Here’s a starting place on the path towards living a green life. Use this as a list to inspire your family members, and be sure to give yourself a pat on the back for all of the things you currently do.
REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE
2 liter plastic soda bottles
STOP JUNK MAIL
The junk mail Americans receive in just one day is not only a nuisance, but could produce enough energy to heat a quarter of a million homes! If you saved up all the unwanted junk mail for one year, you would have the equivalent to one and a half trees, which would add up to 100 million trees every year in just the United States. To help stop junk mail, write to: Mail Preference Service, Direct Marketing Association, 11 West 42nd St., PO Box 3861, New York, NY 10163-3861. By writing to them, you can reduce junk mail by up to 75%. You can recycle the rest of the junk mail you receive.
WASH IN COLD WATER
Together, washers and dryers generate five pounds of carbon dioxide per cycle. In warm or hot water loads, 90 percent of the required energy goes to heat the water. Using cold water saves two pounds per load. Front-loading washing machines cut the amount of water used in half. Drying clothes on a clothesline further diminishes emissions. All in all, using cold water once per week shrinks your carbon footprint by 275 pounds each year; not using the dryer once a week gets you another 200.
SHORTEN YOUR SHOWER TIME
A 10-minute shower generates up to four pounds of CO2. A 5-minute shower cuts that in half and a low-flow showerhead drops it further. In a household, each person who reduces their shower to five minutes cuts emissions by 175 pounds per year. A low-flow showerhead saves you another 250.
STOP POISONING THE WATER
No surprise here but bleach is not very good for the environment. Adding chlorine (conventional bleach) to water creates hazardous byproducts, such as dioxins. Dioxins are carcinogenic. Stop buying bleach. Refrain from using detergents with with phosphates. Buying super-concentrated biodegradable laundry detergent and dishwasher detergent will save you dollars and give you a good feeling of not polluting the water.
RECHARGE YOUR BATTERIES
Batteries contain heavy metals, such as mercury and cadmium, which have become a major source of contamination in dump sites. They either break apart and are released into the soil or are incinerated and the deadly heavy metals are released into the air. Did you know that the average annual use of mercury in batteries is over what the government limits in dump sites by four times. Here is what you can do to help: use batteries which are rechargeable. Recycle alkaline batteries if you can. They can extract the mercury and cadmium for reuse.
CHANGE YOUR KITCHEN HABITS
Use reusable containers for food storage instead of wrapping food in foil or plastic wrap. Reuse those large glass jars (from mayonaise, spagetti sauce, etc) for storing leftovers. Use biodegradable dishwasher detergent in your dishwasher and turn of the heat dry setting … air dry.
Boycott products from companies that produce CFC’s
BUY IN BULK
This saves not only on packaging that you would eventually have to dispose of, but reduces tremendously the amount of industrial waste generated to make the packaging. Use super-concentrated products that are biodegradable.
SHARE THE LOVE
Carpool, walk, bicycle or use mass transportation.
Conserving ‘energy’ means reducing the demand for fossil fuels (coal, petroleum, and natural gas) by becoming more careful and efficient in everyday usage of electricity, home heating, and gasoline.
Reduced burning of fossil fuels will cut the greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere, especially in the form of carbon dioxide (CO2). Greenhouse gases, which also include methane, chlorofluorocarbons (CFC’s) and a variety of other gases, trap the sun’s heat in the atmosphere and cause a gradual warming of the Earth.