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Big green, little green

If you don't watch television, specifically NBC, you might have missed the announcement that this week is "Green is Universal - Green Week" on NBC. Even the company's logo, the multi-colored peacock feathers, is green. Last night's football commentary show was broadcast with candles on, lights off. Many shows that air this week will have a green theme. For example, Al Gore will be a cameo guest on "30 Rock," while David Schwimmer, will star as "Greenzo," a mascot concept created by Alec Baldwin's character, Jack Donaghy. (PG&E's "Let's Green This City" - the city is San Francisco - preceded GE-owned NBC's campaign. The PG&E's campaign has been criticized as corporate green washing.) I don't have enough information to offer an informed opinion about either campaign, but I do know that no television for at least 4 hours a day combined with a light bulb replacement (see below) can save the average household 1,920 watt hour per week in electricity use (Qingfu Xiao, UC Davis/ Land, Air and Water Resources researcher). I practice little acts of green that have significant impacts. I use the potato spoons I got with yogurt and ice-cream tastings at the Embarcadero and Downtown Berkeley farmers markets, respectively, at work instead of the plastic utensils in the office kitchen. At a recent urban forestry conference, I received a ChicoBag, made of nylon with a 20-pound capacity, which "can save the average American 3000 to 700 plastic shopping bags per year which will save 3 to 7 gallons of crude oil." In my apartment, I am replacing traditional bulbs with energy-efficient ones like the Greenlite Mini, which I picked up at the watershed festival this summer. Greenlite estimates that one 18 watt Mini will save $82 in energy costs over the life of the bulb (based on 12 cent per kilowatt hour cost). While $82 over the course of 11 years (if you use the bulb 3 hours a day) might seem trivial, the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from power plants enhances the value of this little green act. Imagine replacing all the lights in your home.