What can you do to live green? What can you do to help the environment and reduce your carbon footprint? Being environmentally friendly is becoming increasingly important, as well as increasingly easy. These things don’t have to cost a fortune and are easy to incorporate into daily living.
Click here to view our interactive EarthSmart home and explore its value added environmentally-friendly features!
One basic way to save energy is to use less of it:
In the Yard
- The most earth-friendly option for your yard is to trade grass for ground covers or mulch, as maintaining a lawn takes a lot of water and energy.
- If you choose to keep your lawn, however, it is best to use native grasses; your local nursery can advise you on which are indigenous to your area.
- Cut grass no lower than 2.5 inches; any lower, and it will require more water.
- Always water the lawn before sunrise or after dark to reduce evaporation and water more efficiently.
- Don’t throw away grass clippings. Leaving them on the lawn will provide nutrients.
- Buy organic fertilizers. They don’t degrade as quickly as synthetic fertilizers and are safer for children and animals.
- Buy an electric lawnmower. It will save you, on average, a whopping 73% on lawn care costs and is better for the environment. The average gasoline mower emits the same amount of hydrocarbons in one hour as a 1992 Ford Explorer emits in over 23,600 miles.
In Your Home
The average American household spends about $1,900 annually on energy and also creates more than 26,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per year. Collectively, residential energy use accounts for about 20 percent of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions.
Your appliances can be a great source of green living.
- Turn off un-needed lights and appliances. Even “Standby” mode uses power. Turn off your computer’s monitor when you’re not using it. Screensavers only save the screen from having a pattern burned into it and the switch is likely accessible and easy to find.
- Washing a load of laundry in cold water is more energy-efficient than in hot and, when drying laundry, to dry loads of laundry consecutively, as you are taking advantage of residual heat in the dryer.
- Adjust your heating and air-conditioning. Even a degree will make a difference to your bills.
- Gas ranges are more efficient than electric ranges.
- An energy-efficient dishwasher is more “green” than hand-washing a sinkful of dirty dishes.
- When buying new appliances, always look for the Energy Star label. It may cost a bit more, but it will save money and the environment.
- A new Energy Star fridge can reduce your costs by as much as $15 a month. 10 to 20 year old refrigerators can be 40% less efficient than newer models. Side-by-side refrigerators use 10% to 25% more energy than stacked refrigerator-freezer models. Place your refrigerator away from any heat source, such as a vent, oven or in direct sunlight, as it requires more energy to cool it.
- Compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) reduce the energy used for lighting by one-third. A CFL can last 10,000 hours, whereas a regular bulb only lasts 1,000 hours. Over the long-term, you can save $20 to $30 per bulb.
- Concentrated household cleaners (where you need to add water) can cut down on the amount of cleaner and containers that you use. Don’t use cleaners with chlorine bleach or sodium hypochlorite due to harmful environmental effects. Instead, look for cleaners with citric acid or hydrogen peroxide.
- Avoid volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Paints will include the fact that they have low or no VOCs on the label. These VOC-less paints cost the same as other premium paints and have no paint smell.
- Use rechargeable batteries. The initial cost will soon be outweighed by a lower toll on your wallet as well as on the environment.
In Your Lifestyle
- Buy several cloth “bags-for-life” and skip those plastic grocery bags.
- Take an alternate transportation (bike, bus or rail) instead of driving your car.
- Car share where possible. Talk to your neighbors or colleagues at work: you’re making the same journeys and errands at about the same time. Share the car and the gas costs.
- Eat local food. We’ve got a wide range of food available year round. Purchasing as much as you can from local resources will help reduce fuel consumption and pollution and by purchasing food items that are grown locally supports people in your own community. If you’ve got a farmer’s market locally, give your taste buds a treat and shop there.
- Buy only what you need when you’re shopping. Take a list when shopping and stick to it. You’ll throw less food away and have a clearer kitchen as well as a clearer conscience.
- Parents can use cloth diapers as opposed to disposables. Disposable diapers don’t break down easily, cost a lot of money and put chemicals directly on the bottoms of our children.
- Borrow books and magazines from the library instead of purchasing new ones (it takes 15-20 trees to make the paper for a new average sized book)
- Use cloth napkins instead of paper and rags instead of paper towels
- Cooking meals from scratch (uses less packaging than convenience foods); preparing several meals at once and freezing saves energy costs and time.
Reuse and Recycle
- Two ways to reuse items: for their original purpose, such as ziploc bags, tinfoil, plastic utensils, etc or finding new uses for things you already own.
- Donating gently used and still useful items for reuse to your local charity benefits not only you and the environment, by keeping things out of the landfills, but also benefits the charitable organization and puts useful items into the hands of people who need them.
- The more we recycle, the less garbage we put into landfills. Recycling is good for the environment by saving resources and reducing pollution.
- Paper products. Newspapers, magazines, phone books and cardboard can be recycled and become new paper products.
- Plastic products. Plastic tubs, bottles and jugs can be recycled.
- Batteries. Recycle rechargeable batteries at Home Depot, Staples, Radio Shack, Best Buy, and other retailers (call first to confirm). Another option is to locate and call your local household hazardous waste drop-off site.
- CFLs. Drop old bulbs off at any Home Depot or home improvement store.
- Electronics and household appliances. Electronic equipment contains many hazardous elements that should be kept out of landfills. Every retailer that takes back rechargeable batteries also accepts mobile phones. For computers, cameras, televisions, and other items call your local household hazardous waste recycler for location and any fees involved.
- Motor Oil. Every gallon of used motor oil that’s improperly disposed of can contaminate one million gallons of drinking water. Bring it your local household hazardous waste drop-off site, to Autozone, Jiffy Lube or automotive repair place. Your local waste recycler will take used motor oil if it’s in a clear gallon milk jug with a screw cap.
- Paint. It’s among the harder items in this group to dispose of, but it’s worth it and totally doable. If the paint is still in good shape, consider donating it to Metro. Your local waste recycler will take paint cans, but only with dried paint.
- For information on recycling these and other products please call your local household waste recycler.
All information has been gleaned from outside sources and reassembled. Information herein is considered true, however interested persons need to verify. See sales professional for details.