I wouldn't call myself a Tree Hugger and I'm definitely no environmental extremist (IE, I use toilet paper, and lots of it!)
My father is an extremely conservative man. Whenever someone talks about going "Green" he rolls his eyes and usually makes some very un-PC comment. What he doesn't realize is that he, himself, does things which are helping our environment. He may not be doing them all to "Save the Earth" - sometimes to him it's more about saving money. Whatever your motivation you can help. Here is an example of some things I KNOW for a fact he does.
- Washes his clothes in cold water. Cold water only uses 10% of the energy that warm/hot water does. If you absolutely cannot fathom washing your clothes in cold water, try a setting for a cold water rinse. Something is better than nothing!
- Air dries his clothes in warm weather. Not only does this give him "fresh" smelling clothes, sheets and towels; it saves him money on his electric bill and reduces the amount of energy used by turning off his dryer. Another friend of mine, The Missus over at OnCommonGround also air dries her clothes.
- Turns off his computer when it's not in use. Again - he's saving money on his electric bill and reducing the amount of energy used in his house.
- Uses a water-saving shower head. I think he started his when there were five kids living in the house and the heat and hot water bills got out of control. Yep, it's money saving but also helps save the environment, dad!!!!
- Turns his thermostat WAY down in the winter. Ok, so we're not all as "hot blooded" as my dad. I kid you not when I saw his thermostat is usually set between 58-62 degrees. We don't all have to be that extreme (or freezing in my case!) but instead of setting your thermostat at a "room temperature" 68, try 67. And in the summer turn it up one degree if you use AC.
- Regularly replaces the air filter in his car. By doing this when you get your oil changed, you can get about 10% better fuel economy, and with prices nearing the $4/gallon mark I'd say it's worth it!
- Keeps his tires properly inflated. Doing this saves makes your vehicle 3% more fuel efficient.
- Reuses Glass Bottles. My dad loves to reuse the Arizona Iced Tea glass bottles. He'll fill it with filtered water or homemade iced tea. This is a great help because while recycling glass in recycling centers is better than throwing the bottles away, it's very expensive for these centers to actually recycle the glass. Since the weight of glass is so heavy, transportation costs are higher and it takes a lot of heat to melt down the glass. Try and think of ways to reuse any glass containers you have. Some other suggestions I have would be to save old pasta sauce bottles to drain your cooking grease and reuses wine bottles as flower vases or candelabras.
- He recycles glass, plastic and newspaper at the dump. He also returns plastic bottles and cans to recycling centers to get his 5 cent deposits back
- He has a vegetable garden. Nothing tastes better than fresh veggies in the summer and not buying them in the store reduces transportation costs and causes less packaging to be thrown away.
- He has a compost bin. Sure, it's for his veggie garden, but he's providing yet another way to help reduce the amount of trash in landfills and give back to our green earth.
- He's planted a tree in honor of my grandfather who has passed away. A nice dedication to a loved one, and the environment.
What are some other simple things we can do?
- If you can't grow your own garden, buy Organic. Some people debate this doesn't really help the environment, but her is what it DOES do:
- Cuts transportation costs - no more fruits and veggies coming from Asia or South Africa
- Provides income to your local community
- Reduces the amount of harmful pesticides found in your food
vegetables as well as healthier meals for you and your family.
- There is always the ride a bike, walk, carpool, use public transportation or get a scooter instead of driving your car places. With the insane gas prices more and more people may be looking into these options. If you're out shopping for a new car, make sure to look for a hybrid or one with great fuel economy. Did you know for each gallon of gas saved 20lbs of carbon emissions are avoided?
- Replace burnt out light bulbs in your house with energy efficient CFLs. CFLs use 25% less energy than the standard Incandescent bulbs and last 10 times as long. Seems like a no brainer to me!
- Bring your own bags to the grocery store. FINALLY! Stores (including places like Target, not just grocery stores!) are now selling reusable cloth bags to their customers. I have to tell you we (as the United States) are YEARS behind the rest of the world in this. I remember going to Germany for the first time in 1994 and being shocked that the grocery stores didn't provide paper/plastic bags. Nope, you had to bring your own. And it makes so much sense. Raise your hand if your house is overrun with plastic grocery store bags? Mine used to be....and still is to a lesser extent (the Fiance has not caught on to bringing his own bags to stores). If you're in the same boat, search for stores which let you recycle your plastic bags (I've seen bins at Shaw's before) or use them to big up your dog waste when going for a walk. Learn about more steps to a Greener Kitchen from StartCooking.com.
- Unplug electrical devices which are not in use. After you're done with that pot of coffee, or your morning toast, unplug the coffee pot and toaster and save on electricity.
- Sign up for online banking and save the amount of paper bills sent to your house. In this day and age, there is no need for all of that wasted paper!
- Reduce the amount of junk mail you receive. Opt out of mailings if you can, or sign up for a service like GreendDimes to eliminate up to 90% of postal junk mail for up to 5 years.
- Add Facebook applications such as Lil' Green Patch (to save the rainforest) and MakeMeSustainable (to spread the word and reduce your carbon footprint). Add me as your friend on Facebook to see how much impact we're making collectively!
- Go Vegan! Ok, this one is not for me, BUT meat eating has proven to have a negative effect on the environment (not to mention your health). Rain forests are being depleted for food production and livestock produces 7 trillion tons of manure each year. Learn more about the effects of meat eating on the environment here. So while I don't pledge to go meatless, I will cut down on the amount of meat I consume and pledge to only buy organic meats. A friend of mine, The Sexy Vegan, has some great videos on YouTube. You should subscribe to his videos for some great vegan recipes (and fantastic entertainment). The Sexy Vegan works for Vegin' Out - a vegan food delivery service in California (used by Red Sox fan Andy Dick!)
- Educate Yourself! Find an environmentally friendly resource and use it to educate yourself on how to become more earth-conscious. TreeHugger.com is a great website I was introduced to by writer, and long time friend Kara DiCamillo.
- Don't buy plastic water bottles. Ohhhh this is hard for me. I love the convenience of them and I hate the nasty taste my Nalgene bottle leaves (plus it leaks some nasty stuff into your water). I have been wanting to order a Sigg Water bottle. Not only is it eco-friendly, there are a ton of cool designs. If you must use a plastic bottle, go for Poland Springs Eco-Friendly bottles which use 30% less plastic than similar sized bottles and is 100% recyclable.
- Donate old towels and blankets to your local pet shelter. They are always in constant need. You can get a tax break, and help rescues live another day.
- Start recycling programs in your school or office