1. Add a recycling bin inside your house.
· At my house, we have a dual trash bin: one for recyclables, one for trash. Since these are side-by-side, it eliminates any excuse or laziness that would lead you to just throw away that plastic yogurt cup instead of recycling it. If you cannot do the side-by-side route, keep your recycling bin close and easy to get to (even if it means using a small basket or bag that you then take out to your recycling bin every night).
· Almost all areas have curb-side recycling available. If you are not set up for it yet, check your city’s website or your local waste removal company.
· If curb-side is not an option, find your nearest recycling center that you can make trips to. Added bonus: often times these centers recycle more than the curb-side option does.
2. Stop using bottled water.
· If you want “cleaner” water, filter your own. There are many handy gadgets to do this (entire home filter, attachment for your faucet, jug to put into the fridge, water bottle with filter…to name a few)
· Use a re-usable water bottle. These are found everywhere now and in all materials. I’ve seen numerous plastic in all sizes and colors, metal, and even glass. Find what works for you and carry it with you always. Note: added bonus, you will end up drinking more water which is good for your body and health!
3. Buy eco-products.
· I think almost all stores (Target, hardware, grocery, etc.) carry eco-friendly varieties of the same products you are currently using. These include ingredients that are biodegradable, recycled, free of chemicals and dyes, etc. The less we use of all of the former is better for our environment, our home, and our own health. If you aren’t ready for a full out overhaul, consider switching over 1-2 products whenever it’s time to stock back up.
4. Use energy-efficient light bulbs.
· Not only will this be good for the Earth, but it will be good on your pocket-book too!
5. Get a programmable thermostat.
· Again, this is good for both the Earth and your pocket book
· With the beautiful Spring weather, start opening the windows to cool/heat the house
· In the summer time, open the windows at night and use an attic fan when possible
6. Watch your water usage.
· Turn off the water between dishes or while you are scrubbing your hands with soap.
· Water your lawn deeply but infrequently. This means run a cycle (maybe half the time as you normally would), wait an hour, then run another cycle. Added bonus: grass roots will grow deeper, pulling more water from the earth below and requiring less water overall.
7. Use native plants.
· Spring is the season for planting…native plants are often more hardy, drought resistant (roots grow deeper and plants are better accustomed to the local environmental conditions), and easier to manage. This will save you time, water, and money.
· Check with your local nursery, arboretum, or online resource to find the best native plants for you.
· In our area, a few to try are: BlueStar, Blue False Indigo, Willowleaf Sunflower, Smooth Hydrangea, Spicebush, Cardinal Flower, Ninebark, Fringe Tree, Christmas Fern, Wild Hyacinth, and the Pawpaw tree.
8. Compost and use natural products on your lawn.
· Easy to do and great for bigger, healthier, happier plants (plus, less waste in landfills!)
· To learn how to start composting, watch this great video by Sierra Club: http://action.sierraclub.org/site/PageServer?pagename=CompostingGreenTips&s_src=N11ZSEGO03&s_subsrc=Composting&gclid=CP6T3fi_0rYCFQzNnAodalQAQA
· By using natural products (such as Natural Guard), you will be preventing gallons of chemicals from polluting our water ways.
9. Know where to recycle your hazardous materials.
· Here in Kansas City, go to: www.recyclespot.org. You can also call or go online to make an appointment to drop off your hazardous materials year round at www.jced.jocogov.org or call 913-715-6900.
· In you live outside of KC, check with your local city or county website
10. Donate or trade in your clothes and household items.
· Goodwill, charities, and churches are always good options for where to take your gently used items. Not only does this keep waste out of our landfills but it helps those in need.
· Here is KC, Habitat for Humanity offers an excellent program called ReStore where you can shop or donate. Go to: www.ReStoreKC.org for more information.
· Places like Best Buy will refurbish or properly dispose of old electronics
11. Mow and fill up your gas tank in the evening.
· Since more ozone forms air pollution (VOCs and NOx) when it’s hot and sunny out, doing these chores in the once the day cools down helps reduce the pollution created.
· Scary Fact: Using your lawn mower (3.5 horsepower) for 1 hour can create as much air pollution as a new car driving 340 miles! (from MARC Environmental Programs)
12. Plant a tree (or help sponsor one being planted)!
· Check out: www.TreesForMyCity.com to see how you can double your donation13. Eat Local.
· By eating locally not only are you supporting your neighbors, state, and country, you are also greatly reducing all of the pollution created by transporting your food to here. Added bonus: food will be picked when it is ripe, giving it a more delicious flavor!
· Enjoy your local Farmer’s market!
· Check out www.kcfoodcircle.org
· Take advantage of the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Programs! These provide you will local produce (and sometimes meats as well) each week. To find farms that participate all around the country, go to: http://www.localharvest.org/csa/
There are obviously many more tips and ideas for how each of us can “go green” and support this great planet we live on. Even just making a few changes can have a big impact! So dive in and help create a better future for all of us and generations to come!
Happy Earth Day!