The 5 Quick Tips
I thought 4 minutes would drag on, I envisioned the host of the morning show at KATV in Little Rock prodding me to say something else just to get through the time. Turns out, 4 minutes is pretty short, and I didn't get through all of my simple tips for going green.
Everyone wants to know what they can do to help the planet, even the waiter at Wasabi Grill, a great sushi and Japanese restaurant in downtown Little Rock wanted to know and sat down with me during a lull in his work for some pointers.
So, here's the tips I was prepared to give on television on Saturday:
Some people think that “going green,” or being more environmentally friendly is hard – or will cost money. The great thing about the tips I’m going to give today is that they are not hard – the key to this, like with any other change, is to modify your habits.
We’re all finding ourselves with less money these days due to energy and grocery costs rising, so my tips today have a double benefit, they will not only allow you to help save the planet, they will help you save money:
1). Use cloth grocery bags.
Environmental benefit: Helps reduce the amount of waste in the landfills. Neither paper nor plastic is good. Paper uses trees and plastic kills wildlife and takes years to break down – if ever.
Cost savings: Some grocery stores offer 5 cents for every bag you provide.
This was the first thing I did to go green – 20 years ago this year. My husband worked as a mechanic at a large landfill in Kansas City. I’m an animal lover and when he came home and told me about all of the birds getting those plastic bags caught in their beaks and around their legs, I wanted to do something to help. I bought 4 bags and my mom bought 3. My husband was overwhelmed by the amount of trash he saw everyday and said our small effort wouldn’t help. Our bags have lasted 2 decades and last year, I added up the number of plastic bags I estimated we saved and it came to around 10,000 bags we’ve kept out of the landfills – and saved about $500 from that nickel a bag!
2). Save energy and save on your electric bill.
Environmental Benefit: Saving energy helps reduce our carbon footprint on the planet.
Cost savings: All the small things will add up to a savings on the electric bill.
a). Turn off lights when not in use.
b). As your old incandescent bulbs burn out, replace them with CFL bulbs. CFL bulbs have comparable wattage output, but uses up to 80 percent electricity. They also last anywhere of up to 12,000 hours and regular bulbs only last about 1,000 hours. You may pay a little more upfront, but the cost savings is worth it on the energy bill and the cost of replacing bulbs faster.
c). Unplug and turn off all of your electronic gadgets when not in use. Everything still pulls electricity, even when not in use. Unplug chargers for lap top computers, cell phones, and other electronic charges when they’re not being used. Turn off computers, don’t just let them sit idle (this can save up to $55-$70 per year). According to the Department of Energy, it’s a myth that modern computers will last longer if they’re left on all of the time. That applied to the older mainframe computers. Consider buying a laptop for your next computer purchase. They use less energy than a desktop.
d). Install solar deck lights. These are fun and decorative and saves us from turning on the large outside flood lights if we’re just going out on the deck. They also don’t attract the moths as turning on the outside lights do.
3). Don’t use paper cups, plates, or towels. Recycle bottles, newspapers
Environmental benefit: Keeping more trash from the landfills.
Cost savings: Cutting these out of your grocery bill will help save money.
The average family of four would use over 400 paper plates if they had two meals per day on them. That’s 400 more products of waste that we have to find room for in the landfills. Also, the cost of paper products are rising, eliminating these products will help people save on their energy bills.
4). Walk or bike wherever you can and eliminate or combine trips.
Environmental benefit: Saves energy. Helps reduce our carbon footprint.
Cost savings: At nearly $4 a gallon for gas, that’s obvious.
If there’s anything positive about the cost of gas, it’s that it has made Americans think more about gasoline – not just the cost from our pockets, but our dependence on it. We live 12 miles from town and my husband has to go in everyday for work, but I haven’t driven to town by myself for over 3 months. He does all of our errands while he is there. On weekends, we combine trips – there’s no longer running into town for one small thing. If you live closer to town, think about where you can walk. Walk your kids to school – its great exercise for you and them. Maybe you can take up biking again. I’ve spoken with a lot of people even up to their 40s and 50s who have discovered the great physical benefit of biking to work.
5). In the garden and with our pets. Use eco-friendly pesticides.
Environmental benefit: Probably safer for eating and us to be around.
Cost savings: Some of these products have more than one use – such as skin so soft and dishwashing soap.
You can buy organic pesticides for your vegetable garden, or you can find recipes for homemade products. My aunt uses a mixture of water, cayenne pepper and dish soap. For your lawns and inside dogs, we buy organic products that aren’t harmful to our pets or other wildlife if we put it in our yard. We’ve found limited success with the natural pesticides for the pets. We live out in the woods, so we do have to apply the topical pesticide to our dogs that roam around the woods, having ticks can be dangerous for them and us.
For us, we dust our pant legs with sulfur powder and also spray skin so soft from Avon, or mixtures of natural essential oils. (Don’t use sulfur on dogs).
Finally, recycle animals. They are not disposable. Adopt from the shelter.