Tips on Saving the Environment
There are many ways that you can change your lifestyle to be more environmentally-friendly. Some of these may seem small, but they really add up. Not only are these tips more environmentally-friendly but they can also save you a lot of money in gasoline, electricity, and water bills. Let's all work together to reduce our carbon footprints!
For the Holidays
- Wrapping paper can double or triple the average family's trash for the week of Christmas. Use gift bags instead and save them to use again next year.
- Many presents come in cardboard boxes. Make sure to recyle them.
- Christmas light displays can use a lot of electricity. Limit the amount of lights that you put out. Also, turn them off at bedtime rather than leaving them on all night long.
- Christmas time has become very commercialized. Consider how many presents you really need to buy for each member of your family. Many people get things they will never use and sometimes don't even remove them from the package. It makes more sense to buy fewer presents and to be sure that they are things that the other person will actually want or need. This generates less waste and keeps closets and garages cleaner.
- Consider limiting the amount of presents your family exchanges and choose to give money or food items to charity instead. After all, that's what Christmas is really about.
- When preparing holiday meals, make sure you have a pretty accurate head count beforehand. No use in wasting a lot of surplus food, not to mention the trash created by the packaging (cans, boxes, etc).
- Don't buy gift cards. If you are giving someone the present of spending money, you might as well give them cash. They can spend it anywhere they choose and it doesn't require the creating of another plastic card to go in the landfills. Incidentally, approximately 50% of the total amount spent on gift cards actually gets used by the recipient. What a waste of money! If you give someone cash, they are much more likely to actually spend it.
- Unsubscribe from magazines that don't actually get read. Also, call and get yourself off junk mail lists when possible. This will reduce the amount of paper waste that is generated.
- When you get junk mail, recycle it!
- Avoid picking up leaflets or pamphlets that you don't really need. The fewer that are taken the longer it will take before more will be printed. Pick up and skim a pamphlet to see if you really need it before taking it home. If you have collected pamphlets that aren't being used, recycle them!
- Rather than buying books that get read once and sit on a shelf after that, just borrow books from your public library.
- When getting rid of old books, give them to a friend or donate them to the library. If you are throwing away a book because it is in bad condition, recycle it instead.
- Some libraries have a good stock of CDs and DVDs. Check your library catalog before buying new CDs or DVDs.
- If you have CDs or DVDs that you want to get rid of, donate them to a library or trade them in for store credit at a place that takes used media, such as Vintage Stock.
- Instead of buying new furniture, consider buying something second-hand at a garage sale or thrift store. The fewer pieces of new furniture that are bought, the fewer trees have to be cut down.
- If you are getting rid of furniture, try to find someone that needs it, donate it to a thrift store, or recycle it.
- Unplug appliances that you do not regularly use, since appliances draw a tiny amount of electricity even when they are not turned on.
- Make sure recycle bins are clearly labeled. City recycling programs may take several tons of recyclable materials to the landfill if there is too much contamination in the recycle bins.
- If your city does not have a recycling program, see if there any independant companies in your area that accept recyclables.
Heating and Cooling
- Use fans instead of AC whenever you can and save a huge amount of electricity.
- Set AC to the highest possible comfortable temperature or the heater to the lowest possible comfortable temperature. Wearing a sweater around the house in winter time may allow you to set the heat a bit lower.
- Periodically clean or replace the filter in your AC so that it will work to its fullest capacity.
- Keep doors and windows shut to keep cooling and heating costs down
- On cool summer days, you can open the windows to help cool the house for free.
- Make sure that the space around windows and doors are well-sealed so that air can't escape. This can hurt your heating and cooling costs.
- Replace regular bulbs with energy-saving compact flourescent bulbs.
- Replace high-wattage bulbs with low-wattage bulbs when high-wattage bulbs are unnecessary.
- Install dimmer switches and set your lighting as low as necessary for general usage and safety.
- Only run the dishwasher when you have a full load.
- Use the shorter wash cycle unless you absolutely need the longer cycle.
- Use the energy-saver mode on your dishwasher rather than using the heated drying option, if available.
- Wash your hands with cold water.
- If heating something small use a toaster oven rather than the regular oven.
- Buy food in larger packages rather than smaller individual packages to reduce the amount of trash that you create.
- Do not leave the refrigerator open for long periods of time. Close the door as much as possible.
- Save your leftovers in sealable containers that you can keep in the fridge. Keep a list of leftovers on the front of the fridge so that you don't forget to eat them!
- Keep your bread loaf in the fridge. Unused bread will eventually grow mold, but it takes a lot longer for this to happen if you keep the bread refrigerated.
- When making a recipe that involves thawing frozen food, thaw it in the refrigerator over night. The frozen food will help cool the other food in the refrigerator, so it will use less electricity. This is also better than thawing it on the counter, since bacteria grows much better at room temperature.
- Fix dripping faucets as quickly as possible.
- Take a shower instead of a bath to save water.
- Take shorter showers.
- Use a low-flow shower head to save water.
- Don't let the water run the entire time you are brushing your teeth, but run the water in spurts as needed.
- Wash your hands with cold water.
- Use as little hot water as possible.
- Turn down the heat on your water heater to the lowest acceptable setting.
- Fix dripping faucets as quickly as possible.
- Consider watching less television to save electricity.
- Turn off electronic equipment rather than leaving in standby mode.
- Watch t.v. and listen to stereos at lower volume levels. Your neighbors will appreciate it, too ;)
- If the clothes that you have worn during the day are not dirty, then you might be able to hang them up to air out over night and wear them again later in the week. This will decrease the number of laundry loads that you will have to do.
- Only use the washer and dryer when you have a full load.
- Hang your laundry out to dry instead of using the dryer.
- Keep closet doors closed in order to save the cost of heating and cooling these spaces.
- Clean out old papers and magazines that may accumulate in your closet and recycle them.
- Sell or give away old clothes or other unwanted items in your closets.
- Use very low wattage lightblubs in most closets. Bright lights are usually not necessary in closets.
- Make sure to turn off closet lights. If you leave them on when you shut the door, it may be left on for a very long time unnecessarily.
In Your Yard
- Plant trees to help turn carbon dioxide into oxygen.
- Trees can also help shade your house and keep cooling costs down.
- Keep a compost pile of leaves and other biodegradable materials in a small fenced area in the corner of your yard and use it as lawn fertilizer when it has decomposed.
At the office
- Install Ecofont on your computer. It is a font where the letters have tiny holes in it that are virtually unnoticeable when printing at 9-12 point size. The creators of Ecofont claim that it can save as much as 20% on ink. Download for free at http://www.ecofont.eu/ecofont_en.html
- Print on the lowest quality setting to save the amount of ink you use unless absolutely necessary.
- Do not use bold font, underlining, our watermark images for office memoes, etc.
- Using a slightly smaller font size will also help to save ink.
- Print on both sides of the paper, when possible.
- Offices generally create quite a bit of paper trash. Encourage your boss to start an office recycling program.
- If you can't get an office program started, keep a box next to your desk and encourage co-workers to recycle their paper in your box.
- Consider keeping a box in the break room for recyclable soda cans and bottles.
- Don't leave office lights on over night and turn off lights whenever you are out of the office.
- Try to reduce the amount of electricity used to heat or cool large spaces such as auditoriums, lecture halls, and conference rooms, by setting the thermostat so that it will come on when the space is not in use.
- Use reusable envelopes for inter-office communication.
- Reuse packing material when mailing packages.
- Reuse the copy paper box as a file to keep important papers.
- Set your computer to go to standby mode or hibernate when not in use for a certain amount of time.
- Turn off computer peripherials, such as printers and speakers, when not in use.
- Bring your own cup or mug to work rather than using disposable cups.
On the Road
- Drive at slower speeds to conserve gasoline.
- Avoid rush hour and heavy traffic areas.
- Don't use the AC if you can get by with the fan alone or by cracking the windows. The air compressor requires a lot of gasoline to run.
- Newer cars are being made with more efficient engines. Check to see how often you need to change the oil. The old standard 3 months or 3000 miles is not necessary for all vehicles. Your car may only need to be changed every 4-5000+ miles. Check with your owner's manual or car dealership for more details.
- Always know how to get where you are going before you leave so that you don't waste gasoline driving around.
- Keep your car cleaned out so that you aren't carrying around extra weight all the time.
- Purchase a smaller more fuel-efficient vehicle if possible.
- Purchase a hybrid car, if possible.
- Walk or ride a bike when possible.
- Carpool whenever you can.
- Use cruise control on the highway.
- Make sure to inflate your tires to the recommended pressure. This can have a considerable impact on your gas mileage.
- When traveling out of town for a few days or longer, turn off and unplug all unnecessary appliances, turn your heater or AC off or to a more conservative setting, and turn off your hot water heater.
At the Store
- Buy food in economy-sized packaging to reduce the amount of trash.
- Buy drinks that are packaged in recylable containers and recycle them.
- Don't grab utensils such as forks, knives, and spoons unless you actually need them. If they are disposable, then you are creating unnecessary garbage. If they are not, then you are increasing the amount of soap and hot water that must be used to clean them.
- Only get as many disposable napkins as you will need. An incredible number of unused napkins are tossed in the trash every minute.
- If you take leftovers home, try to plan on when you will eat them so that they aren't simply thrown out.
For the Baby
- Use cloth instead of disposable diapers.
- Use reusable bibs rather than disposable ones.
- Do not fill the bath more than necessary to get your baby clean. When they are really small, you may use the sink or a small wash basin.
- Don't give your baby more than h