Q: How can I keep the green momentum going when everyone around me is focused on cranking up the heat and firing up the holiday lights?
A: 'Tis the season to waste power — but you don’t have to go with the wasted flow of energy. Now is the time time to embrace a few Earth-friendly activities:
Clear the clutter: Reclaim unused cabinets, drawers and garage space by clearing the clutter. Enlist everyone in the family to target just one area of the house for one hour of dedicated clutter busting.
Ditch the plastic: Sort through that assortment of takeout containers collecting dust in your cabinet and recycle anything that is not microwave-safe. That reduces the risk of containers leaching chemicals into your food. According to the Harvard Medical School Family Health Guide, many takeout containers, as well as those that hold margarine, cream cheese and mustard, are not safe for the microwave. Ditch them.
Clean the vents: Use this extra hour to clean air filters and vents. The same applies to your dryer vent, which can be a major fire hazard. Clean that lint trap and consider investing in washable air conditioner filters, which last for years.
Seal the leaks: Proper insulation can save you plenty of green over time. Check your doors, windows and attic for leaks and plug them before the temperature drops.
Go paperless: Take the time to set up online bill-pay, and request that credit card companies, utility companies and others send bills electronically. Chanie Kirschner, my cheerful MNN.com colleague, offered great tips to reduce the amount of junk mail you receive. Take a few minutes to read that column and take action.
Back up your files: Invest in an external hard drive and back up your important files, including all those photos occupying space on your iPhone. I’m now a fan of Senuti, a site that transfers music from iPod or iPad to my Mac. It came in handy when my laptop met an untimely end.
Create an emergency file: Do you know your credit card numbers? How about the toll-free number you should call if cards are stolen? If not, it’s time to create a password-protected file that contains all your key information, such as credit card numbers, insurance numbers, and other vital information. If your wallet is stolen, that’s one less headache.
Put your wallet on a diet: Need help creating a budget and sticking to it? Invest in a tool to help manage your money. Mashable.com offers a list of 40 helpful resources to help you get started.
Clean out the fridge: Make sure your fridge runs efficiently by removing all the old food that is simply taking up space. Time to read expiration dates and purge the petrified cheese nestled in the back of the crisper. Fill that empty space with fresh herbs and produce that you actually plan to eat over the next few days.
Go green — beyond the kitchen: Make it easy for the family to recycle by placing bins in the bathroom, your office and other parts of the home.
Grow something: Don’t let the winter months deter you from embracing something green. Whether you plant herbs or a cactus, adding plants to your home will improve the air quality and add a natural touch.
Of course, you could spend that extra hour sleeping. But that’s no way to treat Mother Nature.