Here are great ideas on making a difference everyday no matter where you live. Please take a moment to read this post by Roy Kelley and consider making a simple change in how you do things. Like Roy said "Small actions can add up to significant savings in our ...natural resources".
Thank you Roy for this great post.
Make a Difference Day in Gaithersburg - Friday, April 20, 2012
Use less! Do more! This year, make a commitment to change a few habits for the benefit of our environment. See below for suggestions on how to make a positive difference at home and in your community. Use this list year-round to save water, energy, and money, and create a culture of environmental awareness and action at home and in the community.
The great thing about this list is that most of the tips don’t require a radical lifestyle change to have a positive impact. Small actions can add up to significant savings in our consumption of water, energy, and other natural resources.
The list doesn’t stop here! Forward your suggestions to email@example.com.
By doing more, you are increasing your reliance on human power in your daily life. Here are some suggestions to help you do more for our environment:
Plant a tree.
Trees protect water quality, clean our air, reduce stress, and provide wildlife habitat. One large tree can eliminate 5,000 gallons of stormwater runoff each year, and well placed trees can help reduce energy costs by 15 to 35 percent (State of Maryland: http://trees.maryland.gov/). Planting a tree in your yard or community will allow yourself and others to enjoy these many benefits. The State of Maryland’s Marylanders Plant Trees program offers a coupon good for $25 off the purchase of one tree. The Gaithersburg Greening program offers the opportunity to plant a tree at a local park.
Prevent energy leaks at home.
Heating and cooling can make up nearly half of your home’s energy bills each month (Energy Star: http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=heat_cool.pr_hvac). By sealing air leaks and insulating effectively, you can save money and reduce your impact on the environment. Energy Star’s Home Energy Yardstick can help you assess your home’s energy performance, and their Home Advisor can recommend home improvement projects to increase energy efficiency where you live.
Invest in alternative energy.
Go plastic free.
Food waste and yard trimmings constituted 27.8 percent of the waste stream in the United States in 2009 (EPA: http://www.epa.gov/osw/conserve/materials/organics/food/fd-basic.htm). The decomposition of organic waste in landfills releases methane, a greenhouse gas 21 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Rather than sending your grass clippings, banana peels, and coffee grounds to the dump where decomposition is a slow process, consider starting a compost pile. Compost makes plants stronger and healthier, is a great alternative to synthetic fertilizer, and helps return organic nutrients to the soil, where they belong. Montgomery County offers free compost bins to County residents and businesses at no charge.
Plant native species in your garden.
Native plant species are better adapted to local conditions, use less water, and require fewer artificial inputs like fertilizers and pesticides. Many native plant species have been displaced by non-native invasive species, so consider planting rare varieties to aid in the preservation of these species. Native plants also attract native wildlife and beneficial native insects. Gaithersburg’s Rainscapes Rewards program provides rebates to single-family homeowners who replace 500 square feet of turf grass with at least 75% native plants. The Maryland Native Plant Society is a great resource to help you identify invasive species and find suitable native alternatives.
Leave your car at home.
Did you know? The transportation sector is the second largest source of CO2 emissions in the United States! (EPA: http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/emissions/co2_human.html) Maybe a new hybrid or electric car is out of reach, but that doesn’t mean your transportation choices need to have such an impact. Try riding your bike to work on nice days, carpooling, or consider public transportation. WMATA’s Trip Planner tool can help you plan a trip using Metro and other transit options. The Maryland Transportation Administration provides Rideshare information for the Maryland/D.C. Metropolitan area. Many workplaces offer rebates or incentives to employees who use alternative transportation. If your employer does not, ask them to consider starting a program.
Get involved locally!
Gaithersburg offers many opportunities for residents to get involved. Organize a cleanup in your neighborhood or participate in our Rainscapes Rewards program. Gaithersburg’s Environmental Affairs Committee is a citizen-based committee that advises the Mayor and City Council on environmental issues, promotes environmental education and outreach activities, monitors county, state and federal statutes and regulations for impacts on City operations, and explores new environmental initiatives. Anyone who is interested is welcome to attend a meeting and consider joining.
If you have other ideas for getting involved, please contact Environmental Services at 301-258-6330 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
By pledging to use less, you recognize that our consumption habits contribute directly and indirectly to environmental concerns. Every choice we make as consumers translates into greater decisions regarding how water, energy, and materials are used in the production, transportation, and eventual disposal of consumer goods. Small decisions can have far-reaching effects, both positive and negative. By using less, you are taking a small step toward eliminating unnecessary consumption and reducing its potentially harmful side-effects. Here are a few tips to help get you started:
Take shorter showers to conserve water.
Lower your home thermostats.
Switch to compact fluorescent or LED light bulbs.
An astonishing 90 percent of the energy used to light an incandescent bulb is lost as heat. In an attempt to cut energy consumption, federal laws will soon prohibit the sale of some incandescent bulbs. These new lighting standards take effect in 2012, and will require that most common light bulbs sold in the Unites States be 25 percent more energy efficient. Compact fluorescent bulbs can provide a 75 percent energy savings, and light emitting diode (LED) bulbs can provide an 80 percent energy savings over traditional incandescent bulbs. Consider making the switch now to save both money and energy.
Use low-flow fixtures.
It is estimated that high-efficiency toilets can reduce water bills by about 10 percent. Replacing older, inefficient toilets, which are responsible for much of the water wasted in American homes, could save more than 900 billion gallons of water a year – enough to supply almost 10 million households.
In addition, low-flow showerheads and faucets save energy! Heating water requires energy, and using low-flow fixtures for hot water purposes reduces the amount of hot water used every time you turn on the sink or shower.
More insulation means a smaller energy transfer between your home and the exterior environment, or your water heater and the surrounding air.
Fix water leaks in the bathroom, kitchen, garden, etc.
Did you know that an American home can waste, on average, more than 10,000 gallons of water every year due to running toilets, dripping faucets, and other household leaks? Nationwide, more than 1 trillion gallons of water leak from U.S. homes each year. That's why EPA’s WaterSense reminds Americans to check their plumbing fixtures and irrigation systems each year during Fix a Leak Week. Though this year’s Fix a Leak Week has come and gone, the same valuable water saving tips can be used year round to help protect our freshwater resources.
Turn off lights and electronic devices when not in use.
Install a rain barrel.
Rain barrels are containers designed to collect and store rainwater for future use, which is particularly useful in the dry summer months. Installing a rain barrel provides many benefits, including reduced flooding in your yard or basement, better quality water for home landscaping, lower municipal water bills, and protection of local water bodies and the Chesapeake Bay. If you are a City resident, our Rainscapes Rewards Program offers rebates for installing up to four barrels per single family residence or as part of a community garden project.
Use ceiling fans instead of air conditioning to cool off in the summer.
Ceiling fans use less energy than your air conditioner.
Let your clothes air dry.
Hanging your clothes out to dry is an easy way to save energy. Whether you hang your clothes indoors, or use the power of the sun, air-drying is a simple way to reduce electricity consumption.
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Marigolds, Kentlands Spring Flowers IMG_7925
Photograph by Roy Kelley using a Canon PowerShot G11 camera.
Roy and Dolores Kelley Photographs
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