40 ways to live green: Part 1
Being green is often considered an expensive practice. Organized.com offers some practical ways to live greener, and I explain how and why these green practices save you money.
Thursday, January 13, 2011 - 04:34
SEEING GREEN: CFL bulbs are just one of many ways to make your world a little greener. (Photo: James Jordan/Flickr)
1. Replace light bulbs with energy-saving compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs.
According to Energystar.gov, if every American replaced just one light bulb with a CFL, 9 billion pounds of greenhouse gas emissions would be cut per year. Some other neat facts are that one CFL bulb can save $40 in electricity costs compared to a typical light bulb, and it lasts about 10 times longer. That's economically and environmentally friendly!
2. Wash clothes in cold water.
90 percent of the energy used to wash clothes is merely for heating the water. Knowing this, one would reason that by washing in cold water, energy usage in a household could be cut easily. While personally, I wash all my clothes in cold and I'm perfectly fine with the results, Dr. Laundry (by Clorox) insists that warmer water dissolves soap better and get the stains out of the more soiled pieces. However, warm water is also known to set stains (my mother grabs ice cubes to work spaghetti sauce and wine stains out) and fade bold colors. Tip: Check to make sure your preferred brand of laundry detergent is made for cold-water washes.
3. Use a drying rack or clothesline to dry clothes.
The clothes dryer is one of the largest consumers of energy in a typical house (right behind the water heater and dishwasher). One may think this is an absolute necessity for any house, but that isn't always true. There are times when clothing can be hung out to dry with a drying rack or clothesline.
In Florida or highly developed areas, clotheslines are sometimes problematic. The sunshine in Florida is so strong that clothes dried outside can become faded before their prime. In densely populated areas, the luxury of a space to hang a clothesline is hard to find. Drying racks are the solution to this. They can be placed inside, in a laundry room, or in a garage. My family uses ours in the garage unless it is really cold or damp out, then the clothes dry in the family room on the rack.
4. Walk or bike to work.
I know, I know, I've really heard all the excuses already. It's too far, it's too hot, it's too cold ...
The fact is, though, that many of us hop in the car to run to the bank, convenient store, library or friend's house that is a mile (or less) away. The next time you're going to hop in the car for a quick errand, assess the costs/benefits of riding a bike or walking versus driving.
5. Buy locally raised, humane and organic meat, eggs and dairy.
Since not everybody wants to go vegetarian, this is the next best option. Though the benefits of buying food local are well documented (think of the environmental and economical costs of transportation alone), I am still trying to figure out where in Tampa I can apply this knowledge.
6. Use rechargeable batteries, and unplug chargers and appliances.
Using rechargeable batteries is an easy way to save on the amount of batteries being tossed out from your household. I use them in games and my school voice recorder. Though they require frequent recharging, I feel I have already cut down drastically on the amount of batteries I'd be tossing out (so I'm saving money, too!).
Appliances and other electronics still use energy even when they're not in use (but still plugged in). It's referred to as "vampire energy" and it can really add up! To combat this problem, use power strips that can easily be turned on and off, or simply unplug things when you are done with them.
7. Shop at garage sales, thrift stores and consignment shops.
Part of the green cycle is to reuse, and I feel this is the part that gets forgotten the most. The saying is "one person's trash is another person's treasure." Go to a garage sale and you'll see this hold true. You can get books, household appliances and knickknacks for cheap — sometimes pennies. Thrift stores and consignment shops are also extremely cheap and tend to pick over things for you, to get rid of things that don't work or are otherwise unsuitable for reuse.
8. Recycle your old cell phones, computers and other electronic devices.
Go to your local electronic store and see if they take old electronics. Ask places like Best Buy, Office Depot or Staples. Chances are somebody takes them. Charities are also open for taking cell phones all the time. As your local battered women's shelter if they have a cell phone program.
Apple has its own recycling program for its products. If you purchased your Apple product new, your cost for recycling was in the original price. Take advantage of the fact that you already paid for it!
9. Use recyclable shopping and grocery bags.
Publix estimates it helps save over 40 million paper and plastic grocery bags each month since the introduction of their reusable bags. Places like Aldi charge you for each non-reusable bag you need so you are strongly encouraged to bring your own.
If you do use plastic or paper bags, be sure to reuse them. If you have cats or dogs, you may use plastic bags for the litter, or while out walking your pooch. Paper bags can be made into book jackets, or even used to wrap small packages to be mailed.
10. E-mail invitations and announcements instead of mailing them.
My grandfather — once a U.S. Postal Service worker — is turning in his grave. But really, e-mail is cheaper and faster than mailing invitations. Even better yet is creating a Facebook event. My advice is, though: for those extra-special events, such as weddings, stick with the traditional mailed invitations.
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