50 Tips to Help Save the Planet (Part 2)
26. Drive smart. If you can, use biodiesel or E85, and the next time you need to purchase a vehicle consider buying a hybrid. Combine your trips and carpool. For more information visit www.eere.energy.gov.
27. Use non-aerosol products. Aerosol products contain carcinogenic chemicals that are converted into carbon monoxide in the body. Non-aerosol product bottles can be recycled unlike the aerosol cans.
28. Use essential oil based perfumes. They don’t contain allergy-inducing chemicals and are preservative free.
29. Be aware of smog alerts. Smog alerts may soon become a problem in the winter, not just the summer. Recent adjustments to federal regulations have tightened the PM standard, increasing the possibility for winter Alerts issued due to high evening smog levels. Open burning and warming up cars in cold weather, combined with weather inversions, can make PM-based winter smog alerts a reality. Remember to use gasoline powered lawn equipment after 6 p.m., keep your vehicle maintained, combine trips, eliminate unnecessary vehicle trips and refuel your vehicle after 6 p.m. Spread the word; www.hcdoes.org/airquality.
30. Support schools and churches by recycling your paper. Look for the bright green and yellow recycling containers throughout your community. Abitibi Paper Retrievers’ (www.paperetriever.com) community recycling program helps the environment while helping raise money. Recycle all your magazines, shopping catalogs, newspapers, office and school paper and mail.
31. Visit your local library. Your library card gives you free access to books, movies, music and more. Go online to reserve your selections or renew borrowed items. Plus borrowing keeps paper and plastic out of production. Share magazines and books or start a book trading club!
32. Clean out your closet. Statistics show you use 20% of your wardrobe 80% of the time. Donate to local organizations or share hand-me-downs.
33. Recycle your old ink cartridges and buy refillable cartridges. It takes 80% less energy to remanufacture plastic than to produce it new. And remanufactured laser cartridges use about half the amount of oil (a non-renewable fossil fuel) needed to make brand-new ones. So buy recycled cartridges to begin with; they cost 75% less and you will save them from entering the waste system. It takes an average of 450 years to decompose. More at www.thedailygreen.com and www.idealbite.com.
34. Buy eco-friendly products that contain recycled or post-consumer contents.
35. Use an energy saving program on your computer so it automatically goes to sleep. Desktop computers can cause 1,500 pounds of CO2 per year; enabling sleep mode can reduce energy consumption by up to 70% and save you up to $75 per computer per year. Details at www.idealbite.com.
36. Buy a house plant. House plants can be very beneficial in our lives. They purify and renew our indoor air by filtering out toxins, pollutants and the carbon dioxide we exhale, replacing them with life-sustaining oxygen. Try philodendrons, spider plants and pothos—found to be the most efficient in removing formaldehyde. As a rule of thumb, allow one houseplant per 100 square feet of living. The more vigorous the plant, the more air it can filter. (www.blankees.com.)
37. Avoid toxic bug repellents. Make your own with eucalyptus, citronella, cedar or other natural ingredients to keep bugs away. Most of these essential oils tend to give short-lasting protection (usually less than two hours), but reapplying the essential oils is a small price to pay for keeping a child or you protected from insects while free from potentially harmful insecticides. See www.hpakids.org.
38. Lower your water heater’s temperature to 120°F. With each 10°F reduction in water temperature, you can save between 3% to 5% in energy costs. It will also slow mineral build-up and corrosion in your water heater and pipes. More on water at www.eere.energy.gov.
39. Warm up to cooler water. Using hot water for both washing and rinsing uses three and a half times more energy than washing in warm water and rinsing in cold. If every U.S. household used the most efficient washers, it could save the equivalent of up to 40 million barrels of oil a year. Details at www.earthshare.org.
40. Reduce the need for ironing. Take your clothes out of the dryer slightly damp and hang them up. Save energy—including your own!
41. Check your dryer’s outside vent. Make sure it is clean and closes properly, or it could allow cold air into your house.
42. Be a green consumer. Support environmentally conscious companies. Who’s who at www.treehugger.com.
43. Use less paper by using voicemail or email. Send an e-card. Most greeting cards are not made from sustainable paper. If you are going to send a card, buy recycled and veggie inks.
44. Eat leftovers. Americans already throw away an average of 163 pounds of edible food per person per year. Get creative and whip together new meals with leftovers. (www.idealbite.com.)
45. Buy organic foods and products with organic ingredients. Recent studies show that a global shift to organic farming could still provide enough food for everyone, while lowering the pesticide levels. More at www.idealbite.com.
46. Optimize your home to let in more daylight. Lack of light can cause your body to become out of sync, or you can become depressed, especially during the winter months. Artificial lighting adds up to almost 15% of a homes electricity use. Daylight optimization lowers this amount. See www.idealbite.com.
47. Use LED bulbs instead of the conventional ones for your holiday lights. LED bulbs use 90% less energy than the traditional ones. Burning 10 strands of lights with 100 lights per strand, eight hours per day for a month costs $175 for incandescent bulbs versus about $1 for LED mini-bulbs. More ideas at www.idealbite.com.
48. Give the gift of sight. Donate your old eyeglasses. Reusing glasses means saving the energy and materials to make a new pair while delivering clear vision to someone in need. For drop-off locations, visit www.givethegiftofsight.com.
49. Use glass, stoneware or ceramic reusable containers. They are safer than plastic. Some plastics have harmful chemicals that can leach into food. You can take glass or ceramic from the fridge to the microwave without leaching toxins. Disposable plastic baggies can take 1,000 years to decompose. (www.idealbite.com.)
50. Wear layers of clothing instead of turning up the heat or turning down the air conditioner. If you are cold, put another layer on; if you are hot, take a layer off.