Earth Day 2014: Keep the celebration going!

household_cleanersHappy (belated) Earth Day! Some celebrate the entire month of April as Earth Month, but we at the Lone Star Chapter would like to think that we work to protect the environment every day of the year (minus holidays and weekends, of course.)   In an effort to educate the public how each one of us can lessen our impact on the Earth’s resources every day of the year, the EPA has released its list of tips to act on climate change. Here’s a sampling of their tips, with some our own staff picks added to the mix for good measure:

1. Compost your food scraps and yard waste
Composting reduces the amount of waste sitting in landfills by nearly 34%. Everything from your vegetable and fruit scraps, egg shells, coffee grounds, grass clippings, to dryer lint can be composted. Composting can be as simple as throwing your scraps into a well shut container in your kitchen or you can build your own outdoor compost, check out this website to learn how to cheaply build your own.

2. Consider some new options before you clean out that garage or closet.
Before you throw something away to be hauled off to a landfill, consider your options. You could give it away to Goodwill or your local thrift store or post items on websites like Freecycle or Craigslist.  It is also possible to swap your belongings for something new by earning points with Yerdle. Or you could use your creativity to make it into something new.  Check out sites like Pinterest for ways to look at your old unwanteds in a whole new light.

3. Change your light bulbs
Have you not changed all of your light bulbs to Energy Star bulbs yet? According to the EPA, if you and four of your friends replaced five 60-watt light bulbs with 13-watt Energy Star bulbs, it would save over 50,000 pounds of carbon pollution over the life of the bulb. That’s equivalent to the annual carbon pollution from 5 passenger vehicles; the carbon pollution associated with 2,780 gallons of gasoline; or 3.4 homes’ electricity use for one year.

4. Bring your reusable bags
Some Texas cities already have or are working towards banning plastic bags. No matter where you live, you can do your part by bringing along a reusable bag when you go shopping. To further cut down on plastic waste, avoid buying bottled water on the run, and instead fill up your own reusable bottle at home to bring with you wherever you go. Don’t forget that you bring along your own coffee mug when going to a coffee shop. Places like Satrbucks will even give you 10% off.

5. Bike!
Ok. We know. In Texas, it’s usually either too dang hot or too dang cold to be outside for more than a nanoescond, but it’s Spring!  Take some time to enjoy the weather while you still can.  If you need to run down to the corner store or gym, how about keeping the car in the garage, and taking the bike out for a spin instead? If your community is not very bike-friendly, get involved with your local government and promote an urban trails program.  Your community will thank you later.

6. Make Cleaners from Home
Household cleaners often contain toxins that are bad for your health and the environment. Instead of spending money on chemical ridden cleaners you can beat the system by making cleaners right in your own kitchen. In fact, chances are pretty good that you already have all of the supplies! Most household cleaners can be made from basic ingredients such as: baking soda, white vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, fresh herbs and citrus, olive or vegetable oil, and water. For a full  list of how to make everything from bathroom cleaners to laundry detergent to wood polish and beyond, click here.

7. Eat more vegetarian meals
The United Nations reports that 14.5% of greenhouse gas emissions results from the livestock supply chain. Feed production and processing, methane produced during animal digestion, manure decomposition, and processing and transporting livestock all factor into this equation. The amount of water used in producing  meat is also thousands of times greater than in vegetable production. By increasing your vegetarian intake you can reduce greenhouse emissions and help save on water.

8. Use Water Sense Showers
Water is becoming an ever more precious resource in Texas. If every home in the United States replaced existing shower heads with WaterSense-labeled models, we could save more than 2.2 billion in water utility bills, prevent carbon pollution and save more than 260 billion gallons of water annually.

9. Fill your dishwasher
You don’t need to jump the gun on washing a half-empty load of dishes. Wait until it’s full. Filling the dishwasher can prevent 100 pounds of carbon pollution and save you $40 per year on your water bill.

10. Use a smart thermostat
A programmable thermostat can save you about $180 every year in energy costs. Some models, allow you to warm and cool your home remotely before you return from a long workday. Check with you utility provider to see if rebates are available in your area.

11. Be a better driver!
Why stop at ten items, when we can add an eleventh?   This one is for you – bad drivers of Texas. (Of course, we’re not talking to you, dear reader.) It turns out that being an overly aggressive, angry driver is not only bad for your mental health (and those around you), it’s not that great for environment either. Aggressive driving can reduce your gas mileage by 33% on the highway and 5% in the city.   That can be a expensive hissy-fit, so invest in some meditation tapes and take the anger off the roads.

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