Did you make your resolutions yet, 10 days into 2016? Or did you forget, like me?
Resolutions can feel like a no-win situation. The usual resolutions — lose weight, exercise, quit smoking, eat healthy — are all commendable, but, unfortunately, in real life, they are not easy. Well, I have a few that might stick — and be good for the Earth. They might even make you healthier and save you cash.
1. Recycling, even just one item. Once you do one item, you may realize it is much easier to recycle than you think. The average American generates at least 4½ pounds of trash a day. That means that, unchecked, each of us leaves our grandchildren a 100,000-pound legacy in our landfills. Recycling is the easiest way to make a positive difference for our environment.
2. Run full loads in your dishwasher and washing machine. Wipe food residue off your dishes, but don’t pre-rinse them. If you do full dish loads and don’t prerinse, you will save up to 7,300 gallons of water a year. We Americans use twice as much water and energy per person as the rest of the world. The added benefit will be saving cash.
3. Take shorter showers. I want you to get clean, but keep in mind that every two minutes of a shower uses more than 10 gallons of water. Showers use less water than baths. Using low-flow shower heads and low-flow or dual-flow toilets can also cut water use and water bills. An average flush for a regular toilet uses 4½ gallons of water. That is as much water as the average person in Africa uses a day for drinking, cooking, cleaning and bathing.
4. Turn off the tap. Don’t run the water while you are brushing your teeth or shaving. Even children can incorporate this resolution. Your family could save more than 5 gallons of water a day.
5. Dust your light bulbs, change worn-out bulbs to compact fluorescents or LEDs. You will increase light output and increase energy efficiency. Reducing electricity production will also reduce pollution. Just remember when these new bulbs eventually go out eons from now to recycle them.
6. Close fireplace damper. An open damper can let 8 percent of your heat escape. In summer, that means you are losing cool air, too. That can add up to about $100 in energy costs going up the chimney.
7. Close curtains. You could reduce your energy needs by 25 percent by closing curtains in summer when it is sunny and in winter when it’s cold.
8. Clean dryer vent; don’t overload your dryer. You’ll save up to 5 percent on electricity. Better yet, use a clothesline.
9. Recycle phone books and catalogs. Or even stop phone book delivery and just use an online directory. Estimates suggest that telephone books make up almost 10 percent of waste in landfills. We will have locations for recycling phone books during January and February, starting next week.
10. Wrap your water heater. Get an insulated blanket for your water heater and set the thermostat no higher than 120 degrees. You could save 25 percent on energy. If all U.S. households did this, we would save more than $32 billion each year.
If you want more, check out “The Green Book: The Everyday Guide to Saving the Planet One Simple Step at a Time” by Elizabeth Rogers and Thomas M. Kostigen.
For more green ideas, contact Keep Liberty Beautiful at 880-4888 or firstname.lastname@example.org or go to www.keepliberty beautiful.org.