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Economy vs. environment? No need to choose

"Economy vs. environment? No need to chooseIf ""Monsters vs. Aliens"" isn't scary enough, how about Economy vs.
Environment?(Tom Watson via The Seattle Times)When those two duke it out, you might expect the economy to win hands down.
After all, with so many families, businesses and governments in dire
financial distress these days, it seems obvious the economy should take
priority.Fortunately, we don't have to choose one over the other. A healthy economy
and healthy environment can grow and thrive together. But it won't be easy.
Today we'll look at the complicated relationship between money and the
environment, from the global economy to your own household.Q: A strong economy is all about people buying lots of stuff, which is bad
for the environment, right?A: That's only partly true. When a nation's economy is built largely upon
the consumption of unnecessary, disposable or toxic products, it certainly
takes an environmental toll. But a prosperous economy does not necessarily
have to rely on the purchase of those types of products.Q: What's the alternative?A: Think ""sustainable."" Here's one succinct definition of sustainability:
""Meeting present needs without jeopardizing future resources."" Though not
very specific, this definition at least makes us think about what we really
need, and the costs to future generations.In a sustainable economic system, local businesses produce or sell durable,
reusable and healthy products.This new economic model has already begun to flourish here. Dozens of
companies in the Seattle area now make products from reused, recycled or
less-toxic materials, and legions of small farmers sell their crops at the
90 neighborhood farmers markets (www.pugetsoundfresh.org) in the Puget
Sound region.A truly sustainable economy also emphasizes energy conservation. Making our
homes and buildings more energy-efficient reduces global warming, pollution
and a reliance on oil.Energy conservation and renewable energy projects also can create plenty of
the new ""green jobs"" promoted by the federal government as a solution to
our economic woes.Q: Won't some jobs be lost by going green?A: Reducing the consumption of wasteful and unneeded products would likely
result in job losses in certain sectors here and around the world. The hope
is that those workers could shift to equal or better green jobs, and that
new employment opportunities would arise locally. From recycling processing
plants to university science labs, jobs should grow organically out of the
new green economy.Q: On the individual level, can green living really help me and my family
financially?A: Absolutely. In fact, one reason the green movement has continued going
strong in this lousy economy is that the public and media have made the
connection between a sustainable lifestyle and saving money. All those
green savings there at our fingertips for years, from shopping at thrift
stores to buying energy-efficient appliances, have suddenly become much
more relevant.Q: What will save the most money?A: Your home and car both have heavy environmental footprints and cost a
lot to maintain, so start with those. If your boss agrees to let you work a
four-day flex schedule or telecommute one day a week, for example, you
could save $400 or more a year by driving less. Insulating and sealing your
home may reduce energy costs by 30 percent.Buying used products also gives you a huge green bang for your buck.
Options have multiplied immensely on the Internet and in stores for buying
used furniture, clothes, electronics, books, music and more. Don't forget
eco-discount programs such as King County's Northwest Natural Yard Days
(www.yarddays.com), offering savings of up to 25 percent on green gardening
products through May 15.This week, we celebrated the 39th annual Earth Day. When we don't need
Earth Day anymore because we live it every single day, we'll know we
finally have a vibrant green economy.For the latest green jobs in rene"