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18 Low-Cost Ways To make
Life Greener

   by David Goldstain

Less is More!...


 
  by David Johnston;  Kim Master

Green Remodeling describes how the inherently resource-efficient industry of remodeling can become even more environmentally conscious, and it does so in a way that is both accessible and comprehensive. This book has a lot to offer to a homeowner contemplating a renovation, and to professional remodelers who want an introduction to green approaches.

Retail price: $29.95
[Buy from Amazon.com]

 

As prices skyrocket faster than you can say, "My electric bill this month was what?" everyone's looking for creative ways to save money. But you don't have to install solar panels or buy a hybrid car to help the earth and lower your bills. There are lots of simple, low-cost ways to make your everyday life more eco-friendly. These easy tips can benefit your budget - and the world around you.

1. Air it out. Install aerators on faucets (a good thing to do on a bathroom sink as well). Aerators mix air with water to decrease H2O consumption. They also have the handy side effect of increasing the feel of water pressure and reducing splashes. Penny Bonda, founding chair of the US Green Building Council Committee for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, recommends Niagara Conversation's Dual-setting Aerator with Swivel (available for $4.25 at niagaraconservation.com), which can be installed without calling a plumber.

2. Scrub in stages. When washing dishes by hand, don't send water savings down the drain. For double sinks, fill one side with sudsy water, turn off the faucet, then wash. Place soapy dishes in the second sink, and when that's full, rinse. Or simply wet dishes, add soap to the sponge, then turn off the tap. Wash dishes until the soap runs out, rinse those and set in a dish rack, then repeat.

3. Don't do the dirty work. When using a dishwasher, there's no need to prerinse plates before loading. Most dishwashers are built to do the job themselves. Consumer Reports found the prerinsing doesn't get dishes any cleaner during the cycle and it just means more work for you. Also, run the dishwasher (and washing machine) only when it's full.

4. Green while you clean. Many household cleaning products used in the kitchen contain various chemicals and toxins detrimental to the environment and your health. Read the labels!

5. Put the freeze on energy drains. When it's chilly outside, cold drink consumption goes down, but automatic ice makers keep chugging along. Switch to hand-filled ice trays, or turn off the ice maker when the bucket is full to keep it from running constantly.

6. Perform some strip-ease. Did you know that if you use a microwave less than seven minutes each day, the oven's clock uses more power than the microwave? Automatic coffee pots and CD players are also major electricity drains when left plugged in. Not to mention cell phone chargers, which use only 5 percent of the electricity they draw to juice up a phone. The rest goes to waste while the charger is left plugged into the wall, according to Carbon Neutral Company in London, an organization dedicated to cutting carbon dioxide emissions. The solution? Power strips with on/off switches and multiple plugs. They make it easy to cut the current flow to several devices at once, no cord yanking necessary. Just flip the power strip switch when you turn on or off the lights in the room.

7. Focus on food. Choose products from companies and businesses that do something to support the health of the planet. And, eat as many whole foods as possible. Not only are they better for you, but they're better for the earth. The more whole the food is, the fewer resources used to get it to your plate. And buy organic as much as possible. Organic agriculture protects the health of all the earth's inhabitants by limiting input of toxic and persistent chemicals into the air, soil, and water. Organic methods support natural ecosystems by using long-term farming solutions that help preserve the earth's resources for future generations.

8. Ditch the drips. One drop of water per second from a leaky faucet can waste as much as 300 gallons each month (enough to take six baths or do eight loads of laundry), according to the Water Conservation Coalition of Puget Sound, Wash., which promotes utility conservation programs. For loose taps that you can't completely close, call a plumber (average cost: $24). For tight faucets that test your wrist every time you try to turn them off, spray WD-40 on the joint to make it easier to turn.

9. Rub-a-dub - just avoid the tub. Everyone loves a nice, hot bath once in a while - the key words here being "once in a while". Go with a shower for a daily scrub: A long, hot soak can require up to 50 gallons of water while a typical five-minute shower consumes less than 20 gallons. Tip: Use a kitchen timer to keep showers short and sweet.

10. Rinse with the right tap. Health experts say that unless you're handling meat or work in food services, washing hands with cool water is as effective at killing germs as washing with hot. Switching to the cold tap will cut costs (both water and energy - waiting for water to heat up takes even longer in winter) by up to 5 percent. And a brisk rub with a towel will heat hands better than hot water; the fabric friction stimulates circulation for longer-lasting warmth.

11. Buy in bulk. Purchasing food in bulk allows you to choose just how much or how little of a certain product you want. This reduces both product waste and packaging waste.

12. Support eco-smart packaging. When shopping for packaged products, seek out companies that use minimal amounts of packaging and use recycled and/or recyclable materials.

13. BYO bags. More than 1 billion single-use plastic bags are handed to consumers each day, and it takes a 15-year-old- tree to produce just 700 paper grocery bags. Paper or plastic is no longer the question. Reusing shopping bags significantly reduces both emissions and waste. Some stores, like Whole Foods Market stores for example, offer at least a nickel-per-bag refund to encourage you!

14. Think globally, buy locally. Purchase locally grown food when possible to support independent, local farms and the environment. They use fewer resources on their way to your plate, and they're usually fresher too, because they're typically picked more recently.

15. Stem the tide of junk mail. The public landfill is approximately 36 percent waste paper products. Unwanted junk mail contributes to that, while also wasting energy and trees. Sign up for a "mail preference service" that can decrease the amount of mail you receive by up to 75 percent.

16. Overhaul your office. At home or on the job, switch to recycled paperclips, tree-free note pads, and 100 percent recycled paper. Producing recycled paper requires about 60 percent of the energy used to make paper from virgin wood pulp.

17. Lighten up. Incandescent bulbs may rule the sockets, but a mere 10 percent of energy they use is converted to light. According to Environmental Defense, an advocacy group in New York, replacing just 10 of the bulbs with longer-lasting compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs) can spare the environment the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by the average SUV in a year. And fluorescent bulbs don't mean your home has to look like a classroom: Brands such as O-Zone and Fresh2 have made that harsh white lighting a thing of the past, but still give better illumination than classic bulbs. Ask your local power company about CFLs - you may be eligible for a free supply.

18. Be disposable conscious. To decrease waste, purchase durable, long-lasting products that can be reused or refilled, such as rechargeable batteries and refillable pens. If you do use disposables, choose those made made with eco-friendly materials from companies you can trust. Buying new products made from recycled materials allows you to "close the loop", creating a market that depends on curbside and other recycling programs. And avoid products with a lot of packaging. You can save 1,200 pounds of carbon dioxide a year if you reduce your garbage by 10 percent.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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