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Countdown to Earth Day

Friends of Iowa Compact have lined up 22 easy ways to reduce, reuse and recycle in celebration of Earth Day — teeny tiny steps that amount to a whole lot! From April 1 through April 22 (Earth Day) we’ll inspire you with tips to help you and your family become deeper shades of green in time for the BIG celebration on Earth Day.


The junk mail we 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 the Direct Marketing Association. By writing to them, you can reduce junk mail by up to 75%. Recycle the rest of the junk mail you receive.

Direct Marketing Association
Mail Preference Service
P.O. Box 282
Carmel, NY 10512

To add your name to the do-not-mail list, register online at www.dmaconsumers.org/cgi/offmailinglist or download a mail-in form. Be sure to list each name receiving mail at your address, including misspellings. You can also send a postcard with your name(s) and address to the DMA asking to be removed from their mailing list. Note that mail addressed to “resident” or “occupant” cannot be stopped through the DMA.


Replace five of your most used incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs which use two-thirds less energy, generate 70 percent less heat and last up to ten times longer.


Unplug appliances and electronics when they are not in use.

Did you know that the amount of power a TV uses increases with screen size. A 50-inch high-definition TV can use as much energy annually as a new refrigerator. And that’s likely to be two times more energy than your old, smaller TV.

Set-top boxes (cable box, satellite box, boxes with DVR function, TiVo) are power hungry too. Unlike your TV set (which goes into a standby or low-power mode when you turn it “off”; your TV is never really “off” unless you unplug it), these set-top boxes run at full power 24/7. Some of the fuller-featured ones (those with TiVo-like capability) can consume more than 250 kilowatts per hour (kWh) a year. That’s roughly equal to half the annual energy use of a new refrigerator.

Bigger picture: Consumer electronics is one of the fastest growing categories of electricity use in the home — up from 5 percent in 1980 to nearly 15 percent of a home’s total electricity consumption. By 2015, it’s estimated to be closer to 20 percent.


Making new aluminum cans from old cans uses 95 percent less energy than making aluminum cans from raw bauxite ore. This is why aluminum cans are a valuable commodity.

Recycling a single aluminum can saves enough energy to run a television or a desktop computer for an entire day.

Throwing away a single aluminum can rather than recycling it wastes the energy-equivalent of half the can’s volume in gasoline. Throwing away the average aluminum can wastes the equivalent of 6 ounces of gasoline.

Recycle aluminum; foil or cans should be clean and free of food residues before it’s recycled.


Prepare now for a “post-carbon” future.

Rent the movie, The End of Suburbia. This film is entertaining, family-friendly and brings a well rounded understanding of the term Peak Oil in perfect timing — as we leave the era of cheap abundant energy.


Consider alternate energy sources for your home. A century ago, Thomas Edison said, “I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don’t have to wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle that.”

Here’s a few spectacular sources when considering home building or improvements:

Energy Star Qualified Homes : http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=new_homes.hm_index

Green Home Guide (list of eco-building professionals) : http://www.greenhomeguide.com/index.php/service/C183

US Forest Stewardship Council (certified sustainable timbers): http://www.fscus.org/

Straw, Sticks and Bricks (eco-building materials): http://www.treehugger.com/files/2006/01/straw_sticks_br.php

EcoHomeImprovement (eco-building materials): http://www.ecohomeimprovement.com/index.php

FabPreFab (directory of prefab buildings from around the world: http://www.fabprefab.com/

Environmental Building News: (Green products and building policy newsletter) : http://www.buildinggreen.com/

Green Building pages (Sustainable building database) : http://www.greenbuildingpages.com/main.html

Aborsculpture (construction with living plants) : http://www.treehugger.com/files/2005/05/aborsmith_and_a.php


Ten percent of energy consumed is from using hot water in our homes. Washing machines and biodegradable detergents can clean clothes effectively in cold water — which means you don’t have to waste energy by using hot water. Wash only full loads and save even more energy.


Stop Shopping … or the planet will go pop! From The Observer:

“According to Porritt, the most senior adviser to the government on
sustainability, we have become a generation of shopaholics. We are
bombarded by advertising from every medium which persuades us that the
more we consume, the better our lives will be. Shopping is equated with
fun, fulfilment and self-identity. It is also, Porritt warns, killing
the planet. He argues, in an interview with The Observer, that merely
switching to `ethical’ shopping is not enough. We must shop less.”

Read the entire article at The Guardian online; makes you feel good about “compacting!”


Cook with a slow cooker, toaster oven or a solar oven to reduce electrical use. For a meal that requires one hour to cook in an electric oven, and use 2.7 pounds of CO2, a crockpot uses 0.9 pounds of CO2 for seven hours; a toaster oven takes 1.3 pounds of CO2 for 50 minutes, and a microwave 0.5 pounds of CO2 for 15 minutes of cooking. A solar oven requires no CO2.


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, chlorine and other harmful chemicals. Buying super-concentrated biodegradable laundry detergent and dishwasher detergent will save you dollars and give you a good feeling of not polluting the water.


Stop Buying Bottled Water.

Studies show that people think that bottled water is safer, but tap water must meet higher safety standards than bottled water. About 40% of bottled water actually starts out as tap water in places like Queens, NY and Wichita, KS. It takes an environmental toll too: those plastic bottles get thrown away at a rate of 30 million/day in the US alone. Drink tap water – it’s much less costly on your pocketbook and the environment.


Keep Kleenex® off of your shopping list. Kimberly Clark, makers of Kleenex brand products, is responsible for vast old-growth forest destruction in Northern Canada and taut their 100% virgin fiber to consumers. Look for another product in the same aisle that is made from recycled content. Here’s a great video about some undercover greenpeace reps performing an effective intervention … must see!


Boycott Ethanol. Ask your mechanic about the effects of ethanol on your car. Need another reason? Corn prices have almost doubled in two years. Corn is in all kinds of products; from pet food to breakfast cereal and prices are on the rise. More importantly, Stanford University has a study on the health effects of ethanol … if the first two reasons aren’t gripping enough this one is a sure fire reason why ethanol is not the path for alternate fuel.


Celebrate National Day of Climate Action.

To find an event near you to to the Step It Up website.

In Iowa City, plan on attending the Climate Change and Policy Forum. This is a public discussion on climate change and governmental policy, featuring guest speakers from the University and various levels of government. The forum will take place at the Iowa Memorial Union, Room 256, from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. Have questions or need more information, click here.


Line dry your clothes. Clothes dryers use TONS of energy. Your clothes will last longer and smell better. In the winter you can use wooden racks indoors.


Improve your recycling efforts. Limit your “trash” to one bag bi-weekly per person in your household.


The Sundance Channel premieres today! Go check it out … you’ll want to bookmark this one.


About Dawn

intense creative independent parent loving life


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