Cambrian: Opinion

Efficient resource use is ‘green’ — environmentally & financially

Editor’s note: We introduce this week a quarterly column by longtime resource conserver William “Bill” L. Seavey of Cambria. It will appear on the fifth Thursday, four times a year.

Can you help save the environment (especially Cambria’s own) and also save money at the same time?

Many don’t think so, or are at least skeptical. Many would argue that a desalination plant is obviously too expensive and won't help the environment — water will become too costly. If you build a so-called “green” home, the extra bells and whistles — solar panels, super insulation etc. will make it cost much more. If you buy an electric vehicle (EV) that doesn't spew carbon dioxide (C02) gases (complicit in climate change), it will cost two to three times (or more) what an internal combustion engine-powered car will (at least initially).

I'm here to tell you in this column that you CAN save money and also help the environment. And I will give many examples of what Cambrians (and others) can do in all aspects of their (your) lives to make this happen — in your home, at work, while traveling, at the grocery store, even at the end of your life!

First, a few caveats: what I might suggest may well challenge your existing and possibly well-thought-out assumptions. Some of what I propose is not exactly legal by current standards and customs, but surely ethical. AND, finally, I personally may not do all these things myself because there is only so much time in the day, I’m not a perfect person, and I have my own priorities, like you.

As a child of the ’60s, I do try to “walk my talk.” It ain’t always easy. I’ve known for some time that humans’ “footprint” on the Earth is generally size 14 or more. Whatever we do will have minimal effect now that there are seven billion of us. Living in rather pristine Cambria is, however, no excuse not to try to do our part to live “greener”/more sustainably.

Obviously, Cambrians are being forced to conserve (or even “create”) potable water, for example, and it’s not always pleasant. But it IS a learning experience about how to use less water (necessary), and the second column in late July column will deal with that. My May 31 roof rainwater harvesting program at my home in Lodge Hill will give you a jump start on the subject if you missed the Rabobank water movies recently sponsored by (Email me at for directions).

So what are my credentials? As Dianne Brooke wrote recently in her column (thank you so much, Dianne), I have written a number of books on sustainability issues. Most aren't bestsellers because they're a little bit like taking the (untasty?) medicine down, I suppose. But my tome on “basic solar power” sold thousands on the Internet. One of my favorites is on low cost/even free DIY (do-it-yourself) housing. I ran the Greener Pastures Institute for many years and reached millions with my message that living in smaller towns and rural areas could give you the opportunity to “downscale” your life. Two books came out of that. One local couple (the husband was a Cambria Community Services District manager) was a “hinterland host” for years before I myself moved to Cambria.

I’ve also lived in Bend and Eugene, Ore.; Iowa City, Iowa; and built a straw-bale house in a resort in Baja, Mexico (sometimes I run tours down there).

I’ve also lived in the biggest cities — L.A., Chicago, and New York City, which I now eschew. I went to the Woodstock Music Festival and will be involved in a festival on that theme July 26 which is a fundraiser for the Clark Center.

I spent two summers as a college student working in Yellowstone Park, which I write about in a book of essays. I’ve done many, many things, including writing people’s resumes professionally for six years.

I’m married to my wonderful wife, Eleanor, and we have 10 grandchildren, most living locally. I’m 67 and a member of the Cambria Tennis Club and Joslyn Recreation Center.

So look for my columns on July 31 and Oct. 30 (the fifth Thursdays of the month) and, hopefully, further into the future. And thanks to Cambrian Editor Bert Etling for giving me (and you?) this opportunity. You can reach me at or (Also, don't forget about my free roof rainwater harvesting demo mentioned above).