Topic: Environmental Tips

To Idle or not to Idle

Posted on March 2, 2016 by - Environmental Tips

We’ve heard that in winter your car needs to warm up.  But in fact, idling in winter has no benefit to newer model cars. Auto experts say no more than 30 seconds of idling is needed before you start driving.  The engine will warm up faster being driven.

This is because most modern cars do not have carburetors, which needed to warm up to work well.  New cars use electronic fuel injection.  This makes the problem of warming up the car before driving irrelevant.

Even short periods of idling are significantly damaging. Indeed, it is better to turn your engine off and start it again.  If every car in the U.S. idles for 6 minutes per day, 3 billion gallons of fuel is wasted annually and costs drivers $10 billion.  That’s lots of vehicle exhaust containing pollutants that are harmful to your family’s health and the environment that are unnecessarily being released into the atmosphere also contributing to climate change.

Information from the Washington Post – Dec. 29, 2014

Renewable Energy

Posted on February 3, 2016 by - Environmental Tips

Speak your mind if you want to see renewables change the face of energy.  And do your research to choose and elect candidates that support clean energy at the local, state and national level.   Here’s why.  The will of the people concerned about the environment created a demand for solar energy, and what happened?  The solar sector beat out the oil and gas extraction industry in 2014 creating almost 50% more jobs in the U.S. than those industries did.  These are jobs open to different backgrounds including manufacturing, installation, sales and administration.  Be an active participant with information.  It matters.

Source: The Solar Foundation:  National Solar Jobs Census 2014

To Heat or Not To Heat

Posted on January 27, 2016 by - Environmental Tips

Maintain a constant indoor temperature and you’re heating not just your home but also the great outdoors. Heat is constantly lost, especially through doors and windows; the warmer it remains inside, the more heat escapes. It’s a law of thermodynamics, the same principle that makes tank water heaters less efficient than on-demand models.

This is why it takes less energy to reheat a house in a short time than to keep it warm all the time, and why energy-conservation organizations like the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy estimate a 2% savings on heating bills for each degree you lower the thermostat for eight hours at a time.

Washing Dishes – By Hand vs the Machine

Posted on January 14, 2016 by - Environmental Tips

Assuming that you use appropriate cycles and only run the machine when it’s full, the dishwasher wins. This is true even if you include the energy used in the production of the dishwasher in the first place.

To maximize the benefits, choose a model that will last and then look after it. Try to run it fully loaded, use the economy setting when possible and – for maximum green points – use the timer setting to run the dishwasher in the middle of the night. This way you’ll be using the grid at a time of low demand which means the least efficient and dirtiest power stations won’t be running, and as a result, each unit of power will have a slightly lower carbon footprint.

If you have to hand wash, please don’t let the water run.

Easy Ways to Be Green in 2016

Posted on January 4, 2016 by - Environmental Tips

Share resources, reduce consumption, and be a good steward of the earth by practicing healthy habits and being an example for others to follow, including the kids.

  • Choose three food items and commit to buying them organic.
  • Make a change to natural skin moisturizers like coconut oil.
  • Trade your bottled water habit for an at-home filtering pitcher.
  • Brew your own Fair Trade coffee and carry your own cup.
  • Remember your reusable bags.
  • Turn off the water when you shave and brush your teeth.
  • Cut back on paper towels and use cloth napkins instead of paper.
  • Become a weekend vegetarian or a Monday night vegetarian.
  • Commit to learning more about green power:  solar and wind.
  • And don’t forget the kids!  Donate or consign toys and clothing they’ve outgrown.

Earth Friendly Ways to Celebrate

Posted on December 21, 2015 by - Environmental Tips

Give a gift to a local charity.  Find the organizations that work toward the goals, missions, and values your friends and family want to support, and make a donation in the gift recipient’s name.  Do this even for the kids to take the emphasis off consumption.

Skip paper and plastic products.  Bring out the family China, silverware, and cloth napkins–even for breakfast!

Take a Christmas Walk and Make it a Tradition.  Get outside to appreciate what nature has to offer.  Gaze at the clouds and the stars; notice the local flora and fauna, and hear the quiet sounds of nature.  Notice what makes a holiday different from our regular hustle and bustle days.

Give the Gift of Time.  Relax with friends and family, and be kind to yourself by spreading visits out.   Only memories last forever, so make good ones.  Peace everyone, and happy holidays.

Alternatives to Gift Wrapping

Posted on December 10, 2015 by - Environmental Tips

Possibly half of the paper America consumes each year is used to wrap and decorate presents!  That makes the annual trash from gift wrap and shopping bags over 4 million tons.

Here’s how to lessen the impact:

  • Use environmentally friendly wrapping paper, paper from recycled content.
    Avoid buying glossy foil or metallic wrapping paper.  It’s difficult to recycle, and it has no value for use as mulch since it contains heavy metals.
  • Reuse gift wrap when possible. Opening large gift packages with care will help, and save those fancy ribbons and bows for re-use.
  • Make the gift wrap a part of your gift by using a scarf or towel to wrap the gift. Click here to learn Furoshiki – the Japanese art of wrapping and carrying things with a square of cloth.
  • Use leftover wallpaper, fabric scraps, old maps, sheet music or even the Sunday funnies with a festive bow – use raffia, twine or other natural materials instead of non-recyclable ribbon.
  • Gift bags with a little tissue paper can be used year after year and are a quick and easy way to wrap. Save boxes and ribbons to reuse.

If everyone wrapped just three gifts in reused paper or fabric gift bags, it would save enough paper to cover 45,000 hockey rinks.

Check out our other holiday tips here.

Happy Holidays!

Green Computing

Posted on December 1, 2015 by - Environmental Tips

In terms of computing, modern life requires enormous amounts of energy.  The only way to be absolutely green is to never use a computer, but that is not a possibility in today’s world.  However, we can still be more sensitive to the environment as we use our devices, and it is not about doing less.  It is about the responsible use of resources.

Here are three ways to put that idea into action:

  • Stop yielding to marketing hype and buying more computer than you need.
  • Screens and monitors use a lot of energy.  Reduce the brightness to the lowest level you can comfortably read.
  • Before recycling, try keeping your computer in service.  Sell or give it away to someone who will treasure it. That is the greenest option most of the time.

Being green is about being environmentally aware and responsible.  Get on board computer geeks, and happy computing
Read more at http://livinggreenmag.com/2014/10/13/green-business/three-steps-greener-computing/#v1YWvpli01XbYEq6.99

To Burn or Not to Burn

Posted on November 19, 2015 by - Environmental Tips

You may relate the smell of burning leaves to the changing seasons, but the reality is that burning leaves introduces a lot of pollutants into the air that can be toxic and irritating to respiratory passages.  And because leaves are usually moist, they burn poorly and emit even higher levels of dangerous hydrocarbons.   For these reasons, many neighborhoods do not allow burning leaves or have specific guidelines.  (Check the county or your local township for specifics.)

A better option is to shred or mulch leaves with a lawn mower and leave them to fertilize the lawn. Fall is the best time to fertilize because ants and earthworms help incorporate the leaves into the soil.  That decaying matter feeds the beneficial microorganisms that keep soil healthy. Collect some of the mulched leaves in the mower bag and use them as mulch around the garden and landscape to suppress weeds, conserve moisture and maintain soil temperature.  Even better is to gather them with a rake and compost.

Just sayin’.

Autumn Leaves Are a Free Gift

Posted on November 16, 2015 by - Environmental Tips

If you can, try not to have them end up in trash bags or burn piles. Instead use them to help your garden grow. Composting is a great and easy way to use fallen leaves as organic fertilizer to create soil rich with minerals. So, where to start? You need to have nitrogenous ingredients like grass clippings as well as materials high in carbon, like your dry leaves.

Shredded leaves break down faster, so simply run over them with your lawn mower. Then throw all your leaves into your compost pile with grass clippings and mix well. Continue to mix, and cover the pile with a tarp through winter to seal the heat in and keep moisture out. Come spring it will be a dark brown color, and the original ingredients unrecognizable. At that point, you can dig that finished earthy smelling compost into your soil to help your garden grow. Thank you beautiful leaves.

Even easier – after shredding them with your lawnmower, spread them on your garden beds. Instant mulch, and they will compost themselves.

Need to burn or have your leaves collected? Contact your local township office or the county for all the dos and don’ts.