cleaner than you found it

DYK that water and wind can carry trash hundreds of miles? Plastic bags and other garbage can easily travel along streams, rivers, and other waterways to their ultimate resting place in the oceans. So take your waste when you leave recreational areas. Go one step greener by leaving nature cleaner than you found it. Those of us who come after you give you a big thank you in advance- and we’ll try to do the same thing!

go for the aluminium (in honor of the Olympics)

If you recycle nothing else, go for aluminum instead of the gold. Aluminum is one of the Olympians of metals: strong, lightweight, non-corrosive, non-magnetic, and much more. It’s also one of the highest-value materials to recycle. It’s fast to reprocess, so a can could leave your recycling bin and be back on the shelves in 2 months.

Recycling one ton of aluminum cans saves the equivalent of 1,024 gallons of gasoline. Beverage cans and foil are the same material, so recycle both of them (clean them first). Aluminum trays and pans are NOT recyclable, but are reusable. And if the foil is combined with plastic- think drink boxes, yogurt lids, or candy wrappers- they can’t be recycled either. Yet.

What’s the last aluminum can you recycled? Mine was an amber ale…

prevent summer gain

photo by maria orlova

Have you ever stood in a window to feel the warm sun coming in? Most of that sunlight becomes heat (technically called “heat gain.”). The average American pays around $300 a year to keep their home cool (unless you live in the South!). We cut down on costs (and heat) the easy way- by closing our blinds and curtains on the sunny side of the house. Want to go big? Plant a deciduous tree outside. It will shade your house in the summer and let the sun shine in during the winter!

skip (by) the dryer

DYK that your clothes dryer can make up over 10 percent of your household energy use? Try drying your clothes on a rack or line. You’ll see less wear and tear on your clothes. Less shrinkage and longer clothing life. No static cling. No dryer sheets. And you’ll use less energy. A retractable clothesline in the back yard is great for quickly drying bed linens and towels (and that fresh smell…). For those with less space, try a fold-out rack. I tuck them between my washer & dryer when they’re not in use. 

plastic bag free day

photo by morgan vander hart

Tomorrow is International Plastic Bag Free day, so prepare today! Try to get through the day without accepting or using any plastic bags. Most plastic bags are only used for 20-30 minutes before they’re tossed, but it takes hundreds of years for them to decompose.

At the store, whip out a reusable bag or put your purchase in your pocket, purse or backpack. In the kitchen, ignore plastic zipper bags and substitute with reusable storage containers (glass and takeout containers are my favorite).

 Just try it for one day (and then another, and another…) and see how it goes!