Thursday, January 14, 2010

Seven Simples Ways to Be Greener Today

I mention being "green" every once in awhile on this blog. Living in a more environmentally friendly way is something I'm starting to become a lot more conscious of, and it's something that we all have to do, to be quite honest. Sure, there are a lot, a lot, a lot of huge daunting changes that need to be made if we want to save the planet, but that's not to say that the little things-- if lots of people start doing them-- can't help.

So what are some easy ways to reduce your carbon footprint?

Turn Everything Off When You Sleep

This is one I'm admittedly bad at. I have a very hard time sleeping-- or functioning, for that matter-- without noise. I generally sleep with my television on and have it or something else that make noise on throughout the day because I get super creeped out when it's silent. I'm trying to get used to turning my television off at night. If you're like me, try setting your TV on sleep mode. Even if you set it for a couple of hours once you're pretty sure you're headed toward Dreamland, you'll save a whole bunch of energy. If you're not found of sleeping with the lights off, try a night light instead of a hall light, lamp, etc.

Shut Down

I know a lot of people who keep their computers on for long periods of time, myself included, especially when I'm at school. Some ideal times to shut down? When you're in class, in the shower, sleeping, out with friends. If you won't be using it for an extended period, just turn it off. Not only will the environment thank you, but your computer will probably run better.

Recycle Plastic Bags (and Everything Else)

If you're still using plastic bags to go shopping, make sure you recycle them! Did you know that a lot of supermarkets have a bin that you can put all your old bags in for recycling? I never noticed it, either, until recently. If you're off on a big clothes shopping trip, ask for a large bag at the first store and then put all your other purchases in there as well. Of course, an even better idea is to get some super cute tote bags for shopping. Forever 21 has some really cute ones for only $1.50. (Most chain grocery stores sell totes as well, which are usually only $1.00 or so).

Old Jeans = New Insulation

I've always wondered what in the world to do with my old jeans. Green Jeans Insulation and Bonded Logic use cotton fabrics such as denim to make sustainable insulation for homes. Green Jeans has an address where you can mail your old boot cut buddies right on their website, and I believe Bonded Logic also takes donations, though I haven't discovered the address yet. So instead of making yourself some questionably flattering cut-offs, send your old jeans off to one of these companies and help provide families with some environmentally friendly warmth.

Unplug It

When a plug is in the socket, it's using energy even if it's not plugged into anything else-- your laptop, phone, lamp, etc. This energy is often referred to as a "phantom load." Even though your plugged-in-but-not-in-use appliances aren't using a ton of energy individually, the energy really adds up. Scientist Alan Meier's studied phantom loads as early as 1998, and found that they accounted for 5% of energy use in homes. Translation? Somewhere around 3 billion dollars per year in energy costs! Yikes! And it's increased since then! So what can you do? Well, simply unplug anything you're not using at the moment. I bet you'll be surprised to see how many things you have plugged in right now that aren't in use.

Dress For the Weather, Even Inside

Instead of blasting the heat, get comfy and cozy in your favorite sweater and a few blankets. Not only will you save some energy, but you'll probably see your heat bill go way down. I'm sure no one would object to a little less money spent on heating oil nowadays. Try to cut down on air conditioning in the summer, as well. Saving on heat and air conditioning has a lot to do with how you dress for the weather, and also a lot to do with how well sealed your home is. Make sure you seal your windows in the winter, keep windows closed when you use air conditioning in the summer, and employ a door snake year round.

Two Words: Brita Filter

Most bottled water? Filtered tap water. So why don't you save yourself a whole bundle of money and landfills a whole bunch of plastic by filtering your own water? Oh, but you like flavored water? No problem, because there are filters that will do that, too. Worried you won't look cool? Have you seen Sigg bottles and the like? Yeah, you have no excuse.

Now that you're armed with knowledge, what are you going to do to be greener?

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