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We need to change 

'Green' or 'sustainable' - whatever you want to call the movement, it needs to continue for our survival

Change is always difficult, but our culture must change if it is to continue. There is a movement that is coming from the people/citizens. It has been given a title of “green,” but I prefer “sustainable.” Basically, it is change from a high consumption rate to living within the capacity of our habitat. Resources are being depleted as corporations push us to buy, buy, buy.

When the price of gasoline went up, America moved in the direction of using less gas. This worried the oil corporations, so the price came down. In Europe, where the price of gas is about $10 per gallon, they walk, ride their bicycles, use buses and trains, have tiny vehicles—many not using any gasoline at all. Hummers, SUVs, and gas-guzzlers don’t even exist in Europe. Here they are no longer selling. Hybrids cannot be made fast enough as demand is so high.

The monster houses being built locally and priced at $750,000 and more are not selling. People want small, sustainable, affordable homes. Bush’s $700 billion “bailout” with taxpayer money is designed to continue the monster mansion industry. Our culture must move in the direction of what many are already doing.

I have attempted to become independent of outside energy sources. I live on one acre. The sun shines on this one acre on which I grow bushes and trees—birds love it. These plants capture the sun’s energy by photosynthesis. The plants that grow feed my goats or are burned in my insert fireplace to heat my home in winter. It requires a lot of chopping, cutting, and hauling, but the sun is providing the energy, not nuclear power (Diablo).

The sun shines on my solar panels, which heat my water. Of course, no sun, no hot water. In summer, I have plenty of hot water for my hot tub. In winter or rainy days, I have to supplement solar heat with natural gas to heat water for my hot tub. The sun activates my photovoltaic (PV) panels, which produce my electricity.

A clothesline dries my laundry, not Diablo. If you don’t dry your laundry in our abundant sun, you are part of the over-consuming problem.

I got rid of my lawn years ago as it requires a lot of water, pesticides, and herbicides. I replaced it with native plants and friendly exotics, which the birds love and which feed my goats. I attempt to eat from my one acre. My pork comes from homegrown pigs. Visitors often ask, “How can you eat an animal you’ve named and raised?” It is easy and delicious. My pigs have a happy life with a straw bed, are talked to daily, and get petted often. I avoid “factory raised meat,” as the animals have a terrible life in small pens and crowded conditions. I do not buy factory-raised meat.

I have goats that provide me with plenty of delicious fresh milk with no chemicals. My happy chickens live on the ground, scratch a lot, and lay more nutritious eggs than caged, factory-raised hens that go for soup after a laying cycle. My 40 hens and three roosters live a long life and enrich my farm ambiance so very much. Children enjoy visiting and are welcome. The three roosters have names and personalities all their own.

My garden and orchard do provide some food, but production is variable. For example, I get more blackberries than I could possibly eat for about three weeks in early summer, and then none.

Nipomo doesn’t get much rain (13 inches average/year). We are depleting our water supply—overdraft. Water from my inside toilets goes to a septic system with leach lines that water my plants. Lines from my shower, hot tub, sink, and laundry all go to water plants. My outside toilet doesn’t even use any water and fertilizes my trees. My dogs love my outside toilet as that is the only time I sit long enough to pet them—they are not allowed in the house. I also enjoy listening to the birds and seeing the sun come up.

The large mansions that Bush’s $700 billion bailout is attempting to continue represent the wrong direction. Small, sustainable homes, bicycles, and consuming less are the future. The auto industry learned the hard way when the SUVs, Hummers, and Cadillacs stopped selling. If there is to be a future, sustainable living will have to be the emphasis.

The bailout is an attempt by our leaders to keep us buying. If there is to be a future for America, we must change to sustainable living. Our current leadership is heading us in the wrong direction. Democracy can work. Speak up!

For further reading, go to Al Gore’s article in the most recent Mother Jones magazine, page 38. Some of his comments: “The survival of the United States as we know it is at risk.” “... the future of human civilization is at stake.” “We’re borrowing money from China to buy oil from the Persian Gulf to burn it in ways that destroy the planet.”

We need to act now.

Bill Denneen is a Nipomo resident. Contact him through the editor at

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