The economy needs help, "stimulus" if you will, and it’s a moment for thinking big—just recently Obama called for doubling the production of alternative energy nationwide in the next three years, a sorely needed boost to the industry. But thinking small also has its moments. Little changes add up, something Obama mentioned when talking about annoying questions during the debates, like what he’d done personally that’s green: "What I’m thinking in my head is, ‘Well, the truth is, Brian, we can’t solve global warming because I f—ing changed light bulbs in my house. It’s because of something collective.’" First point: There is some drama to Obama, it just took CFLs to bring it out. Second point: Simple actions produce big results when everyone gets involved. When your house is the White House, you can set the pace on environmental causes. Consider just a fraction of the green improvements already made at 1600 Penn Ave over the last three decades:
Native plants on the grounds—check
Reduced pesticide use indoors—check
Yard waste composted—check
And, of course, those compact fluorescent lightbulbs
This is old hat today, but the White House started its green initiative back in the mid-nineties when CFLs were scarcely to be found on store shelves. Now, the new administration could go big and put a windmill on the White House roof, but that probably wouldn’t fly with the preservationists. No, where Obama and the presidential family can stand at the forefront of the global warming fight is in the shower.
The Obamas have exercise routines that put the rest of the nation to shame, and that means time whiled away under the tap. Heating all that water usually requires electricity from coal-fired power plants, which are major contributors to global warming. But with the help of a simple egg timer at home or a tile-adhering shower timer at the gym, they could cut the average 8.5-minute shower to five minutes, saving nine gallons of water each time and about 2,400 pounds of greenhouse gases annually for the whole family. Supposing only 10 percent of Americans adults joined them, it would save 6,814,503 tons of greenhouse gases every year and 2 billion gallons of water daily. And if you can’t bear the thought of losing those extra minutes, get a low-flow showerhead like the Delta H20 Kinetics, which cuts water usage down to 1.6 gallons per minute without reducing water pressure.