Live La Vida Verde!
Clean out and give away: Too many books, CD's, DVD's? Donate to these places to free yourself of items and help someone else:
~"Books for Soldiers": ship a care package of books, CD's or DVD's to a soldier. Sign up: www.books for soldiers.org.
~ "Reader to Reader" Stocks needy school libraries with books. Go to: www.readerto reader.org for details...
~ "Books for Africa": Stick your books in a box and the post office will give you a low media rate. A U.S. based non-profit will funnel your reading material into schools in regions where it's desperately needed. Your shipping costs, along with the books, are tax-deductible. Send boxes to: Books for Africa, 253 E. 4th Street, St. Paul, MN 55101. or www.booksforAfrica.org
~ "Swap-A-CD" I love this one and use it myself...go to www.swapacd.com to put your unwanted CD's up for grabs and in exchange get some that you would want. All you do is create an account and pay for shipping. There's also a "Swap a DVD" site, too...
~ Miscellaneous: freecycle.org, neighborrow.com, swapthing.com, titletrader.com.
About plastic: did you know this?
Your recycled plastic turns into many products. Plastics #1 + 2 become beverage and shampoo bottles, fleece, pipes, fencing, deck planks and gutters. Recycling five #1 plastic bottles yields enough material for one square foot of carpet or fiberfill for a ski jacket! Recycling one ton of plastic can save up to 2,000 gallons of gas. DO IT!
DRINK from a reusable container! Did you know that worldwide, an estimated 2.7 million tons of plastic are used every year for bottled water.
Reduce your plastic waste: buy products with minimal packaging in containers you can recycle, or in concentrated forms. Reach for the lotion in a recyclable container, the tomatoes sold individually, the concentrated detergent. Pack lunches in reusable containers versus plastic bags. Use cloth bags for groceries; (they're roomier and they don't tip over)!
REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE + DO RIGHT by the planet! Small things DO add up… Some easy, concrete ways you can do it:
- Flip the switch Turn off the lights, TV and radio every time you leave a room.
- SWITCH to compact fluorescent bulbs. CFLs use a fraction of the energy that incandescent bulbs do, last longer, and for each bulb you replace, you’ll save an average of $80 over the life of that bulb. More information on that subject is available at www.savebay.org.
- AND UNPLUG!! Appliances and devices still draw energy even when not is use.
- Adjust your thermostat By moving your thermostat even just 2 degrees lower in winter and 2 degrees higher in summer, you can lower your energy bill and reduce 2,000 pounds of carbon Dioxide (CO2) emissions a year.
- Caulk + weatherstrip around doors and windows to plug heat loss and save you $$.
- Don’t buy bottled water About 40% of bottled water is filtered tap water and more than 10 million plastic bottles end up in landfills each year! It takes 3 liters of water just to produce the plastic bottle that holds one liter. It also takes 17 Million barrels of OIL just to produce the plastic bottles that hold the water. Install an in-sink filter and fill an aluminum or glass bottle and save over $600 per year.
(above facts 2007 provided by Peter Glick, President, Pacific Institute of Oakland, CA author of "The World's Water".)
- Turn off the water when brushing or shaving. The average faucet releases 3 gallons of water per minute. The average person wastes up to 30 gallons of water per day.
- RUN your dishwasher with a full load. Use energy saving setting to dry them.
- WASH clothes in warm or cold water, not hot, when you can.
- INSTALL low flow shower heads to use less water when taking showers. A family of four can save up to 20.000 gallons of water a year - the amount needed to fill an average-sixed swimming pol - by using a low-flow showerhead.
- Plant a tree native to your area A single tree can absorb on ton of CO2 over its lifetime. A great gift idea for weddings, anniversaries, or celebrating a new baby!
- Bring your own bag when shopping! Did you know plastic bags can take a lifetime to decompose? All the local grocery stores now offer nice lighweight reusable canvas bags for $1 and they don't tip over the car like plastic bags do. In the U.S., 12 million barrels of oil and 14 million trees go to producing plastic and paper bags each year.
- AND BUY Energy star rated appliances. The ENERGY STAR is a joint program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy. Products with the ENERGY STAR logo can save you up to a third on your energy bills.
- Wait until after eight! Run your dishwasher and do laundry after 8 pm for off-peak savings...
- BUY LOCAL! Locally grown food doesn’t travel 3,000 miles or wait three weeks before it’s eaten. That means fresher, more nutritious food for YOU. There is a smaller impact on the environment when your product only travels a few miles and is not prepackaged. It also increases the viability of local family farms and preserves green space.
- Check your tire pressure Proper tire pressure improves your gas mileage by about 3% and saves 380 pounds of CO2 annually. Drive less, carpool more, walk more.
- Stop your junk mail! Each year Americans receive over 500 pieces of junk mail, using more than 100 million trees and consuming more energy than 2.8 million cars. Remove your name from commercial mailing lists at www.directmail.com.
- Make it a family affair Children love to be involved with important family matters. Encourage green habits as shutting off lights when leaving a room, recycling their trash, and not letting energy escape when browsing in the fridge for long periods of time (which can account for up to $60 of electricity each year) Bookmark www.Earth911.com as a terrific resource. This website also has a kids’ section and with games and engaging age-appropriate activities.
GREEN UP YOUR HOME with plants
- In winter, more humid air is warmer air! Save on your heating bill. Place a houseplant or two in rooms that you occupy most. (that way you'll remember to care for them).
- Common houseplants filter the air for you. Great plants for filtering the air are Boston Fern and Areca palm, Spider plant, Wandering Jew, Peace Lily.
- Common houseplants reduced aerial concentrations of volatile formaldehyde by 50% in two hours. Formaldehyde is emitted from products found in most homes in carpets, plywood, curtains and adhestives. These levels are higher in newer homes than older ones. The leaves and stems of the plants absorb the volatiles during the day; the root zone works at night.
- Put your houseplants in terra cotta pots to bring the "earth element" indoors.
GREENING YOUR FRIDGE! Remember as a child when your father yelled, “Close the door!” as you stood in front of the fridge, pondering what to eat? Well, he was right: The refrigerator consumes more energy than any other household appliance. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, the average American fridge uses around 1,383 kilowatt hours a year, which is 14 percent of your household’s electrical needs and about $90 a year. But there are simple steps you can take to lighten your refrigerator’s impact on your wallet—and the environment. More importantly, many of these changes—some large and some small—can cut down on the chemicals and bacteria lingering in your fridge, which is healthier for everyone in the house.
- DITCH THE PLASTIC
Plastic containers may be a kitchen staple, but there are some great reasons to switch to glass storage for your leftovers. Glass keeps food and beverages colder, which means less work for the fridge. Glass is an all-natural, recyclable material, while many plastics are not. And with the potential health hazards associated with leaching plastic, glass containers are a smart alternative because they can go from fridge to microwave to table without having to transfer and generate additional dirty dishes. Finally, when it comes to avoiding spoilage—which is both a waste and a health issue— glass is the clear winner. “Using transparent containers instead of opaque ones is more likely to get leftovers noticed and eaten in a timely manner,” says Kirsten Ritchie, director of sustainable design at Gensler Corporation in San Francisco.
- UPGRADE (AND DOWNSIZE)
By replacing a fridge bought in 1990 with an Energy Star–qualified model, you could save enough energy to light a household for nearly four months, according to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). To find a list of Energy Star–approved models, log on to energystar.gov. When you’re out shopping, look for the yellow U.S. Energy Guide sticker, which rates models for effi ciency. Keep in mind that units with the freezer on top or bottom perform 10 percent to 25 percent more efficiently than side-by-side models. Also, consider buying a smaller model that consumes less energy and discourages waste, says Alicia Silva, an interior designer at Synergy Design Studio, a Seattle-based company specializing in green building. “With a smaller fridge, you realize you can only save what you are going to eat,” she adds. When you’re ready to switch out your old fridge, call your local recycling center to ask about proper disposal.
- FORGET ICE AND WATER DISPENSERS
Automatic ice makers and through-the-door ice and water dispensers increase your unit’s energy use by 14 percent to 20 percent and raise the price of a new refrigerator by $75 to $250, according to the DOE. Skip these features and keep fully stocked ice trays, and use a pitcher-style fi lter to keep drinking water clean and chilled. If you just can’t live without an automatic ice maker, make it the internal variety, advises Ritchie.
- FILL ’ER UP
A full refrigerator uses less energy than an empty one: The more space to cool, the harder the fridge has to work. However, Ritchie warns, “You don’t want it too full because you still need room for the chilled air to circulate and cool down new items.” If you live alone and often have bare shelves, the California Energy Commission recommends filling the extra space with water-filled containers (plus you’ll have water on hand in case of an emergency).
- MIND THE (EXPIRATION) DATE
Tara Gidus, MS, RD, a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association, warns that most people keep foods much longer than they should. “Check labels for dates and throw out anything that is past expiration,” says Gidus. Better yet, get expiration-date savvy, and use up your groceries before they have a chance to expire. A “sell-by” date tells grocers when to pull a product off store shelves; as a consumer, you have a few days past this date to use a product. A “use-by” date means exactly that: Use by that date, or toss the food. (For more guidance on the shelf life of common perishables, see “Is It Safe to Eat?,” right.) In general, leftovers should not be kept longer than three or four days.
- KEEP IT CLEAN … NATURALLY
Even the tiniest spills can lead to bacterial growth, which speeds up food spoilage—and waste. Yet conventional cleaning products introduce toxic chemicals into your food zone. Instead, Gidus suggests these simple, homemade formulas for effective natural cleaning: For a quick wipe down of shelves, use mild liquid soap or a one-to-one solution of white vinegar and water; for sticky spills that require gentle scouring, use baking soda and a damp sponge.
- VACUUM THE COILS
The refrigerator coils, located both behind and underneath the fridge, are at the heart of the unit’s refrigerant system. They are also natural dust magnets: A cooling agent passes through the coils, and a fan blows across them, stirring up and attracting dust. The more dust, the less efficient the fan is at removing heat. Twice a year, use a vacuum cleaner with a long brush attachment to clean thoroughly around the coils.
- CHECK THE SEALS
While you’re examining the exterior of the fridge, make sure the seals on the doors are tight. Place a dollar bill in the refrigerator door and close it. If you can easily pull out the dollar bill, the door needs to be adjusted or you may need to replace the rubber seal. Also, be sure to wipe down the seals regularly to prevent dust and grime buildup, which can interfere with the seals and, over time, lead to brittleness.
- LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION
If your refrigerator is sitting next to the stove or a sunny window, consider moving the fridge to a different spot. For each degree above 70°F surrounding the fridge, the unit uses 2.5 percent more power to keep its contents cool. Moving a fridge out of a potentially 90°F spot could save you up to $70 a year. The best location is against a north or east wall, says Ritchie.
- TAKE YOUR TEMPERATURE
The optimal temperature range in the refrigerator is 36°–38°F (in the freezer, it should be 0°F). But, for every degree below 38°F, the unit consumes 5 percent more energy. Because a built-in thermometer might not tell you the whole story, purchase a refrigerator thermometer, leave it in an easy-to-see spot, and check it periodically. Move the thermometer around in the refrigerator to determine which spots are coldest, and use this information to help guide storage decisions. For instance, spoilage-sensitive eggs generally should not be stored in the door, which tends to be a few degrees warmer than interior shelves.
Information below provided by The Sierra Club: THINK before you throw it away:
Info below from Boston Home Magazine, March 2008
Composting made easy: It's time to feed your plants and veggies with some organic food! How about some of your own organic compost? To make your own "good dirt" think 50-50 to make it easy: 50% brown, to 50% green: BROWN is coffee grounds, tea bags, egg shells, dried leaves, old plant material (including the dirt from a transplanted pot); small twigs, brown paper bags. Green is: all your fruit and vegetable scraps, banana peels, corn husks, plant and grass clippings...Mix all this together, and add some water to keep it moist; cover it so it heats up and can break down into dirt. SOME DON'TS: no meat, oil, or bones in your compost; no weeds or poisonous vines:
you will be putting that back into the soil!! With composting all our kitchen garbage and recycling all of our other waste whenever we can, the Bradlee houshold produces ONE blue bag of actual "garbage" for the transfer facility every month...so, composting and recycling are also money savers.
Composters available on line, at DPW's locally, Boston Buiding Materials Co-Op ($25) or make your own...see the links to the left.