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- A running faucet uses 2.5 gallons of water each minute it’s on. Remember to turn it off while brushing your teeth and doing other tasks!
- On average, a dishwasher uses 11 gallons of water per use. Cut down on your water bill and ecological impact by only running it when it is fully loaded. ($)
- Running the faucet for 5 minutes uses enough energy to run a 60 watt light bulb for 14 hours.
- Did you know that toilets made before 1995 use up to 60% more water per flush than newer models? Keep this in mind if you are considering remodeling.
- A full bathtub uses about 70 gallons of water. A 5-10 minute shower? 10-25 gallons. Save time, money, and resources by opting for a shower.
- If you set your water heater to about 120°F, this could save 225 kilograms of carbon dioxide — and $30 per year!($)
- The idea of “virtual water” is the amount of water used in the creation of a single product. For example, 1 orange requires about 13 gallons of water, 1 beef steak about 1,200 gallons, and 1 cotton shirt around 713 gallons. For more information, check out www.waterfootprint.org
- Did you know that using the cold water setting on your washing machine will save 80-90% of energy costs vs. using hot water? ($)
- If you have a garden, mulch your beds and use plants that like dry climates to save on you water use.
- Establish a rain garden in your yard to collect and filter runoff before it reaches nearby water bodies. Some municipalities offer tax credits to homeowners who install rain gardens. For more information, visit www.raingardennetwork.com ($)
- Invest in a squeeze nozzle for your hose so you can shut off water flow when you don’t need it.
- If you have an outdoor pool, keep a cover on it when not in use. Not only will this help to keep it clean, but it also traps water-preventing evaporation and saves on your water bill. ($)
- As the population of the planet grows exponentially, our drinkable water supply remains at about 1% of the total water on the planet. Be conscious of the fact that we are all sharing and need to reduce our use!
- Recycling steel and tin cans saves about 74% of the energy used to make them.
- Did you know that Americans throw away enough aluminum every month to rebuild our entire commercial air fleet?
- When you throw away an aluminum can, you waste as much energy as if you filled the can half full of gasoline and poured it on the ground.
- Recycling one aluminum can saves enough energy to run a computer for 3 hours or a TV for 2 hours.
- A steel mill using recycled scrap reduces water pollution, air pollution, and mining waste by about 70%.
- Americans throw away enough iron and steel to continuously supply all the automakers in the entire nation.
- To reduce waste, try ordering your newspaper subscriptions online.
- Whenever possible, utilize double-sided printing.
- Use scrap paper when printing drafts and writing notes. It will make your supply last twice as long before it hits the recycling bin! Great for taking down phone messages or making grocery lists.
- When paper products are recycled, the EPA estimates that water pollution is lessened by 35%, and air pollution by 74% in contrast to processing new material.
- Junk mail is one of the biggest sources of waste in the common household. To reduce what is sent to you write to: Mail Preference Service, Direct Marketing Association, 6 East 43rd St., New York, NY 10017. They will stop your name from being sold to most large mailing list companies. You can also contact the Stop Junk Mail Association at (800) 827-5549.
- Americans use approximately 68 million tons of paper products each year. This equates to the pulp of one 100 ft. Douglas-fire tree for each person every year!
- It is estimated that US households receive a total of 19 billion catalogs by mail each year. A free online service, Catalog Choice, allows you to compile a list of catalogs you do not wish to receive and arranges to have your name removed from the corresponding mailing lists. Visit www.catalogchoice.org
- A little more than 48% of all office paper is recycled. The cost differential is minimal, if at all existent. Make the switch keep your office green!
- Switch to paying bills online when you can. It will save lots of paper, and many companies are happy to help you make this change.
- Start using rags and dish towels instead of paper towels when cleaning up small household messes. You’ll save money, cut back on waste, and the addition to your laundry loads will be minimal. The same is true for cloth napkins.
- If your company sends out a mailer, try putting a small graphic on it reminding the recipients to recycle the paper.
- Try reading some things on your computer screen instead of printing everything out. Never print unless it is necessary. Conserve and recycle instead.
- Plastic bottles are the most recycled plastic items, yet their recycle rate is only about 24%.
- Did you know that when a ton of plastic bottles is recycled approximately 3.8 barrels of petroleum is saved?
- In 1998, Americans used 2 billion pounds of HDPE (high-density polyethylene) to make plastic bottles for household products. That’s the equivalent weight of 90,000 Honda Civics.
- Bottling water is very unsustainable, a huge waste of energy, and possibly the most brilliant marketing scam ever. If filtered water is important to you, consider using a filter at home instead.
- Look for products with a minimal amount of packaging to cut down on your waste. Recyclable packaging is best. Buying in bulk when possible saves money and requires less packaging materials. ($)
- Did you know that enough plastic is produced in the United States each year to shrink-wrap Texas?
- Take a look at this slideshow and then…Use your own canvas bag every time you go grocery shopping to cut down on your waste. Some stores even offer a discount for making the switch! If you drive most places, keep your reusable bags in the car or hang them on the doorknob after unloading to make sure you don’t forget them next time!
- Enough plastic bottles are thrown away in the United States each year to circle the earth four times!
- Approximately 88% of energy is saved when new plastic is made from used, recycled plastic rather than from raw materials.
- Did you know that plastic bottles take an average of 500 years to biodegrade?
- The average American gets a new cell phone every 18 to 24 months. Only 10% of the old phones are recycled each year.
- The US EPA says that Americans throw away up to 125 million cell phones each year. This creates 65,000 tons of trash
- Old cell phones are the fastest growing type of manufactured trash in the nation.
- If a cell phone is no longer usable, all of its components are nearly 100% recyclable. Many phone stores will collect old phones when you go to purchase a new one to make recycling easy!
- The Director of the EPA’s Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery reports that the energy saved by recycling even one cell phone is enough to power a laptop for 44 hours.
- Computer equipment that is broken or that is more than five years old should be assigned for recycling or responsible destruction. These items should be sent to a computer recycler whose task it is to salvage useful parts before destroying what is left, making sure that hazardous materials and chemicals are removed in the process. Go to www.earth911.com to search for a recycling facility near you!
- If they are still available, include your mouse, keyboard, modem, printer, and other equipment that you use with your computer when donating. Schools and other non-profit organizations can often put them to good use.
- When shopping online, save order information on your computer. Printing it out uses paper, ink, filing, and storage. You can delete it when you’ve received your order.
- If your computer is less than five years old it may still be usable by someone else. Sending your old computer to a business that refurbishes old equipment is often the best way to donate it. This is often better than donating directly to schools or charities especially if you need to wipe your hard drive for personal information in your computer.
- Did you know that you save three pounds of raw materials when you recycle one empty inkjet cartridge?
- The average inkjet cartridge uses 3.5 ounces of oil in its production. Imagine this quantity saved a million times over when recycled.
- Recycling ink cartridges is very easily done. Most companies selling remanufactured inkjet cartridges have their own recycling programs.
- It takes 1,000 years for an ink cartridge to decompose — even more when it is inside a landfill. Each year 300 million of these cartridges are thrown away. This amounts to 75,000 tons of trash! Remember to reuse and recycle!
- Remanufactured or recycled ink cartridges are just as good as new ones. When you buy recycled cartridges at a slightly cheaper you price you are not sacrificing quality — they are cheaper because money was saved by the companies remanufacturing this product.
- According to the EPA, Americans throw away 25,000,000,000 (that’s billion) Styrofoam cups each year.
- Did you know that even 500 years from now, the Styrofoam or polystyrene coffee cup you used this morning will be sitting in a landfill?
- When improperly disposed of, the materials and chemicals that make up Styrofoam or polystyrene may be ingested by animals, causing death by starvation.
- The manufacturing process of Styrofoam consumes petroleum (which is a non-renewable resource) and benzene (which is known to be carcinogenic to humans). Find a reusable water bottle or mug to keep you hydrated instead!
- If possible, use energy-efficient appliances and switch them off when they are not in use to cut down on your energy consumption and bill. ($)
- Remember to use energy-efficient light bulbs in rooms that are used most often.
- Save energy by installing a programmable thermostat to heat and air condition your home.
- Remember to recycle or recharge your batteries!
- Seal up air leaks around windows and doors to cut down on heating costs in the winter. Double pane windows can also help. ($)
- Drive the speed limit to maximize your fuel efficiency!
- Take advantage of natural light. Keep your blinds open so that fewer bulbs will be switched on.
- Until fairly recently, wind turbines were only available for commercial use in turbine parks or empty rural areas. Now, consumers can choose from different sources for residential energy. Many energy providers such as DTE Energy are now offering consumers the option to choose where their electricity and gas come from. Read up on this at the DTE Energy website for Electric Choice and Natural Gas Choice.
- Most electronics in your home consume electricity even when turned “off”. It’s estimated that up to 75% of the energy used by these appliances is consumed while they are turned off. The best advice here is to unplug them or turn off the power-strip when the items are not in use. Televisions, VCRs, DVD players, and kitchen appliances like microwaves and coffee makers all draw energy when not being used. Why pay for all that electricity? ($)
- When shopping for cars, look for the most fuel-efficient vehicle within the class you want. Any extra cost would likely be paid back within a few years due to gas savings, but the difference can be easily calculated to be sure.($)
- Approximately 50% of car use is for trips within 3 miles of the home. This distance is within the range for easy biking, so it makes sense to try and use your bike for some of these short stops. You’ll be saving fuel and reducing pollution — and you can also save on trips to the gym with this added exercise.
- When shopping online, don’t opt for overnight delivery if you can help it. Shipping by air generates up to five times the fuel emissions as ground delivery. Also, try to combine online orders. This reduces packaging and deliveries — consider consolidating orders with a co-worker or friends.
- Visit and be inspired by a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified building like the Environmental Discovery Center at Indian Springs Metropark. It’s an internationally recognized certification that requires the use of practical and measurable geren building design, construction, operations, and maintenance solutions.
- Start purchasing organic fruits and vegetables when you can. “Organic” labels ensure that no pesticides or chemicals are used in the growing process so they are better for you and the environment.
- In North America today, the average meal has traveled 1,500 miles to reach your table.
- Invasion by non-native species is the second leading cause of global species extinction behind habitat destruction. Learn which invasive species occur in your area, then remove them from your yard and landscaping.
- Always support your local farmers. It will stimulate your local economy, reduce your carbon footprint (because there is less shipping involved), and you’ll feel more comfortable by getting to know a supplier you trust.
- Plant trees in your yard to shade your home — it will cut down on cooling costs in the hot months and the trees will absorb more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. ($)
- Start your own garden! And remember that plants native to your area will work best. They are adapted to your growing conditions and provide food and shelter for local wildlife.
- Buy food in season. Not only will you branch out to nutritious new options, but you will also reduce your carbon footprint by buying items in season in your area (your food will travel less to get to you!). A visit to www.eatwellguide.org can help you find locally sourced, sustainable food in your area.
- Composting is an excellent green practice. Use compost instead of buying fertilizers from stores.
- Try to look for a sustainable meat source in addition to your fruits and veggies. Try local (less carbon emissions from shipping), organic (no antibiotics or hormones that can pollute water and stay in your food), and grass-fed beef (drastically cuts the risk of E.coli and improves the overall health and welfare of the livestock).
- Invest in some toxin-reducing houseplants. Researchers from NASA have identified certain houseplants which are useful in absorbing potentially harmful gases and cleaning the air inside homes. For more information visit the Science Daily website.
- When performing routine boat maintenance, keep a supply of oil-absorbent rags on board for cleanup of oil and fuel spills. Even small spills of oil can contaminate a large volume of water.
- When cleaning your boat, try to use non-toxic cleaners. Many cleaning products contain phosphates and other chemicals that are toxic to aquatic ecosystems. Before using products with hazardous warning labels (such as skull and crossbones) try a natural cleaner like vinegar.
- Remember to clean all mud and debris from your boat, trailer, propeller, live well, and anchors before leaving the boat launch to prevent the spread of exotic species that cause severe habitat alteration and degradation.
- When doing boat maintenance, properly dispose of used oil and filters. Facilities are available to handle these elements that are toxic to the marine environment. Call 1-800-CLEANUP for more information.
- When boating, avoid pumping out the bilge. Use absorbent “bilge pillows” which are designed to absorb petroleum products and repel water. Check to see if your marine offers a bilge pump-out service.
- Pure soap is biodegradable and breaks down completely. Choose a soap that is pure. Avoid soaps with synthetic scents or colors.
- In 2009 alone, the Environmental Protection Agency reports that municipal solid waste produced by American households, businesses, and hospitals amounted to 243 million tons of trash, or roughly 4.3 pounds per person per day.
- Maintain your vehicles so they make less of an environmental impact. Check gas emissions, tire pressure, and inspect for any chemical leaks. Remember, rain easily moves the runoff from your driveway to groundwater.
- VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) are a group of chemicals that vaporize easily and bring gas pollutants into the home from a variety of sources. There are over 400 compounds in the VOC family that have been identified int he home and of these, over 200 can be found in carpeting. LEED certified buildings, like the Environmental Discovery Center at Indian Springs Metropark, are required to be VOC free!
Clothing and Other Goods
- An enormous amount of money is spent each year for landfill management because our landfills are filling up faster than ever. Reduce what you buy and what you use. Manufacturing uses up precious natural capitals and resources. Everything that you own comes from raw materials that were once part of the earth.
- Every object in your household made an impact on the environment when it was stripped from the earth and produced. Choosing to buy less is obvious as a sustainable strategy, but is not always practical. Sometimes the best choice is to buy well-made and durable items.
- Before buying any product, carefully analyze how green it is. When we stop buying products that are harmful for the environment, companies will take notice. Try www.goodguide.com to find green and ethical products.
- Whether alone or enjoyed with others, nonmaterial pursuits offer lasting and immeasurable benefits. Music, sports, hobbies, crafts, and games contribute to personal development with little cost to you or the environment.
- If you’re planning a construction project, purchase lumber that has been certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. These products meet strict standards of forest sustainability.
- Write to companies you buy from. Ask for more sustainable options, or support the green options you do have.
- Write your representative in State and Federal government to support green initiatives that come up. Don’t forget, they work for you and like to know what their constituents think!
- Find green companies to support. There are many ideas out there — from sustainable packaging to planting trees to offset carbon emissions from shipping their products.
- Sustainability is taking care of people as well as the environment. Read reports from accredited watchdog groups who keep an eye on corporations who use human labor. Many large, popular brands still pay unfair wages to workers in unsafe and unhealthy work environments. Get educated, support who you respect, and speak out!
- Visit www.myfootprint.org to see how your lifestyle affects the consumption of our natural resources.