01 May 2008

10 Things for the Earth

Small actions can make a big difference! Below are 10 simple steps we can all take this Earth Day to reduce our environmental impact and save ourselves some "green" in the process.

1. Turn your thermostat down two degrees in the winter and up two degrees in the summer. This will decrease your carbon output by about 2,000 pounds and save you about $98 per year in energy costs. Programmable thermostats automatically adjust your home's temperature settings, allowing you to save energy while you're away or sleeping. Through proper use of pre-programmed settings, a programmable thermostat can save about $150 every year.

2. Unplug electronics when not in use. Even when turned off, items like cell phone chargers, toasters and computers use energy. By pulling the plugs, you can save about 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide and $256 per year.

3. Replace frequently-used light bulbs with Compact Fluorescent Bulbs. CFL bulbs only use one-third of the electricity that incandescent bulbs do, and they last up to ten times longer. Switching five of the most frequently-used bulbs in your home can save you more than $60 every year. Each CFL can prevent more than 450 pounds of emissions over its lifetime.

4. Run your dishwasher only when it is full. And use the energy saving setting if you have one. By eliminating just one load per week, you can save 100 pounds of carbon dioxide and $40 per year. Don’t rinse dishes before putting them in your dishwasher – this can save up to 20 gallons of water in just one load.

5. Hang your clothes out to dry. Line-drying your clothes in the spring and summer instead of using the dryer can decrease your carbon output dramatically. So can switching to cold water for just two or more washes every week. As with your dishwater, be sure to wash a full load in your washing machine every time.

6. Plant a few trees. Properly placed trees shade homes and office buildings, reducing air conditioning needs up to 20 percent, thereby reducing the amount of fossil fuels burned to produce electricity.

7. Cut out aggressive driving and take care of your vehicle's tires. Speeding, rapid acceleration and rapid braking can lower your gas mileage by up to 33 percent at highway speeds and by five percent around town. You can improve your gas mileage by around 3.3 percent by keeping your tires inflated to the proper pressure. Remember: Idling gets 0 miles per gallon.

8. Carry reusable water bottles and coffee cups. One plastic mug, used twice a day, every day instead of disposable cups, can save 135 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions per person per year! While stainless steel or ceramic mugs require more materials and energy to create, they can be reused for years. This more than offsets the initial energy expended and reduces waste volume considerably.

9. Buy from local farmers. Typical grocery store produce travels nearly 1,500 miles before it ends up on your plate. All this traveling burns fossil fuel, so buying from local farmers means you’re not only getting the freshest food possible, but you’re saving energy as well.

10. Donate to Heifer. By giving to Heifer, you are helping to end world hunger and poverty, but you are also caring for the earth. From promoting forestation and encouraging biodiversity to monitoring watershed conditions and minimizing erosion, Heifer is committed to improving the environment through sustainable means. And don't forget that April is "Pass on the Gift" month. Learn more.

Celebrate Earth Day all year long!

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