Simple Changes Make A Big Difference
by Mike Severson
Like a crash diet that leaves you 5 pounds heavier than when you started, an overly aggressive 'going green' strategy will backfire. In the spirit of sustainability we have chosen to focus on being able to sustain our sustainable practices by offering 7 things that you can do easily, cheaply and with little impact to your everyday life.
Have a green lawn with less water!
Adjust your automatic sprinkler system to water an hour or two before dawn rather than during the day when a lot of water evaporates. Periodically check the sprinklers for damaged, leaking or poorly aimed heads. If there is run off onto the street or sidewalks there is too much water going onto the lawn, shorten the amount of time spent watering that zone. Bonus: Keep your lawn a bit longer in the summer, it will require less water and the kids will enjoy playing on it more.
Drive more conservatively
If you drive more slowly you will save gas. You can see substantial savings and increase the safety of our neighborhoods by driving less aggressively on surface streets. Try a little experiment: The next time you fill up vow to 'take it easy' on the gas pedal when leaving a stop. You will notice a marked improvement in fuel economy and make our streets safer for kids, pets and other drivers. Bonus: Check your tire pressure, get your oil changed and stay on top of that air filter. Basically, listen to your father.
Reduce Your Waste at the Curb
Food that is put into a landfill creates methane as it decomposes, which is 21 times more damaging to the environment than carbon dioxide. According to the EPA as of 2006, 25% of the waste being generated in the US is food waste, most of which can be composted. Go ahead and carve out a bit of backyard or patio and get a composter. Bonus: Compost makes a great fertilizer and can reduce the amount of chemicals you expose your family to.
CFL Bulbs...you knew this was coming
Replace lights that you use often with Compact Florescent Bulbs (CFLs). If you gave them a shot when they first came out and snarled at the hospital-esque glow of your lamp it's time to give them another try. They are now available in different light temperatures (colors), shapes and more. Visit energystar.gov to see all the varieties now available. According to the LADWP each incandescent bulb we replace with a CFL eliminates the need to burn 400 pounds of coal. Bonus: Each bulb lasts 10 times longer than an incandescent bulb and generates less heat.
Dispose of your Hazardous Waste and Old Electronics Properly
Paint, batteries, electronics, nail polish, cleaning supplies, CFLs...the list goes on-and-on. For a complete list of the items that should not be included in the curbside trash collection bin simply Google it. Your city undoubtedly has collection events and/or permanent collection sites. Many retail locations are collecting batteries and used electronics for their customers.Bonus: Most of the material collected can be recycled very efficiently!
Buy Locally Grown Food and Eat in Season
The freight industry is a huge contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, not to mention congestion on our freeways and roads. Become a “locavore” and try to buy only food produced within a 150 mile radius, or maybe just start with produce.
A farmer’s market is the best place to buy local. If you are shopping at a supermarket, buy organic food. By design it does not have as long a shelf life so whatever you are buying has to be produced more closely. Either way, try to eat fruits and vegetables that are in season to discourage shipping in produce from distant locations. Oh, and don't forget your canvas bags! Bonus: Your farmer’s market has fresh flowers that are inexpensive and go a long way when you get home.
Consolidate Shopping to Avoid Shipping, Shop Less
It is important to think about the impact that shop-at-home convenience has in the form of additional packaging and the greenhouse gasses generated by the shipping. Research your purchases online and pick them up locally the next time you are nearby. Bonus: Even if it's from a chain store, buying locally stimulates the economy in your area and keeps people employed...which is good for everyone.
There you have it. Simple, straightforward and relatively painless. Who knows, a few months from now you may even be bragging to your neighbors about how empty your garbage bin is every week while riding your new bike to the store. The bonus there, besides the obvious health benefit, is especially for dads: Seeing the look of horror on your teenage daughter’s face when you pedal off with your helmet on. Priceless.