No one really knows if the affect we have on carbon dioxide or methane production will spell our doom. In the 1950’s, there were climate irregularities that were blamed on the communists and bombs! We’ve only been keeping weather data for 150 years or less, and we’ve only begun to interpret it. Computer models for the Greenhouse Effect are built on computer models for nuclear winter and dinosaur extinction. We’ve not experience nuclear winter and we were not on the earth to record dinosaur extinction. Scientists are doing the best they can, but they disagree.
I taught environmental biology and ecology for over 25 years on both the high school and college level, and have been the keynote speaker for Earth Day and Arbor Day events in central Alabama. I’ve also worked with community organizations interested in ‘greening’ their activities. We know human activities affect our environment, and we know how to live green, live wisely. I don’t advocate that anyone try everything, but pick a few and make a difference!
In the yard:
- Use a mulching mower so that nutrients aren’t bagged and sent to the landfill.
- A good stand of grass will choke out weeds, so go easy on the chemical weed killers.
- Old newspapers can be used under pine straw to prevent weeds in shrubs and garden areas.
- Put movement sensors on outdoor lights, or use solar lighting.
- Start a compost heap for yard wastes, kitchen wastes and newspaper strips.
- Plant deciduous trees near the house and coniferous away from the house, to let sunlight warm you in the winter.
- Let shrubs grow large against the house if you have high summer cooling bills. Trim them back if your power bills are highest during cold winters.
- Use half the recommended amounts of detergents and additives.
- Try non-chemical laundry balls instead of more detergents.
- Use liquids so you won’t inhale powders in the air.
- Buy low phosphate detergents.
- Wash in cold water.
- Hang clothes to dry.
- Buy clothing that doesn’t need ironing.
In the kitchen:
- Purchase energy efficient appliances.
- If you use but a few dishes/utensils a day, hand wash and air dry them.
- Buy foods with little packaging, like fresh produce or bulk sizes.
- Take bags with you to the grocery store (or any store).
- Keep organic wastes separate for a compost heap to fertilize gardens and beds.
- Purchase reusable plastic containers for leftovers instead of disposable plastic bags.
- Buy ‘pick a size’ paper towels.
In the bathroom:
- Purchase a low-flow shower head.
- Purchase a toilet with a small tank, or put a plastic bottle full of water in the tank.
- Use pump sprays instead of aerosol cans. Recycle the containers.
- Turn off the water while brushing your teeth.
- Re-use towels (at least once).
- Wet, lather, rinse…and do not repeat. Instructions for most products are to make you run out fast and buy more.
- Reduce your shower time or lower the level of water in the tub. If you must, savor the time and water once a week.
- Use more ‘elbow grease’ to clean and scour, and less bleach-type products.
- Rinse disposable diapers. Read the directions for their use and follow them.
In the garage/car:
- Buy fuel-efficient cars.
- Travel the speed limit to conserve gasoline.
- Be faithful to the recommended maintenance schedule.
- Sweep carports, patios and pool aprons instead of cleaning them with the power nozzle on the hose.
In the bedroom:
- Use contraception/birth control. Plan your family.
- Turn the television off when you are sleeping or out of the room.
- Remove plastic from dry-cleaned clothes immediately.
In the home:
- Install ceiling fans.
- Use devices that will automatically turn equipment off if no one is in the room.
- Install solar screens or storm windows, especially on east and west facing windows.
- Set thermostats to allow you to be comfortable in sweaters during the winter and tanks during the summer.
- Participate in your community’s recycling programs.
- Put entertainment equipment and chargers on power strips that can be turned off at night.
- Purchase energy efficient light bulbs. Turn lights off if not in use.
- Increase insulation in outside walls and attics.
If you want to know why these practices are recommended, post a comment and I’ll be glad to elaborate. By adopting such practices, you will not only ‘save the planet,’ but you will save your pocketbook as well! Right now, most Americans need every penny that they can squeeze!