I have been reading some interesting articles on ways to go green and I think it is important information to pass on, especially with Earth Day this weekend. First, here are some startling statistics that should influence everyone to become a greener person.
Did you know?
- Most families throw away about 88 pounds of plastic every year.
- We EACH use about 12,000 gallons of water every year.
- Each gallon of fuel releases 20 pounds of carbon dioxide into the air.
- Approximately 5 million tons of oil produced in the world each year ends up in the ocean.
- The energy we save when we recycle ONE glass bottle is enough to light a traditional light bulb for four hours.
- For every 2,000 pounds of paper (1 ton) recycled, we save 7,000 gallons of water free from chemicals.
- Every ton of paper that is recycled saves 17 trees.
- 14 billion pounds of trash is dumped into the ocean every year.
- The amount of wood and paper we throw away is enough to heat 50 million homes for 20 years.
- 84% of all household waste can be recycled.
- How long it takes some things to break down:
- Plastics take 500 years.
- Aluminum cans take 500 years.
- Organic materials take 6 months.
- Cotton, rags and paper take 6 months.
Now after learning some of those facts, here is how to become greener. All of the following tips are from Good Housekeeping’s article, “Easy Ways to Live Greener”.
Green Around the Clock
In the Morning
- Brew “certified” coffee. A USDA Certified Organic label means it was grown using sustainable standards. Therefore, wake up with a cup of Black River Roasters coffee every morning!
- Green “to go”. Now brewing at home? Bring a travel mug to the local coffee shop to be filled. Or we carry a great travel mug by Bodum that can press your coffee on the go. Check it out here.
- Double up. Configure your office printer or copy machine so it prints on both sides of the page.
- Put it to sleep. If you’ll be away from your computer for more than 20 minutes, change it to “sleep” mode.
- BYOB. Bags, that is. It’s good for your wallet too: Some retailers, such as CVS, now pay for every disposable bag you don’t take ($1 on a special CVS card for every four trips on which you BYOB).
- Truly turn off electronics. Plug your device – the TV and DVD player, or the computer and printer – into a UL-certified power strip; switch the whole group off for the evening to prevent phantom electrical draw.
Green My Ride
In January 1994, Good Housekeeping lamented that American cars were only required to average 27.5 miles per gallon, noting, “If the US required American automakers to produce cars averaging 45 miles per gallon of gas (the Honda Civic VX already averages 55 mpg)…the country would save 3.1 million barrels of oil a day.” So how are we doing? US cars are required to average 35.5 miles per gallon by 2016. In the meantime, use these three tricks to up your mpg.
- Slow down. Driving 10 mpg above 60 is like adding nearly 50 cents to the price of a gallon of gas, since higher speed equals more guzzling.
- Get pumped. Once a month, check the pressure of each of the tires against the guidelines listed in your car’s manual; add air if needed. Doing this can improve mileage by about 3%.
- Air out. Replace filters regularly. A new oxygen sensor alone can improve mileage by as much as 15%.
Recycling Do’s and Don’ts
The US is the number-one trash-producing country in the world, at 1,643 pounds per person per year. In 2008, only a third was recycled, reports the EPA, though experts say more can be.
- DO recycle paper with staples, clips or spirals intact – the metal will be filtered out by machines later. DON’T include any paper with food stains (think pizza boxes), as they can contaminate a load.
- DON’T forget to remove bottle caps. They’re made of a different type of plastic and can mess up a whole batch. DO return plastic bags to stores. Find a local spot at plasticbagrecycling.org.
For Glass and Metal
- DO rinse out bottles, jars, and cans; throw away (or recycle) caps. DON’T worry about the labels – they’ll burn off at the plant. DO include washed pie tins and foil, metal bottle caps, wire coat hangers, and scrap metal.
- DON’T make the town dump your first stop. One person’s trash is another’s treasure – so when you want to ditch an old item, first try freecycle.org, Craigslist, or a thrift store that does pickups.
7 Ways to Waste Less
- Buy refillable containers. Spray bottles, for example, can be refilled from larger jugs or concentrate. Over time, you’ll buy – and dispose of – fewer containers.
- Choose concentrate or “ultra” cleaning products, which use 50-60% less packaging than traditional formulas while cleaning just as thoroughly.
- Don’t use more product than the directions indicate. Pouring in extra laundry detergent or fabric softener won’t get your clothes any cleaner or cuddlier. Instead, follow the markings as directed on the label.
- Stop brown-bagging it (literally) and wasting paper when you pack lunch. The best-tested L.L. Bean Flip-Top Lunch Box (plus some ice packs) keeps contents nice and cool.
- Grab a microfiber cloth, which can take the place of 60 rolls of paper towels before it needs replacing.
- Stash leftovers in reusable containers, such as the plastic Rubbermaid Lock-Its (for portability) and glass Snapware Glasslock (for microwave reheating).
- Green your next move with Rentacrate’s reusable plastic crates, which mean no more dozens of cardboard boxes to tape up and try to get rid of later.
Eco Labels You Can Trust
Here are some food labels to look out for, and to learn more about some of them refer back to this blog post.
What it means: Food is produced without antibiotics, genetic engineering or most synthetic fertilizers, and pesticides. (Seen on food products)
Rainforest Alliance Certified
What it means: Companies harvesting the food practice soil and water conservation; they also reduce the use of pesticides. (Seen on coffee, chocolate, bananas)
Fair Trade Certified
What it means: Food is grown on small farms; farmers receive a fair price. (Seen on coffee, tea, chocolate, fruit, rice, sugar)
What it means: Animals raised for dairy, meat, and poultry products are treated humanely. Growth hormones are prohibited, and animals are raised on a diet without antibiotics. (Seen on eggs and meat)
What it means: Products are evaluated for environmental impact; they must meet recycling and bleaching standards. (Seen on napkins, paper, towels, and toilet paper)
To Go Green or Not?
In my opinion, if you make just one change to your normal routine to be a little bit greener, then it is better than nothing. Earth Day is this Saturday and it should remind all of us that individually we can make a difference. Each small act of consideration for the need to work towards a cleaner, healthier earth makes a difference!