Thursday 13: Earth Day EditionApril 22, 2010
Thirteen simple things we can all do to become more environmentally aware…
- Recycle. There is just no excuse for not doing it if you live in a community with curbside pickup. If, like me, you don’t have curbside pickup, see if there are recycling receptacles near you where you can take your recyclable trash. Also, make sure that you know what items are accepted.
- Recycle some more. Things that aren’t accepted at municipal recycling can still be recycled. The Lion’s Club collects used eyeglasses. CFL bulbs can (and, because they contain mercury, should!) be recycled (here’s how). Single use (i.e., non-rechargeable) batteries can also be recycled — to find a location near you, enter your zip code here. Old cell phones can be sent to Cell Phones for Soldiers.
- Go paperless. Avoid using/collecting paper unless it’s really necessary. A comedian once said that whenever someone handed him a flyer, it was as if they were telling him, “Here, you throw this away.” If he’s right, and all you’re going to do is throw it in the trash, just say, “No thank you” and refuse to take it. Make 2-sided photocopies at work. Re-use scrap paper for notes, kids’ drawings, etc. Pay bills online and, if possible, get your statements delivered electronically as well.
- Say Bye to the Bags. When packing lunches, don’t brown bag it — use a reusable lunch box or other type of insulated carrier. (Bonus! One option is to buy really fashionable lunch totes.) Likewise, put sandwiches in a reusable container or wrap instead of a plastic bag. And of course, don’t forget to use re-usable shopping bags instead of the stores’ plastic ones. I’m partial to this one from Knock Knock.
- Freecycle or Donate Your Stuff. That old starter furniture that you got when you first set up house on your own? Yeah, you may have outgrown it, but that doesn’t mean someone else couldn’t use it. Offer it on Freecycle or take it to a charity shop such as Salvation Army or Goodwill. In either case, you will be keeping the items out of the landfill and providing them to someone who really needs them. Old magazines can be donated to hospitals.
- Compost. I just started doing this. I’m not sure how successful I will be, but I can tell you that it’s very easy to go dump your food trash in a bin outside rather than in the kitchen trash can.
- Don’t Live a Disposable Life. A new product being advertised, the Kleenex Hand Towel, is about as environmentally un-friendly as you can get. If you don’t want to use a towel that other people have wiped their just-washed hands on, then get some waterless hand sanitizer. Disposable items should be avoided if you are attempting to reduce household waste. For more ideas, see this list at Blisstree.
- Get Less Junk Mail. Click here to get your name removed from the mailing list for those annoying credit card offers.
- What’s the 411? If you never use a phone book to look up numbers (I use Google instead), consider stopping delivery of the annual yellow and/or white pages books. You can get off the distribution list here.
- Lights Out! Get in the habit of turning off the light when you leave a room. Even if you think you might go back in there in ten minutes. You can even install a motion sensor light in areas that you only pass through (stairways, halls, etc).
- Program the Thermostat. Switch to a programmable digital thermostat and you can set it to only run during times when you are home. There really isn’t any need to keep the house at a certain temperature when no one is there to enjoy it, is there?
- Water, Water Everywhere. Use a refillable water bottle when you’re on the go. At home and in restaurants, opt for tap water.
- Carpool. When a group of people are all meeting at one place, find out if anyone wants to share a ride.
Some of these things I do faithfully. Some I’m not so good at. But I am hoping that by this time next year I will be practicing what I preach and looking at other ways to help lessen the negative impact I have on the environment.