25 Ways To Go Green - Save Money by Reducing, Reusing, & Recycling
I wrote this hub in answers to the question: What are some things you have done to 'Go Green?', asked by fellow hubber Beani.
That’s a question that puts of us face to face with our environmental responsibility.
What kind of planet are we leaving to our children? People complain a lot about pollution and the green-house effect, but what’s the point of griping if we don’t do our part trying to make eco-friendly choices?
Every choice we make about what we buy and what we eat has some effects on the environment, water quality, and air quality.
Becoming aware of the problems modern life-style causes to our planet is the first step, changing our habits to decrease our personal carbon footprint and impact on the bio-system is the necessary follow up, even if not always easy.
Be the change you want to see in the world.— Mahatma Gandhi
Old Habits Are Not So Hard To Change
I have always been sensitive to how the chemicals I use and the trash I produce effect the environment, my carbon footprint has been bothering my conscience all my life.
Now that I have my own family, I feel responsible for many of our family decisions on purchases, energy consumptions, and chemicals used, and I try to make my household life-style more eco-friendly.
The trick to go green is doing it in a practical way, so it becomes part of your life style.
You must keep doing the things you already do, without creating more work for yourself, but choose the greener option available.
Help the Environment by Reducing Buying
The first rule I follow is to buy only what I need to be happy, safe, and healthy. Everything else qualifies as surplus or extra.
Buying only what is needed means that I use everything until it works, and before I throw away I try to fix it or re-purpose it. Since I like things to last a long time, I tend to buy good quality items, on a style that I like, so I don’t get tired of them.
I thought I was frugal, but many times I spend more than my friends on some items, finding the greener version or the best quality, so more than frugal in a typical way, I like to think of myself as eco-frugal.
Here are some other things that I have done to Go Green.
Environmental Protection Starts at Home
Tips to Save Energy
1. Adjust the thermostat and wear appropriate clothes. Keeping the thermostat cooler in winter, 69˚F or below, and warmer in summer 79˚F or higher, requires the heating and cooling systems to work less, keeps the utility bill lower, and produces much less pollution due to energy production.
2. Shorten the dryer cycle. I get the clothes out when they are still a little wet, yet wrinkle free from the tumbling in the dryer, and I hang them to dry on collapsible hangers, near an air vent. In the summer I take the hangers outside.
The sunlight makes the clothes smell great, and sun rays are great for getting rid of any dust mites that may have survived the washing cycle.
3. Use the broom. When there are bigger specks of dirt on the floor, I save energy by using the old fashion broom. Electric vacuum cleaners not only use electricity, but, unless you have a bag-less model, have also a cost for replacing the beg when it gets full.
4. Updated light bulbs to low-energy ones. Our most used light-bulbs are now energy-star rated compact fluorescent lights.
Where we don’t have low-energy bulbs, we have dimmers which are great for both saving energy and creating a cozy mood.
5. Heat the home with natural light. Every morning I open blinds and curtains and let the sun rays warm the air inside.
As added benefits I need to turn on lights less, and the sunlight boosts my energy by stimulating my brain to produce serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps feeling energetic, and improve thinking and alertness.
6. Cool the home with deciduous trees. Deciduous trees planted on the south or west sides of the house give us a nice shade during the summer months, and help warming our home in winter when the naked branches let the sun in.
7. Open windows. During the warm season I open my windows every time there is a breeze outside ad at night, to let the fresh air in. Of course my windows have screens to keep the bugs out.
8. Close the fridge. I keep the refrigerator and the freezer open only the minimum time necessary. Every time it’s open warmer air gets in, and energy must be used to bring it at the right temperature.
Also I upgraded to an energy-efficient model that even if bigger than the old one, consumes less energy and helps by beeping if the doors are open too long.
9. Turn the lights off when I’m not in the room. This comes totally natural to me. My parents were born before World War II and they had no electricity in their homes back then. The used candles, oil lamps, and such, and every light source was really precious, not to be wasted.
Even after electricity became normal and affordable, they kept using lights and appliances sparingly, which means lights were on only when you use them, and the same is true for TVs and other appliances.
The average toilet flushes 3.5 gal /13 liters per flush
One person can consume as much as:
19.5 gal / 74 liters per day
or 7,135 gal /27,010 liters per year.
Tips to Save Water
10. Adjusted the times of the irrigation system. Our home has an irrigation system that was installed by the previous owners. Great thing to keep your lawn green, but the first summer the water bill was extremely high. To reduce water consumption (and cost!)
I adjusted the times the irrigation system would run, keeping them to a minimum.
Sometimes I manually water some specific areas that need special care, like my vegetable garden.
It takes some time and effort on my side, but doing so I make my irrigation much more efficient.
11. Installed dual-flush systems for the toilet tanks. If you push the small button you get a mild flush, if you push the bigger one you get a bigger flush, but it uses still less water than a regular flushing system.
12. Flush less. This is gross, but we also have the general agreement that "if it's yellow, let it mellow; if it's brown, flush it down", up to a certain extent. Of course the children love it - like they needed an excuse not to flush! (PS: the agreement is null when guests are expected).
13. Treat clean water like gold. Every waste of water should be avoided, and simple things like turning off the water while brushing your teeth, using water efficiently of water usage when washing dishes, taking "submarine" type showers, where you turn off the water while soaping up, are great way to conserve.
Teach these to you children in a fun way, you can give values that will stay with them for a lifetime.
Tips to Reuse, Recycle, and Reduce
14. Use both sides of paper. I have a never ending supply of scrap paper from the sheets the children bring home from school.
15. Sort my trash. I limit what goes into the regular trash to the minimum. Bio things go in the sink disposer, recyclable go to the recycle bins, and lawn waste I bring to the city's lawn waste dump site. I collect hazardous trash, like batteries, and take it to the specialized collection points every few months. I store all donatable items in boxes and donate them at the first occasion.
16. Two trash cans in the kitchen, one regular trash, one for recyclable items. It's much easier for the children to recycle when they know plastic and paper go in one container, and it's much more convenient for adults too, because it saves many trips to the garage, where we keep the recycle bin.
16. Reuse plastic containers. When discarded, plastic takes forever to decompose. Even when recycled, it needs energy and costs to be processed, so it much more eco-friendly to reuse plastic as much as possible. Nice size containers, like the clear salad packages, come handy to wash my veggies, or I use them as planters for my seedlings in the spring. Plastic cups from parties, pudding and yogurt cups, they can all be used as single-plant starter, I keep them during winter and then start my vegetable garden from seed in them.
17. Pack lunch in reusable plastic containers instead of paper bags, plastic wrap, or plastic bags.
18. Fix things. If it’s broken, I try to fix it before throwing out. This is true for everything, from socks, to pants, to furniture, to tools. Sometimes the “fixed” item it’s no longer useful for the initial purpose and I re-purpose it. Like a broken or stained shower curtain may become a craft tablecloth, or old or single socks may transform into hand puppets, worn shirts become cleaning rags, etc.
19. Filter water. I purify my tap water with a filter and use less plastic.Most of the bottled water is from tap anyway…
20. Shop with reusable tote bags made of organic canvas or recycled materials.
Tips to Limit Pollution
21. Throw cooking oil in the garbage - instead of down the sink drain. This saves the waterways.
22. Don’t flush garbage or hazardous waste down the toilet.
23. Improve indoor air quality.
- Controlling the sources of pollution, like chemicals, gases, and living organisms like mold and pests. I clean with the least toxic products that would do the job, for instance I love to use white distilled vinegar and baking soda for a lot of my cleaning.
- Ventilating: Increasing the amount of fresh air brought indoors helps reduce pollutants inside. When weather permits, I open windows and doors. Bathroom and kitchen fans that exhaust to the outdoors also increase ventilation and help remove pollutants.
- Changing filters regularly:Central heaters and air conditioners have filters to trap dust and other pollutants in the air. I change or clean the filters regularly, following the instructions on the package.
24. Radon reduction pump. When we purchased our home the basement tested positive for a slightly above the limits radon presence in the air. Radon is a radioactive gas that is formed in the soil and gets indoors through cracks and openings in floors and walls. Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer among nonsmokers, and the second leading cause of lung cancer overall. So the first thing we did after signing the purchase contract we invested on a radon pump system to keep the basement air clean.
25. Buy local organic produce and grow my own. Supporting local farmers reduces transportation pollution and the use of synthetic fertilisers.
Each of us is responsible for our health, our safety, and our environment. When we buy something we should always consider how the product and its use will affect us and the environment in the long run.
I try to make purchases that align with my values which include: caring for my family, respecting nature and the environment, and embracing social responsibility.
© 2012 Robie Benve