What’s Wrong With “Green”


Last night I posted an interesting article on considering “end of life” costs when calculating your retirement savings. Afterward, I started thinking about my recent posts and realized there may be an unintended trend emerging.

If you’ve been reading my articles, there’s a certain “negative” vibe to each of them. On the surface it may appear I’m a NO kind of guy and my aim is to tell you everything that’s wrong.

This could not be farther from the truth.

I’ve been making an effort to establish my baseline. More important than offering little nuggets of information you may use once, I want readers to question what’s considered conventional wisdom.

Changing our behavioral errs starts with us, and unless we make a fundamental mind shift in the way we perceive money, it will continue to be an uphill battle.

Enter EngineerYourFinances Pillar #1 – EDUCATION.

With that said, I’ll launch into my final* negative post.  *For the time being, I’m sure I’ll think of something else down the road :)

While I commend people’s efforts to turn green, I find myself shaking my head more often than not. Despite their best intentions, some people are missing the point with being green.

Case in point, I was flipping through articles on Bankrate and stumbled on a video about 5 Green Myths. At first I thought, “maybe I’ll learn something new from this”. How wrong I was….

PROBLEM: Green is too hard.

SOLUTION: Buy recycled napkin products.

My eyes tripled in size….

Here’s a quick production chain scenario. That recycled napkin probably came from an individually wrapped plastic package. And that individual package was probably shipped to the grocery store on a palette full of individually wrapped packages wrapped in plastic as a unit.

Being green has become more about looking chic, then actually striving to make changes. Going back to what I noted in the beginning, we need to make FUNDAMENTAL changes in the way we think in order to evolve our habits.

In line with my belief that information should be free, I’ll refer to you iTunes U. The Stanford Engineering series, Energy Crossroads: Building a Coalition for a Clean, Prosperous, and Secure Energy Future, provides some food for thought.

Within the engineering field, there’s been a break from the term “green” and more of a focus on “sustainability”. Being sustainable means that you are green, but being green does not necessarily mean you are sustainable.

Used loosely, “Correlation does not imply causation”.

For my undergraduate research project, I did a comparison of the energy consumption between LEED and regular non-certified buildings. An interesting outcome, I learned that those who focused their attention on being more RESOURCEFUL with their existing systems were able to reduce their consumption to the same order of magnitude as those who revamped their outdated systems with renewable technologies.

The green technologies and products available to us will not make us green by themselves. Until we make a fundamental mind shift towards resourcefulness, our efforts to change will always be countered by our consumptive nature.

You may have read how I missed out on an opportunity to profit $14,000 in a few days. Although this was a special scenario, there will be other opportunities. I’m more interested in you reading the post on why you need to earn more AND spend less.

And here’s the tie to personal finance. There’s nothing magical about MAKING MONEY, it’s not about special products or the hottest rates, but simply being more RESOURCEFUL with your money. It’s the equation everyone knows, but the hardest to implement:

EARNED INCOME (salary, investments, freelancing, whatever)


EXPENSES (life costs, entertainment, obligations, whatever)



And with that, we’re off to bigger and better things. My next few posts will focus on providing tidbits of useful information. I’m starting to realize the value in effective blogging. Personal finance sites are very similar to military scouts.

Sent ahead of the unit to perform reconnaissance and bring any useful information back to the troops, PF sites search through the weeds to find useful information to share.


Here’s an extremely EASY and CHEAP way to insulate your home. How many times have you thrown away bubble wrap from packaging? Turns out, you can shave a few degrees off what’s permeated through your windows with this “trash”.

In order for this to work, you need wrapping with relatively small bubbles and firm backing (not sure how well it does with over-crinkled material).

STEP 1: Spritz your window with water. Don’t dose it, a light covering will do.

STEP 2: Apply the bubble wrap to the window.


Why it works: Similar to how wetsuits keep divers warm, the voids between the bubbles create an insulating layer. The outside air becomes trapped in this layer, and instead of passing into your home, it helps to prevent additional air from coming in.

How it works: The surface tension created by the water adheres the bubble wrap to the window. The contact angle formed between the plastic bubble and water keeps the wrapping up on the window. This is why smaller bubbles are required. If too large, the water can’t form a proper bond around the bubbles.

Photo by: nsobject

Join our newsletter


Subscribe to get the latest "Engineer Your Finances" content via email.

Powered by ConvertKit
About the author

7 Responses
  1. First…I found your post inspiring. There is a real problem with the way “green” is sold, when what is selling isn’t really sustainable. I believe there is a disconnect between advertising for profits and actually changing the way we do business for the sake of actually using resources responsibly. LEED houses may not be more efficient than conventional design, but we need to figure out how to use materials that we can produce indefinitely without taking out other species, ruining our air and otherwise making the place we all live uninhabitable over time. And the idea of LEED is to do just that as well as conserve energy. The challenge is in executing the idea in a way that works without raising costs through the roof. Unfortunately, when something is new or trendy, it is also usually costly.

    Change is always tough and usually happens in bits. I hope (in my glass is half full kind of way) that we are, as a global community, at least trying to get on the right track. Resistance is expected and debate is an excellent tool for solving problems, so I remain hopeful for the future.
    .-= Tracy´s last blog ..Money Saving Tips That Happen To Be Green =-.

    1. Fin Engr

      @ Tracy.

      Wow – thanks for the first sentence :)

      One problem is that its very hard to create a nationally accepted program and then apply that to every single scenario. LEED has come a long way since I researched its point program. You used to acquire points uniformly, no matter how small/large your “green” component was. Installing bike racks is WAY different from flushing & balancing your air system.

      Each structure is different, just like people. It was no big deal to throw on multiple safety factors and churn out over-designed structures. Slowly things are going back to designing systems that “fit”. This reconfiguration of how power is utilized could, by itself, dramatically change the amount of wasted resources.

      Green provides a good supplement to resourcefulness, but until we stop the hemorrhaging of power, IVs of green are simply not enough. This goes to my idea of personal finance optimization. You have to control the flow from both ends in order to truly maximize your returns.

      Fun Factoid: There’s also been a rebirth of “ancient” technologies like aligning along E-W axis to capitalize on natural sunlight and allowing air flow through rooms for cooling.

  2. So you mean if I drive my hybrid even more than I drove my regular car it might not be sustainable? But by driving the “green” car I’m saving the environment… right? haha. This all goes back to just THINKING about what you’re doing… I wonder if we could create a class in our school system simply titled: “Why?”
    .-= Ryan @ Planting Dollars´s last blog ..Seeds of Knowledge 2.5.10 =-.

  3. nextstage

    Lots of times, when I read about “Green Living”, it’s not about what you can do to reduce your consumption, it’s about what (expensive) item you can buy. I think there’s

  4. nextstage

    Yes. I think there seems to be a push to get people to buy “green” instead of doing “green”. I wonder if there is a subliminal push in this country to keep everybody, even people in serious debt, wanting things, especially items that have a “halo” effect around them (ie, good for the planet). It’s a lot easier to buy a product and believe that you have made the world a better place, rather than, say, ride your bike to work. What I worry about is that we have become a nation of people who pay lip service to the idea of being green, but who don’t have the energy? desire? to do simple cost effective measures that have been around for a while, like lower your thermostat or turning down your hot water heater. There’s also the whole idea that it is OK if you want to do it and I will applaud you, but I definitely do not want to deprive myself of whatever luxury I can afford. Yikes! I hope I don’t sound too harsh, but I read another blog last night that had me wondering about the future of America!

Join our newsletter

Subscribe to get the latest "Engineer Your Finances" content via email.

Powered by ConvertKit

ModestMoney.com Top Finance Blogs


SSCP   CAS-002   9L0-066   350-050   642-999   220-801   74-678   642-732   400-051   ICGB   c2010-652   70-413   101-400   220-902   350-080   210-260   70-246   1Z0-144   3002   AWS-SYSOPS   70-347   PEGACPBA71V1   220-901   70-534   LX0-104   070-461   HP0-S42   1Z0-061   000-105   70-486   70-177   N10-006   500-260   640-692   70-980   CISM   VCP550   70-532   200-101   000-080   PR000041   2V0-621   70-411   352-001   70-480   70-461   ICBB   000-089   70-410   350-029   1Z0-060   2V0-620   210-065   70-463   70-483   CRISC   MB6-703   1z0-808   220-802   ITILFND   1Z0-804   LX0-103   MB2-704   210-060   101   200-310   640-911   200-120   EX300   300-209   1Z0-803   350-001   400-201   9L0-012   70-488   JN0-102   640-916   70-270   100-101   MB5-705   JK0-022   350-060   300-320   1z0-434   350-018   400-101   350-030   000-106   ADM-201   300-135   300-208   EX200   PMP   NSE4   1Z0-051   c2010-657   C_TFIN52_66   300-115   70-417   9A0-385   70-243   300-075   70-487   NS0-157   MB2-707   70-533   CAP   OG0-093   M70-101   300-070   102-400   JN0-360   SY0-401   000-017   300-206   CCA-500   70-412   2V0-621D   70-178   810-403   70-462   OG0-091   1V0-601   200-355   000-104   700-501   70-346   CISSP   300-101   1Y0-201   200-125  , 200-125  , 100-105  , 100-105  , 1Z0-803  , 400-051   EX300  , CISM   100-105  , 000-106   400-201   642-732   220-902   70-410  , MB6-703   810-403   70-243  , CAS-002  , AWS-SYSOPS   70-462   70-410   2V0-621   LX0-103   70-461  , 220-902   1Z0-144   70-178   70-270   350-080  , 1Y0-201   1z0-808  , NSE4   102-400  , ADM-201   SSCP  , 200-125  , 640-911   000-104   640-692   300-320   350-060   000-089  , 000-017   1z0-808   700-501   1Z0-051  , 70-177   M70-101   300-209   70-461   3002   N10-006   VCP550   70-487   300-320  , 3002   700-501   NS0-157  , 1V0-601   CAS-002