1. Switch all your light bulbs to compact fluorescent bulbs. They are sold everywhere now. It takes a while for them to warm up if they've been off for a while but who cares. They produce less heat and therefore they use less energy and consequently emit less CO2. Touch one- they are not as hot- this is safer for children too. Regular bulbs use 4 times more energy than compact fluorescent bulbs. The cost more initially but you save on your electricity bill. Come on- so easy!
2. Of course - Recycle! Have you ever seen a landfill? I have and I'm seen a garbage barge too- not that I was looking for them, but they are quite daunting. Yes, you may have to wash some things out. Big deal. If it keeps that plastic bottle or container from sitting in a landfill for 1000 years than why not? Plastic is not meant to biodegrade so why throw it out? Yes, you'll have to wash even the peanut butter jar anhd it's pretty gross but really not that bad. I wipe out as much as I can of the peanut butter with a paper towel then I fill it with hot water and soap, shake it a few times and let it sit over night. By the morning, you can just empty it and recycle it. Same goes with aluminum cans - just rinse and recycle. I just keep a recycling bin under my sink so I toss things in it as I'm doing dishes. Not only are you keeping stuff out of the landfill but you are also helping to reduce the use of oil needed to produce that item again. Some great facts from www.Earth911.com:
- Aluminum cans are unique: within 60 days, a can is recycled, turned into a new can and back on store shelves.
- Aluminum is a sustainable metal and can be recycled over and over again.
- In 2007, 54 billion cans were recycled, saving the energy equivalent of 15 million barrels of crude oil—America’s entire gas consumption for one day.
3. Use eco-friendly or natural cleaning products- not only is it bad for our health to breathe or touch many of the cleaning products that are on the market today, it's also not good to dump them down the drain where they can eventually go into our ground water, lakes, ponds and oceans. It is so easy to find great eco-friendly cleaning products now. Yes, some are more expensive than the bad stuff but you can also use inexpensive household ingredients such as lemons, vinegar and baking soda. Some of my favorites are:
I use Seventh Generation's toilet bowl cleaner, free and clear all purpose spray, dish and laundry detergent. Seventh Generation was making these products way before eco-friendly became hip (for over 20 years). As was Dr. Bronner Castille soap which has been around for 60 years. Castille soap is amazing- you can use it on your body and your stove top and let me tell you it really works on the stove top- it cleans it and it smells nice. Sound Earth makes a great scouring powder that is terrific for your porcelain sinks, tubs, and even dishes. I mix it with Castille soap for an even stronger cleaner. Check out this article for more tips:
There are two more to try:
and of course method which can be found at Target- their glass cleaner is great.
4. Stop using plastic bags!!! Please.
According to one of my favorite sites: www.reusablebags.com at http://www.reusablebags.com/facts.php
"Each year, an estimated 500 billion to 1 trillion plastic bags are consumed worldwide. That comes out to over one million per minute. Billions end up as litter each year." They kill marinelife who ingest them thinking they are food. The don't biodegrade, they photodegrade, releasing even more harmful toxins into the ground, oceans and eventually into our food. I know this is a hard habit to break. I keep a collection of canvas bags in my car. When I need to go to the grocery store, I put them in my cart before I go in. Voila. Then when I empty the groceries, I put my collection (which is quite motley I might add) in the hallway to take back out to the car when I leave. I simplify only because I know the biggest excuse is "I always forget my bags." And I have too, but once you make the effort initially- it really just becomes habit. It is so much easier to carry and unload groceries with cloth bags. They hold more, they are sturdier and you can put some on your shoulders. As for quick trips to CVS and the local deli. I keep a rolled up bag in my purse. I have 2 favorites- Envirosax and Baggu. Both have chic, sturdy nylon bags in fun colors that roll-up and can stay in your purse. Also, do you know how many times, I'm offered a large plastic bag to carry out my tube of mascara or pack of pencils. Just refuse it, pop the item in your purse or pocket and if you are concerned about looking like you are stealing just carry your receipt out.
Their sites are:
5. Stop buying bottles of water!
Of course if you are in an airport or a train station and incredibly thirsty- then by all means- go for it. Just bring the bottle home and recycle it. We have a water filter in our refridgerator. You can also get them to hook up to your faucet easily. Invest in a couple good water bottles (that are of course BPA free) and fill it with water before you leave the house. Do this for your kids too and there is no reason why you can't put a reusable water bottle in their lunch box. I know the juice boxes are so easy but filling a water bottle does not take that much more time. My favorite is Klean Kanteen, Camelback and Sigg. Klean Kanteen comes in many different sizes with multiple tops (even sippy tops for toddlers). All of these are available at http://www.reusablebags.com/.
Or check out their individual sites:
We also have 2 great carafes or water bottles for your home or office that are chic and useful!
Thanks for reading! More on this topic later. Look out for Eco-Elitist Part 2! Don't forget Earth Day is April 22nd, 2009!