In honor of Earth Day, I thought I’d share some really easy ways to “Go Greener.” It doesn’t have to take a lot of time or money, just a bit of commitment. If everyone did just one thing in a little bit more earth-friendly manner, we could make a huge difference in the world we are leaving to our children.
Thanks to the website The Daily Green for sharing these 15 easy ways to go green.
1. Avoid Waste: Recycle
For every trashcan of waste you put outside for the trash collector, about 70 trashcans of waste are used in order to create that trash. To reduce the amount of waste you produce, buy products in returnable and recyclable containers and recycle as much as you can.
2. Give up Paper and Plastic Bags
Twelve million barrels of oil were used to make the billions of paper and plastic bags consumed in the United States last year. The best option is reusable shopping bags made of cotton, nylon or durable, mesh-like plastic. Keep the reusable shopping bags handy so you have them on your next shopping trip.
3. Stop Buying Bottled Water
Did you know that it takes 26 bottles of water to produce the plastic container for a one-liter bottle of water, and that doing so pollutes 25 liters of groundwater? Start using reusable water bottles instead made from materials like stainless steel or aluminum that are not likely to degrade over time. If you choose a plastic water bottle, check the number on the bottom first: Plastics numbered 3, 6 and 7 could pose a health threat to you, so look for plastics numbered 1, 2, 4 or 5.
4. Stop Receiving Unwanted Catalogs
Each year, 19 billion catalogs are mailed to American consumers. All those catalogs require more than 53 million trees and 56 billion gallons of wastewater to produce — and many of us don’t even know how we got on so many mailing lists! Save the millions of trees and billions of gallons of water by putting a stop to unwanted mail. Go online to CatalogChoice.org for help.
5. Give up Conventional Detergents
Many natural detergents today are made to clean clothes just as effectively in cooler water temperatures. Choose detergents and other laundry products that are plant-based, concentrated and biodegradable.
6. Give up Hot Water in the Washer
The Daily Green says that almost 90 percent of the energy is used to heat the water, and most clothes will come clean in cold water. So switch your washing machine’s temperature setting.
7. Give up the Clothes Dryer
The second biggest household energy user, after the refrigerator, is the clothes dryer. Overdrying your clothes can end up costing you money as well. When using the dryer, clear the lint filter after each load and dry only full loads of clothes. Dry heavy fabrics separately from lighter ones, and don’t add wet clothing in the middle of the drying cycle. And remember that hanging clothing outside in the sun and air to dry is the most energy-efficient method — or use a folding indoor rack all year long.
8. Check for Leaks in Your Toilet
A leaking toilet can waste anywhere between 30 and 500 gallons of water every day, so any leak should be repaired. To see if your toilet is leaking, put a few drops of food coloring in the toilet tank. If the dye shows up in the toilet bowl after 15 minutes or so, the toilet has a leak. Leaking is usually caused by an old or poorly fitting flapper valve, which can be replaced by any amateur DIY-er!
9. Give up Conventional Toilet Paper
If every household in the United States bought just one four-pack of 260-sheet recycled bath tissue, instead of the typical tissue made from virgin fiber, it would eliminate 60,600 pounds of chlorine pollution; preserve 356 million gallons (1.35 billion liters) of fresh water and save nearly 1 million trees. The best news is that a four-pack of recycled toilet paper costs about the same as a four-pack of conventional toilet paper.
10. Give up Paper Towels
Paper towels create a lot of unnecessary waste. Instead of loading up on them, buy some reusable microfiber towels, which grip dirt and dust like a magnet, even when they get wet. When you are finished with them, toss the towels in the wash and reuse them again.
11. Run a Fully Loaded Dishwasher
Running a fully loaded dishwasher — without pre-rinsing the dishes — can use a third less water than washing the dishes by hand, saving up to 10 to 20 gallons of water a day. Simply scrape large pieces of food off your dishes and let the dishwasher handle the rest. And by using the air-dry setting (instead of heat-dry), you will consume half the amount of electricity without spending a dime.
12. Lower the Temp in Your Fridge
First, set the refrigerator thermostat to maintain a temperature between 38 and 42 degrees (F). This temperature will protect your food from spoiling while saving electricity. Twice a year, make sure to clean the condenser coil at the back of your fridge. Condenser coils tend to get dusty, making them less efficient.
13. Give up 2 Degrees
According to The Daily Green, electric power plants are the country’s largest industrial source of the pollutants that cause global warming. By snuggling under a blanket on the couch on a snowy winter night instead of turning up the heat, or enjoying the breeze from a fan in the height of summer instead of turning up the air conditioning, you can save pounds of pollution. Set your thermostat in winter to 68 degrees F (20° C) or less during the daytime and 55 degrees F (13° C) before going to sleep or when you are away for the day. And during the summer, set thermostats to 78 degrees F (26° C) or more.
14. Give up Dry Cleaning
Until recently, almost all dry cleaners used a cancer-causing chemical called perchloroethylene, also known as Perc or TCE. Traces of this toxic chemical remain on your clothes after dry cleaning and will evaporate into the air in your car or home. If you have to use a traditional dry cleaner, take your dry cleaning out of the plastic and air it outside or near a window before hanging it in your closet. To avoid the need for dry cleaning, choose fabrics that don’t require dry cleaning at all.
15. Stop Wasting Gas
You can increase your gas mileage by checking your tire pressure. More than a quarter of all cars and nearly one-third of all SUVs, vans and pickups have underinflated tires, according to a survey by the Department of Transportation. If every American kept his or her tires properly inflated, we could save 2.8 billion gallons (10.6 billion liters) of gasoline a year — and help curb global warming pollution — so inflate the tires on your car or truck and continue to do so once a month or as necessary.