By Debra Frick
Nowadays every one is talking about global warming and going “green.” Like I said everyone is talking but it is very hard to get down home advice on how to become green. So here are the basics: “Going Green” is as simple as simplifying your life. Going Green is more than recycling and reusing it is about retraining our way of life. Most of us do not think about how much of our resources we use up in just one day. Now by simplifying our lives I don’t mean giving up on all new technology but doing some things that are not going to hurt in the least and are good for us and our environment. Back in the day and I bet some of you readers will remember that during WW11 it was very hard to get fresh vegetables and other things like butter and milk and meat. They actually rationed these things with ration cards. So our grandparents learned to do with out or had victory gardens where they grew there own vegetables.
I grew up in California where they taught us at very young age about recycling. We had newspaper drives to collect papers for our school so we could earn money for a new flag pole. Collecting Aluminum cans was a big thing in the ‘70s and everyone in our neighbor hood recycled. My mother grew up during the depression and very rarely did she throw away a container that could be used again. We had milk delivered by a real milk man in a truck that brought it from the farm in glass bottles. Those glass bottles were washed out when we were done and put on the porch for the milkman to pick up. They then were washed sterilized and reused. My mother was absolutely appalled when I brought my son home for the first time and he was using pampers. She went out and bought me 3 dozen cloth diapers and diaper pins and rubber pants and insisted that I use them. Now Mama wasn’t an environmentalist but she was conscience that pampers were a non-renewal able resource and that in time our landfills would be filled with them and God Bless her soul she was right. How we used to tease her about all the things that she used to save but now when our planet is in peril how the lessons she taught me have come home to roost. So here are 10 real easy things that you can do to save energy, reduce your carbon footprint and save money all in one.
- Walk, Walk, Walk now I know in some communities this is just about impossible with the stores and malls and even your local bank being miles away but you can make a difference all the same by sharing a ride with a friend. Do your grocery shopping together, or just your errands you will be saving money and more importantly making a good friend. You can also buy a bike. The benefits are twofold you get exercise while cutting down on carbon emissions. Start a walking club with your friends. Everybody meet at one spot and walk together. Make plans for sharing rides. Ride the bus……Now Colorado Springs does not have the most efficient bus system but with a little walking added you can share the ride and save gas too.
- Recycle your food waste! Most of us have a spot somewhere in our yard where we can compost most of our food waste. Back behind the garage or down in your alley or just in a can in your yard. Throw in your grass clippings and old leaves and then add shredded paper, hair cut clippings, pet fur, salad, and fruit waste old clothes cut up can be used also. Throw in a little dirt cover with a tarp and let it do its thing. Check it every once in a while to make sure it has some water and you will have valuable compost in about 6 months. Check out the archives of a great magazine called Mother Earth News they have many articles on Composting to get you started or do a “Google Search” on composting.
- Start a rain barrel this is easy enough just put a bucket or trash can under your eaves to catch the rain water, use this to water your garden and flowers. Here in Colorado where we sell most of our excess water to California when we had a drought this is how I still was able to have a garden.
- Plant drought resistant plants and native plants to your state to conserve on water usage. Our utility company gave rebates last year for xerioscaping and it sure saved on the lawn mower when I planted a bunch of blooming prenienals and gave up some of my lawn. Another added plus was that some of Grandma’s favorite garden flowers are drought resistant like sunflowers and daisies and lilacs.
- Reuse your plastic containers. You can wash out your soda bottles and fill them with water and use these to fill your freezer not only will it help your freezer to run more efficiently but you will no longer need to buy bottled water. Check out Thrifty fun I bet there are 100 articles or more on how to reuse plastic containers for all kinds of things.
- Recycle your soda cans, your plastic bags, and your newspapers. Many Wal-Marts across the country have recycling bins in their parking lots. You can recycle right there on your way.
- In my mom’s day she chased around us turning off lights as we left the room. But now we have timers to turn lights on and off and energy efficient light bulbs. They say if we all were to just change the light bulbs in our house to the new energy efficient ones we could light another million homes. While you are at it why not install timers on some of the lights in your office or living room that would turn off at a set time? This could even be a signal as to lights out (bedtime) for your kids or let you know that it is time to turn the computer off and go to bed. Check the after Christmas sales for light timers they have some that are quite inexpensive at this time of year for your Christmas lights but will work just as well in your house.
- Take the time to weatherproof your home. You can cover windows that you do not use with plastic sheeting or with foam board insulation. This will cut down on the heating and cooling of your home. Check the attic of your home and make sure that you do have enough insulation. Even in new homes this could be a place where the builder decided to skimp on materials. Put draft stoppers behind any outlets that are on perimeter walls. Make sure your doors seal tightly.
- Recharge those batteries until they no longer can be recharged. This is simple enough and you can buy battery chargers just about anywhere now days. Batteries in the landfill cause terrible damage to our environment. When the batteries can no longer be charged recycle them. Home Depot and some of the bigger office supply stores will take them for recycling. They have bins right inside there doors for this.
- Take shorter showers. Use a timer to time your shower. Just two minutes shorter and you will have saved between 2-5 gallons of water. That adds up over a week per person in your household. Use your pasta water to water your house plants. Same goes with the water you would pitch from your aquarium it has lots of nutrients from your water plants and fish.
I hope this will give everyone some good ideas of how you can start going green! If you are one of those that does not believe in Global warming great for you! Do it for your pocket book. In the end it does not matter why we do it……….It just matters that we do.