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GOING GREEN GOES MAINSTREAM

"We are part of creation not apart from creation. And as a consequence everything else follows. And we forget that at our own peril."- Father Charles Morris

Father Charles Morris spends many afternoons on the roof of the rectory where he sounds more like an electrical engineer than a man of the cloth. He has taken his rectory in Wyandotte, Mich. off the power grid and installed high-efficiency light-bulbs and special sun-blocking screens over the windows of his church.

"What we have right here are eight 80 watt Kyocera solar panels. And a 400 watt Southwest air wind turbine," he told Sunday Morning correspondent Russ Mitchell. "We estimate that we are saving about $20,000 a year in terms of utility bills."

Whether it's because of high fuel prices, or worries about global warming, environmentalism seems to be going mainstream. Wyandotte is a Detroit suburb of 28,000 not the most likely place for a green revolution. But Wyandotte, like a lot of places, is beginning to change.

For example, the town is trying to make its grimy, noisy power plant a little greener by mixing shredded used tires with coal.

"We burn close to three million tires a year," said Melanie McCoy, the General Manager of the town's Municipal Services. "It is a cheaper source of fuel, and it burns cleaner than coal."

McCoy has plans to for even cheaper, cleaner power. She's wants to put up wind turbines along the Detroit River, like these in nearby Bowling Green, Ohio.

"For the city, it'll give us two megawatts for each wind tower, and for every two megawatts we'll be supplying over 700 homes with electricity, cutting back on our emissions and being able to supply 'em with cheap power," she said. vAcross town, Mary Lynne and Stan Rutkowski are using less gas. In the past couple of years they've traded in two SUVs for fuel-efficient hybrids cars now so popular that many buyers have to get on waiting lists. They said that with their SUVs, they were getting 13 miles per gallon of gas. Now they get about 45 miles per gallon of gas with their Toyota Priuses. The Rutkowski's switch to cars made in Japan has raised eyebrows in Wyandotte, a town built partly on the American auto industry. In fact, Mary Lynne says she was in her car one day, when a driver in an SUV yelled she was costing American autoworkers their jobs. She held her tongue, even though she had a ready answer.

"I was gonna say, 'Well, you're the reason the ice caps are melting,'" she said.

A hybrid driver on the TV show "South Park" wasn't so shy. The character driving a Prius pulls up next to SUV and said: "You know, the emissions from a vehicle like yours causes irreparable damage to the ozone. I drive a hybrid, it's much better for the environment. Thanks."

Al Gore's film about global warming, "An Inconvenient Truth," is the 3rd highest-grossing documentary in history. A recent CBS News/New York Times poll finds that two-thirds of Americans now believe global warming is having a serious impact. Three out of four believe it's necessary to take steps right away to counter its effects. Businesses like Ford and GE are responding and are trying to show they're environmentally friendly.

"People are learning how to make their profit by helping nature rather than by destroying nature," said Kevin Danaher, one of the organizers of Green Festival, which is going on this weekend in Washington and is billed as the world's largest environmental expo. "We're seeing capital shift toward the green economy. Toward an economy where there's two greens, this green, and the environmental green. Where you can make better profits protecting nature and saving nature and saving resources, than you can destroying the environment. And that's a seminal shift, we're going into a different kind of economy. "

Father Charles Morris spends many afternoons on the roof of the rectory where he sounds more like an electrical engineer than a man of the cloth. He has taken his rectory in Wyandotte, Mich. off the power grid and installed high-efficiency light-bulbs and special sun-blocking screens over the windows of his church.

"What we have right here are eight 80 watt Kyocera solar panels. And a 400 watt Southwest air wind turbine," he told Sunday Morning correspondent Russ Mitchell. "We estimate that we are saving about $20,000 a year in terms of utility bills."

Whether it's because of high fuel prices, or worries about global warming, environmentalism seems to be going mainstream. Wyandotte is a Detroit suburb of 28,000 not the most likely place for a green revolution. But Wyandotte, like a lot of places, is beginning to change.

For example, the town is trying to make its grimy, noisy power plant a little greener by mixing shredded used tires with coal.

"We burn close to three million tires a year," said Melanie McCoy, the General Manager of the town's Municipal Services. "It is a cheaper source of fuel, and it burns cleaner than coal."

McCoy has plans to for even cheaper, cleaner power. She's wants to put up wind turbines along the Detroit River, like these in nearby Bowling Green, Ohio.

"For the city, it'll give us two megawatts for each wind tower, and for every two megawatts we'll be supplying over 700 homes with electricity, cutting back on our emissions and being able to supply 'em with cheap power," she said.

Across town, Mary Lynne and Stan Rutkowski are using less gas. In the past couple of years they've traded in two SUVs for fuel-efficient hybrids cars now so popular that many buyers have to get on waiting lists. They said that with their SUVs, they were getting 13 miles per gallon of gas. Now they get about 45 miles per gallon of gas with their Toyota Priuses. The Rutkowski's switch to cars made in Japan has raised eyebrows in Wyandotte, a town built partly on the American auto industry. In fact, Mary Lynne says she was in her car one day, when a driver in an SUV yelled she was costing American autoworkers their jobs. She held her tongue, even though she had a ready answer.

"I was gonna say, 'Well, you're the reason the ice caps are melting,'" she said.

A hybrid driver on the TV show "South Park" wasn't so shy. The character driving a Prius pulls up next to SUV and said: "You know, the emissions from a vehicle like yours causes irreparable damage to the ozone. I drive a hybrid, it's much better for the environment. Thanks."

Al Gore's film about global warming, "An Inconvenient Truth," is the 3rd highest-grossing documentary in history. A recent CBS News/New York Times poll finds that two-thirds of Americans now believe global warming is having a serious impact. Three out of four believe it's necessary to take steps right away to counter its effects. Businesses like Ford and GE are responding and are trying to show they're environmentally friendly.

"People are learning how to make their profit by helping nature rather than by destroying nature," said Kevin Danaher, one of the organizers of Green Festival, which is going on this weekend in Washington and is billed as the world's largest environmental expo. "We're seeing capital shift toward the green economy. Toward an economy where there's two greens, this green, and the environmental green. Where you can make better profits protecting nature and saving nature and saving resources, than you can destroying the environment. And that's a seminal shift, we're going into a different kind of economy. "

The nation's largest retailer, Wal-Mart, is on a green campaign. It's built a demonstration store in Colorado, showing off efforts to cut consumption of energy and other resources. Wal-Mart is also moving into the organic food market in a big way. Rice Krispies is now sold in an organic version.

But do people want to pay more for green products? That organic food is generally more expensive. Those hybrid cars cost more too. In many states, consumers now have the option to purchase wind and solar power from companies like Green Mountain Energy, but it's a few dollars more per month.

"One of the reasons why organic and green things do cost more, they're more valuable," Danaher said. "They're better for you. So a product that's going to last longer and have a better impact, it should cost more, that's a market mechanism. Better products do cost more."

Americans may still need some convincing. In the CBS poll, we found fewer than half said they'd bought a higher-cost, environmentally-friendly product in the past year, although a majority say they do things to help the environment at least a fair amount of the time.

"That was a goal, to have people walk in and say, 'Oh, this is green. I can do this,'" Donald Albrecht, the curator of the National Building Museum in Washington, said.

When it comes to what you put in your house, there are lots of options, from high-cost to low-cost, on display right now at the Museum. There are kitchen countertops made of recycled paper and low-energy lights, low-flow toilets, and lots non-toxic everything. Albrecht brought an entire prefabricated house into the museum. v"The kitchen cabinets, for instance, are free of toxic formaldehyde," he said. "We're trying to say that you can go green, you can go sustainable. It's not very expensive. It's easy to do. You can do small things. You can do large things. You can change your behavior. That's the goal of the show."

Michelle and Jason Sullivan decided to make a big change. Amid the open fields of their central New Jersey neighborhood, they installed an array of solar panels.

"Rather than just saving a little bit of energy here and there, we could create our own energy," Michelle Sullivan said.

But it wasn't cheap about $180,000. Government subsidies helped bring the cost down. The Sullivans estimate they'll break even in 7 or 8 years. After that, whenever they sit down to play computer games with their two little girls, the electricity will be essentially free.

"People are thinking a little bit longer term. We certainly were when we put this together," Michelle Sullivan said. "It's not a one year decision. It's not a two year decision. It's coming to a ten year decision."

In Wyandotte it's long-term thinking that motivates Father Morris.

"We, as 5 percent of the world's population, use up 28 percent of the world's resources," Father Morris said. "That's not, there's something really out of kilter here. Is that what Jesus would have us do?"

Father Morris isn't putting in solar and wind power just to save money. It's spiritual for him too. His church has joined 2000 congregations of all faiths across the country in an organization called "Interfaith Power and Light," dedicated to the environment.

"We are part of creation not apart from creation," he said. "And as a consequence everything else follows. And we forget that at our own peril."

Even death can have an environmental impact. At Greensprings Natural Cemetery in upstate New York and in half a dozen other states, you can now have a natural funeral. That's what the family of Joleene Uticone chose for her this summer, after she died of cancer.

Funerals like hers use a biodegradable casket or shroud, and no embalming fluid or tombstone. Instead the burial site is left in a natural state. You can find it using GPS.

"It can be a celebration almost," Greensprings trustee Matthew Pearson, said. "And you feel like in your death you're actually contributing toward something that you think is important."

Written by: CBS News


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