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April 22nd 2020 will be the 50th anniversary of Earth day and hype has people thinking of ways they can protect our environment. ‘Green’ practices should become part of an everyday lifestyle and not just considered on one day out of an entire year.
Earth Day refers to consideration of employing practices that are not damaging to or that replenish our natural resources. There are plenty of steps we can all take to make our lifestyle greener reducing any negative impact on the environment.
Spoiled by modern conveniences few of us think of how simple changes in our daily chores can go towards conserving energy.
Did you know that at least 85% of the energy a washing machine uses actually goes to heating the water? Washing clothes in cold water can curb a sufficient amount of energy.
At the same time save dryer energy by drying clothes on a line or drying rack. Nothing like a breath of fresh air brought to line dried clothes!
Consumers can save money and conserve energy by adjusting their thermostats during hours away from home. Programmable thermostats are a valuable consideration. Set these to turn heat and air conditioners to higher or lower temps during your non-use or don’t need hours.
For example, lower heat at night and use an extra blanket. When plugged in but turned off some home appliances still draw energy. A computer for example uses about 20 watts even though it is not being used, an entertainment center 17 watts and a DVD boom player about 9 watts.
Know which appliances draw energy when not in use and unplug them until needed.
When leaving a room or leaving home for an extended time turn off your lights. Turn lights off during the day and open curtains or shades to make use of the sunlight.
Avoid using incandescent light bulbs as they emit tons of greenhouse gases. Change to Compact Fluorescent Lamps-CFLs-which use only 20-30 percent of the energy required by an incandescent bulb to create the same amount of light.
Light Emitting Diodes or LEDs are the way to go as they use only 10% of the amount of energy an incandescent bulb uses. These choices not only reduce carbon emissions, but they also reduce your electric bill!
Use Less Gas
Carpooling, using public transportation, biking or walking to work not only saves on your gas bill but also cuts down on greenhouse gas emissions.
Carpooling programs have become increasingly more popular especially with the current price of gasoline. Many corporations have organized routes and provide energy-efficient vehicles for employee carpool groups. Join a car-share or carpool program and use less gas.
When possible walk or use your bike to run short errands or commute to work. Bike lanes are making it easier and safer to use a bike for transportation and recreation.
And think of the positive effect it has on your health improving your cardiovascular and reducing you weight. Consider reducing the traffic on the road and not using gas by telecommuting to work!
Recycling is required by most all towns across the US. Up to date recycling centers are making this process easier for consumers by having smart machines that can separate out each type of recyclable item. Materials from recycle programs are used in the creation of new of the same or even totally different products.
Examples of this are plastic bags collected and reused to make new plastic bags or recycled glass used for creating new tableware, glassware and jewelry.
You can do your part by putting a separate recycle container next to your trash to make it easier for you to divide recyclables such as bottles, cans and newspaper from other home trash.
Electronics such as cell phones and computers should be used as long as possible or donated for reuse. Electronic waste contains toxins that are a growing environmental problem. When necessary to do away with an electronic item ask your local government agency for the time of their hazardous waste collection.
Consider finding gently used secondhand products or new products made from recycled materials.
There are plenty of consignment shops, garage sales and online resources that advertise resale products like furniture, appliances and clothing. If new is your thing find niche markets that sell furniture, clothing, linens and kitchen ware that are made from organic, sustainable or recycled materials from vendors that employ green practices.
Borrowing and sharing items with neighbors cuts down on the waste and clutter in your home. Borrowing books from the library or starting a book swap group for example saves on the use of ink and paper thereby reducing the environmental impact of new production.
A great way to avoid the cost and environmental damages of synthetic fertilizers in your garden is to compost your own organic waste. Check out the US Composting Council for easy steps in reusing your organic waste.
Lean Toward Organic Eating Habits
Almost a fifth of all human-caused greenhouse gas emissions and about a quarter of all global water used in agriculture goes to the production of livestock.
Cutting down on the amount of meat you consume actually reduces greenhouse gas emissions. Buy from local farmers for organic meat, eggs, dairy and produce.
Food from these sources is usually fresher, more flavorful and safer on the environment as they do not use chemicals or synthetic fertilizers to grow.
Besides, your money will be going directly to these food producers. Reduce food waste by encouraging your local restaurants and grocery stores to partner with local food pantries or rescue organizations.
Donate to your local food pantry any nonperishable canned and dried foods that you won’t be using.
Tap Water Says Eco-friendly Like No Other
The bottled water industry makes billions of dollars in profits as well as creating millions of pounds of plastic bottle waste.
Not biodegradable, plastic bottles end up as a huge environmental mess littering parks, road sides and waterways and filling up landfills.
Rather than the expense and environmental concern of bottled water use tap water in a reusable water bottle. To conserve water take short showers using a low flow shower head.
Use of a faucet aerator on each faucet conserves water while keeping the water pressure up.
Make sure your washer and dishwasher are full loads and do not run either washer for just a few articles. Studies have actually shown that a fully loaded dishwasher uses less water than hand washing dishes.
Current awareness of reducing our carbon footprint finds the increased availability of organic products ranging anywhere from clothing to furniture.
Products certified as organic use no chemicals, synthetic fertilizers or dyes in their production. Manufacturers producing organic products adhere to green practices eliminating toxins from being introduced into the environment improving air quality and not contaminating soil or ground waters with post production runoff.
Look for products made of organic cotton, organic wool or sustainable materials like hemp and bamboo.
Especially in clothing these types of materials do not need to be dry-cleaned cutting down on toxic chemical use and saving you money. Make your own non-toxic cleaning supplies.
With a few ingredients like lemon, vinegar, baking soda you can make very effective non-toxic cleaning products.
This is easy on the pocket book and on the environment as there is no packaging and ingredients are natural. Think of the toxic fumes your indoor air will be saved from!
Make Green Lifestyle Choices
Every day of the year, not just on Earth Day, make green lifestyle choices. Think of reducing your carbon footprint and with each action you take weigh the environmental impact it will have. Protect our natural resources and be kind to Mother Earth.
Earth Day is celebrated every year as a way to introduce people to the concept of becoming more eco-friendly.
But you don’t have to wait until Earth Day to do something useful for the planet or your own family. Turn every day into Earth Day with these easy-to-implement household changes!
1. Light Bulbs – You’ve all heard this already… so just do it! Go change your halogen light bulbs for the CFL bulbs (compact fluorescent bulbs) and not only will the environment feel the effects, but so will your pocketbook.
Plus, these bulbs are said to last anywhere from five to seven years and you’ll be able to save hundreds of dollars on your power bill over the life of the bulbs. Imagine the savings!
2. Cloth Shopping Bags – If you thought changing light bulbs was easy, then you’ll be amazed at how easy switching to cloth shopping bags is. Many grocery stores and places like Wal-Mart have already started selling their own brand of cloth bags.
These bags run approximately $1.00 per bag and a general household can probably get by with about six bags to do your weekly grocery shopping with (you’ll obviously need more bags if you shop monthly rather than weekly). That’s only $6.00 and you’ve just saved about twenty plastic shopping bags from being used by you each week.
I, personally, despise those little plastic grocery bags. I swear the local bag boys around here only put 1-3 items in each bag before going to another one. It’s annoying!
3. Combine Errands – Everyone has those weekly errands that never seem to go away. You need to put gas in the car for the next week, buy groceries, stop by your grandmother’s house for a quick hello, drop off some goodies at your friends house, pick up little Suzy’s favorite ice cream, and numerous other things.
So instead of doing one or two of these every day over the course of a week, why not just combine them all into one day? Pick a day (like Friday) and just do all of your running around on that day only. Make a list so that you won’t forget something and get to it.
My errand day is Friday. I do everything from paying bills, to buying groceries, to buying clothes… everything that needs to be done in town. Even my kids have learned that Mommy only goes to town on Fridays, so if you want something special you’ll have to wait until Friday.
By doing this you’ll be saving gas (and at the cost of gas, that’s a huge positive) and you’ll be reducing car pollution being added to the environment.
Stop driving around aimlessly all week long and just pick a day!
4. Eat From Your Own Cabinets – You know those nights when you look in your fridge and can’t for the life of you figure out what to fix for dinner. Or your fridge is bare and it’s still a few days until your scheduled weekly shopping trip.
Well, it’s time to look into those things beside your fridge… the cabinets (or pantry if you have one). Everyone has stuff in their cabinets that you don’t think will make a complete meal. But a lot of it really will. I came from a very poor family and we had to make do with what we had and a lot of times my mom had to be very creative with our dinner menus.
I, myself, have had to be creative with my family’s meals at times also. There’s nothing wrong with having breakfast for dinner or making a casserole out of a box of mac & cheese, one pound of ground beef, a can of carrots, and a jar of salsa. It’s actually pretty tasty!
So don’t rush off to the store before you’ve exhausted all possible menu choices. I’ve been known to adamantly refuse to go to the grocery store as long as there’s flour, milk, and eggs in my house.
5. Eco-Friendly Household Cleaners – One of the newest eco-friendly choices available on the market is the “green” household cleaner. At first I was a little skeptical, thinking that this was another way to raise prices by slapping on a “green” label.
But, I have been happily surprised to see that these new eco-friendly cleaners are running about the same prices as their not-so-friendly counterparts. That makes it even easier to become an eco-friendly shopper without doing extra damage to your wallet.
6. Go to Paperless Bills – You already do your banking online. So why not stop receiving paper statements all together? While you’re at it, go paperless on your billing statements as well. Most companies all all for going paperless because it saves them postage and printing costs.
You’ll receive an email whenever you have a new bill and you can either pay it then or schedule your online banking to pay it for you on a specified date each month.
This also saves you postage on mailing out checks and saves the environment from paper usage and air pollution from the postal delivery of your payment. Go paperless and you’ll never want to go back!
7. Recycle – No well meaning eco-friendly article would be complete without mentioning the simple act of recycling. Unfortunately there are still cities in this country who don’t make it easy for its citizens to recycle.
But with persistence and patience, even those cities will eventually become recycling-friendly.
8. Purchase Recycled Products – Since you’re recycling your used products, why not purchase products that have already been recycled? There are so many things out there that are made with recycled materials and most run close to the same prices as their non-recycled counterparts.
You can even buy playground “dirt” that is made from recycled tires. It boggles the mind!
With these tips, you’ll not only become a more eco-friendly human being, but you will also be able to save time and money.
You’ll be making an impact on the environment without dragging your wallet down during it. Yes, we’d all love to be able to afford to install solar panels on the roof of our homes, but some of us will have to be financially happy with purchasing half a dozen cloth grocery bags instead.
Every little bit that we can do DOES help the environment… no matter how big or small. Happy Earth Day every day of the year!