I Gave You a Quarter. Did You Give me Change?

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30 steps to a more sustainable you!

7-22-2008. A quarter of a year has gone by since I posted my Earth Day blog offering 22 suggestions to change your lifestyle

Have you made any changes in the last 3 months?

I’ll trust that you have, and in case you’ve done so well that you’ve incorporated ALL 22 suggestions into your daily routine, I have added 8 more in this post (following the original 22) to make it an even 30.

After going through the list please use the comments section to add to my list and/or to explain why you’ve done so well (or poorly) in the last 3 months.

From Earth Day post:

1. Buy a rain barrel. You can’t drink the collected water, but you can water your lawn and wash your car with it. You’ll save thousands of gallons per year in the process!

2. Turn off your TV!!! At least limit your TV watching!

3. Drive less. Walk, bike, skip, skate, and stroll, more. This way you can get some fresh air while running an errand, and you’ll feel (and look) better in the long run.

4. Use natural fertilizers on your lawn and garden. Harsh chemicals found in conventional fertilizers are bad for your lawn and all who play on it. Also, it harms our groundwater supply.

5. Replace old bulbs with CFL’s and/or LED’s.

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6. Compost. Keep your food scraps separate from your garbage to reduce your waste and to keep any household plants or vegetables extra healthy.

7. Recycle. By recycling and buying products made from recycled goods we save natural resources AND put less toxic chemicals into our food chain.

8. Shop less. C’mon, you don’t really need it anyway. But if you HAVE to shop at least shop sustainably.

9. BYO shopping bag. When you NEED (not want) to shop, use your own bag–you’ll save trees and keep harmful chemicals (from making plastic bags) out of the environment.

10. Use a low-flow showerhead. You’ll save a lot of water. May I also suggest showering less and showering with a friend? Yes I may.

11. Use power strips. By plugging many appliances (e.g. your computer and printer and scanner and stereo) into a power strip you can turn off everything with a flick of the button. This will save on energy consumption, because even when things are turned off they still suck small amounts of energy (see: phantom loads).

12. Turn off everything (except your lover). Power strip or not, turn off (or unplug) things when not in use. Turn on your lover in the meantime. After all, the more you’re in bed; the less you’re watching TV, driving somewhere, shopping, etc…

13. Buy local food. It’s good to know where your food comes from. And it’s great to know it traveled 5 miles rather than 500 or 5,000 to get to your table.

14. Buy organic. Pesticides and fertilizers deplete and poison our soil, and our food is ONLY AS GOOD AS THE SOIL IT GROWS IN!

15. Junk junk mail. Start here.

16.Start a vegetable garden. You’ll appreciate food, soil, nature, and compost so much more!

17. Spend time outdoors! And bring your friends and family with you!

18. Take Action! Pay attention to legislation that will benefit the environment, and write your representatives to persuade them to support the environment as well. Collectively we are stronger than ANY lobbying interest!

19. Use your windows first, HVAC second (if at all). Use your blinds to let in or keep out heat. Save the heating or AC for extreme cold or hot weather. And you don’t need it as low or high as you think, so set it two degrees warmer in the summer and 2 degrees colder in the winter.

20. Use natural (plant-based) cleaning products. They clean as well AND keep harmful chemicals out of our houses and out of our drains, thereby keeping the chemicals out of our environment.

21. Say no to bottled water! Use your own re-usable bottle. The plastic in our environment and the chemicals from creating the plastic will wreak havoc for generations to come.

22. Talk to people. Don’t be a nag and don’t brag, but let it be known that you do certain things for the good of the environment. People love to follow the leader. Be the leader. But if it’s too late, then be the follower–this time it’s OK!

8 new additions:

23. Don’t Idle–EVER! Even ten seconds of idling in your car has been proven to use more gas (therefore, emitting more CO2) than turning it on and off again.

24. Hang your clothes to dry. The dryer is a huge energy hog. This of course may not be reasonable all of the time, but try it when you can–you’ll love the fresh smell. By the way, what is it that’s responsible for the actual drying of the clothes? That’s right the sun and the wind! If you choose to abide by this step feel free to tell your friends you have a solar and wind-powered clothes dryer!

25. Make sure your appliances sport an Energy Star label. Energy Star appliances consume 35% less energy than the average appliance.

26. Insulate your water heater. Another energy hog, an insulated water heater produces warm water more readily and can save up to 250 lbs of CO2 emissions each year. Better yet—look into a tankless or solar thermal water heater.

27. Shut off your computer. I know it’s a hassle to wait 2 minutes instead of two seconds, for your computer to turn on so you can read my blog. But it’s worth it. While you wait the extra 118 seconds, sip some organic, fair trade, shade grown coffee and think about how you are making the world a better place. I’ll still be here…

28. Carpool or take mass transit to work. It’s socially uplifting, and productive. My aunt takes the train every day in to work in Chicago (45 minutes). On the train she meets new people, finishes work, reads, and sleeps (occasionally missing her stop).

29. Support renewable energy through your utility company. My utility company (Ameren) recently introduced their Pure Power plan. The plan offers their consumers the opportunity to pay a little extra to purchase renewable energy certificates from renewable energy sources equal to 100% of your utility use. I’ve been using it for one year now and the average increase on my monthly bill is $5.

30. Mow your lawn with a reel mower. It’s human powered and good for your lawn. I highly recommend one for lawns less than a half acre.

Let me (once again) end this post with a great quote from Mr. Mark Twain:

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

Image from Wikimedia Commons through a Public Domain agreement

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