Monday, April 26, 2010
Thursday, April 22, 2010
I like to think of Earth Day as another kind of New Year's celebration. In other words, don't just focus on the one day. Look forward. Make a change. Make an Earth Day's resolution!
I have loads of ideas, whether you want to try an easy change or an extreme one. I'll let you think of the in-betweens. Here we go.
- Heating and cooling. Just go easy on the thermostat. No higher than 68 in the winter. No lower than 80 in the summer. You might even baby-step your way to more extreme comfort deprivation and save more than just a few bucks.
- Water. Take a shorter shower. Set a timer for five minutes and see if you can finish before time runs out.
- Driving. Just drive less. Several people in my office bike to work in the summer. The rest of the year they take public transportation. It's easy (and more convenient) to drive less in the city, but even in suburban and rural areas, you could walk, bike, or carpool a lot more often if you made the effort.
- Air conditioning. Live without it, I mean. Open windows, drink cold lemonade, wear skimpy clothes, lie in the shade, and use fans when absolutely necessary.
- Driving. As in, not at all. Quit your car and rely on transportation by automobile as little as possible. I know people who have done it. Yes, they all live in the city.
- Grocery bags. One of our friends once wondered how anyone could still be using plastic grocery bags when it's so easy to switch to reusable bags. We were still on the plastic a year later, and it's all because of cat litter. In a future post I'll tell you all about it. In the meantime, switch to reusable bags like we eventually did. Any bag will do.
- Water bottles. Lightweight, stainless steel water bottles are all over the market now. Get one, carry it with you, fill it with tap water (or filtered tap water if you must).
- Coffee cups. One day earlier this year, Starbucks gave free coffee to anyone who brought in a reusable travel mug. But even on regular days, Starbucks gives you a 10-cent discount if you're using your own thermos (or even just an open mug). Ten cents off isn't much incentive, but if you instead think of it like they're charging you 10 cents for the paper cup, suddenly you want to avoid the fee, no matter how small.
- Water. Whole-house gray water systems collect and filter the water that runs down your sink, shower, dish washer, and washing machine drains and reuse it for watering the lawns and filling the toilets. Smaller systems set a sink above your toilet tank so that you're never using fresh water just to flush.
- Material goods. Before you throw anything away, see if it might have another use. Len's good at repurposing scraps of wood and other things leftover from various projects. Out of scraps, he has built two compost bins, one little set of drawers for coffee and tea things, and several shelves, and he's also made many home repairs with project leftovers.
- Paper. Paper is so easy to recycle, you'd better have a grand excuse if you're not already doing it. If you don't have recycling pick-up in your neighborhood, there is probably a school or church near you that does have a big recycling dumpster on the premises just for paper.
- Beverage cans and bottles. Again, if you don't have recycling pick-up at home, save aluminum, glass and plastic drink containers in bins or garbage bags. When you have a trunk load, drive it to your municipality's recycling center. It's just another errand, no big deal. Some restaurants and city sidewalks also have separate trash cans for recycling. Use them.
- Fashion accessories. Whether you're looking for a real leather purse, a brightly colored tote bag or some unique jewelry, you can find almost any fashion accessory made from other recycled things.
- Building materials. Whether you're putting in new carpet or building a whole new house, you can order almost any of the necessary materials made from other recycled materials, including insulation made from old jeans and white picket fences made from old soda bottles.
- Anything. Implement a recycling program where there isn't one. At your office, in your neighborhood, in your school district, or in your city.
I want to know your ideas! Click the "Comments" link at the top of this post and tell me!
Saturday, April 3, 2010
in 125 countries
including all 50 states
and Washington, D.C.
I encourage you to read some of the accounts from cities around the world on EarthHour.org's news page. The site also has some really neat photos and videos of the event.
St. Louis Arch, MO, USA ©WWF/Steve Behrends
Chicago Theater, IL, USA ©WWF/Chuck Osgood
Burj Al Arab, Dubai, UAE ©Jumeirah Group
View of Central Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong ©WWF/HKPPA .
Tower Bridge, London, UK ©WWF/Jon Freeman
Candlelit coffee (illuminated by battery-powered headlamp)
Yes, that last one is ours. Len realized he needed to reheat his cup of coffee after everything was already unplugged. Setting a pillar candle inside a jug of similar diameter and balancing his mug on a cookie-cooling rack, he made use of the flame. It worked, but it also was quite precarious (as if you couldn't tell), and some coffee spilled on the carpet. Yeah, we cleaned it up by candlelight too, but not without the help of our awesome LED headlamps.