40 Simple Steps to a Better World - By Amy Godfrey
Is “Save the World” on your “To Do” list?
If not, it may simply mean you feel hopeless and overwhelmed when you learn about the state of the environment. With problems so big, it's hard to imagine that one person can make a dent in any of them.
The good news is, you're not alone, and together, even a few, small steps can make a big impact. For example, the American Waterworks Association says homeowners can reduce water use by about 30 percent by installing more-efficient water fixtures and regularly checking for leaks. Indeed, just one drop per second from a leaky hot water faucet can waste up to 165 gallons a month - that's more than one person uses in two weeks!
Review the checklist below and figure out which steps you already do. Then, figure out which ones you can do over the next few months. Before you know it, you'll be effortlessly making a big difference while saving a lot of money!
Conserve Water and Lower Your Water Bill
1. Keep water in the fridge instead of letting the tap run to let it get cold.
2. Take shorter showers.
3. Turn off the tap when brushing your teeth or washing your face. Fill a cup or basin instead.
4. Put a few drops of food coloring in your toilet tank. If color seeps into the bowl, it's time to fix the leak!
5. Install water-saving devices such as low-flow showerheads and toilet dams to save water and money.
6. Use cold water in the washer to lower utility bills and energy use.
7. Water the yard early in the morning or at night, when evaporation rates are at their lowest.
8. Don't use toilets, drains or storm sewers for waste disposal.
9. Check your pipes for leaks, and fix leaks promptly.
Reuse and Recycle Goods
10. Use both sides of a sheet of paper, and use scrap paper for informal notes.
11. Collect used paper for recycling.
12. Repair or purchase used items instead of buying new ones. Use freecycle.com, a Web site that connects people who need things with people who want to get rid of things.
13. Donate unwanted articles of clothing, furniture, and books to appropriate agencies so they can be used again.
14. Shop at second-hand stores, garage sales, and Web stores, and use the classified ads instead of purchasing brand new items.
15. Purchase an existing home and make repairs to it instead of building on natural areas or agricultural land.
16. Reuse grocery and plastic bags (for lunch sacks, etc.).
Select and Dispose of Household Products Wisely
17. Choose household cleaning products that are the least harmful to the environment, and in quantities you will use up.
18. Dispose of leftover solvents, pesticides, used transmission oil and other toxic chemicals through your county's hazardous waste collection program.
19. Avoid products containing ozone-depleting substances.
20. Insist that your refrigerator repair technician use CFC recovery and recycling equipment when servicing your refrigerator or freezer.
21. Choose water-based and low VOC (volatile organic compound) versions of varnishes, paints and other home products.
22. Whenever possible, choose natural, organic wood, clays and fibers (and even steel), rather than formaldehyde-emitting carpets, furnishings, walls and fabrics.
Save Energy and Lower Your Electric Bills
23. Turn off the lights when you leave a room, and when leaving the house, also nix the A/C or heat.
24. Make sure your A/C and heating units are leak-free, and in good working condition.
25. Change your air filters regularly, so that your units don't have to work twice as hard to move the air through the filter.
26. During the hottest months, lower the blinds or invest in tinted windows to minimize the sunlight entering your home.
27. Purchase energy-saving compact fluorescent bulbs, and as your incandescent bulbs burn out, replace them with these longer-lasting ones.
28. Request a free home energy audit through your county environmental agency or utility.
Clean and Green Your Yard and Garden
29. Reduce or avoid chemical pesticides. Learn and use alternative pest control options.
30. When adding new plants to your landscape, choose those best suited to the environment in which you live. These require less water, fertilizer and pesticides to survive and thrive.
31. Create a composting area to collect food waste for use in your yard. This keeps organic material out of the landfill and chemical fertilizers out of your yard.
32. Leave grass clippings on the lawn or add them to the compost pile.
Make Smart Transportation Choices
33. Walk, ride a bike, rollerblade, carpool or use public transit more often.
34. Keep engines well-tuned and tires properly inflated to maximize fuel efficiency.
35. Shut off your engine even for short stops. One minute of idling uses more fuel than re-starting your engine.
36. Buy local whenever possible to save the energy used in transporting goods.
37. Bring a lunch from home to avoid the paper waste of takeout.
38. Buy a reusable water bottle to avoid disposable cup waste.
39. Avoid products with lots of packaging or those in plastic or Styrofoam containers.
40. Buy paper products instead of plastic if you must buy disposables, and be sure to recycle the paper. Buy recycled products to help complete the cycle.
by Amy Godfrey - YourGuideToGreen.com
Amy Godfrey earned a master's degree in Adult Education and Human Resource Development from Fordham University, a bachelor's degree in Communications from the University of Connecticut, and Project Manager Professional (PMP) certification through the Project Management Institute (PMI.) Currently working as a project manager for a Fortune 100 company, Amy also is the co-creator of Smart Spaces: Inside & Out television show (www.SmartSpacesTV.com) and brings a strong commitment to educating people about green living.