When the clerk at the grocery store asks “Paper or Plastic”? say “Neither”. Fewer than 5% of the estimated 380 billion
plastic bags consumed in the U.S. each year are recycled. Plastic bags are not biodegradable and are making their way
into our waterways killing wildlife and contaminating the food chain. Although paper bags will eventually biodegrade
millions of trees are cut down each year to manufacture them. If only 5% of the population purchased re-usable bags
and refused both paper and plastic bags at the checkout counter, we could save nearly a million trees annually and over a
half million barrels of oil.
Before recycling the unwanted catalogs and junk mail you receive, find the contact
information and request to be removed from their mailing list. Also, find out if
your creditors offer a paperless statement option where you can view your
statement and pay your bills online. If all households in America paid their bills
online and received paperless statements we would save over 18 million trees each
year and over 2 billion tons of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.
Buy Local Whenever Possible
An large amount of pollution is created to get food from the farm to our dinner
tables. Support your local economy by purchasing from local farmers and farmer’s
markets. Doing so will reduce the amount of greenhouse gases which are created
when foods are flown or trucked in. Also, consider joining your local
community garden to grow your own vegetables. It’s a great way to meet neighbors. You’ll also receive added benefits
when you share and trade items with others as you’ll be increasing the variety of fresh fruit and vegetables in which
your family can enjoy.
Switch to Compact Fluorescent Bulbs
Replacing traditional incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent ones will save both money and energy.
Changing just one 60 watt incandescent bulb with a 14 watt CFL bulb can save you up to $40 a year in energy costs.
CFL bulbs last up to 13 times longer, produce 1/4 less heat as their predecessors and save you 1/4 of operating costs.
Invest in Water Filters and Rethink Purchasing and Consuming Bottled Water
Install a faucet filtration system or purchase a pitcher filtration for drinking and cooking. Fill reusable water bottles
with filtered tap water as just an estimated 15% of water bottles purchased are actually recycled taking thousands of
years to decompose. It’s a great choice for the environment and your bank account. Filtered tap water literally pays
for itself in less than a month’s worth of usage. It’s also a healthier alternative as the FDA’s standards for tap water
are more stringent than their standards for bottled water.
Recycle Old Cell Phones and Batteries
The average life cycle of a cell phone is a mere 18 months which equates to nearly 130 million phones being retired
each year. Almost half of the U.S. population uses cell phones today. These devices often contain lead and mercury
making the proper disposal of them very important. When they are placed in our landfills they introduce toxic
substances into the environment. There are numerous resources available to help people recycle or donate their old
phones to worthwhile causes.
Install a Programmable Thermostat
Electronic thermostats are more accurate than manual thermostats, contain no mercury and are better for the
environment overall. Programmable thermostats can be set to automatically adjust the temperature of your home
allowing you to save energy while you’re away or sleeping. Proper usage of pre-
programmed settings can save you nearly $150 in energy costs annually.
Planting trees on the south and west sides of your home will provide both shade in
the summer and wind blockage in the winter as well as save you anywhere between
$100-$250 in energy costs annually. Planting evergreen trees on the north side of
your home can help block winter winds. Although you should opt for deciduous
(leafy) trees on the south and west sides of your home because they’ll shade your
home in the summer and allow light and heat to penetrate through in the winter.
Use a Dish or Face Towel In Place of Paper Towels
If the idea of giving up your paper towels seems too daunting of a task, at least
consider purchasing recycled paper towels. As a nation, we could save millions of
trees and millions of cubic feet of landfill space by purchasing 100 % recycled paper towels. These products are made
from a minimum of 80% post consumer content which means recycled paper that would otherwise likely end up in our
already over-crowded landfills. An added benefit is most of the recycled paper towels are whitened without the usage
of chlorine bleach. Chlorine releases sand toxins which can cause cancer and other health hazards. All natural grocers
sell recycled paper towels today. Naturally, the best alternative is to use a damp dish or face towel instead as the
manufacturing process to create recycled paper towels does unfortunately cause greenhouse gas emissions.
Ditch Your Shoes At the Door
Leaving your shoes at the door can help keep your home cleaner and greener. Everything you walk in throughout the
day will be tracked into your home if you keep your shoes on indoors. Leave them at the door to prevent these toxins
from contaminating your carpets, floors and indoor air. To prevent clutter and help make things easier for your guests
come up with a smart solution at your home’s entry way. Keep a pair of slip-ons available for quick trips outside to take
out your trash or check your mail so you can avoid having to lace up each time you step outside.