• Small Steps
  • The Green Lifestyle
  • The Green Home
  • The Green Vehicle
Here are some simple steps you can take to positively impact the environment every day:

• Paper or plastic? Choose paper; paper is easily replenished, unlike the oil used to make plastic.

• Go paperless! Most companies have an option to receive bills online, saving paper, energy, and time.

• Dress appropriately for the weather, and reduce energy use by minimizing heating and cooling.

• Use personal products—fragrances, soaps, etc.—made from natural substances, rather than those containing chemicals made from petroleum and other non-natural chemicals linked to environmental harm and health issues.

• Send a text message instead of an email as much as possible. Texting on a cell phone uses less energy than sending an email from a computer.

• Adjust your thermostat by 5 degrees; everyone doing this could save the equivalent of 130,000 barrels of oil per day in the winter, and up to 380,000 during the summer!
Rather than driving, use mass transit, walk, or ride a bike. Mass transit, such as subways systems or buses, reduces pollution by reducing the number of cars on the road. Walking or biking also reduces pollution, and is a great way to stay in shape, too.

Carpooling, which has more than doubled in the last few years, saves precious time, money, and gas, in addition to reducing traffic congestion and air pollution. It is especially beneficial in major cities like Atlanta, Los Angeles, and New York.

With gas prices peaking at around $4 per gallon, purchasing a hybrid car is a great investment. Most hybrids average around 40-50 miles per gallon, and also reduce air pollution by using an electric motor as much as possible, so they're good for both you and the environment.

Technology
Make sure that you dispose of batteries properly. Even though it is stylish and convenient to use a bluetooth headset with your cell phone, bluetooth headsets use miniature button-sized batteries; these batteries contain lead, zinc, and mercury, which can pollute the air and water if disposed of improperly. All batteries should be taken to your local fire department or a local hazardous waste site.

When shopping for entertainment products, purchase blu-ray discs rather than DVDs, and LCD TVs rather than plasma screen TVs. Blu-rays are partially made from paper, which is easily replenishable and not harmful to the environment, and also hold 5 times more information than a DVD, reducing the number of discs needed. LCD TVs use much less energy than their plasma screened counterparts, and are also easier to dispose of, because they contain fewer environmentally harmful parts.

Investing
There are plenty of great green investments that will get you a nice return in the upcoming years. With most of the world finally taking the green initiative seriously their will be lots of money to be made. You can even find a financial advisor who only handles green investments.

There are approximately 101 million homes in the United States alone; of these, only about 1% have made a commitment to focus on the environment. Our true commitment to our planet begins at home, where we spend most of our time and do most of our energy and water consumption. Here are some ways that your household can reduce its negative impact on the environment:

Recycling
Each household creates about 48 ounces of trash per day; about 90% of the solid waste leaving the home ends up in a landfill, most of which are filling rapidly. Furthermore, as landfills expand and deepen, they pose ever greater threats to humans and to countless animal and plant species. Recycling has never been as important as it is today. About 90% of the waste that goes to landfills could be recycled, a major step in saving our planet.

Energy Usage
An estimated 55 to 75% of energy use in the average American home is devoted to heating and cooling. There are several steps that can be taken to reduce the total amount of energy used to heat and cool your home, the easiest of which is to slightly reduce or raise the temperature in the house. Raising the temperature by 5 degrees during the summer, if every household within the U.S. participated, would reduce the total energy usage by approximately 380,000 barrels of oil each day; lowering the temperature by 5 degrees during the winter would reduce the total energy usage by approximately 130,000 barrels each day.

Your annual energy usage for temperature control can also be reduced with proper insulation (about 25-35% savings annually); using digital thermostats; checking the caulking around your doors and windows to ensure there is no air escaping when they close; ensuring your furnace is operating at peak efficiency—at least 70%—at all times, reducing the amount of energy needed to achieve the desired temperature; using ceiling and oscillating fans, which use significantly less energy than your AC unit, instead of the air condition as much as possible; and using an air conditioning unit with a high energy efficiency rating. Consider replacing your windows with double- or triple-paned insulated windows, which greatly reduce the amount of temperature loss through your windows, as well as reducing outside noise and condensation.

When shopping for a new TV, opt for an LCD screen rather than a plasma screen. LCD TVs use significantly less energy than plasma screens, and are also less harmful to the environment when disposed of, because of the parts used. Use compact fluorescent light bulbs rather than traditional incandescent light bulbs; in addition to lasting about three times longer than traditional light bulbs, they use much less energy. Use a clothesline or dryer rack instead of a dryer, as much as possible; when you must use your dryer, add dryer balls to reduce the drying time. Unplug appliances when not in use, or use a "smart" power strip that senses when appliances are off and cuts "phantom" or "vampire" energy use.

Purchase a water heating jacket for your water heater, and reduce the temperature of the heater by 110 to 120 degrees; alternatively, opt for a tankless water heater, which is much more energy efficient by rapidly heating only enough water as you need for any given task, rather than many gallons at once. Practice using cold water for tasks such as laundry (about 85% of the energy used during a washing machine’s cycle goes to heating water), cooking, and doing dishes. Also, avoid using the dishwasher as much as possible, and if you must, only use it with a full load.

Water Usage
Check all your sinks and faucets throughout your home for leakage or drips. Make sure that after every usage you check the pipes to make sure they are properly turned off. Almost 50% of wasted water in our homes is attributed to taps that run unnecessarily.  Consider a dual flush toilet, which saves considerable amounts of water with a “smart” flushing system. These toilets have 2 flushing options, one which uses 0.8 gallons per flush, and a second which uses 1.6 gallons; in contrast, traditional toilets use 3 or more gallons for a single flush, so a dual flush toilet can reduce your water usage by about 67% each year.

Improving your vehicle's fuel efficiency helps save the environment by burning less gas and therefore producing less emissions. Here are some simple steps you can take, along with the improved efficiency:

• Keep your tires properly inflated; savings up to 3%

• Get your engine tuned regularly; savings up to 4%.

• Check & replace air filters regularly; savings up to 10%.

• Use the recommended grade of motor oil; savings up to 2%.

• Avoid rapid acceleration and braking; average savings, 31%, up to 37%

• Obey the speed limit; average savings, 12%, up to 14%

• Use cruise control as much as possible; average savings, 7%, up to 14%

• Avoid excess (longer than a minute) idling; savings up to 19%

Numbers taken from Edmunds.com "We Test the Tips" and FuelEconomy.gov "Gas Mileage Tips"

 

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