The Rabid Recycler
Reduce, reuse, recycle: 19 ways to save the planet
Editors Note: In this periodic column, rabid recycler Debbie Markey offers tips on how to get into the recycling habit.
Forty years ago Kermit the Frog sang for the first time "It's not easy being green." He expressed his frustrations of being the color green and how "ordinary" that was.
Today "being green" has a whole new meaning. It’s about being environmentally aware and making choices that are earth friendly and responsible. Many people agree that we should do a better job of taking care of the earth, but most of us do little more than recycle. A major reason for our lack of action stems from the fact that most people don't realize how easy it really is to be "green."
There are lots of easy little things you can do around your house or work to get started. Here are a few:
1. Reduce the amount of water you use by taking a shorter shower. You can save 10 gallons of water for every two minutes you shave off your shower time. (Editor's Note: In the interest of creativity, we've thought of another way to save water: Take a shower with your significant other.)
2. When washing your hands or just rinsing dishes, turn the faucet on at a fraction of the volume.
3. Reduce the disposable water bottles or cups you use. Instead of drinking bottled water, buy a filter for your faucets at home. Bring extra glasses and mugs to work instead of using disposable cups.
4. Save paper by getting rid of junk mail and recycling what still makes it to your mailbox. You can pay a small fee at Stopthejunkmail.com and get off all those unwanted mailing lists.
5. Reduce your energy needs by closing your curtains when it’s sunny and hot outside and opening them when it's cold in the winter.
6. Arrange your furniture so that desks and reading chairs are next to windows so you can take advantage of natural light instead of relying on artificial light.
7. Reduce your energy consumption by 80-85% by washing your clothes in warm and cold water instead of hot water. Save the hot water for washing out stains.
8. Buy products that do not have excessive plastic packaging. If one out of 10 items you bought had little or no packaging, your household waste would be reduced by 50 pounds a year.
9. Instead of buying a new book, check it out from the library or instead of buying a DVD, rent it.
10. Buy and download music off the Internet instead of buying the CD from the store. Each month more than 45 tons of CD's end up in the landfill because they became outdated or unwanted. (Bet you never thought downloading iTunes was a green thing to do!)
11. Replace your regular batteries with rechargeable batteries. Most rechargeable batteries can be recharged and reused up to 1,000 times.
12. Use left-over grocery bags as trash can liners. When one ton of plastic bags are reused it is the energy equivalent of 11 barrels of oil saved.
13. Instead of using Styrofoam peanuts to pack materials, divert some of the newspaper from the recycle pile and crumple it up and use it as packing material.
14. Instead of buying brand new computers, electronics, power tools or household appliances, consider buying refurbished or slightly used items. They cost a lot less and you can help save them from being dumped in our landfills.
15. Before buying new furniture, consider repairing, refinishing or reupholstering what you have. If that's not an option, donate it. Donating other useful working items like old computers, pots and pans, old jewelry, old cell phones, or any kind of appliance is a much better alternative to throwing them out.
16. According to The Green Book by Rogers and Kostigen, if everyone in America just did the traditional recycling of separating their paper, plastic, glass, and aluminum products from the rest of their trash, we could reduce the amount of trash going to our landfills by 75%! But there are other things besides these materials that we can recycle.
18. Old clothes that are too far gone to donate can be cut into squares and used as cleaning rags.
19. You can even recycle your grass. When you mow your grass, cut it to 2 inches, and leave the clippings in the lawn. You won't have to water your lawn as much and the clippings make a great organic fertilizer.
These tips just scratch the surface of the things you can do to be green. The important thing to remember is to start small. It's not about throwing away everything you have and changing your lifestyle dramatically; it's about filling your life with options that make sense to you and your family.
Can you add to this list? Let us know some simple green things you have incorporated into your life.