10 BEST GREEN TIPS
RANDOMLY COMPILED BY BRIAN CLAREY
ACKNOWLEDGE THE PROBLEM
The first step is acceptance: The earth is getting warmer — that’s according to 95 percent of the scientific community, and you need to accept this fact. But even if you don’t, then you certainly recognize that the Earth itself is our most precious resource, and that we need to protect it, keep it clean and sustain its bounty so that humans can go on living here for a long time.
CALCULATE YOUR CARBON FOOTPRINT
For an idea of just how much you personally tax the Earth in your daily activities, it’s a good idea to calculate your carbon footprint to see where you can make reasonable changes. There’s a good one at nature.org that says my own household, at 57 tons of CO2 per year is well below the national average of 130, but well above the world average of 28.
USE LESS GASOLINE
Whether you buy into the factual science of “climate change” or not, you know that gasoline — and the crude oil from which it is derived — is an expensive, non-renewable resource. You can use less by using public transportation, walking or riding a bicycle, carpooling or stacking errands so that you drive fewer miles.
USE ALTERNATIVE ENERGY
My wife’s uncle, an engineer, installed solar panels in his home and now on sunny days he feeds energy back into the grid. My father-in-law owns a diesel truck, and he uses biodiesel when he can get it. You can’t build a wind farm or hydroelectric plant on your property, but you can invest in solar panels, especially in the next few years, when the price will come down significantly.
Eating green does not mean a life condemned to leaf lettuce — it means considering where your food is coming from and how it is grown. Shopping at local farmers markets means your food travels fewer miles to get to your plate. A home garden is even better. Organic food does not leave chemicals in the ground that could leach into drinking water. And because it takes an enormous amount of energy to fatten cattle, pigs and chickens for slaughter, eating less meat uses less energy.
Pay your bills online, use debit cards instead of checks, scan your files and put them on your computer, and read your books, newspapers and magazines in digital form. Then you can go to DMAchoice.org and CatalogChoice.org to stop the flow of junk mail to your house.
RECYCLE AND RE-USE
Put paper, glass and metal into that big, brown receptacle whenever you can. It’s really no big deal. And think of ways you can re-use things you might ordinarily throw away. My wife puts her water in a glass bottle so she doesn’t contribute plastic to the landfill by buying bottled water every day. You can also re-use plastic and paper grocery bags, or better yet, bring cloth bags to the store with you.
Open the curtains and use natural daylight instead of turning on lights during the daytime. Light a fire or put on a sweater and lower the thermostat a few degrees. Turn off the lights when you’re not using them. Wash your clothes in cold water. Run the dishwasher only when it’s full. Change your air-conditioner filters. There are hundreds of easy ways to conserve.
USE LESS WATER
Turn off the tap when you brush your teeth or shave. Take shorter showers and avoid baths. Fix the leaky faucets and toilets in your house. Get a rain barrel and use the collected water for your plants and lawn. These steps alone save thousands of gallons a year.
TAKE ON A FEW GREEN PROJECTS A YEAR
Install low-flow showerheads or energy-efficient light bulbs. Start a garden and make a compost pile. Plant a tree. Buy energy-efficient appliances. Upgrade the insulation on your house. And if you’ve got the means, take the plunge and go for those solar panels. Duke Energy will hate you for it when you feed energy back into the grid.