Happy Earth Day! You know, it wasn't that long ago that caring about our impact on the environment generally went hand in hand with wearing weird clothes, being a vegetarian or vegan, and being seen as a hippie, tree hugging flower child. While that might be fun for some, it doesn't fit for all. However, taking steps to reduce our negative impact on the environment can fit within any lifestyle, and are surprisingly easy to do! Much of the time, it simply involves changing our habits.
One of our focuses this year at The Weed Patch has been finding ways for us to reduce our "carbon footprint." I hadn't heard this term before a few months ago. You might be hearing it a lot now. In fact, there is even a website: www.carbonfootprint.com. They define this term as a "measure of the impact our activities have on the environment in terms of the amount of greenhouse gases we produce. It is measured in units of carbon dioxide."
Some examples are gas and oil consumption in the use of delivering goods and/or supplies, or electricity used to heat and light businesses. Companies are starting to take notice of this issue, and are pursing ways to offset their carbon footprint, either by reducing their carbon impact, or offsetting through measures such as planting trees. Some of the things we've been doing here at The Weed Patch is switching all our light bulbs from incandescent to compact florescent (CFLs). When unpacking all the freight we receive on a daily basis, we save as many of the boxes, packing peanuts, and bubble wrap as possible to reuse when packaging and mailing our Internet orders. We are currently looking into options for planting trees with each Internet order.
There are things you can do at home, too! In honor of Earth Day, here are 20 simple ideas for living green - most are cheap, and even will save you a significant amount of money, like with your heating and water bill. If you have additional ideas, please feel free to share them with us by commenting or emailing us - we've love to hear from you!
1. Unplug your cell phone charger, toaster, coffee maker, and other items you typically plug in - they do still use a surprising amount of energy.
2. Turn off your faucet when brushing your teeth. Gallons of waters are wasted every day with faucets running full blast while you brush and aren't even using the water.
3. Opt for a low flow toilet. If that isn't an option, fill a water bottle full of water and store in the
tank - it will fill up with less water.
4. Switch all your incandescent bulbs with CFLs - they last longer and use a lot less energy. I just read this information on Wal-Mart's website:
If every Wal-Mart shopper used one of these 13 watt GE Energy Smart™
bulbs in place of an ordinary 60 watt bulb, over the rated life of the
bulb, we would prevent enough CO2 emissions to equal taking over 11
million cars off the road for a year.
5. Wherever possible, choose foods that are grown and/or packaged locally - not only will you be supporting your local economy, the food will be fresher, and you won't be supporting the high amount of fuels taken in transporting food from faraway places. This works for any item, really - the closer it is made to where you are purchasing it, the less the carbon footprint.
6. Opt for soy candles. Most candles are made from petroleum products, which are not a renewable source. Not only is soy renewable, it supports American farmers, burns cleaner, and lasts much longer.
7. Same rule applies above for handmade soap. It is better for your body, generally supports local artisans, who often even grown their own plant materials to use in the soap. Natural soaps and cleaning supplies produce less chemicals flowing into the sewer system, too.
8. Add more oxygen to the air by planting a tree! You can breath easier knowing you're offsetting your own carbon footprint, while also providing for the local wildlife. I got this fact from the Arbor Day Foundation: Two mature trees can produce enough air for a family
of four. Once acre of trees removes 2.6 million tons of carbon dioxide
9. Keep your rechargeable batteries (commonly found in cordless power tools, cellular and cordless phones, laptop computers, camcorders, digital cameras, and remote control toys) out of the landfill by recycling them. Find a drop off site here.
10. Recycle, reuse, repurpose - When you need something, shop your local thrift and second hand stores, or even garage sales! The hunt is half the fun (the savings is the other half!).
11. When you do go to the store, opt to purchase items that use less packaging, such as a liter of soda rather than a 6 pack. This is almost always cheaper, too.
12. Become best friends with your slow cooker - it produces amazing results, and uses a lot less energy than your oven!
13. Check out your fridge - if it is over 10 years old, consider buying a new one. Old fridges tend to be one of the biggest energy hogs in your house, because the older it gets the harder it has to work to keep your food cold, thereby sucking up energy. Look for the energy star label when choosing a new fridge.
14. Insulate your hot water pipes and hot water heater.
15. Take public transportation whenever hospital. Even taking the bus once a month will make a difference.
16. Go ahead and get a dishwasher. You are to be commended for all that thrifty hand washing, however this uses tons more water than a dishwasher, especially if it has an energy star label, and is ran only when full.
17. Get a rain barrel. Rain is free water that can be used to water your plants!
18. Repurpose your used coffee grounds in your garden. My mom has used them with her hydrangeas, which change color! Here is a great article on using coffee grounds in the garden, rather than adding them to the landfill (and considering how much coffee we drink, you can imagine how much grounds end up dumped!).
19. Be sure all that junk mail ends up the recycle bin (shred anything with identifying info, first!), rather than the trash - then visit this site to see how you can stop all that daily waste called junk mail!
20. Learn more about the Earth! Chris and I recently purchased this DVD set, and it is absolutely amazing. We are simply transfixed when we watch it. It literally covers the entire earth, and it commonly thought of as the greatest nature/wildlife series ever produced.
Some fun sites for more info....