Sunday, August 12, 2007

Green Living Sucks

So I moved into my new apartment in Ithaca, NY: Gateway Commons, and I love it. Brand new building, never lived in before, hard wood floors, high-end stainless steel furniture, high ceilings, recessed lighting, granite counters, kitchen island, flat stove top, spacious, easy access to campus and to downtown, the walk to work is one of the most beautiful hikes I have ever been on (if I take the long way anyway).

The one thing on the beautiful well designed website that raised major red flags was the 3rd part of their motto: "Live Luxury...Live Smart...Live Green" LIVE GREEN.

I have nothing against green, but it just raises flags. Typically, it just makes things more expensive, for little benefit, which is why I tend to avoid organic foods and the like in the grocery store (presuming I can get non-organic of comparable quality, like at Whole Foods). But I liked the place enough to take the apartment anyway.

Living there one day confirmed how great the apartment is, and how annoying the live green part is. The bamboo floors are beautiful but apparently very easily dented. The sinks are all water efficient and thus have very low pressure, annoying when washing dishes and even washing hands. The shower is meek and highly unsatisfying. The toilet so far has been of decent design that despite the low-flushness has been ok, but every time, it just barely does its job, so I suspect that multi-flushing will become necessary. The AC cycles on and off with a loud click very rapidly (turning on and off for a couple minutes at a time). Presumably an energy saving feature, but still.

And the thing is, I am pro-environment, but believe that some things are worth it and some aren't. What environmentalists don't get is that economists know how to calculate the damage excess water or energy use has on the environment and that sometimes the benefits of water usage outweigh the cost. For me (and probably most people) we would much rather have satisfying showers and easy flush toilets, and pay a few extra bucks to compensate the environment through other means. (Like pay farmers to stop growing rice in the desert. The recent stupid campaign against bottled water is similarly dumb. If you want to know whether bottled water really is a bad idea, you might ask, would people still buy it if the externalities are correctly priced. Most reasonable estimates would likely be the extra cost to be under 5 cents per bottle. That is unlikely to majorly crimp the industry, end ellipsis). Argh.

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