Reducing, Reusing and Recycling
- Recycling is important, but first and foremost: Use less.
- The things you do use can often be used over and over again - either for the same purpose or for something totally new. Be creative. Not only are you cutting back on your resource use; you'll also end up with some cool eye-catching conversation starters
- Set aside bins in your green home to separate and collect recyclable materials, including newspapers, white paper, clear and colored glass, plastic water and milk bottles, aluminum, cardboard, batteries and fluorescent light bulbs. Check with your local trash-collection company, municipal government or business directory to find out what recycling services are available.
- Packing peanuts and other loose fill will sit in a landfill for centuries, but there are lots of places you can bring them for recycling. Call the Peanut Hotline at 1-800-828-2214.
- Many computers, monitors, cell phones and other electronics include toxic materials that should not sit in landfills, and you'd be surprised how many retailers and other companies will take your old gadgets for recycling. The Environmental Protection Agency can help you find local electronics recyclers.
- And that's not all: Did you know you can recycle athletic shoes? Mattresses? Dry-cleaning hangers and plastic?
- Use non-toxic, environmentally safe, biodegradable cleaning products, including laundry products, which you can find at any natural grocery and even many mainstream stores. Just read the labels carefully.
- Don't pollute your indoor air or mask odors that could alert you to a problem. Choose fragrance-free products.
- Buy a high-efficiency car if you can afford one. Check the U.S. Department of Energy's list of most fuel-efficient cars to find the one that's right for you.
- Rather than driving your car to work every day, try other ways, even if only one or two days a week. You can walk, ride your bike, take the bus or the train or join a car. You'll be cutting down on air pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, oil consumption and your the costs of fueling and maintaining your vehicle. And mixing up your commuting routine helps you avoid falling into the workday rut.
- Urge your workplace to have a van-pool, environmentally responsible purchasing policies and an improved indoor environment. Rid your workplace of secret energy addicts. They are everywhere.
- Buy locally produced items, including produce and other goods. It reduces the amount of fossil fuels required to transport the things you buy from other parts of the country or the world. It also reduces the amount of plastic and paper products consumed in the packaging of such far-traveling products. Buying local reduces the consumption of valuable natural resources
- Instead of using grocery stores' disposable plastic or paper bags, bring your own reusable tote bags, which are available for sale at many grocers and other retailers. The bags are sturdier than disposable bags, making the trip home easier, and they don't waste resources or end up in landfills. If you must use disposable bags, ask your bagger to avoid double-bagging whenever possible.
- Use nontoxic gardening techniques. Many gardeners over-apply or improperly apply pesticides, putting themselves, their families and pets at increased health risk. Nearly half of all households have pesticides stored within reach of children. About 230,000 people each year are treated in hospital emergency rooms for injuries related to various lawn and garden tools. Our clean air and drinking water are affected by pesticides and garden equipment emissions.
- Urge your school district to construct new green schools and undertake green renovations of existing schools for your children.
- Advocate for green building codes and regulations in your community.
- Switch to socially responsible investing.
- Unplug the "secret energy addicts" in your home: TVs, VCRs, DVD players, cable TV boxes, computers and printers, video game consoles, microwave ovens and AC adapters for cell phones, digital cameras and other electronics. Most electronic equipment, including anything that uses a remote control, is designed to consume energy when it is turned off. That "off" setting is actually a "standby" or "idling" mode. Standby power in the average household consumes 1,000 kilowatt hours of electricity annually. That's enough energy to power an entire home for two months, or more. The solution? Unplug anything that isn't being used.
- More and more utility companies are offering their customers the option to purchase green power - electricity generated by rapidly renewable resources like solar power, wind turbines, geothermal systems and biomass - to power their homes. Generally, green power adds $2 to $3 a month to your utility bill while helping to combat global climate change and America's dependence on foreign oil.
- Use compact fluorescent lamps in your lights.
- Wash your clothes in cool rather than hot water.
Lisa Abrams Your Green Realtor
The Abrams Group/ReMax Realty Services
Licensed in Maryland, Virginia, The District of Columbia and Florida