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Green Around the Clock
This April 22 marks the 40th anniversary of the first Earth Day, started to boost awareness about the environment — and to ensure that pro-planet types would no longer be ignored by legislators. But you don’t have to be lobbying Congress to make a difference. Do your part by practicing these six habits each day
In the Morning
Brew “certified” coffee.
A USDA Certified Organic label means it was grown using sustainable standards.
Green “to go.”
Not brewing at home? Take a travel cup to your favorite java joint; they may fill it at a discount.
Configure your office printer or copy machine so it prints on both sides of the page.
Put it to sleep.
If you’ll be away from your computer for more than 20 minutes, change it to “sleep” mode.
Bags, that is. It’s good for your wallet, too: Some retailers, such as CVS, now pay you for every disposable bag you
take ($1 on a special CVS card for every four trips on which you BYO).
Truly turn off electronics.
Plug your devices — the TV and DVD player, or the computer and printer — into a UL-certified power strip; switch the whole group off for the evening to prevent phantom electrical draw.
Start ‘Em Young
Yep, get the kids to turn off video games (both the TV
the console) after they’re done playing, and you’ll win back about $100 per year.
Live in one of the 11 states with bottle bills? Have your kids collect aluminum cans and plastic bottles to redeem for cash to spend on a treat.
Don’t tap out.
Teach children to turn off the water while brushing their teeth. Leaving the tap running during the recommended two minutes of brushing can waste up to five gallons of water a day.
Dr. Seuss’s 1971 book,
stars a creature who “speaks for the trees” against those who’d cut them down. Talk about the message with your tykes (book and matching plush doll, $5 each, Kohl’s).
Green My Ride
In January 1994, GH lamented that American cars were only required to average 27.5 miles per gallon, noting, “If the U.S. required American automakers to produce cars averaging 45 miles per gallon of gas (the Honda Civic VX already averages 55 mpg)… the country would save 3.1 million barrels of oil a day.” So how are we doing? U.S. cars are required to average 35.5 miles per gallon — by 2016. In the meantime, use these three tricks to up your mpg.
Driving 10 mph above 60 is like adding nearly 50 cents to the price of a gallon of gas, since higher speed equals more guzzling.
Once a month, check the pressure of each of the tires against the guidelines listed in your car’s manual; add air if needed. Doing this can improve mileage by about 3 percent.
Replace filters regularly. A new oxygen sensor alone can improve mileage by as much as 15 percent.
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21 Ways to Green Your Home (and keep some greenbacks in your pocket)
Switch to Energy Star-rated CFL bulbs, like GHRI fave Satco’s Mini Spiral S6202; they use 75 percent less energy and last 10 times longer than standard bulbs. You’ll knock $30 off your electric bill for each bulb over its lifetime.
Plant trees around the house strategically (on the south and west sides; shading the air-conditioning unit, if possible) to save up to about $250 a year on cooling and heating.
Install dimmer switches in the living and dining rooms and three bedrooms to dial down electricity fees about $37 a year.
Since 1992 legislation, all new showerheads must have a flow rate of 2.5 gallons per minute or lower. Replace your old showerhead and save up to $45 a month for a family of four.
Wrap an insulation blanket around your water heater and lower its running cost as much as 9 percent.
Run a full dishwasher whenever possible — it uses half or less of the water and energy of washing the same dishes by hand. And don’t waste water by rinsing before loading (today’s machines are designed to power off the mess).
Invest in a faucet-mounted water filter for a low $30, and use refillable bottles like our top-rated GHRI pick, the Nalgene OTG Everyday 24-ounce bottle. By giving up bottled water, a family of four can save about $1,250 a year.
The goal is “reduce, reuse, recycle.”
Roll up a couple of these and stick one into each of your calf- or knee-high boots so the footwear will keep its shape.
9. Empty paper-towel roll.
Flatten,and use it to sheathe a knife kept in a drawer.
10. Small glass food jars.
These make perfect see-through storage vessels for nails, screws, nuts, and bolts.
11. Old shower curtain.
Stash one in your car’s trunk to line it when carting potentially messy paints or picnic and beach gear.
12. Used coffee grounds.
Spread them over flower beds of acid-craving plants such as azaleas or rhododendrons.
13. Plastic tub.
Get the largest-size container of yogurt, sour cream, or margarine. When done with the tub, rinse and reuse it as a travel dish for pets or for craft-supply storage.
14. Plastic gallon milk jug.
Cut off top with a utility knife just above the handle and use as a scoop for kitty litter, birdseed, etc.
15. Foam packing peanuts.
Put some in the bases of potted plants to help drainage.
16. Plastic mesh produce bag.
Turn it into a no-scratch scrubber for a gunky pot or pan. Ball up the bag, scour, then throw the whole mess away.
Good (Enough) Ways to Go Green
Switch to a front-loading washer from a top loader. In a recent GHRI test of front loaders, they used less than half the water traditionally used by a top loader for a full load.
Pocket up to 25 cents for every laundry load you wash in cold water (versus hot). Cold-wash three loads a week, and save up to $40 a year.
Install a programmable thermostat, which can save an estimated $150 yearly if preset to cool your home’s air or pump up the heat (such as before you get home from work).
Lower your heater’s temp by 2 degrees to potentially lower your bill about $40 a year. In warm months, set the AC at 78 degrees (at 73 degrees, you’ll pay 40 percent more!).
Upgrade two toilets made before 1992 to low-flow ones, and turn down water costs nearly $200 a year in a two-bathroom, four-person home.
Not in the budget to replace your toilets? Try Brondell Perfect Flush ($79), which will convert your toilet into a dual-flush — saving about half the water and $100 per year per toilet.
Always look for the ‘organic’ label on veggies and fruit, which means that they were produced without the use of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers.
If buying only organic is a strain on your finances, opt for organic versions of the items known to have the highest pesticide levels: peaches, apples, and bell peppers.
Open windows and doors or operate window or attic fans when the weather permits. Most heating and cooling systems do not bring fresh air into the house.
Bring home superhero plants. Certain easy-care greens (English ivy, mums, and peace lilies) naturally help remove indoor air pollutants like formaldehyde and benzene.
Recycling Do’s and Don’ts
The U.S. is the number-one trash-producing country in the world, at 1,643 pounds per person per year. In 2008, only a third was recycled, reports the EPA, though experts say more can be. Here, a quick primer
Recycle paper with staples, clips, or spirals intact — the metal will be filtered out by machines later.
Include any paper with food stains (think pizza boxes), as they can contaminate a load.
Forget to remove bottle caps. They’re made of a different type of plastic and can mess up a whole batch.
Return plastic bags to stores. Find a local spot at
FOR GLASS & METAL
Rinse out bottles, jars, and cans; throw away (or recycle) caps.
Worry about labels — they’ll burn off at the plant.
Include washed pie tins and foil, metal bottle caps, wire coat hangers, scrap metal.
Make the town dump your first stop. One person’s trash is another’s treasure — so when you want to ditch an old item, first try
, Craigslist, or a thrift store that does pickups.
Paper, Paper, Everywhere!
3 ways to cut the clutter — and save trees in the process
Get off junk-mail lists Register with the Direct Marketing Association’s DMAchoice mail preference service (
), and you’ll see a significant reduction in mail after three months.
. Permanently place a recycling box an arm’s length from your mail bin so you can toss any remaining junk mail pronto.
Pay bills online, or set up automatic check paying from your bank account. No envelopes, no postage — and no late fees, if you’re on an automatic plan.
7 Ways to Waste Less
• Buy refillable containers Spray bottles, for example, can be refilled from larger jugs or concentrate. Over time, you’ll buy — and dispose of — fewer containers.
• Choose concentrated or “ultra” cleaning products, which use 50 to 60 percent less packaging than traditional formulas while cleaning just as thoroughly.
• Don’t use more product than the directions indicate Pouring in extra laundry detergent or fabric softener won’t get your clothes any cleaner or cuddlier. Instead, follow the markings as directed on the label.
• Stop brown-bagging it (literally) and wasting paper when you pack lunch. The best-tested L.L.Bean Flip-Top Lunch Box (plus some ice packs),
keeps contents nice and cool.
• Grab a microfiber cloth, which can take the place of 60 rolls of paper towels before it needs replacing.
• Stash leftovers in reusable containers Our GHRI-tested top picks: plastic Rubbermaid Lock-Its (for portability) and glass Snapware Glasslock (for microwave reheating).
• Green your next move with Rentacrate’s reusable plastic crates (
), which mean no more dozens of cardboard boxes to tape up and try to get rid of later.
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5 Oldies but Goodies
Frequently the impetus was thrift, but
has given “green” advice since the magazine started in 1885. Here, five blasts from our past, updated for the 21st century.
1. APRIL 1903
“All women should have personal knowledge of the sources of the home’s supplies. It is not necessary to go every day to one’s butcher’s and grocer’s, but an acquaintance with the tradesmen themselves is a necessity to good living.”
Just plug in your zip code at
to find nearby suppliers of organic and sustainably produced foods.
2. APRIL 1943
“Foods do not cook faster when they boil violently. If you turn down heat when boiling begins, you’ll use less fuel, and foods won’t boil over or burn dry.”
The advice still makes sense — as does matching the pan size to the burner element. A six-inch pan on an eight-inch electric burner, for instance, will waste more than 40 percent of the heat produced,
food will take longer to cook.
3. MARCH 1944
“Grease from fingers or food is bad for your refrigerator door’s rubber gasket. Wash it with soap and water. Don’t make [your freezer] work overtime by making more ice cubes than needed.”
These days there’s a good chance your icemaker shuts off automatically. And more important than cleaning the gasket: dusting the coils underneath or on the back side of the fridge (accumulated dust can cause the motor to overheat and cost more to run). Unplug the appliance, and use your vacuum’s crevice attachment or flat long-handled brush to carefully remove dust.
4. APRIL 1970
“Daily cooking produces grease, smoke, and odors that can cause eye and nose irritation. To remove cooking pollutants, a ceiling or a wall exhaust fan and two types of range hoods — vented and ventless — are available.”
Still good advice, with one caveat: Choose a hood that vents to the outside, if you can.
5. JUNE 1979
“Combine your separate errands — bank, grocery, drugstore, cleaner’s, etc. — into one trip and form carpools with others to get to and from.”
True today — whether it’s to cut fuel costs or to shrink your carbon footprint.
What it means: Food is produced without antibiotics, genetic engineering or most synthetic fertilizers, and pesticides. (Seen on food products)
Rainforest Alliance Certified
What it means: Companies harvesting the food practice soil and water conservation; they also reduce the use of pesticides. (Seen on coffee, chocolate, bananas)
Fair Trade Certified
What it means: Food is grown on small farms; farmers receive a fair price. (Seen on coffee, tea, chocolate, fruit, rice, sugar)
What it means: Animals raised for dairy, meat, and poultry products are treated humanely. Growth hormones are prohibited, and animals are raised on a diet without antibiotics. (Seen on eggs and meat)
What it means: Products are evaluated for environmental impact; they must meet recycling and bleaching standards. (Seen on napkins, paper, towels, and toilet paper)
This is is a syndicated post. Read the original at www.goodhousekeeping.com