18 Painless suggestions to save our planet

| by Eric Corey Freed
18 Painless suggestions to save our planet

1. Look for and purchase pro-environmental products and services (like your architect!).

2. Recycle cans, glass, paper, and plastic.

3. Turn off lights and appliances when not in use.

4. Turn off the water while brushing your teeth or shaving and take showers instead of baths.

5. Do only full loads in your washer and dishwasher.

6. Add insulation, weather stripping, and storm windows to your house.

7. Use green products in your home and office: environmentally friendly non-toxic household cleaners, laundry and dish products; 100 percent recycled, non-chlorine bleached bathroom & facial tissues, paper towels and napkins; plus recycled plastic trash bags and LED light bulbs.

8. Use a canvas bag when you shop at the supermarket. Every paper bag you don't take saves trees and three hours of equivalent electricity. Every plastic bag you don't use stops the eventual pollution of your ground water. Plastic bags are not biodegradable (even if they say they are). The ink is made up of cadmium, which is highly toxic when it is released. Supermarkets use paper that has never been recycled before and they always say "recyclable" not "recycled".

9. Wear a sweater instead of heating your entire house. Wear warmer clothing while you are lounging around the house.

10. Drive efficiently. Driving efficiently can save ten percent or more on fuel costs alone even if you don't reduce the number of miles you drive. If you drive less, you save even more. Telecommute, carpool, or use public transportation whenever possible. Reduce trips by combining errands, better planning, using lists, and maybe going with a neighbor. Keep your car maintained and tires properly inflated.

11. Buy products that are recycled or have recycled contents. Reuse whatever you can, including aluminum pie tins, glassware, plastic cutlery and aluminum foil. Precycle: buy products with recyclable packaging.

12. Use natural inks in your printers and fax machines.

13. Change your kitchen habits. Use reusable containers for food storage instead of wrapping food in foil or plastic wrap. You can also use unbleached coffee filters, which does not produce the deadly toxin dioxin in its manufacturing. Use rags to wipe up spills instead of paper towels, and use biodegradable wax paper and bags.

14. Check your hot water heater. Hot water heaters account for about 20 percent of all the energy used in your home. Turn your water heater down to 120 degrees to save energy. Also, insulate your heater with a prefab 'blanket,' but be careful not to block off air vents on gas heaters. This can save you 7-8% of your energy usage. You can also drain 2 quarts (or 2 liters) of water from your hot water heater every 2 months from the valve at the bottom of the tank. This prevents accumulation of sediment and prolongs the life of your water heater.

15. Recharge Your batteries. Batteries contain heavy metals, such as mercury and cadmium, which are a major source of contamination in dump sites. Use rechargeable batteries. Recycle alkaline batteries.

16. Never release helium balloons into the air. Fallen balloons cause the death for countless numbers of sea turtles and whales. Metallic balloons cause power outages when they get caught in power lines.

17. Use cloth diapers. Americans trash over 18 billion disposable diapers a year, taking up 1 percent of America's landfills and over 500 years to decompose. Cotton diapers can be reused 100 times and decompose in one to six months. Disposable diapers consume 1,265,000 metric tons of wood pulp and 75,000 metric tons of plastic. Millions of tons of dirty diapers wind up in our "sanitary" landfills.

18. Do not dump oil, grease, antifreeze, pesticides, fertilizers, paints, cleaners, and other toxic household products down the storm drain. These drains are not treated by the sewage treatment plant: they go straight into our rivers, lakes, and oceans.

Topics: Going Green, Heating & Cooling, Lighting, Sustainable Products

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