By Lisa Kiss, asaphouse.com
Not that long ago, maybe four or five years my kids and I went to our monthly visit to the Museum of Natural History to see an IMAX film about the depleting coral reefs. A few words uttered in that film triggered something in me to make me realize I had to act and not just be a spectator anymore. They said that in just 40 years these reefs may all be gone! 40 years! At the end of the film there was a website where one could go to help fight to save the coral reefs. Well, I went to that site, http://www.reefcheck.org, and from there I eventually signed on to some others, and once I was signed up I began getting their newsletters and action e-mails. In a matter of a month or two I was signing hundreds of petitions and internet action letters on issues of global warming. It was like a domino effect. I began reading up a storm – finding out more and more about all the other ways in which our planet is suffering at our own hands. The planet’s assets that have allowed living things to thrive for millions of years are now being taken for granted and all our lives are at risk and we must face the serious challenges of change. My shock and initiative to stop sitting idle was pronounced in just those few words. 40 years. The thought that our own children will not be living in the world as it is now. And, what would they say to us as they watched it all change? When did we know and why didn’t we do anything about it?
I am writing this entry to say how this one day triggered a life shift for me and my family. A trigger that turned inertia into action, how one change then led to another and then so many others in our lives. I wanted to tell you about just a couple of really big ones here. We literally changed how we live, eat, shop and sleep. It has even changed how we make our living.
Three years ago we needed a new car. My husband knew about the Prius, he mentioned it briefly but he thought it would be too small for us. It was hard to even see one on any Toyota lot. Finally we found one on a lot, but the dealer could not open it up for us to even sit in because it was for a customer. We looked in the window and knew we wanted it. If it was the only car on the road with the best available gas mileage, then that was going to be our new car! We got one without even sitting in or test driving it before ours arrived. At the time, everyone was saying how the price is not commensurate with what you may or may not save on gas, but this was not the point to us. We were buying this car because of what it could do to cut down on CO2 emissions and oil useage! And, by the way, we so save money on gas – every month!
Light bulbs? Where could we buy these new light bulbs? Once we found them we weren’t going to buy just one. Sure, everyone was saying how much more expensive they were. Again, we are not thinking of the purchase as “what a light bulb usually should cost”, it was for a bigger purpose, and we were not going to just change one light bulb in the house. Why not change as many as we could while we were doing it?
These purchases I speak about making are not easy for everyone, I know this. But, what frustrates us is when a family can afford it, why do they choose not to?
The biggest purchase of all was our home. My husband, Laszlo Kiss, is a great architect. So, when we sold our home we hoped to build our first house for ourselves as a zero energy house. He knew that to stay within a budget we could afford we had to build it as a prefabricated house in a factory, not stick build it. But, it had to be Zero Energy designed with a floor plan that wasted no space. It took a long time to figure this all out for just the right price. This two year project has now become our new family owned business. The house is now being marketed to the general public as one of the first Green Prefabricated homes of it’s kind in the northeast that has the Solar and Geothermal energy systems included in it’s overall price! We have called it the ASAP House – House About Saving A Planet! (ASAP because it has to happen As Soon As Possible plus prefab helps get the house there ASAP!)
For my husband and I, the past three years have seemed like getting a mini graduate degree with all the reading and knowledge we have acquired. Researching and brainstorming and formulating some really innovative ideas of how to help our own communities to be as inspired as we have been in just this short period of time. If it could happen to us and change our way of thinking about so many things, then it certainly could happen for lots of other people as well. Obviously the wave is occurring and more and more people are stepping up and making great changes, but not enough to really impact the kind of change needed.
We wanted to figure out how to make more happen in our own neighborhood in a big way. We came up with a great idea for a non profit organization that would act like a Carbon Offset program that would create more renewable energy systems across Long Island. We call this company GreenLIEF – Green Long Island Energy Fund. (The word “Lief” in old English means willing and able!) All the money raised will be distributed right back into our own region, not sent half way across the world. The sole reason and idea for this stems right from the “trigger” idea again. Once you see your own neighbor or local store up the block putting up solar panels or espousing all they have just done to reduce their own “carbon footprint” it is now “in your air space”. By trying something for yourself, or hearing about someone else you know and respect trying something. We learn from each other. We may not always be open to hearing or seeing a lot of things all the time, but if it is happening more and more in your own backyard it gets harder and harder to miss! This is the goal and this was how our lives changed so completely.
Some of our most valuable insights came from organizations such as: Native Energy, Bonneville Environmental Foundation, and Rocky Mountain Institute. All three of these organizations are innovators in the field of getting more renewable energy into our communities and fast!
VP Sales and Marketting, asaphouse.com