On the green spectrum, I’m probably chartreuse or maybe teal so I’m always contemplating how to be more “green.” Each April, as Earth Day approaches, I take stock and think about what small steps I can take in the coming year to move closer to the penultimate preserver of the planet.
After checking out content from the EPA and some of my favorite green blogs, I’ve come up with how to be green in 20014.
Don’t drive — at least not all the time and everywhere you go.
Walk, ride a bike, take public transportation or at least car pool. In this day and age of collaborative consumption, ride sharing or carpooling is easier than ever. There are tons of apps to help you find people from your town with a similar commute. I drive about 50 miles each day and what really strikes me when I’m stuck in gridlock traffic both ways is that there are simply too many cars on the road and each car seems to be occupied by only one person. According to the EPA, working from home twice a week or leaving your car at home can cut greenhouse gas emissions by 1,600 pounds per year. I do work from home one day a week but I also vow in the next year to try to rideshare or carpool at least one other day per week. If that doesn’t work out, I will take the train on the one day a week I don’t need to rush home to be with my daughter.
Reuse. It’s even better than recycling.
On my path toward green, I try to be good about reusing wrapping paper and greeting cards, grocery bags and shipping boxes. Another thing we can all do is pass on the things we don’t use to someone who can. I’m reminded of that every day at work because Gazelle is the leading reCommerce site, and we give consumers cash for their unwanted devices and reselling those devices to people in far flung places who need them.
Give up plastic
I’m proud to live in the first town in America to ban single-serving plastic bottles. That’s right, Concord, Massachusetts outlawed the sale of single-serving plastic water and soda bottles last year.
According to the Concord Ban the Bottle organization, plastic bottle manufacturing uses 17 million barrels of oil each year in the U.S. or enough to power 1.3 million cars for a year. Their website also states: “In 2007, Americans consumed over 50 billion single serve bottles of water. With a recycling rate of only 23%, over 38 billion bottles end up in landfills.”
I’ll admit that, at first, it was a bit of a nuisance but it didn’t take long to get used to bringing my own reusable water bottle everywhere I go.
The city of San Francisco recently banned the use of plastic water bottles at events attended by more than 100 people and Seattle is considering a ban. A movement appears to be in the works.
Sometimes, I still do buy drinks in plastic bottles in other towns but I now know better, so I’ll add it to my list of things to improve upon this year.
I love a good hot soak in the tub but showers are far more efficient (and green) than baths. In fact, according to the EPA (http://www.epa.gov/earthday/tips.htm), a typical bath uses 70 gallons of water versus 10-25 gallons for a five minute shower.
Did you know that for most dishwashers, there’s no benefit in pre-rinsing your dishes, and it wastes a lot of water? Be sure to conserve by not running until the dishwasher is full. Same goes for the washing machine. High efficiency appliances also go a long way in cutting your wasted water, plus you can get a tax break. Also, think twice before throwing your clothes in the laundry. Unless it’s visibly dirty or smelly, your clothes may not need to be washed after each wear. Clothes last longer the less often they are tossed around the machine, too.
Finally, to save fuel, not just from your vehicle but even more important from delivery vehicles, it’s green to go local. If you’re lucky enough to live within walking or biking distance, to local shops, even better. Walking or biking is better for your health and Mother Nature’s.
So those are my thoughts on how to be green in 2014. What other things do you do that make your life more green?