Thursday, February 23, 2012

Monthly Goals

Hi everyone, it's me again and I hope you all had an amazing Valentine's Day! First off, I'd like to thank Deb Bliss for taking the time to come to the Environmental Club meeting at my school yesterday. We all loved having you there, and all the tips have given us a lot to think about, so thank you very much! Now moving on to this week's topic, we're going to be talking about being green generally around the house. There is one for each month, so hopefully, you can try to keep a goal set for each one.

Laundry tips: In homes, washing machines are the second largest consumer of water- toilets are first. So run full loads as often as possible you do fewer loads. For electricity, 90% of a washer's use can be to heat the water, so use cold water for a majority of your laundry. Thinking of upgrading? High efficiency models can use 40-50% less water and 50-65% less electricity.

Protect the water supply: Clean water is often taken for granted-just turn on the faucet and out comes drinkable water. However, water supplies can easily become contaminated from air and ground pollutants. One gallon of motor oil can potentially contaminate 1 million gallons of drinking water, according to the EPA. Take motor oil to a recycling center. Reduce the use of fertilizers, pesticides, and household chemicals that can end up in the water supply through runoff.

A greener clean: Many household chemicals contain harmful chemicals. Look for products that have no ammonia, chlorine, petrochemicals, sodium lauryl or laureth sulfate, and that are dye and fragrance free.Never mix products or reuse bottles, as many chemicals can react with each other. Buy products in bulk packaging and in packages made of post-consumer recycled plastic.

Sustainable wood: Sustainability refers to the balance between resource consumption and replenishment time. Because of fast growth rates, some trees and grasses, such as bamboo, can and maples, are more sustainable than other slower growing trees, such as oaks and redwoods. Look for products that are responsibly harvested.

Mosquito control: From irritating bites to disease, mosquito can make a day outside miserable. Help control them around your house by removing areas where standing water can accumulate. Buckets, tires, rain gutters, planters, and toys are common breeding grounds. Change the water in birdbaths and fountains and empty rain barrels at least once a week. Use insect repellent when outside and make sure windows and doors are tightly closed.

Maintain yard equipment: Lawn mowers, blowers, grass trimmers and chain saws are large sources of pollution. Avoid spilling gas or allowing oil to leak onto the ground. Keep equipment maintained by changing the oil and air filters on a regular basis. Use manual tools where possible , such as manual hedge clippers and rakes instead if gas powered trimmers and blowers.

A Green picnic: When throwing your summer picnic, think green. Send invitations by email or call your guests personally. Have everyone bring something they grew or bought from a local source. Decorate with items from your yard, such as summer flowers in a pretty glass. And, don't forget to have everyone bring their own container for leftovers.

Backyard burning: Backyard burning is common, however it can be dangerous to your health and bad for the environment. Emissions from burning are not filtered so ash and gases are released directly into the atmosphere. Toxic chemicals can be released and can settle on crops and water sources. When considering burning, determine if it can be disposed of in a better manner and contact your local government about burn times and restrictions in your area.

Prescriptions medications: Most medicines should not be flushed down the toilet since they can contaminate the water system. Dispose of unused medications properly. First, take the medicine out of its packaging and mix with something unpleasant, such as used kitty litter. Then place in a sealable container and put it in with your regular garbage. A growing number of areas now have take-back programs. If you are unsure of how to dispose of an medication, contact your pharmacist.

Fall leaves: Collecting fall leaves has become a burden to many local landfills. Mulching the leaves in your yard may be a good option instead of raking and bagging. Mowing over the leaves breaks them down so they can be reclaimed by the ground. Large piles can be mulched up and used in glower beds. Dry leaves are a good 'brown' source for your compost pile. Be careful and do not mow over a pile higher than the mower as this can start a fire.

Driving tips for better gas mileage: You cannot control rising gas prices, but you can decrease your fuel consumption by driving smart. The Department of Energy states that aggressive driving can decrease your gas mileage by up to 33% on the highway and 5% around town. Accelerating steadily and observing the speed limit are two of the best ways to maximize fuel efficiency. Removing excess weight, reducing idling times, and using cruise control and overdrive gears are other good ways to increase fuel economy.

Update your home: Updating your house now will save you money in the long run while helping the environment. Begin with smaller projects, such as adding weather stripping to doors and windows, changing to water-saving shower heads and adding extra insulation. Adding new windows and updating heating systems are larger projects but can make a huge difference. Check with your leader and tax preparer as there are many home improvement loans and rebates now available for 'green' upgrade.

Information from: Better Homes and Gardens Calendar-Greengirl (:

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