I realize that most of us aren't going to go out and live in a tree like my hero Julia Butterfly Hill . She live in the tree, Luna, from December 10, 1997 to December 18, 1999. But, there are some very simple things that we can do around our homes that can make a real difference.
Let's start with the no cost actions we can all take. The simplest is to just TURN OFF THE LIGHTS! I am the worlds worst, but I figure there are enough people in this house that if we just keep reminding each other, we'll eventually get the hang of it. Other simple step we can take are to unplug our electronics, air dry our dishes, and wash our cloths in cold water. Also, if you will wash your cloths in the cooler part of the day the heat generated by the dryer won't cause your air conditioner to use more energy trying to cool your home. Unless of course, you're willing to forgo to dryer all together and hang you clothes out on the line to dry.
Now get out your shopping list. I promise none of these suggestions will break the bank, in fact you might find some nice savings on your electric bill this year if you'll give them a try. The first thing I want you to do is to buy energy saving light bulbs. Then when it's time to replace your old bulbs they will be in the cabinet ready to use. I know the cost may be slightly more than what you're used to spending, but you will be saving money because they use less power and have a longer rated life. Just keep in mind that they contain small amounts of mercury and need to be recycled so that the mercury doesn't leach out into our water supply. If you will take your unbroken bulbs to any Home Depot we can leave these bulbs on the positive side of your shopping list. (To read more about Home Depots CFL Bulb Recycling Initiative just click here)
While you're making that environmentally friendly shopping list, go ahead and add an air filter. Make sure you write down the correct size so you don't get confused with all of the choices. If you are unsure of how often you need to change your air filter or which one to buy you can find answers here.
Now add weather stripping and caulk to your list since they can save you hundreds of dollars on your electric bill. If you don't know how to install the stripping just check these these simple steps from BobVila.com.
And finally, make sure you don't leave off the washers and gaskets because according to the Environmental Protection Agency, your household is losing 10,000 gallons of water each year due to dripping faucets and other water leaks, besides fixing leaky faucets can lower your water bills by 10 percent.
Turn your pencil over and start erasing. I want you to stop buying single use batteries. They contain lead, nickel and mercury. When incinerated toxic substances are released into the air that you breath. There are perfectly good rechargeable batteries available so buy them instead.
You will also need to take off all those cleaning products that contain toxic chemical. Imagine what those chemical are doing to your respiratory health. If you're really brave you can make your own or simply read labels.
Now that you're filling your cabinets up with eco friendly products don't make the mistake of tossing out products that are dangerous. For example, did you know that it isn't safe to throw away or flush your prescription or over the counter medications because they are harmful to wildlife and to our water supply. Just recently DREAM (Drug-free Resources and Education Alternatives in Mississippi ) teamed up with local law enforcement and hosted a drug drop off day where people in our community were able to turn in their medications so that they could be properly disposed of instead of contaminating our enviroment. If you aren't sure how to properly dispose of your medications just read this this article.
When it comes to tossing things in the trash don't dispose of any electronics. They contain lead and it may even be illegal to toss out that old computer monitor or antiquated TV. Think about donating or recycling it first.
Also remember that if you currently have products that are toxic, like paint and pesticides, they need to be disposed of properly. Most cities have a Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) disposal site . If you aren't sure where to take them Earth911 offers easy access to drop-off locations in your area. I have discuss the problems with pesticides in a separate post, but know this: PESTICIDES ARE DANGEROUS!
I also want you to remember what I said about freecycle and cloth bags. If you've forgotten just click here and I'll refresh your memory. If you'll pick up one or two cloth bags every time you go to the store, you'll have enough to cut out using all those horrible plastic bags.
If you have, or are planning to have, children consider using cloth diapers. If not all of the time, you should at least use them when you're home, we did. With the advances in cloth diapering system it's really much easier because they have all-in-one diapers and biodegradable inserts.
I've said it before, stop buying bottled water and get yourself a water purification system and some reusable bottles. It's not only good for Mother Earth it's better for your health.
Stop taking bathes and start showering. A bath takes up almost twice as much water as a bath. You can even improve on that by shortening your shower times or better yet shower with a buddy!
Don't forget to buy locally! Take advantage of that farmers market or farmer on the side of the road, you will not only be helping your local economy you will decrease food miles and intern decrease carbon emissions.
If you live somewhere that you access to public transportation, take advantage of it, but if you must drive keep in mind that a properly maintained car will improve it's performance there by decreasing your cost at the pump.
Another simple step you can take is to go paperless. Do you really need all of the bills sent to you by mail when you have a perfectly good email account just itching to fill up. Not only can you receive your bill electronically, you can pay them that way too. No more running out of stamps, hunting up a pen that actually works to write out a check, or forgetting to get it in the mail in time.
This week is national recycling week so, don't forget to recycle, recycle, recycle!