Global Warming. Carbon. Footprint Green. These are the environmental buzz words of our time. They are used and abused to the extent that most of us have come to discount them as just a lot of talk and meaningless gibberish. The problems that gave birth to them, however, are anything however meaningless.
Most Americans grew up believing that there was an endless supply of the things we need. Things like drinking water, gasoline and clean air. If we thought about eventually running out, we believed that it was so far in the future that it really wasn’t something we needed to concern ourselves with.
The ugly reality, however, is standing squarely in front of us. We don’t have an endless supply of anything and we are running out of necessities faster than anyone ever thought possible. People, everywhere, are running out of clean water. The air we breathe is polluted. We pay high prices for fuel because there isn’t enough to meet the demand. Once fertile soil has become less productive because of non-sustainable farming practices and we now must take extreme care when eating foods from our grocery stores because tainted products have become a part of our reality.
While it all seems dire and a little overwhelming, we can change it. If we each do something we can make a difference. Can’t go out and buy a new hybrid car or build that Eco-friendly house? Don’t despair every effort big and small counts towards a healthier earth.
Ready to get started? Here we go:
Turn off the lights. This is easy and one which will make our Moms proud if the lights aren’t being used, turn them off. And while we’re at it be sure to replace traditional bulbs with energy efficient varieties.
Plug everything (with the exception of essential appliances like refrigerators or freezers) into power bars and turn them off when not in use especially at night or when away on vacation. This includes TVs, computers, battery chargers, etc.
Wash clothes and dishes in cold water. Seriously today’s soaps are formulated to work in any water temperature.
Turn down the temperature on the water heater, install a thermal blanket around the tank and insulate the water pipe.
In the winter, turn down the thermostat (or turn it off) and keep warm with heavier clothes and blankets.
In the summer, use ceiling fans and adjust curtains instead of using Air Conditioning.
Keep your car in good shape for fuel efficiency, drive slower and drive less.
Don’t let your car idle. Carburetors today are extremely fuel efficient, only injecting a small amount of fuel into the engine to get it started. In fact, the only time it’s more fuel efficient to let a car idle is if one will be idling for less than 10 seconds. Yep anything over 10 seconds .. turn it off. One note it’s not a good idea to turn off one’s engine at a street light. In fact, in some US states it’s illegal.
Walk great exercise and no fuel needed (well maybe a candy bar or two).
Use low flow toilets or put a brick in the tank you’ll save a lot of water.
Take showers instead of baths and turn off the water while soaping.
Turn off the water while brushing your teeth.
Say no to paper or plastic and yes to reusable bags.
Drink out of reusable, Eco-friendly water bottles instead of buying water in plastic.
Buy local and in season. Food that travels less is healthier and kinder to the earth. Check out a farmer’s market or a local farm. Try a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) membership in your area.
Reduce buy and consume less stuff.
Reuse before tossing anything out, consider how it can be re-purposed. For example; glass bottles make great storage containers, old t-shirts are wonderful as cleaning rags, catalogs and advertising fliers make beautiful wrapping paper.
Recycle Aluminum, paper, cardboard, plastic, metal and glass can be recycled. Check with your local waste management about curb-side pickup and if it’s not available, find out where there is a recycling centre.
Compost fruit and vegetable scraps make great compost. Even in a small space, composting is easy. Take a planter or bucket, toss in your scraps, cover with dirt and you’ve got the start of a compost bin. In the spring, scatter that rich dirt over your garden and plant vegetables.
Steer clear of convenience items such as plastic plates and utensils, paper napkins, disposable razors and non-rechargeable batteries. Instead, use real plates and utensils, cloth napkins, safety razors and rechargeable batteries. Landfills will thank you!
These are just a few of things we can do to make the world a better place. With a little thought and creativity, the possibilities are endless.