Use fluorescent light bulbs. A small simple thing. They use energy more efficiently. Regular light bulbs waste 90% of the electricity flowing to them; a fluorescent bulb uses the majority of what it receives. florescent bulbs cost more to purchase, but they last up to five years, and each one you use will reduce your electric bill a tiny bit – over time not only helping the planet, but also saving you money. Use sunlight. Don’t turn on lights at all in the daylight hours, but use natural lighting.
Be aware of electricity parasites. Avoid purchasing electronics with “power save” or “stand by” modes. When you turn these products off, they are still using electricity. Be sure to turn off things not in use: cable boxes, DVDs, back-up drives, even high-speed modems have power switches.
Cloth grocery bags. Paper grocery bags eat trees. Plastic is dangerous to wildlife, and does not biodegrade. And what is in this for you? Besides looking slightly eccentric at the grocery store? Well, cloth bags do not break. They can be packed heavy without the fear of tearing when you pick them up out of the trunk. Each standard cloth shopping bag holds the equivalent of four or five plastic bags, or two paper bags. Of course you have to train the baggers to pack them properly – but in doing so you are offered the opportunity to explain why you are using them to a young person, hopefully instilling environmentally correct ideas in his or her head. This is, without question, the most efficient form of bag-recycling. When making small purchases – don’t use bags at all. Whether you know it or not, you’re paying for the paper and plastic your groceries are in, an average of $.02 per bag (x 10 bags per week x 52 weeks x however long you live (in 40yrs that is $416…it could easily be over $500 for grocery bags). In many European countries customers are charged up-front per disposable bag.
Be package conscious. The less packaging the better. This particular line of attack was used to change the way CDs are packaged. Buy things with minimal packaging, or in recyclable containers. When possible buy in bulk. Avoid styrofoam; 100 yrs from now the styrofoam egg cartons you throw away today will still be intact in landfills.
Eliminate excessive paper. Say NO to gas receipts (unless you need them for your taxes) when paying for fuel at the pump. If you are reading this you have internet service – use it wisely and convert to paperless bills (many companies will give you a discount for this). Pay bills using a debit card instead of a check (if online banking frightens you, most companies now allow pay by phone). Bank statements can be downloaded and stored electronically. Use direct deposit. Don’t buy newspapers, or magazines, read news online. Shred and recycle paper you do use.
Share. Netflix and Gamefly offer wonderful services. They ship their products in recyclable packaging (the DVD or game is returned in the same envelope it comes in). Why buy these things? Ok, so there are movies and games that you will want to own – but not every one you watch or play. The cost of these services is minimal, and the convenience a keystroke away. Amazon and iTunes offer digital downloads now, and Netflix and many other services offer streaming. Use libraries, and/or used books stores. When shopping for clothes try thrift and consignment shops first. It is less trash we leave for future generations.
Economize fuel. Incorporate as much as possible into each trip. Only make necessary trips. Carpool (Jamie and I do almost all of our outings together). My trips consist of cycle of things…bank-gas-bookstore-chocolatier-post office-petstore-groceries-farm stand. Instead of dropping kids off and returning home, find a place to wait. Walk when possible.
Use environmentally-friendly products. A good example is Shaklee cleaning products: Basic G (germicide), Basic L (laundry soap), and Basic H (general household cleaner). I have used these products around my birds with no ill effects for years.
Support natural/local farming. It takes more energy to produce and transport the food that you eat than you get from it. For example, a steak…the cow, as a baby was transported to a feedlot (gas used to transport something weighing 1000lbs), this cow was then fed processed hormone and antibiotic “enriched” corn/grain (industrialized food processing at it best using fuels, electricity, manpower…), the cow was slaughtered and butchered, before being packaged and shipped cross country (more fuel and man hours) – from this beef you will likely get 1000 kcals (if you eat like an average American). Consider: how much energy or how many calories went into producing that piece of meat? The same is true for veggies and fruits. If they are not fresh and purchased locally, then more energy went into their production and preservation than you will ultimately gain from them.
Recycle. Plastic, glass, aluminum, paper, clothes, books, electronics, videos, DVDs. Recycling demands conscious shopping. Other ways of recycling include…sharing scraps and leftovers with nature…composting…feeding whatever the parrots don’t eat each day to the wild birds, taking books to a book exchange, clothes to thrift stores, recycling ink cartridges will earn you a discount at Office Max, batteries can be recycled, old cell phones, if still usable can be donated to battered women’s programs…
We have only one planet…so what have you done today?
Originally posted on MySpace blog, 2007.