Subscribe Contribute Advertise Facebook Twitter Instagram Forums Newsletter
Green and Light?
Display Avatars Sort By:
Shawn Basil
(Bearpaw) - F

Locale: Southeast
What if green = heavier wallet? on 08/04/2007 09:32:53 MDT Print View

When I teach an ecology/conservation workshop for teachers at a local college, I often talk about ways to get the average citizen to act environmentally friendly. I tell them there are 2 important points to get every-day folks to listen instead of assuming you're pursuing some agenda designed to raise prices and take people's jobs:

1) Make reasonable suggestions that people would reasonably do.

2) Save money.

Hence, people will recycle cans because there is money to be made. They will recycle paper because it's easy to drop paper into a recycling bin, and there is still a small amount of money to be made. Many people will keep the thermostat at 66 instead of 76 when they realize they can cut their electric bill nearly in half.

Thus, as petroleum prices continue to rise, what happens if Patagonia Capilene costs as much as merino wool, other synthetics rise accordingly, and green products begin to cost less? Would this induce any of us to buy green? Just a thought. I suspect many of us wouldn't mind a heavier wallet.

Edited by Bearpaw on 08/04/2007 09:35:59 MDT.

Brian UL

Locale: New England
Re: What if green = heavier wallet? on 08/04/2007 09:47:33 MDT Print View

On a related note has anyone heard of the book "Humanure"
I was at Jack Mountain Guide a few weekends ago and he used this sytem, easy, clean, and cheap. Think of the cost enviromentally and monetary of most sewer systems. This could be a great alternative.

Steve .
(pappekak) - F

Locale: Tralfamadore
Re: Re: What if green = heavier wallet? on 08/04/2007 09:52:29 MDT Print View

Humanure - they have used this in Colorado for a while.

Brian UL

Locale: New England
Re: Re: Re: What if green = heavier wallet? on 08/04/2007 09:58:56 MDT Print View

Steve-How has it worked out?
I wonder about most town regulations and if they would allow people to use this system over conventional ones?

Steve .
(pappekak) - F

Locale: Tralfamadore
Re: Re: Re: Re: What if green = heavier wallet? on 08/04/2007 10:19:01 MDT Print View

Brian, to my knowledge it has only been used on farm lands in Colorado. I.e. local treated hard sewage spread on farm land as a fertilizer. When the idea was introduced neighborhoods close to the farms were concerned - stench and health concerns. I haven't heard noise about it in years so I assume it is still being practiced.

Water recycling - treating sewage liquids and using it in non-potable situations (watering golf courses, parks, etc) - is more widespread. Interest really increased during the drought years here. Some townhouse complexes even signed up for the program - cheaper water rates and easy implementations in some cases. Not sure if single family homes adopted the program.

Joseph Jacaruso
(CaptainJac) - MLife

Locale: Southeast
What if green = heavier wallet? on 08/04/2007 14:09:46 MDT Print View

The waste water treatment plant in Burlington, NC has been making fertilizer from the solids at their facilities for years. I work next door and the trucks run non-stop taking it out to farmers. The only complaint I've ever heard is when the wind blows toward my office.

As an older backpacker I remember much of this same discussion in the late 60's and 70's. We were going to change the world but as you can see that didn't happen. I think even with the distrust my generation had for government and the establishment in general, we got caught up in day to day lives and paid more attention to feeding our own overweight children instead of the starving children of the world. We drove around in VW bugs that got amazing gas milage but now I see Hummers at 5 mpg running up and down the road. Even the gas efficient Toyota company introduced a new SUV last year to share in this market. That model get last mpg than there old 4-Runners. As for gas I paid 25 cents a gallon for in the 70's. We discussed alternatives but they have always cost just a little more than petro products. I think that will always be the case as Exxon and other oil companies reap record profits while shortages drive up the price.

If you really want to do something about the environment don't wait for someone else. Don't wait for it to be lighter. And don't wait for it to keep money in your pocket. Just do it. Ride a bike to work, carry your own bags to the store, combine several car trips into one. Why not carpool? I see cars pass me on my bike everyday with just one person. They all can't be going to different locations.

As for packpackers being green. Even if we are just a small (but growing) group, the biggest thing I see we can do is pick-up the trash. The environment in the back country does not need us to leave behind plastic baggies, paper wrappers or even human waste. I saw a place in the Smokeys were hikers had niether buried the waste or paper. It just laid on the ground. Learn to dispose of these things properly and burning them is not what I concider proper. As for fires I see fire pits at every shelter and campsite on the AT with aluminum foil, scraps of paper and even discarded clothes. The one just north of Wayah Bald had just been cleaned up by a trail crew. In the fire pit someone left their dental floss. How much trouble would that have been to pack out?

If you are concerned about the environment then consider this. Its not what gear you buy its where you leave it that counts! Even if you just sell it to another backpacker, isn't that recycling?

Russell Swanson
(rswanson) - F

Locale: Midatlantic
Re: "Green and Light?" on 08/04/2007 15:30:04 MDT Print View

I almost never engage in political or social debate on the internet...and never here at BPL, which seems to be blessedly free of such traffic...but I feel compelled to press further in response to some posts made in this thread. If I can quote Mr. Maynard:

"I apoligize upfront for this small political rant: I would just like to comment on something brought up here that I hear alot- That the US uses more resources per capita than the rest of world and so on.
First this is a socialist/marxist attitude, the assumption being that the worlds resorces "should" be evenly divided by everyone and that the * insert anti-U.S. remark here * U.S. uses more than its fair share. Is it really suprising that a large industrial nation uses more resources than say, a farming culture with no tradition of industrialization"

It simply doesn't matter if this is a socialist comment or not. I doesn't matter if we are entitled to more of the world's resources or not. If the climate of the world and the environment of which we are a part is deteriorating as fast as almost the entire scientific community seems to finally be in agreement on, then this process must be reversed, by hook or crook. It is our duty as a nation of people who can make the choice (As opposed to those who have no other means of survival) to change our lifestyles. If not, then the consequences are possibly catastrophic. I don't really care what label is applied to this statement, and you shouldn't either. What needs to be driven home here is that there are a heck of a lot of people who are much more intelligent than I (and most likely you as well- no offense, please) who are telling us, point blank, that we are on a precipice.

If some want to look at this as another time in our history when the pleas of crying wolf came from the side of the conservationists than this is their prerogative as free-willed individuals. But I don't think we can ignore the mass consensus from the world scientific community, which to my knowledge, is unprecedented. For my own personal observations, the things I was told over the past decade or so seem largely to be coming to pass.

If we as backpackers, who profess to love the natural, unspoiled, unsullied world, cannot find it within our means to be the staunchest of advocates of those who are truly attempting to lead our society in a more sustainable direction, then who will? If we, as products of our jaded and suspecting society first and lovers of our deteriorating ecosystem second, continue to cast a cynical eye upon their efforts, then who can be expected to champion the cause of those who advocate change? Where will the inspiration come from?

It is my feeling that this massive problem will require more than just collecting litter. It will require new patriots; pioneers who can dislodge an inertial population who are resistant to change- especially if that change means discomfort. This country was up to a task such as this at one point. Are we now? If there is one truth here, it is that we are going to find out.

I also apologize if my statement is contributing to some serious thread drift. But I will not apologize for what some may see as preaching for I, like a previous poster, am frankly bewildered at the undercurrent of apathy being displayed, in a place where I would never expect to find it. This last comment is not intended as any form of insult. As I said earlier, everyone is entitled to his/her own. I simply expected more unity on this topic. Thanks.

Joseph Jacaruso
(CaptainJac) - MLife

Locale: Southeast
Green or Light on 08/04/2007 16:03:42 MDT Print View

You made some good points. Especially that we are all going to find out if the scientific commuinity is right. They are and the proof can be seen in melting ice packs, more severe storms and lack of rain where it is needed most.

But backpackers are no different than any other segment of the population. There are some today that will tell you the President is right and global warming will correct itself. Changing the mind set of a population is near impossible because most people are just interested in themselves and their corner of the world.

The change has to start at the bottom. One person at a time and not just picking up the litter (but that still is a good start) it's conserving in every area of our lives. We're fighting an entire industry. Everyday we are told to spend our money on new and better products and simply throw the old stuff to the curb. Every where you turn you are asked to by more stuff. Backing light should carry over into our off trail lives and travel light.

As for the original question in this thread, when its time to replace because its used up, greener should have special concideration. But toss out the old to simply say I backpack green is not conserving the planet or anything else.

Brian UL

Locale: New England
Re: Re: "Green and Light?" on 08/04/2007 17:24:22 MDT Print View

I posted a little too early in the morning and should not have engaged in politics on this subject, though a little in my defence the talk about "haves" and "have nots" and sacrifices and resources sounded like politics to me. But I apoligize for the thread drift.
But that brings up the point that so much of the debate on the enviroment is bound up in politics and is divided on party lines-
But this should be a "practical" issue and we all want the same thing, sustanable lifestyles and industry. And I think that our gear as well as how we interact with the enviroment in the backcountry are good topics of disscussion.

Alan Garber
(altadude) - F
Patagucci on 08/05/2007 17:12:30 MDT Print View

Your points about Patagucci are well taken:
"Just a few remarks to Alan's post regarding Patagonia. The price of their products is directly related to their materials and production methods. There is also a correlation between their prices and the philosophy of the company, which is to make the most durable product that has the least amount of environmental impact, manufactured in the most responsible manner. With these goals comes a high price tag."

And the analogy to organic foods as well.

My only point is that I prefer organic foods not only because of the impact on the environment but because they taste better. I am fortunate enough to live in a rural environment and fresh organic produce just plain tastes better. Same with organic, locally produced breads and beers.........

I just don't like the Patagucci line of clothing. Just doesn't work for me.

And what about gear that isn't manufactured in sweat shops?

We have a local gear outfitter who only sells gear which is not made in sweat shops.......Patagucci qualifies for this as well (another reason to respect them).

to recap: buying Patagucci would be like buying local produce which was organic but that didn't taste good.....

Make sense?

Wayne Teipen
(wamyteipen) - F

Locale: midwest
Green and Light? on 08/05/2007 20:44:23 MDT Print View

I would definitely consider green for a few ounces more because it is the right thing to do. And thank you Russell for your post. Finally the voice of reason. I couldn't have said it better. I too have been apalled at the overall apathy from the hiking community that I have seen in various threads here and on other forums. I find it ironic to hear apathetic statements about how little a small community like backpackers can have on the environment especially here where all we talk about is how every tenth of an ounce counts! Our impact is not so much on what we do as individuals but as a community and how we impact those with which we come in contact. Our greatest impact is in leading by example. We should buy hybrid vehicles not for the amount of money we save at the pump or whether, in the long run, we will come out ahead but because of the near zero emissions. But even more so to support the efforts of those companies who are making an effort and to send a message to those who aren't. What happened to us? Backpackers used to be united on the environment if nothing else. I'm deeply disappointed.

Donna C
(leadfoot) - M

Locale: Middle Virginia
Re: Green and Light? on 08/06/2007 07:45:18 MDT Print View

Yes, but it also depends on the item. I'm heading out for a week's worth of hiking and looked at my gear, food all layed out on the bed. How much plastic is used to keep my food packed??? So, I bought some wax paper bags, rolled things up tight and discovered that these work just as well, if not better than each thing in a ziplock. All the food will go into a waterproof baggie, but I think it's a beginning for me. These wax bags can become firestarters if I need a fire.

It's all about moderation and making conscious choices. If silnylon could be made from recycled material, just think of the possibilities.

Outdoor product marketing can be slick. I never believe everything any ad claims, Patagucci or otherwise. It's all about what they think the consumer will believe to buy into their product.

Neil Bender
(nebender) - F
Re: Green and Light? on 08/06/2007 07:53:05 MDT Print View

Being able to make informed trade-offs is not apathy.

Your view of hybrid vehicles is simply incorrect. They derive all of their energy from burning hydrocarbon fuels and are not anywhere near zero emissions. They are every efficient at extracting motion from the fuel they burn because they can store the engines idlling and braking power in batteries, and they CAN run their smaller engine at an efficient speed more continuously (ONLY if driven correctly), but there is a trade off for that.

The trade off is thousands of pounds of heavy-metal laiden batteries that will be disposed of in 3rd world land fills when their short life is exhausted. At that point the cost of the batteries will lead to the carcass of the car being discarded as well when a small ICE only car could be kept running for another decade. Hardly a low impact technology.

A better solution (in terms of emissions and life cycle environmental impact, not comfort or conspicuous consumption) for a small engine vehicle is a scooter or a hybrid human-electric bicycle with brushless DC motor and small battery pack a la the Canadian Bion-X system or the Cleverchimp Stokemonkey. Moving around thousands of pounds of batteries to move 180 pounds of human isn't nearly as efficient as an appropriately sized vehicle or one that efficiently burns a cheap, energy dense fuel. A Civic or Yaris is just as environmentally friendly as a Prius.

Looking at costs is important because in a freed market prices represent both scarcity and the real values of those willing to spend their money. The freed voluntary market is the most democratic process man has invented, because not voting (witholding spending) also counts. Apathy is accurately measured in the freed market.

When governmnt steals from us to subsidize inefficient producers (eg. hybrid vehicles true costs are hidden), it distorts the price signals and mis-allocates scarce resources.

A classic example of this is US cane sugar. Because our taxes pay for inefficient domestic sugar, we pay too much for sugar, aren't allowed to buy cheap sucrose from poor countries, keeping them poorer, and high fuctose corn syrup from Archer Daniels Midland becomes 'economical'. Thus we pay too much for poorer tasting food and it's an even more unhealthy substitute.

The word is out on HFCS consumption leading to obesity and diabetes, but until government pushed inefficient ethanol becomes a pseudo-market for corn, its doubtful the sugar subsidies and tariffs will be allowed to end. I predict one day the world will figure out tha hybrid vehicles also have concealed costs.

A Frenchman named Bastiat covered the same ground with great consideration 160 years ago:

Joshua Mitchell
(jdmitch) - F

Locale: Kansas
Stokemonkey and Boinx on 08/06/2007 09:42:21 MDT Print View

Okay, Neil, I gotta give you props for bringing up two very cool products that are on my radar.

Nice call, as you've drilled to the main key. Reducing you're need for transportation energy (by appropriately sized vehicles) is far better than trying to reuse it (aka regen braking, hybrid stuff).

Actually, one could get the best of both worlds by buying a used Civic or even an old Ford Festiva (mine used to get me 40+ mpg), then not only are you reducing you are also reusing (by buying used rather than new).

Shoot, buy an old VW Diesel, use WVO derived Biodiesel... and you've got all three... anyhow, I'm getting on a an eco-geek tangent...

Wayne Teipen
(wamyteipen) - F

Locale: midwest
Green and Light? on 08/07/2007 00:54:35 MDT Print View

I think you've missed the point Neil. The mention of hybrid vehicles was an illustration to make a point (albeit a not too effective one) not to argue whether we should buy hybrid vehicles or not. The point is that we must create the demand for environmentally friendly alternatives.

Neil Bender
(nebender) - F
Re: Green and Light? on 08/07/2007 18:11:44 MDT Print View

I'm all for environmentally friendly alternatives and market demand being met. My point is that finding environmentally benign alternatives is not always clear without a decent life cycle analysis. It may turn out that the best thing to demand in terms of CO2 emissions is nuclear generated electricity and electric cars (although the battery-fate issue remains a sticking point). The infrastructure for that is a lot more managable than hydrogen fuel cells for instance.

When I see tax breaks and incentives for a mass hyped 'green' technology I'm always a little sceptical that what I'm seeing isn't so much an environmental benefit as much as rent seeking behavior by corporations unwilling to risk their own money on dubious technology with dubious benefits.

Getting back to the original thread topic, light is automatically greener. By packing lighter one can experience a given journey in less time, resulting in fewer camp nights in the back country, which results in less over use. Lightweight travelers can move more easily off popular trails and not burden popular areas, and have minimal impact on wilder areas. To me that is worth more than seeing a pound of PET recycled into an over-priced product I probably don't need anyway.

Has anyone else noticed that there is starting to be a backlash against bottled water (a big source of PET consumption)? Maybe we need to start a "Respect and Love Your Drinking Fountain" campaign? That might have a lot more green impact than niche-market sales of Patagucci's Wallet-puffy jackets, this season in a subdued shade of Eggplant with contrasting Flint details and a concealed iConspicuous accessory pocket.

john flanagan
(jackfl) - F

Locale: New England
Green and Light - a few quick thoughts on 08/08/2007 07:27:53 MDT Print View

RE: Russell's observation of the apparent ambivalence of the backpacking community (which I think is even more pronounced on other forums) - right on. I buy the notion that with priveledge comes responsibility and think that it applies here. I've always felt that backpacking is primarily a way to experience a heightened awareness of the beauty of the natural world and that bears some sense of caring about and for its health. That does not have to be a major life focus - no need to build a eco-geek personna... but I just don't get the notion that we don't have an obligation to think about it and act accordingly.

RE: Buying more green products even if they weight a bit more - absolutely. That's a responsibility IMO. However, this breaks down if you run out to buy a new whatever because of some new attribute. Let's take what we have and wear it out or recycle it by selling it or giving it away.

RE: Knowing which products are actually "green" or "more green" vs marketing hype - personally I think that this should be part of the BPL product review process and that BPL should be able to state the impacts of use and manufacture of products it sells. I agree that product life cycle should be the standard.

RE: the notion that UL BP is somehow more green - I'm not at all convinced. Maybe it feels good to say it, but whats the basis for that assertion? My gut is that this is like mostly wishful thinking.

RE: what else BPL could do to step up to the plate? Create a platform for donating gear to charitable groups who will use it (Boy or Girl Scouts, youth at risk programs, experiential ed programs). This need not be focused on UL - I have a fair amount of old and heavy (by our standard) gear piled up. So for what it's worth anyone who is legitimately connected to a youth group that would benefit, feel free to contact me on that front.

Heather Pisani-Kristl
(P-K) - F

Locale: San Diego
Re: Patagucci on 08/09/2007 06:11:55 MDT Print View

Alan G. wrote:
"We have a local gear outfitter who only sells gear which is not made in sweat shops.......Patagucci qualifies for this as well (another reason to respect them)."

I'm interested in this. How would the avg. backpacker find out which gear is not made in sweatshops?