Everyday Green Ideas

Green ideas are popping up everywhere these days. Many more people are becoming concerned with the state of the earth, the environment and our atmosphere and are actively trying to help reverse some of the damage. While great ideas will continually emerge, many of those below can be enacted easily by you in your everyday life.


Green Ideas?

In today's economy, it only makes sense to be more conservative in all facets of your life. There are simple things you can do to help conserve around your home. Try employing some of the ideas suggested below if you are "keen on green". You will feel good knowing you are helping the cause while seeing "the green" in your pocket go a little further too. Those savings can be put toward better things, like fancy, recycled glass countertops for your kitchen! If you're going to splurge, do it right. Show your support for the cause by reinvesting in such earth-friendly products.


Many of the following green ideas have been around for quite awhile
and some are "no-brainers", but it's never too late to take action.


Water Conservation

Short of turning the sink faucet on and off as you brush your teeth (still a good practice) and taking 5 minute showers instead of full tub soaks, you can gain some help by installing water-conserving shower heads. Look for low-flow designs that reduce actual water usage yet still deliver the satisfying performance you desire. You can also purchase water flow restrictors. These inexpensive pieces (less than $5.00 for a multi-pack) can be added to the heads of both your showers and sink faucets. Another option is the faucet aerator. It boosts water pressure, providing a more forceful spray without using more water. You can find aerators for under $10.00 which screw directly to your faucet with ease.

There are many green ideas and options when it comes to appliances. The new front-load washers consume less water while washing larger loads than your old top-load washing machine. Besides using less water, these "intelligent" models are also more energy efficient. New dishwashers also use less water than older models and again require less energy to operate. Some even include an eco-setting that drastically reduces the wash time. Look for these options. Be smart when it comes to dirty dishes. Glasses always seem to pile up the fastest in busy households. Why not designate a glass or cup for each family member and keep it rinsed out in the sink rack or in the fridge rather than grabbing new ones throughout the day. Completely fill your dishwasher before running it. Running one full load of dishes in a dishwasher uses less water than the numerous hand-washed dishes you may do throughout the day or in the course of a week.

Recycle your water. Use rain barrels to capture water for outdoor garden and landscape watering. Use water from your dehumidifier for watering plants inside and outside your home too. These simple green ideas will help reduce your overall water usage.



Electric Conservation

Update your appliances to generate some savings. Look for energy-star rated appliances and read energy-guide data. This data, required by the Federal Trade Commission, is listed on certain major appliances including refrigerators, dishwashers, furnaces, hot water heaters and dehumidifiers to name a few. Appliance manufactures strive to be more energy efficient than their competition. You win by comparing not only up-front costs but the savings you will obtain long-term from your choice. Take advantage of tax rebates for which you may qualify by taking action.

You've heard it before, keep your thermostat at a set temperature. There is a lot of debate with this. I suggest experimenting a bit over a month's duration by keeping it at a constant setting and then adjusting your settings for day/night usage. I personally feel I save more by adjusting my temperature for day/night usage in both Summer and Winter. In the Winter, turn your heat back so it's much cooler at night. Use blankets in bed to stay warm. Keep it comfortable during the day but not too warm. In the Summer, find the spot at which your thermostat kicks on to try to cool the home yet runs continuously. Usually around mid to late afternoon on hot Summer days you can better gauge this. If it's running constantly, raise the temperature. Get it to a point where it can cycle off and on rather than just running constantly trying to achieve a temperature it may not be able to cool down to. You will still feel the coolness of the home. Just walk outside for a few minutes and you will appreciate how cool it actually is.

Use ceiling fans. Again, there is some controversy about this approach. Is the money spent running the fan regained by your furnace or central air unit running less? If nothing else, it mixes the air temperature creating a more uniform environment. Because of this, I believe running ceiling fans is beneficial in all seasons. Just remember to reverse the airflow in the winter time to push the warm air from the ceiling back toward the floors.

Light bulbs are another trendy change. This green idea is relatively inexpensive to implement compared to purchasing new appliances. I'm sure by now everyone has heard of and seen CFL (Compact Fluorescent Light) bulbs. They are still being changed to meet more demands, including appearance and bulb styles. This is good news for those of you who were initially turned off by the strange spiral shape they had. Since they now come in spotlight shaped bulbs, I use them in my kitchen's recessed lighting. I also have decorative ones in my outdoor lighting sconces.

Four CFL spotlights "ON" in my kitchen uses LESS ENERGY than ONE incandescent bulb spotlights did. I have seen a drop in my electric bill since I've begun using CFL bulbs throughout my home.

NOTE: Most CFL lightbulbs are not dimmable. Be sure to read
the specifications as more dimmable options are emerging.

For the ultimate in energy efficient lighting, choose LED (Light-Emitting Diode) bulbs. They are pricey as you will see when comparison shopping but they last longer than CFL bulbs and produce much less heat as well. They are also dimmable, do not flicker and provide instant light whereas CFL's may need a few seconds to "warm up". Consider these green ideas and think long term when making your decisions.



Recycling

This green idea has become commonplace in so many ways. It has grown leaps and bounds not only in industry but at the home-front. Recycling your waste is extremely beneficial to the environment. Most cities have dedicated recycle pick-ups with routine trash collection days. Use it! Learn what is accepted and collected. You will be surprised at how much you throw into regular trash is acceptable for recycling. Every little bit helps so start today. Contact your city or local government to find out what type of recycling programs are available for the community. Most provide you with a dedicated recycling bin for free as well as an information sheet listing what you can and can not recycle at this time.

Recycling extends beyond your trash. Many communities offer electronic recycling a few times a year so you can properly dispose of that antiquated computer monitor or television set. Recycle old phones, batteries and household chemicals too. Earth911 is a great resource to help you find recycling in your area.

Dispose of food waste by creating a compost pile. You are naturally giving back to the earth and creating nutrients for your soil which you can later use in your gardens and landscaping. Compost your egg shells and coffee grinds too. The earthworms will thank you.



Reusing

Reuse items ANY WAY you can. Do you fly through bottled water? I'm guilty of this "crime". Purchase one water bottle and fill it with your tap water. Use filter systems such as those offered by Brita® to better the taste or add a few drops of lemon juice for a nice refreshing flavor as I do. This green idea will save you money in the long run.

Reuse your aluminum foil. Aluminum foil is one thing I really hate dealing with. According to Earth911, it takes roughly 400 years for aluminum foil to break down. It is also unfortunately not an acceptable aluminum to recycle. If able, avoid using it. If you do, REUSE IT. Rinse it in the sink and store it in your oven where it can also fully dry.

Any type of pan or container that I get with food I usually keep if feasible (or recycle). Pie pans are great for reheating items or steaming vegetables on the grill. Plastic tubs and containers with lids store leftover foods. Coffee cans are great for storing paint brushes, hardware and even pond-fish food.

Plastic zipper baggies can be used over and over too. Especially the large freezer sizes. Rinse them and turn them inside out to dry. Why keep using new ones when the used one is perfectly fine? It's just another plastic problem in our landfills that does not break down quickly.

Speaking of plastic bags, recycle your grocery bags. Many grocery and department store chains now have dedicated bins for plastic shopping bag recycling. It's quite irritating (or should I say depressing) seeing these things blowing around in our neighborhoods. Pick them up and dispose of them properly. You can help the cause if you really want to. Pick up a few reusable grocery bags available at a minimal cost.


What's another easy green idea that helps us all?

Picking up litter. Perhaps you didn't create the problem but you can help curb it. There are others out there picking it up also and trying to make a difference. Organize a litter crew sponsored by your business, club or organization. It gets you some recognition and helps gain credibility.



Green Idea Quick Tips


  • Conserve Water
    • Turn the faucet off while brushing your teeth.
    • Take a 5 minute shower.
    • Use the appropriate water setting on your washing machine.
    • Use a carwash rather than hand-washing your vehicle

  • Conserve Electricity
    • Turn off lights when you exit a room.
    • Run washers, dryers and dishwashers at night.
    • Run washers and dishwashers with full loads.
    • Use a cooler water setting on your washing machine.
    • Hang clothes out on the line.
    • Clean your dryer lint vent frequently (clothes will dry faster).
    • Cook outside on a grill to keep your house cooler.
    • Use insulated wraps on your hot water heater and hot water pipes

  • Weather Proof
    • Caulk around doors and window sills.
    • Replace worn weather strips around exterior doors and windows.
    • Use door draft stoppers.

  • Recycle
    • Find out what you can recycle that you currently are not.

  • Reuse
    • Purchase a reusable water bottle.
    • Use washable food containers for packed lunches rather than plastic baggies.

  • Pick Up Litter
    • Do your part even if you didn't produce the offense.
    • Recycle litter items that can be recycled.

  • Conserve Fuel and Reduce Emissions
    • Carpool, walk, ride a bike or take public transportation.



If you are anxious to be eco-friendly, choose some of these green ideas. Add more into your life as you are able. Check back for additional green ideas as this section continues to grow.

For more green ideas and helpful products visit the AM Conservation Group.


EVERY LITTLE BIT MAKES A DIFFERENCE!

How have you gone green? Share your eco-friendly ideas with us.


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