Earth Day is on the way! Join us Saturday, Earth Day, April 22nd, for Hunger Mountain Coop's Community Earth Day Celebration, featuring outdoor activities, kid activities, recycling opportunities for cell phones, batteries, CDs and DVDs, a workshop on tree planting, and, of course cast your vote for your favorite upcycled compost tote! (Scroll down to see some of our entries - voting will be all day at the coop Saturday).
Whether you go to an event or not, pause to consider your own relationship with Mother Nature and re-examine your personal impact on the planet.
Some people think that drastic measures are required to incorporate “green” lifestyle habits. But small changes add up to make a bigger difference than you might realize. Here are some simple tips that will help you reduce pollution and wasted resources - and save a little money as well.
One of the best ways to make your day a little greener is choosing to use public transportation, riding a bike, or walking. Do what you can to unnecessary driving times whenever possible. Consider working from home occasionally, and try to plan your errand routes so they require less fuel. Even if you’re out of town, many cities offer bike rentals and are creating safer bike paths to encourage bike riding. Bicycles are a fun, inexpensive route to lower vehicle emissions and a healthier lifestyle.
Cut back on waste: Instead of purchasing bottled water, drink water straight from the tap. If water quality is a concern, invest in a filtration carafe and a reusable water bottle to help you stay hydrated throughout the day. And besides, even if manufacturers claim otherwise, independent research groups have proven that many bottled waters actually come from municipal water sources - just like your tap water. By filling up a reusable bottle, we can reduce the number of plastic bottles that are produced, transported, and end up in landfills.
Reusable shopping bags are another trend that both reduces plastic in landfills, but are also convenient. If you have never used reusable shopping bags before, you will be surprised how much easier it is to carry your groceries in something sturdy and long-lasting. Everyone has a bag or two around the home they’re no longer using - just remember to keep one or two stowed in your backpack or vehicle for quick shopping trips.
Light bulbs are a necessity, and there are several kinds on the market. Be sure to read the packaging to choose energy efficient light bulbs; LED bulbs are the most energy efficient, surpassing compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs). CFLs also have to handled as a hazardous waste becuase of the mercury found in each bulb. Not so with LEDs. Efficiency Vermont is now subsidizing the price of LEDs so it's a great time to stock up. And no matter which light bulbs you use, remember to turn them off when not in use.
Get to know your thermostat. A smart thermostat can regulate temperature in the most economical way possible. The feature that makes it “smart” is the fact you can adjust it when you are away from home via your smartphone. By only using your heating and cooling systems when you absolutely need to, you may be surprised at the noticeable savings on your utility bill.
Down with Vampires! Some electronics use a small amount of electricity even when they are turned off, as they are in standby mode. This is sometimes referred to as vampire power. Over time, this small amount of electricity adds up, and you are paying for it. The best way to eliminate vampire power is to unplug the electronics when not in use. A switchable power strip is especially convenient for this purpose.
There are many ways to save money while saving the earth. Not each method is practical to every person, because not everybody can afford an electric car or hang their laundry outside to dry. Just keep in mind that making small changes can really add up to make a big difference in going green and saving money.
Beth Kotz is a freelance writer and contributor for numerous home, technology, and personal finance blogs. She graduated with BA in Communications and Media from DePaul University in Chicago, IL, where she continues to live and work.