Don’t Get Coal in Your Stocking
How to go green without breaking a sweat
The holidays usually mean lots of travel, local mall runs and trips across the country to visit family. Don’t forget there are many little things you can do to offset your carbon output. Follow these easy steps to start your holidays off with the right foot and lower emissions. Also, remember to encourage your friends and family to be conscious of the environment this season.
- Goodbye elevator. If you are decided between taking the stairs and the elevator, especially on the way down, avoid the elevator. The energy expended by the average elevator when traveling one floor up and back down is equivalent to fully charging one cell phone.
- Keep the trash. Avoid throwing away your garbage bag unless it is full. Plastic bags are petroleum based items that are non-recyclable after coming in contact with waste. They also do not biodegrade in landfills, so remember to use them sparingly.
- Is one dish worth it? Run the dishwasher only when it is full and avoid using heat when drying the dishes. Your dishes will be just as shiny when washed with biodegradable detergent and cool-dried.
- And around we go. When doing laundry, remember to set the appropriate water temperature and level. If you are planning on washing only a shirt and a few pairs of socks, do it by hand or wait until you have a full load.
- Air-dry your hair. Blow drying your hair my not be costly based on your utility bill, but it does require energy that can be avoided. After washing your hair air-dry it. Skipping the blow-dryer will also protect you hair, preventing it from being brittle and frizzy.
- Off with the shoes. When you visit a friend or come home, opt to take your shoes off at the door. Doing this will decrease the amount of airborne pollutants and improve your indoor air quality. Also, dragging in dirt means you have to use extra power for the vacuum, not to mention extra cleaning products which also affect indoor air quality.
- Natural fragrances. Instead of buying an ‘Island Orchard’ scent in a spray bottle, set out orange or lemon peels. This will encourage you to eat more fruit and reduce pests, as flies hate citrus.
- Reuse gift bags & tissue paper. After the holidays it seems like there is a never ending supply of gift bags in your house. Instead of throwing them away, just fold them up nicely and reuse during the next celebration. This will save you money, shopping time, and the earth’s resources.
- Green your pet. If you have a dog or a cat, consider decreasing their carbon footprint. When walking your dog use biodegradable waste bags. If you have a cat, purchase eco-friendly litter that is either biodegradable or compostable.
- Natural hygiene products. Before taking a shower or getting ready for a busy day at work make sure you have your eco-friendly hygiene products ready. Buy products that are marked USDA organic, Blue Bunny/cruelty free, phthalate-free, paraffin-free, and biodegradable. If you prefer truly natural products use things like oatmeal for a body wash and henna as a shampoo.
- Lights Out. If no one is in the room, turn the lights off!
- Reduce. If you have to think to yourself, “Do I really need this?” you don’t. Consume less, and create less waste. Even though recycling has its perks, if we decided to use less material and resources we would ultimately spend less energy on recycling.
- Shorter Showers. Try shortening your showers in five minute increments; you might realize you’re spending way too much time in there. Over the course of a year, you will save hundreds if not thousands of gallons of water by cutting shower time and eliminating baths altogether.
- Eat Right. Buy locally and what’s in season. Mangoes in January just aren’t right. If you have the chance, invest in organic produce. USDA organic foods are free of hormones and pesticides.
- Walk. A mile or two is always good for you. If you live a short distance from your local grocery store and only need a few things, grab your reusable bag and head on out.
- No more plastic bottles. Stop buying bottles of water and get yourself a nifty aluminum bottle instead. A great benefit of aluminum bottles is that they are ultimately recyclable.
- Foliage. Buy just one plant, it’ll look nice and convert all of that nasty CO2 into oxygen. Good indoor air quality is very important, especially if you have children with asthma or pets.
- Unplug. TURN EVERYTHING OFF. If you’re not using it, then why let it use up energy? Vampire energy (energy that, unknowingly to you, sucks up electricity) can cost you approximately 20% of our annual energy bill.
- Cruise Along. When driving downhill take your foot off that accelerator and let gravity do the work for you. Also, remember to be easy on your brakes and fuel tank by shifting down a gear or two.
- Strings Attached. Hang your clothes out to dry (when weather permits) instead of using your dryer. You’ll save loads of energy and your clothes will have a true fresh-air scent.