Thanks to Cascade Natural Gas and Puget Sound Energy for these “Earth-friendly” tips for Earth Day on April 22nd.
Reduce your carbon footprint! Leaving your car at home twice a week can cut greenhouse gas emissions by 1,600 pounds per year. Save up errands and shopping trips so you need to drive fewer times. If you commute to work, ask if you can work from home at least some days, and you’ll reduce air pollution and traffic congestion – and save money. Reduce greenhouse gases on the road.
Don’t idle! Remind your school system to turn off bus engines when buses are parked. Exhaust from idling school buses can pollute air in and around the bus, and can enter school buildings through air intakes, doors, and open windows. Constant idling also wastes fuel and money, and school bus engines really need only a few minutes to warm up. More about reducing engine idling.
Tread lightly! Use public transportation, carpool, walk, or bike whenever possible to reduce air pollution and save on fuel costs. Leaving your car at home just two days a week will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by an average of 1,600 pounds per year. If you can work from home, you’ll reduce air pollution and traffic congestion – and save money. Reduce your carbon footprint.
eCycle it! Take your old computer, DVD player, or other electronics to an electronics recycling center. Reusing and recycling materials like copper, gold, and others saves natural resources and reduces mining and processing. eCycling also helps avoid land, air, and water pollution by capturing and reusing hazardous substances such as lead or chromium. Find eCycling centers near you.
Everyone can make a difference! High school students can study links between everyday actions at their high school, greenhouse gas emissions, and climate change. Become a “climate ambassador” leader in your school or neighborhood and motivate friends, schools, and community leaders. Talk to you friends – help spread the word! Learn more at school.
Use Water Efficiently
Make it a full load! Run your dishwasher only when it’s full. Don’t pre-rinse dishes – tests show pre-rinsing doesn’t improve dishwasher cleaning, and you’ll save as much as 20 gallons of water per load. When you buy a new dishwasher, look for one that saves water. Water-efficient models use only about only about 4 gallons per wash. More about using water wisely.
Be sensible! The Earth might seem like it has abundant water, but in fact only one percent of all water on the planet is available for humans. Buy fixtures and products that are water efficient – you can use less water to get the same job done just as well. When you go shopping, look for the WaterSense label to find water efficient products. More about WaterSense.
Shower power! A full bathtub requires about 70 gallons of water, but taking a five-minute shower saves water by using 10 to 25 gallons. Put a little timer or clock near your shower so you can see how fast you are. Save even more water, and money on your water bill, by installing a water-efficient showerhead, or ask your landlord to install one if you rent. More about using water wisely.
Don’t be a drip – fix that leak! Leaky faucets can waste thousands of gallons of water each year, like money down the drain. Repair or replace old or damaged fixtures. If you’re not sure you have a leak, check the water meter before and after a two-hour period when no water is being used. If the meter does not read exactly the same, you probably have a leak. More about saving water.
Make it a full load! The average washing machine uses 40.9 gallons of water per load. If you buy a a new washer, shop for a high-efficiency washer that needs less than 28 gallons of water per load. To achieve even greater savings, wash only full loads of laundry or be sure to choose the appropriate load size on the washing machine. More about using water wisely.
Reduce / Reuse / Recycle
Compost it! Compost helps improve soil so it holds more water and plants grow better. Allow grass clippings to stay on the lawn, instead of bagging them. The cut grass will decompose and return to the soil naturally. Food scraps and kitchen waste also make good compost, and you save money on fertilizers or other additives. More backyard composting ideas.
Proper maintenance reduces waste! Keep your appliances in good working order and follow the manufacturer’s suggestions for operation and maintenance. Shop for products with high consumer satisfaction and fewer breakdowns. If kept in good working order, your appliances should last a long time and not end up as waste before their time. More ways you can reduce waste.
Don’t trash it – reuse it! Be creative as you look for new ways to reduce the amount or kinds of household waste. Give cardboard tubes to pet hamsters or gerbils. Plant seeds in an egg carton. Make a flower pot out of a plastic ice cream tub. By thinking creatively, you will often find new uses for common items and new ways to recycle and reduce waste. Other creative tips to reduce waste.
Just bag it! Help protect the environment when you shop. Keep reusable bags on your car seat or near your door so they are easy to grab when you go. And you can even combine shopping bags – just tell the cashier that you don’t need a bag, then put all your purchases together in one bag just be sure to hang on to your receipts! More tips for shopping.
Wait for the storm to pass! Don’t fertilize before a rain storm. Your fertilizer – along with your money – can just wash off your lawn and down the storm drain. Fertilizer runoff can pollute rivers, lakes, and bays, and cause problems in recreational areas or fishing grounds. Check the weather forecast before you head out, and wait for the storm to pass. More on greenscaping.
Travel green! Look for hotels that encourage guests to use less water or energy. Hang up your towels to dry so you can use them again. Use the sheets more than a night or two. When you go out, look for local foods and souvenirs to reduce transportation. Before you go, unplug your computer, DVD player, and other electronics, and turn down your thermostat. More ways to save when you travel.
Environmentally Protective Choices
Protect yourself from sun overexposure! In summer, always apply sun block SPF 15 or more to protect your skin from solar UV radiation. Just five or more sunburns can really increase your risk of developing skin cancer. The sun’s rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. so at those times, seek shade or wear protective clothing such as a long-sleeved shirt. Sign up to get free UV alerts.
Heading to the beach? Check out the beach water before you go! We Americans take almost two billion trips to the beach every year, but people who swim at the beach sometimes get sick because the water is polluted. The good news is in the state where the beach is located, you can check with the state office to find out about the beach water – before you go. Beach water quality where you live.
Be extra aware of environmental conditions where older people live! As we age, our bodies become more sensitive to chemicals and environmental conditions. So you should carefully use products such as pesticides or cleaning solvents near areas where older adults live and sleep. Always follow the directions on the product package or label. Reduce exposure for older people.
Read the label! You might not realize it, but on a pesticide container, the label is the law. Pesticide product labels provide critical safety information for handling and use. Pesticides are powerful substances, but when used according to the label they are safe and effective. So always use pesticides safely, at home or in the field. Always read the label. Read the label first!
Exercising outdoors? Regular exercise makes us feel great and keeps us healthy. Before you head out for your workout or run, check the air quality forecast for your local area. You can find out when air pollutants such as ground-level ozone or airborne particles are at acceptable levels where you live. Check your air quality.
Don’t let pet waste run off! You can help reduce polluted storm water runoff by just picking up your pet’s poop and dispose of it properly. Leaving pet waste on the ground increases public health risks by allowing harmful bacteria or organic material to wash into the storm drain and eventually into local waterbodies. So remember – always scoop the poop! More on storm water runoff.
During hot weather, don’t top off your gas tank. Refuel your car or truck in the early morning or the evening when it’s cooler. A small fuel spill may not seem like much, but every spill evaporates and adds to air pollution, and fuel pumps with vapor recovery systems can feed a spill back into their tanks – after you paid for it. So, in hot weather – don’t top off! Don’t top off!
Breathe easy! On unhealthy air pollution “action alert” days, wait to mow your lawn until it’s cooler in the evening or early the next morning. You help reduce air pollution for everyone near you if you run gas-powered equipment, like lawn mowers, when it’s cooler. You also protect your health by avoiding ground-level ozone during the warmest part of the day. Check your air quality now.
Get the lead out! If you’re doing work on an older home or school building, be sure to follow lead-safe work practices. Contain the work area and keep kids and pets away. Minimize dust. And clean up thoroughly. Lead is harmful to adults and children, and common renovation jobs like sanding, cutting, or demolition can create lead dust and chips. More on renovating.
Play it safe! Children are curious but they are also more sensitive to substances in the environment. Protect children from accidental poisoning by locking up your household cleaners, pesticides, paint thinners, and other substances. Household products are safe and effective when used properly. Remember to read the label. More ways to prevent poisoning.