By Drs. Robert & Sonia Vogl
President and Vice President
Illinois Renewable Energy Association
Another Illinois Renewable Energy and Sustainable Lifestyle Fair (Aug. 7-8 at Ogle County Fairgrounds near Oregon, Ill.) has come and gone. Now that it’s over, what will you have taken with you?
Perhaps plans on home improvement? You might upgrade insulation in your existing residence or install energy-efficient windows and doors. You may have begun conversations with experts who can help you with long-range plans or decide to meet criteria of specific building performance. Possibly you have even considered a new energy-efficient home built with state-of-the-art or ancient natural materials.
Since this was a renewable energy fair, you might be considering a small PV, solar hot water or wind installation or even going off grid. Instead of hiring someone else to do the entire installation, you could consider doing at least part of it yourself.
Another possibility might be transitioning to more efficient appliances or changing personal behavior to use less power.
A drastic step, but one that some might consider, is switching to one of the green jobs that were discussed at the fair.
Attempting to live a more sustainable lifestyle could be the direction you wish to take. Purchasing locally-grown produce from an organic farmer is a possible change. Growing your own may seem challenging, but with a winter ahead for planning, a small garden could be a rewarding transition to independence. Preserving locally-purchased food or, better yet, the food you grow, may produce a sense of pride and self-reliance.
Making your own home and personal care products could be a direction encouraged by the ninth annual fair.
Purchasing less and learning to enjoy simple pleasures as opposed to being caught in consumer spending could provide a lifetime of enjoyment. Canoeing or kayaking local rivers, observing and enjoying nature are all thoughts you may have taken with you.
Simply learning more about energy and sustainable living could be the direction you choose.
Becoming more aware of environmental conditions and involved in community organizations or political actions are possible activities that could become new passions or avocations.
The determination to participate in community improvement or help those less fortunate at home or in other countries might provide the satisfaction so many desire.
You may have brought home items purchased at the fair—soap, personal and household care products, light bulbs, organic food, clothing, jewelry and personal ornamentation, books or energy-saving gadgets. Just buying what is “correct” is not sustainable in itself, but can lead to behavioral and attitude changes that can move people in that direction.
Better than shopping, will you take the ability to do something you never did before or thought that you could not do into a more confident life?
Will you move forward feeling inspired and refreshed rather than overwhelmed? Will you have the “can-do” feeling to carry you through the year to the next Illinois Renewable Energy and Sustainable Lifestyle Fair?
Will you be the spark that kindles others to try the green lifestyle?
Major sponsors of the fair were The Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation, The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency and The Rock River Times.
Drs. Robert and Sonia Vogl are founders and officers of the Illinois Renewable Energy Association (IREA) and coordinate the annual Renewable Energy and Sustainable Lifestyle Fair. The Vogls and the IREA are members of the Environmental Hall of Fame. Dr. Robert Vogl is vice president of Freedom Field, and Dr. Sonia Vogl is a member of Freedom Field’s Executive Committee. The Vogls consult on energy efficiency, renewable energy and green building. They have 3.2 kW of PV and a 1 kW wind generator at their home. Forty acres of their 180-acre home farm are in ecological restorations. They are active in preserving natural areas and are retired professors from Northern Illinois University. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
From the Aug. 11-17, 2010 issue