Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Upset about the spill? So start using less oil. Today.

I keep being asked to boycott BP, buy bumper stickers or join hands on a beach.  The better way is to start reducing your carbon footprint.

There's no time like the present. Here are some easy things I do that you can start right now, today:

Waste less gas.  Don't let your car idle. Don't drive round and round looking for the closest parking space or sit idling as you wait for a space blocking the road and forcing others to also sit. Park the car at the first space you come to and turn it off immediately. Don't start it until you are ready to pull out. Coast, don't race up to red lights.  Don't speed. Make sure your tires are properly inflated.  Combine trips. Do your shopping on your way home from work for example. Don't drive short distances that you can easily walk. It's often faster and more comfortable to walk than deal with parking, traffic and a car that's hot as a furnace from being parked in sun.

Use less plastic.  Refuse throwaway shopping bags.  Use fewer plastic bottles.  Get stainless steel bottles and a filter for your tap. You can pick these things up at Walgreens and similar stores which I am sure you'll pass on your way home from work. Make brewed iced tea and other drinks at home.

Waste less electricity. Adjust your thermostat. Every couple of degrees makes a big difference. Use your ceiling fans and dress appropriately for your climate.  Don't heat up the house in summer by using your oven. In winter, heat up your house by cooking things in the oven.  Turn things off and unplug when not in use. Pick up some CFLor LED bulbs on your way home if you haven't already made the switch in any lights left on for an extended period.

Don't buy silly things.  Shop resale. Stores are full of silly pointless things the planets resources should never have been wasted on to manufacture, package and ship.  You also don't need a special cleaner for everything.  I have very few and do most things with vinegar, baking soda and rags.

Eat less meat. Buy more locally produced food and goods.

Toilet paper and paper towels from recycled paper for the few messy messes that your don't want to use your rags for.  Soft toilet paper comes from old growth forests, btw.  Don't use it. I like the Safeway store brand and there are several supermarket chains that are affiliated and carry the products. Tom Thumb and Randalls for example.

Unsubscribe from magazines and papers you rarely read. Use websites that stop junk mail.

And those are just things you can start doing right now. I hope you keep it up by getting a more fuel efficient car or car pooling, walking and using public transport.  By improving your home for efficiency. By Switching to a low energy notebook computer.  By shopping resale for clothing, accessories and furniture. By replacing batteries with rechargables.

And best of all, most of these things save you money and are healthier for you.

Shopping list:
Reusable shopping bags. Whole Foods and a few other supermarkets have the best large recycled plastic bags.
Stainless Steel drinking bottles- Walgreen has some with both a flip top and regular screw cap for $5.
Water filter
Baking soda
Spray bottle
Tire guage

Some things you might want shop online, resale or discount or big box stores:
Compact Flourescent or LED light bulbs in multi packs.
A more expensive water filter that is cheaper in the long run due to filter costs. I use the Aquasana.
Cloth Napkins, although you could always use dish towels. Try resale, dollar stores or ikea.

As LEDs get cheaper and more available, choose them over CFLs. There are many negatives to CFLs which are full of mercury which must be disposed of properly, are not meant to be used upside down and possibly affect power quality which could harm other electrical equipment.
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