Resource Library - "The Environment" Articles

Saving Our Planet - Reuse It!
Many everyday items can have more than one use. Before you throw something away, consider a different way to use it. Here are some examples:

· Use the inside of cardboard food boxes for kids to color.
· Start seedlings in an egg carton.
· Use plastic yogurt, sour cream, cottage cheese and other plastic containers for a variety of purposes—from storing food to organizing small items.
· Keep envelopes from junk mail and bills for shopping lists, notes and drawing paper for kids.
· Fill up gallon-size milk jugs or other plastic bottles with water and freeze for block ice in your ice chest.
· Use old toothbrushes for cleaning tools.
· Wrap postal packages or textbooks with paper grocery bags.
· Use leftover pieces of wallpaper to make shelf and drawer liners.
· Wash out plastic bags and use again.
· Place carpet remnants under floor plants to catch excess water.
· Use deflated Mylar balloons to wrap gifts.
· Dip dried-up marker tips in water for 10 seconds. Blot excess water.


Cut Waste With The Three Rs
In 2005, U.S. residents, businesses and institutions produced more than 240 million tons of waste—that’s close to 4.7 pounds per person, per day. Approximately 77 million tons of this waste was recycled or composted and the rest either combusted (38 million tons) or sent to landfills (125 million tons). With this kind of waste, it’s crucial that more people do more recycling. Join the conservation effort! Below, you’ll find some tips that can help you reduce, reuse and recycle:

HOME
Use both sides of paper.
Purchase products compatible with your neighborhood recycling program.
Donate unwanted clothes, toys or household goods to a charitable organization or homeless shelter. Use worn-out clothes or towels for rags.
Place tree and grass trimmings, leaves and weeds in your green waste bin.
Recycle your junk mail. Better yet, reduce the amount of junk mail you receive by having your name removed from national mailing and broker lists.
Reuse packaging peanuts or donate them.
Buy household and commercial cleaning products in refillable sizes.

KITCHEN
Compost your kitchen and garden waste at home.
Use glass or ceramic instead of disposable cups.
Buy in bulk whenever possible to eliminate packaging waste.
Store leftover food in reusable containers instead of using plastic wrap or foil.
Use sponges or rags instead of paper towels.
Place sandwiches and snacks in reusable containers, not plastic baggies.
Use mesh coffee filters instead of paper filters.

BATHROOM
Use old toothbrushes as cleaning tools.
Use refillable cartridge razors or an electric razor instead of disposable razors.
Buy liquid soap, shampoo and conditioner in refillable sizes.
Buy unbleached, recycled paper products in bulk.
Avoid aerosol cans. Look for products in recyclable bottles.

PAPER RECYCLING
Share magazines with friends or donate your already read magazines to hospitals, libraries or community centers.
Create a demand for recycled paper by using recycled printing and writing paper. Support local recycling efforts.
Cancel unnecessary magazine subscriptions.
Telephone books and cardboard boxes can be recycled at curbside.
Brown paper bags can be recycled with corrugated cardboard.

FOOD SHOPPING
Bring your own reusable cloth or mesh bags when you go shopping. If you have to use plastic or paper shopping bags, reuse them as garbage bags or return them to the store for recycling.
Make a list and buy only what you really need when you shop.
Buy products that come in recyclable packaging.
Buy your milk in recyclable plastic jugs or glass bottles instead of non-recyclable wax-coated cartons.

Make Your Home Eco-Friendly
Everyone is looking for creative ways to save water, energy and money. There are lots of simple, low-cost ways to make energy consumption around the house more eco-friendly. These easy tips for each room add up to savings that benefit your budget, our resources and the environment. All savings based on a family of four per year.

IN THE KITCHEN
Install aerators. Aerators on faucets mix air with water to decrease water consumption and increase the feel of water pressure.
Savings: 1,700 gallons for all faucets

Wash dishes with less water. Wet all dishes with cold water and turn off the tap. Scrub dishes with soapy sponge until the soap runs out. Rinse those and set in a dish rack, then repeat process.
Savings: 2,372 gallons, plus the energy it takes to heat the water

Don’t do the dirty work. There’s no need to pre-rinse plates before loading a dishwasher. Most dishwashers are now built to do the job. Also, run the dishwasher only when it’s full.
Savings: 6,500 gallons, plus energy for heat and electricity

Downsize dinner. Prepare entrees in 8x8-inch baking dishes or regular loaf pans, then bake in a toaster oven instead of a large oven.
Savings: Up to 50 percent of energy used by conventional ovens

Put the freeze on ice makers. When it’s chilly outside, cold drink consumption goes down, but automatic ice makers keep running. Switch to hand-filled ice trays or turn the ice maker off when the bucket is full.
Savings: $13.80

Power strip it. Electronic devices are major electricity drains when left plugged in. The solution? Power strips with on/off switches and multiple plugs. They make it easy to cut the current flow to several devices at once.
Savings: $100 and up

IN THE BATHROOM
Stop the flow. Turn off the faucet while brushing your teeth or washing your face and you save up to 10 gallons per day.
Savings: 3,650 gallons of water

Avoid the tub. Everyone loves a hot soak in the tub, but it can require up to 50 gallons of water while a typical five-minute shower consumes less than 20 gallons.
Savings: 44,000 gallons

Rinse with cold water. Health experts say that unless you’re handling meat or work in food services, washing hands with cool water is as effective at killing germs as washing with hot. Switching to the cold will cut water and energy costs because waiting for water to heat up takes even longer in winter.
Savings: $75

Install new showerheads. Those made after January 1994 are required to use no more than 2.5 gallons of water per minute. Older low-flow showerheads spray up to 5 gallons each minute.
Savings: 10,950 gallons of water for five-minute showers

IN THE LAUNDRY ROOM
Lint removal. To improve dryer efficiency by 30 percent, remove lint from the filter after every use. A clear filter eases the strain on airflow, making it easier for the dryer to pull moisture from clothes.
Savings: $40

Reload right away. Dry batches of laundry one right after another so your dryer doesn’t have to reheat between loads. This will still work if your dryer has a 10-minute cool-down period at the end of the cycle. Clothes will dry faster.
Savings: 10-20 minutes’ worth of electricity per load

Wear it again. Rather than tossing the day’s outfit in the hamper after only one wear, put it back in the closet. You’ll trim laundry by two to three loads per month.
Savings: 1,100 gallons of water
Warm or cold, not hot. Laundry detergents have improved so that hot water is no longer necessary to remove smells and stains. About 90 percent of the energy used for washing clothes goes to heating the water, so setting the cycle on warm can cut a load’s energy consumption in half. Going cold will save even more.
Savings: $43 or more

AROUND THE HOUSE
Lighten up. With incandescent bulbs, only 10 percent of the energy they use is converted to light. Replacing just 10 of these bulbs with longer-lasting compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs) can spare the environment the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by the average SUV in a year. Ask your local power company if it offers free CFLs.

Savings: $67 for 10 bulbs
Warm up with fans. Ceiling fans can help when it comes to heating your home. Set them to spin counter-clockwise in winter and they will force warm air down into living areas. This will keep your space warmer and helps maintain a steady temperature, so your heating system doesn’t kick in and cut off intermittently.
Savings: $180 for four fans

Insulate water heater. For about $20 you can save up to 9 percent on water-heating costs when you purchase and install a water heater insulation blanket.
Savings: $102