Three Easy Things to Make Your Life Greener
By Virginia Ginsburg
Reducing our impact on the Earth doesn't have to be complicated, and it can also have many benefits for our pocketbooks, as well! By reducing greenhouse gas emissions and reducing our use of natural resources we can significantly decrease our Global footprint. Here are some simple things that you can do today to go green.
1. Change Your Light Bulbs
A "normal" light bulb is known as an incandescent light bulb. These are probably what you use to light most areas of your home - they come in various wattages, such as 60 watt, 75 watt, etc. The trouble with incandescent light bulbs is that they generate a high level of heat while running, which wastes a lot of electricity. Thus, they are very inefficient.
Comparatively, fluorescent bulbs create light without generating heat. This allows them to be much more efficient and produce between 50 and 100 lumens per watt, making them four to six times more efficient than incandescent bulb. They also last much longer than incandescent bulbs.
It is simple to replace your bulbs. The next time one blows, simply note the wattage on the incandescent bulb and visit your local hardware or lighting store. Fluorescent light bulbs are marked to indicate their actual wattage and the comparable wattage to an incandescent bulb. This means that if you had a 60-watt incandescent bulb, you can buy a fluorescent bulb marked as 15-watts (equivalent to 60-watts incandescent).
Once all of your bulbs are replaced, you will notice a significant cost-savings in your energy bill. You will also have the added benefit of needing to replace your bulbs less frequently - truly a win-win situation!
2. Switch to Low-Flow Shower heads
Water is a precious resource that is limited in many regions of the U.S. Population growth puts increasing pressure on this natural resource: the EPA reports that the public demand for water has more than tripled since 1950.
Showering is one of the largest indoor uses of water domestically: the average shower takes 10 minutes and 20 gallons of water. Significant progress has been made towards creating low-flow shower heads that feel just as powerful as regular shower heads but can cut water use by 25% to 60% and reduce annual water bills by almost $100 for an average family of four people. These cost (and environmental) savings include both the use of water and the energy cost of heating it.
Installing low-flow shower heads is simple to do. Simply visit your local home improvement center and choose from the many options available.
The reasons for recycling are many. First, by using recycled materials instead of virgin natural resources, we conserve land and reduce the need to drill for oil and dig for minerals. Secondly, it usually takes significantly less energy to make a recycled product than it does to refine it from raw materials. Aluminum is one of the best examples: it takes 95% less energy to create it from recycled materials. Thirdly, recycling cuts down on the space and resources required for landfills.
The ease of recycling varies based on where you live. Some cities have curbside recycling bins that require you to separate items, others have you place all items in a single bin, and some cities have not yet adopted a curbside recycling program, which means that you may need to take your recycling items to a recycling center.
Typical items that can be easily recycled include paper, aluminum and glass. Plastic containers, bags and packaging can be difficult to recycle, so you have to check for the recycling code on the packaging. Better still - reuse plastic bags, or avoid them altogether, as much as possible.
Some cities pay for certain recyclable materials, so check with your local recycling center to see if you can financially benefit from your good deeds.
By taking these three simple steps, you can greatly reduce your impact on the Earth, while also making a positive impact on your wallet. There are many resources available online through government agencies to help you make green decisions about your household - check them out!
Virginia Ginsburg. Virginia Ginsburg writes about sustainable products, green living, and her quest for a socially-conscious lifestyle. She is founder of Green Baby Gifts (http://www.greenbabygiftsonline.com), which offers beautifully-wrapped baby gifts made of bamboo fiber and packaged in completely recycled and recyclable packaging.