I have a confession: I'm one of the least environmentally aware people you probably know. I know, don't stone me! It isn't that I don't care, but I have to admit I haven't been very aggressive about caring for the environment. However, I am ready to admit my shortcomings and take action. I've been doing some research on small ways you can help the environment, and I figure I'll tackle one step at a time, until these steps become habits for my family. I'm going to share with you some of the ideas I've complied from various sources to hopefully give you some ideas. You might already be doing these, or they may be new to you. Either way, I want to hear from you - what are YOU doing to help the environment?
TIPS AND TRICKS
***Reduce, REUSE, and recycle: How much of the things that you throw away could actually be used again? Keep those empty baby food jars - they make great catch-alls for nails, office supplies, or craft supplies. Do you have old eyeglasses or cell phone? Donate them. You can even donate your old tennis shoes to Nike, and they will be turned into playground flooring. You can also recycle your computer print cartridges at places like Office Depot or Staples.
***http://www.freecycle.org/ - do you have lots of junk laying around your house? Post it on freecycle, and arrange to have someone come and pick it up.
***Sign up for paperless bills for as many of your bills as you can. Most businesses now offer this. You can either download the statement to your computer or access the statement online. How many times have you actually needed a copy of an old bill? You can still access your statement and print it out through your home computer if you truly need it. If every American did this, 2.3 million tons of wood would be spared annually. Also, skip the receipt at the ATM. I always get the receipt and end up tossing it at home once I balance my checkbook. Better to save the paper and not have it printed in the first place!
***Shop at farmers' markets and roadside produce stands. You'll be buying locally and getting better quality and fresher food.
***Turn down (or up) your thermostat! The average American emits about 13 tons of carbon dioxide each year through boilers, furnaces, and water heaters. Lower your thermostat to 68 degrees in the winter and raise it to 76 degrees in the summer. Plus, you will have the added benefit of lowering your electric bill. Cha-ching!
***Lowering your speed, staying in the same lane vs. weaving in and out of traffic, and not braking constantly can improve your fuel efficiency by 30%. Let's face it, gas prices aren't going down, right?
***Switch to rechargeable batteries. Regular batteries are seldom disposed of properly (although your landfill should have an area just for batteries) and they emit dangerous toxins.
***Visit http://www.catalogchoice.org/ to opt out of receiving those unwanted catalogs. These add up to 4 million tons of paper a year!
***Turn off the lights when you leave a room. Pretty easy, but how often do you forget? I know this is one of the biggest things I need to work on.
***Unplug your appliances when they aren't in use. Shut down your computer each day or night. To aid in this, use power strips - it is much easier to unplug and shut off one thing than five, right?
***Purchase a reusable water bottle. It's wonderful if you are reusing your bottled water bottles, but the plastic starts to break down after 3-4 uses. That's not good for you or the environment.
***Invest in a Brita water pitcher if you don't have good water at home. It filters your water, which is the same thing those pricey bottled water companies do, at a fraction of the price.
***If something breaks, fix it or donate it. Did you know that 40% of the trash in landfills are old electronics?
***Turn off the water while you brush your teeth. Ladies, same thing with shaving!
***Use the cold cycle on your washing machine. Washing 4 out of 5 loads in the cold cycle could keep 50 tons of carbon emissions out of the atmosphere per year. Plus, your clothes will last longer AND you don't have to sort colors.
***Purchase some reusable totes for the grocery store. I got mine from Costco - 3 huge bags for $4. If you do get plastic bags, find a way to reuse them. I personally find them great for doggie poop duty (hey, just keeping it real!) and lunch bags for work.
DID YOU KNOW?
***Washing your car at home actually uses more water than a professional wash.
***Running your dishwasher actually uses less water than washing by hand.
"GREEN" CLEANING RECIPES
***Baking soda is a great all-purpose cleaner. I like to halve a lemon, sprinkle some baking soda on, and use the lemon to scrub my counters. Then I toss the lemon down my garbage disposal.
***Castile soap is great for cleaning floors and counters. Dr. Bronner's makes a natural, organic, nontoxic brand of castile soap. At Walmart it is located with the body washes and scrubs, and at Target it is on speciality soaps/lotions/makeup aisle.
***A vinegar/water mix and newspaper will get your windows sparkling clean.
***Used dryer sheets are great for dusting.
***Multi-purpose cleaner: 1 cup ammonia, 1/2 cup white vinegar, 1/4 cup baking soda, and 1 gallon warm water
***Hydrogen peroxide/water mixture can be used to attack bathroom mold. You can also try lemon juice or white vinegar.
Bottom line, there are many little things we could do that could possibly lead to big results. Do I do all these things? No, but like I said, I'm going to start, one thing at a time. If you have other ideas, please share them, and feel free to share this link with anyone you feel would benefit.