Make a change for the greener good
Everyone’s going green these days. It’s a global movement to help heal the earth and protect it for future generations. With the sunny days upon us, we can lower the thermostat and open the windows, use the BBQ more instead of the oven, and enjoy longer days demanding less energy from our lights. This is the perfect season to start taking small steps towards big change. Who knows? You may feel inspired to continue living green all year long!
A SMARTER HOME, INSIDE AND OUT.
- Get a younger model: The refrigerator is one of the most energy-consuming appliances in your home. If your model is over 10 years old, you may want to consider replacing it. Energy Star appliances ensure a 10–50% drop in energy usage, which can result in lower utility bills.
- Less down the drain: Decrease the flow of water from your sink faucets by using an aerator. It attaches to your tap and can reduce your annual water consumption by 50%.
- Shower stint: Place a one-gallon bucket under the showerhead, turn the water on and time how long it takes for the bucket to fill. If it’s less than 20 seconds, replace the showerhead with a low-flow model.
- Go with the low flow: Low-flow toilets are creating a big splash because they use just six litres per flush. If you do have an older toilet, you can reduce the amount of water per flush by adjusting the float to admit less water into the tank.
- Turn your toilet green: Add some food colouring to the water bowl of your toilet. Wait two hours and check to see if any colour has leaked. If so, you’ve got a flapper leak that needs fixing. Flush the dye to avoid stains and replace the flapper as soon as possible.
- See the light of day: Compact Fluorescent Light bulbs (CFLs) use up to 66% less energy than a standard light bulb and can brighten your days longer. They also reduce the release of greenhouse gas emissions.
- Go unplugged: From can openers to whisks, using your own two hands instead of electric devices is a little work that goes a long way.
- Pick local produce: By choosing local produce, you reduce the number of steps from the farm to your plate and support local growers. You’ll enjoy fresher tasting, better quality fruits and vegetables. Plus you’re helping to reduce fuel emissions from transport trucks that bring in produce from afar.
- Scrap the junk mail: Help to minimize the 4.5 million tons of junk mail a year. Go to www.reddotcampaign.ca to find out how.
- Save a forest: Purchase 100% post-consumer recycled paper, to be found in everything from greeting cards to toilet rolls. While you’re at it, go to www.epost.ca to switch to electronic bills.
- Give away your gadgets: Each time you upgrade your phone, MP3 player or digital camera, give the old ones away or have them recycled. Apple retailers recycle iPods, and you can donate electronic products to organizations like Computers for School (www.pcsforschools.org) or Green Tech International (www.gtrecycling.com).
- Get green and gorgeous: Look for eco-friendly make-up and clothing. Keep an eye out for fabrics made of natural fibres such as cotton, hemp or bamboo.
- Grow a healthy garden: Opt for compost instead of synthetic fertilizers. Compost offers nutrients and soil organisms that maintain healthy soil. Planting flowers and plants that live longer than a year – perennials such as peonies – saves money and maintenance.
- Green means go: Walking, biking and carpooling minimize greenhouse gas emissions. Fuel-efficient hybrid cars are another way to help the environment, not to mention how they stretch your gas dollar further.
DO A DESK JOB
Your computer and other electronic devices are energy-sucking culprits – even when they’re not turned on! Here are some tips to control climate change from your desk. * Choose an Energy Star–compliant computer. It uses 15–25% less energy on average than a standard new computer. * Set your computer to automatically “go to sleep” when it’s not in use. Using power management features on your computer can save nearly half a ton of CO2 and more than $60 a year in energy costs. * Reduce phantom power. As long as they are plugged in, your computer and other electronic devices continue to use electricity – even when they are turned off or in standby mode. A computer uses up to 10 watts when it is turned off but still plugged in. Plug all your electronics into one power strip so that you can easily switch them all off when you leave the room or go to sleep. You can reduce your electricity bills by as much as 10% by unplugging electronics and other appliances when they are not in use.
THE GREEN RECIPE BOX
Try these natural cleaning recipes from Greenpeace Canada, made from ingredients found right in your pantry!
1/2 cup (125 ml) pure soap 1 gallon (4 litres) hot water
For a clean scent and to help cut grease, add 1/4 cup (60 ml) lemon juice.
This solution is safe for all surfaces and should be rinsed with water. For a stronger cleaner, double the amounts of soap and lemon juice.
Use a firm bristle brush and scrub with pure soap combined with either table salt or baking soda. You can also personalize your scouring powder by adding an aromatic herb or flower. Put the ingredients in a blender and run until the fragrance has infused the powder. For oven spills, scrub using straight baking soda or combine with the stronger version of the all-purpose cleaner mentioned above. Remember to wear gloves when scrubbing.
- Use baking soda in your garbage or refrigerator to help reduce odours.
- Dissolve 5 ml (1 tsp) of baking soda in 500 ml (2 cups) of hot water. Add 5 ml (1 tsp) lemon juice. Pour the solution into a spray bottle and spray as you would an air freshener.
- Place a few slices of a citrus fruit, cloves or cinnamon in a pot with enough water to simmer gently for an hour or two. Keep checking it and adding more water as required.
Liquid Dish Soap
Grate a bar of pure soap into a sauce pan. Cover with water and simmer over low heat until they melt together. Add some vinegar to the water for tough grease and to remove spots. Pour into a container and use as you would any liquid dishwashing soap. For more cleaning recipes, go to Greenpeace Canada at www.greenpeace.org/canada.
SMALL CHANGES DO A WORLD OF GOOD
Explore the thousands of ways to live for the greener good. For more tips, recipes and home décor alternatives, visit www.greenlivingonline.com.