Archive for the ‘Green Tips’ Category

Green Tip – Your Footprints

And I don’t mean the type of footprints you leave behind in the sand or the snow, depending on what part of the country you are in at the moment!

There are a few ways you can measure your footprint and your own impact on the earth.

One of my favorite footprint calculators is from the Global Footprint Network.  They measure your household’s impact in terms of how many planets it would take if everyone lived your lifestyle.  It is very interactive and visual.  Give it a try here.

You can also measure your footprint by how many tons of CO2 your lifestyle belches out in a year.  There are quite a few of these available.  The Nature Conservancy has one that you can check out here.

Ever wonder how much water is really takes to make that cup of Joe?  According to the Water Footprint Network the average amount of water it takes for you to get that caffeine fix averages worldwide at around 140 liters.  All products you purchase have a water footprint.  If you are interested in seeing how much that steak, piece of chicken or your favorite veggie needs water wise before it gets to your table, check out the Water Footprint Network site here.

Don’t get freaked out when you see how many planets you need, how much CO2 your lifestyle belches or how much water it really takes to grow that steak you had for dinner last night.  There are steps you can take to reduce your impact, some of which we have talked about already in previous posts.  Just be conscious of your actions and take small steps to lighten your load on the planet!  For example, have a meatless day once week, drink tea sometimes rather than coffee or try public transport or carpooling to get to work or an event once in a while.

 

Green Tip – E-Waste

You received a new computer, iPod or cell phone as a present for the holidays. Is your old device still sitting somewhere in your home because you don’t know how to properly dispose of it?  This is a common problem that I have come across time and time again.  You don’t want this stuff piling up and cluttering your house, but you also don’t want to send it to a landfill – what to do?  There are actually quite a few resources out there that can help.

Many retailers offer discounts periodically when you bring in your old device to be recycled.  I purchased a new printer last year from Office Depot and was able to bring in my very old printer, which they sent to be recycled at no cost and I received a discount on the new printer.  If you have some time before making a purchase, do your research on these programs.  Best Buy and Apple also offer trade-in and/or recycling services.  This, obviously, doesn’t mitigate your current pile of stuff, but there is help!

The following is a list of websites that have resources to help you find the appropriate recycling program for your e-waste.  You can also check your local municipal waste collection facility website to see if they have drop off locations for e-waste or have specific days when they pick up this type of trash.

Environmental Protection Agency:

http://www.epa.gov/osw/conserve/materials/ecycling/

Earth911:

http://earth911.com/

Yahoo:

http://green.yahoo.com/living-green/recycling-electronics.html;_ylt=AuXbxjoLDD_FIa4S4fLEYHaAV8cX

The following websites give you the opportunity to trade in your e-waste for cash.  Disclaimer: I have not personally used any of these sites, so cannot offer any advice on how they work.

Gazelle:

http://www.gazelle.com/

YouRenew:

http://www.yourenew.com/

Secure Trade In:

http://www.securetradein.com

The following website charges for its recycling services.   Unlike some of the other sites, they also take video and cassette tapes and is the only company I could find that recycles that sort of e-waste.  Got to throw in the disclaimer again, as I have not used their services yet.

Green Disk:

http://www.greendisk.com/

If you are feeling generous, there are programs out there where you can donate cell phones to soldiers, computers to local charities, etc.  Keep your eyes and ears open for events in your area if you are interested in donating.

Before you recycle anything, make sure your data is wiped clean from the device and for cell phones, take out your SIM card.

Happy Recycling!

 

Green Tip – Garbage

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the average American produces about 4.4 pounds of garbage a day, or a total of 29 pounds per week and 1,600 pounds a year.

A landfill is basically a hole in the earth or mound on the earth where waste (garbage) is deposited.  Landfills are designed to keep the waste, including water related waste (leachate) from contaminating the surrounding environment.

There are two types of landfills:

  • Dry Tomb
  • Bioreactor

Both types of landfills produce leachate and methane gas as a result of decomposition.  The difference between them has to do with rate of decomposition.

Decomposition is the process by which organic material is broken down into simpler forms of matter. (Wikipedia).  In order for decomposition to take place water and air must be present.

In a dry tomb landfill or typical landfill, the garbage is dumped, compacted, covered and sealed by layers of earth or other matter.  Liquid is diverted – no water is allowed in and an airtight seal is created with the covering.  Decomposition is impeded – dramatically slowing the decay.  Leachate is collected and is contained in collection ponds and is treated like any other sewage/wastewater.  Methane gas is allowed to escape into the air (vented) or is burned off.

Bioreactors convert solid waste into usable energy (methane) by introducing fluids that accelerate decomposition.  A bioreactor landfill is constructed in such a way as to catch the leachate and recycle it through the garbage.  Bioreactors are sealed and the methane that is produced is channeled to a waste energy power facility.  The size of the solid waste is reduced from 10-30% – so more waste can be added.  If all landfills were bioreactors the methane could produce enough energy to power 3 million homes.

So, what can you do to decrease the amount of garbage going to landfills?

The easiest way to reduce your waste is to reduce your use.

Use refillable water bottles, cloth napkins, coffee mugs, reusable bags for your shopping.  Do you really need that new gadget, piece of furniture or clothing?  Squeeze the life out of the stuff you already have!

Repurpose items that are no longer usable in their current form.

Reuse empty glass jars to store food, use produce netting as scrubbing material, use old baking soda as a cleaner, use construction debris for new projects, use coffee grounds as plant fertilizer, freeze your table scraps and make a stew, melt bits of soap bars together for a new bar, make a yoga mat bag from old jeans.  Turn your trash into treasure!

Recycle when there is no other option.

Recycling allows items to be broken down into their basic components and be made into something else.  Much less energy is used to make items from recycled material.  This keeps waste out of the landfill.

Make some new choices about garbage:  choose to reduce, reuse and recycle.  Keep things out of the landfill and support the creation of bioreactor landfills.

 

Make less garbage!  Educate everyone in your household to be a reducer, reuser and recycler!

 

 

Green Tip – One Small Thing

Many of us have made our New Year’s resolutions (and broken some already).  Have you thought about one small thing you can do this year to make your life greener?  I started doing this a few years ago.

Last year, I installed a clothesline and air-dry most of my laundry.  Not only do I save on my electric bill, but I also get a little more exercise!  This year, I asked for a Soda Stream for Christmas (and got one).  I like to drink seltzer, but didn’t like lugging the bottles around and then throwing them all in the recycle bin.  This machine allows me to make my own seltzer in reusable bottles and I can return the CO2 cartridge when it is empty.

Here are some suggestions for some small things that you can do:

  • Cut down or eliminate using bottled water.
  • Use cleaning products that are concentrated and/or have fewer chemicals.
  • Recycle whenever you can.
  • Switch from shower gels/washes in a bottle to bar soap (less packaging).
  • Wash clothes in cold water whenever possible.
  • Don’t eat meat one day a week.

We believe in continuous improvement – many small steps taken over time lead to big results!  What small steps have you taken to make your life greener?  Please feel free to share yours in the comments below.

 

Green Tip of the Day: Thanksgiving Turkey – Gobble Green!

I came across an energy saving way to cook your holiday bird and just had to share.  This recipe cuts cooking time in half, which saves energy.  The less you have to run the oven the more you save!  Take a look at this recipe here.

Another way to green your Turkey Day is to buy a heritage turkey instead of the conventional.  Alternatively, look for a turkey that was raised organically without the nasty pesticides and drugs that are conventional birds are exposed to.  Also, try to buy some of your ingredients for side dishes from local markets or that were grown organically.

I wish you and yours a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Green Tip of the Day – Water

I was inspired to write this week about water due to a call to action to all bloggers from the Change.org Blog Action Day.  Here are two tips and some resources to help you change your water use habits for the better!

At home or on the go, reduce or eliminate your bottled water consumption.  Use a water filter (either pitcher, faucet attached or under sink) and a reusable water bottle.  This not only eliminates the plastic used for the bottles and the cost to transport those bottles, but also reduces the energy needed to recycle.  If you are on the go and need a refill, check out Tapit for establishments that will happily refill your bottle.

At the office, install a water cooler and filtration system that is either connected to your building’s plumbing or check out the newest innovative water cooler from Island Sky Water that pulls the humidity out of the air and turns it into clean, fresh drinking water for everyone in your office.  Either of these systems will eliminate the need for those ungainly 5-gallon water bottles – who wants to transport, store and get them on and off the water cooler anyway?

There are obviously more steps you can take to reduce your water footprint , which I will cover in the future, but either of these steps is a great one to start on your work of becoming leaner and greener in both your personal life and your business.

Change.org|Start Petition

Green Tip of the Day – Ecological Footprint

Have you ever wondered what your ecological footprint is?  We did and searched around for some calculators online.  We really like the calculator from the Global Footprint Network.  It is fun and interactive.  Don’t be shocked by the outcome!  I drive a hybrid and don’t eat much meat and my impact was much greater then I expected.  Once you complete the quiz, they offer tips to reduce your impact.   So, we challenge you to calculate your footprint and tell us how it went in the comments section below.  Are there any small changes you can make to reduce your impact?