In my previous rant about carbon offsets and semi-rant about the Green Restaurant Certification, I argued that true conservation is about reducing consumption to saving both the environment and dollars (rather than spending more money to make yourself feel good). Today on Morning Edition there was a great example of this - a story about how a prison tried to get more environmentally friendly and ended up saving $1.3 million dollars. This WA state prison made a few changes for environmental reasons - they moved to low-flow shower heads and toilets, and they started composting food waste, using it to start an organic vegetable garden*. But after doing this, they got an engineering report on their planned new sewage treatment facility and found out that by taking food waste out of the system, they actually didn't need to build the new facility at all, thereby saving $1.3 million dollars. Now that's conservation.
*I don't know how I feel about prisoners getting fresh organic food when many working poor are unable to afford it but that's a different issue - either way, it's better for the environment and saves taxpayers money.