My wife came to me tonight with a pair of hole laden slippers and asked, “Are these recyclable?”. I know that clothes can, and should, be recycled but I hadn’t really looked into it until now. There are a lot of good sites on the web that offer up suggestions, but it seems that Goodwill is an all purpose recycler. They not only take the good stuff, but also take the unusable stuff and send it off to a recycler who shreds it up for several uses – things like insulation in cars for example.
I picked up this little book on a recent trip that is called, “1,001 Ways to Save the Earth”. It has some good tips in it – some I already do and others that I hadn’t thought of. I found two in particular very interesting though.
1. I’ve known that keeping the freezer as full as possible is the best way to cut down on the freezers energy consumption, but I made the assumption that it needed to be filled with solid items to achieve the best efficiency. Apparently that’s not the case though. According to the book, “…If you don’t need to stock up on food at the moment, empty cardboard boxes will achieve the same result”. Huh – empty cardboard boxes??
2. Something I had never even considered being a greener way of vacation travel. We all know how much pollution airplanes put into the atmosphere, but trains produce 20 times less emissions per passenger mile than planes, and – this is the one that surprised me – cruise ships produce almost 200 times less emissions per passenger mile than planes! Wow. Now if more people could just avoid getting to the cruise ship by plane….
At 105 degrees, today is one of the hottest days so far this year for us in the San Fernando Valley. Some of the things we have done to try to keep our home as cool as possible is to close all of the doors to rooms that we don’t use during the day – bedrooms, bathrooms, the office, the kitchen. That pretty much leaves the livingroom for the most part. In the living room we set up a portable 10,000BTU AC unit that I had sitting around with a “booster” box fan to help circulate the air better. We have to have the portable AC unit on full time, but it’s better than having the main unit on all day, which I’m sure would be the case otherwise. It’s not a perfect system, but it’s adequite and it keeps things comfortable. The biggest downside is the noise from the fans.
That’s right, it’s the 38th Earth Day. Hopefully you will celebrate the day by doing something good to cut down on the pollutants we blindly exhaust into the air, or contaminants we put into the water, or the things we do to jeopardize nature and all of its inhabitants. And hopefully that one thing you do to celebrate the day will give encouragement to you, and those around you, to continue celebrating Earth Day every day. I’m telling you – once you start, it becomes easier and easier to consistently make little changes that make consistently big differences.
Some simple things to start out with? Here’s some ideas:
1. Here’s my favorite tip. Do you have a burnt out light? Go get a CFL light, a double pack will probably run around $5, and replace it. Is that light in a place you don’t use the light very often? Then take a light bulb from somewhere you do use lights all the time – like the living room or the kitchen – and put that incandescent light in the low usage area. Then put the cfl in the higher usage area instead. That way you get maximum return on your cfl investment right away.
2. When you throw something away, think to yourself, “is any part of this recyclable?”. I know that a lot of times it can be a little tedious to properly recycle – like taking labels off of glass jars and the caps off of plastic bottles – but if you start thinking about it then it will become a simple habit and will soon become a consistent part of your day. Things that I didn’t give any thought to recycling before were: receipts, bags from a fast food stop (as long as there’s no grease on it), batteries, the laundry detergent bottle, most mail, cans (with the labels taken off), etc. I’m going to be putting up more recycling tips and guidelines in the near future and I’m going to try to make it an easy reference type page.
3. For a little more extreme do-it-yourself starter, you can save the water from your shower or bath and use it to water your garden. This is what’s known as grey water and it is full of good stuff, which your garden will love. As far as getting it out of the tub or shower effectively? I have a 5.5gpm pump that I bought at a used electronics store for $20 (from APEX Electronics in the San Fernando Valley if you’re in the area – I LOVE this store!) and hooked it up to a marine battery I had laying around.
4. Plant a tree. Either for shade, curb appeal or just because. If you don’t want to do it, don’t have time to do it, or don’t have a place to do it, then these guys can do it for you.
5. Do you watch a lot of TV? Have you been thinking of upgrading, or are about to upgrade your TV? If so, then donate your old TV and get a new LCD TV (!*NOT PLASMA*!). LCD’s use a lot less power than the old style TV’s and they are really coming down in price these days.
Bottom line – do what you can to make the planet the best it can be, then go out and enjoy it.
Get a small box or some kind of non-metal container and save all of your used up batteries. While you’re waiting for your collection to grow, check out Call2Recycle to find out where you can take them. There are a lot of places where I live that take them, and hopefully where you live to, so it won’t be too much of an inconvenience. In my area it seems that almost all, if not all, of the Radio Shack stores take them.
Rechargeable batteries are an excellent way to cut down on how many batteries you throw away. They may cost twice as much but they last 10, 20, 30 times longer. It’s best to charge them at night when electricity prices are lower and demand for electricity is less as well.