40 ways to live green: Part 4
Help the environment and save money by employing these simple tips.
Wednesday, June 8, 2011 - 21:32
THEY GROW UP SO FAST: Bamboo is one of the fastest growing plants in the world which makes it an ideal substitution for wood and cotton products. (Photo: jscatty/Flickr)
31. Keep your refrigerator at 37-40 degrees and your freezer at 0-5 degrees
The American Dietetic Association recommends this temperature because it is cold enough to ward off microorganisms from growing on food, yet it's not too cold to overwork your fridge.
Personally, I've read conflicting temperatures for the freezer. I would think that 0 degrees Fahrenheit would be ideal, because it's cold enough to keep ice completely solid. Anything below would be overkill.
32. Install ceiling fans
If you are in a family like mine, there is a constant battle over how cool the thermostat should go. Some people get cold easily, some are perpetually hot, and others are back and forth every 10 minutes or so. This is why ceiling fans are so magical. Each person can personally control his or her room temperature.
Set the thermostat to a high, but comfortable, temperature and let the family members turn on fans as needed. Ceiling fans use much less energy than your AC unit, and everybody is happy.
As an added bonus: Ever get a mosquito in the house and have it constantly annoy you by buzzing by your ear at night? Turn your ceiling fan on high. The sucker won't be able to fly in your manmade windstorm. Ahh, finally. Sleep.
33. Close the curtains
There is a reason why house cats sleep in the sunny spots. It's because the sunny spots are warm. If the house is too warm, consider buying some dark colored curtains and keeping them closed when the sun is beaming in.
34. Use your fish tank water to water your houseplants
I have to admit, I never heard of this one. And after a quick internet search, I'd have to say it sounds reasonable. Fish excrement is filled with nitrogen, the same element in fertilizer. (It should seem obvious, though, that a saltwater tank negates the benefits to the plants.)
Another tip I heard recently was to use the water left over from steaming or boiling vegetables. This water is packed with nutrients, as well.
35. Volunteer to do trash cleanup along highways and in parks
A great way to get the family out and exploring local parks is by volunteering at them. Trash cleanup is one of the easiest ways to go. Be sure to bring along gloves and trash bags if they are not provided for you!
There is also the option to adopt a highway. This could provide for some cheap advertising for a small business or student organization.
36. Carpool to work or use public transportation
It may seem difficult to get a carpool going at work, but it only takes one person to start asking around. (And watch magic happen!) Check if people live near each other, or if some employees pass others on the way to work. The best way to advertise this is as a way to save money on gas.
Also, look for external rides such as Zimride, where you can sign up and connect with other local commuters.
37. Change to natural cleaning products for your home
One of my first articles for MNN was discussing ways to incorporate vinegar in everyday cleaning. I have been cleaning with vinegar since my first place and I couldn't be happier with the results.
Convinced it's just not clean enough? Consider looking into products such as Seventh Generation that have good environmental records.
38. Support environmentally conscious companies
I know, with all the greenwashing these days it is hard to know when a company is really "green" or is just doing it for good PR. I can't say with complete confidence how to tell if a company is green, but I would highly recommend doing your own research before buying.
39. Buy clothing made from natural or recycled fibers
This has become fairly popular recently. I'm finding more and more "made from recycled material" clothing in stores. Another option to this is buying bamboo cotton sheets for your bed (or for those curtains you want to get).
40. Recycle, Recycle, RECYCLE!
Of course, the last suggestion is to recycle. I need to take it one step further and remind you to REDUCE and REUSE, as well. You would be surprised at the uses for food packaging (Tupperware, art/office supply containers, flower pots...) or how many ways you can use junk mail envelopes (grocery lists, poetry, love notes, coupon holders, collages, toilet paper ... too far?). Get creative. Have fun.
Reducing is just as important, if not more. Remember that every product you buy has had an impact on the earth. Reduce your needs and you reduce the impact. Yes, it is just that simple.
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