Going Green

We are continually hearing more and more about the failing health of our earth. When it comes to helping out and doing our part for this planet, most of us fall into one of three categories: Category one – We are too used to living life a certain way and refuse to change anything to help. Category two – We have completely dedicated our lives to “going green” and will do whatever it takes to save the earth.

Category three – (the majority of us fall here): Concerned and wanting to help, but unsure of how and or where to start.

Recently I decided that it was time for my family to dedicate a little more time and effort into doing our part for this earth. I personally wanted to find practical ways to help that were easy and quick to implement. Throughout my research I discovered what I think are wonderful ways for the average family to help out without completely reorganizing their lifestyle.

1. Shave one minute off your hot shower. By doing this, you can actually keep 170 pounds of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere. Not to mention the water it saves.

2. Match up your pan size to your burner size. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, cooking with a 6-inch pan on an 8-inch burner wastes 40 percent of the heat. (Also, make sure you are using stainless steel or glass to minimize toxins in your food).

3. Dry your razor after shaving. Just a quick pat dry after each use will double the lifespan of your blade and save space at the landfill. Did you know Americans throw away 2 billion disposable razors each year?

4. Switch to voice mail. Answering machines use up tons of stand-by energy (electricity consumed by an appliance even when it is not in use). If you can’t switch over yet, unplug it when you’re home. If all Americans converted, we would save more than 2 billion kilowatt hours of energy. About the same as taking 250,000 cars off the road for an entire year!

5. Wash with powder detergents instead of liquid, and wash in cold water. Not only do powder detergents usually come in biodegradable cardboard boxes, they also use up much less water (liquid detergents contain up to 80 percent water). Using cold water wash will reduce your machine’s energy usage by 90 percent. Also, don’t forget to clean the lint out of the dryer after each use. You will improve your dryer’s energy efficiency by 30 percent and save around $40 each year on utilities.

6. Get rid of the disposable lighters. Most of them contain petroleum-based fuels (which are toxic to your cells in the first place) and are made of plastic that does not bio-degrade. Choose matches.

7. Keep the appropriate amount of air in your tires. Even brand new tires lose air over time. This causes the engine to have to work much harder, which in turn causes your car to give off more greenhouse gases. Maintaining the proper pressure can improve your vehicle’s gas mileage by more than 3 percent and can extend the life of your tires by 15 percent. Also, gradually accelerating and braking pays off as well. Careful drivers use 35 percent less gas than more aggressive drivers.

8. Skip the receipt at the ATM and gas pump. If every American did this, we would save enough paper to circle the earth 15 times every year.

9. Let your food cool before putting it in the refrigerator or freezer. Putting hot or moisture-rich foods in makes it harder for your fridge or freezer to maintain cold temperatures. Make sure you cover your foods with a lid or a plate instead of foil or plastic wrap to minimize waste and eliminate the addition of toxic chemicals into your food.

If everyone committed to doing even one or two of these simple tips, our world would be saved quickly and easily. But that’s just it – it takes everyone to do their part. Even though it may seem like no big deal when you are doing it, with time and consistency, it truly adds up.

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