My apologies to those who came to this post for a recipe or anything food related. My musings worth publicizing are few and apart and hence doesn’t call for another blog. Also, the concerns I am about to share should matter to one and all of us, and we definitely need to be an active solution seeker for the concern. Hence after much deliberation I decided to go ahead with this post here.
It was not long ago that my carbon footprint started worrying me. But when it did, it didn’t take an arm and a leg to reduce it! These days I hear and read a lot about going green, but wonder how many actually follow any of it? I have seen many educated so called aware people who ignore the near certainty of global warming and continue to live an irresponsible life, if you will.
Melting glaciers, rising sea levels, increasingly warm temperatures, catastrophic storms, depleting resources – is this the home we call earth that we want to leave behind for the generations to come? Shouldn’t it be our responsibility to leave it in a condition at least as good as if not better as we got it?
Now before you so easily dump a recyclable bottle/can in the regular trash or make that third trip for shopping in a day, few facts of the comfortable life that we enjoy in this developed country:
1. US of A has 5% of world’s population, drives 1/3 of the world’s cars and emits almost 50% of world’s Carbon dioxide.
2. USA doesn’t fall behind garbage either – we consume 1/3 of world’s resources and produce 1/2 of world’s garbage.
3. Each year about 229 tons of e-waste gets dumped into US landfills. This neither does biodegrade nor does harmlessly stay there. It contains substantial amounts of lead, cadmium, hexavelent chromium, mercury, and bromiated flame retardants. When improperly handled, these toxins can be released into the environment.
4. Any food that you buy in the grocery store / mega marts that makes your average meal travels about 1200 miles from where it was produced to your plate.
5. If fuel economy in the United States is increased by five miles per gallon, we could save approximately twenty-five billion gallons of gas a year.
There certainly are ways small and big but doable that could be done. I just not preach but practice each one of them. Also, if me, a plastic and disposable material junkie can turn a hippie chick; I believe everyone can do their bit.
To save energy
1. Turn down your heater couple of degrees and turn up the A/C. It just takes couple of weeks for your body to adjust to the new temperature. Use a fan for that one room you are in, instead of cooling the entire 1200+ sq. ft. or more area of the entire home.
2. Use energy save mode on your thermostat
3. Don’t ever wash a half filled dish washer.
4. Don’t turn on your washer / dryer to get that favorite pair of jeans or whatever else washed for right now! Run a full load please.
5. Wash with cold water instead of warm and warm instead of hot.
6. Air dry your clothes. You will not only save energy used for dyer but will also save energy in ironing. My experience says air dried clothes are much crisper and wrinkle less. Many communities won’t allow drying outside but it still can be done. You will be amazed that a decent size clothes dry stand can hold a full load! Or you could use your basement / extra bedroom. Keep the stand near but with safe distance from the vent and you utilize that energy as well.
7. Say no to indulging long baths and take short showers.
8. Use energy efficient appliances.
9. Use energy saver bulbs.
10. Turn off lights when you leave the room and Unplug unwanted cords. For example the cell phone charger or toaster or hair dryer will keep draining electricity even when not running but plugged in.
11. Use most powerful tool God ever made – your hands for tasks that could be done by it. Now seriously do you need that fancy electric can opener or that power knife or dough kneader to knead atta for a small family?
12. For all of us cooks there – invest in a toaster oven and use it for any small amount cooking. Yes you don’t need to heat up the entire oven for making 6 tandoori chicken drumsticks or a small casserole. This will also save you time.
13. No more Ctrl+Alt+Del and lock computer – turn it OFF!
14. Make natural air fresheners. I used to be an air freshener junkie and had one plugged in every room. Now I get dried flowers and any natural oil like lavender lemon etc. I take small pouches ( you can find them in arts and crafts stores or make one yourself with a thin cloth) fill them with dry flowers and splash few drops of oil. Amazing scent and aroma I must admit.
15. Weather proof and seal windows and doors.
16. Change the air filters of the heating unit regularly.
To reduce waste recyclable or otherwise
17. Remember our moms bringing home groceries in that tote bag? It’s the in thing nowJ. Use such bags for you grocery shopping and don’t take the plastic bags. Many grocery stores are now are selling such bags in stores as well.
18. Use washable mugs in the office and encourage peers to use them as well. Assuming you already use washables at home, if not start doing that.
19. Try using brown bags for you trash instead of plastic. Plastic wont biodegrade in the landfill.
20. Be frugal in using paper napkins and paper kitchen towels.
21. Invest in a reusable water bottle. I use the ones from klean canteen Use them instead of plastic bottled water. It’s not only good for the environment, but also is good for health as you are avoiding the gases that get infused due to plastic bottles.
22. Recycle everything that you can – paper, plastic, cans etc. Living in an apartment is no excuse. All apartments have recyclable bins.
23. Never ever trash a plastic bag in the regular trash. Collect them and drop them at your local grocery store for recycling. Yes look closely just in the entrance there is a bin for bag recycling.
24. If you don’t need it don’t print it and when you do, print double sided. You will be amazed how much paper this will save!
25. Keep the paper size in proportion to the message memo you have. You don’t need an A4 size paper to write a line long message.
26. Opt for e-bills and pay bills online. Faster and green way to go. Opt out of retail catalogues; you can see all deals online these days.
27. Store leftovers in glass containers. Plastic will also do but glass is just much better for your health and in saving foods freshness and taste. Cut down on plastic wraps and aluminum foils.
To reduce green house gases
28. Minimize driving – Use bicycle or walk the small distances. Plan your errands so you could drive less and achieve more.
29. Make an effort to Carpool or make use of public transit whenever you can.
30. Buy local grown and organic food. Visit here for list of farmers markets. . Please note there could be some local farms in the area that may not be listed here.
31. When you are thinking of buying that car buy a fuel efficient, small or a Hybrid. You know there was a generation when kids were raised without the gigantic minivans and SUVs.
32. Don’t idle your car. If you are not stuck in traffic then don’t keep your car running idle for more than 30 seconds.
33. Do regular maintenance for your car and drive at the optimal speed. Apparently 45 mph uses lowest fuel.
34. Telecommute if your work allows for it.
35. Plant a tree or plants that you can in your surrounding.
To make a difference
36. Make green investments and buys. Don’t underestimate the buying power a consumer has. Check out SRI and Ceres to learn about companies and products that care for climate impact.
37. Get your friends and family involved. Even a small change by each will count.
38. Live by this Mantra : Recycle – Reduce – Reuse
There is a school of thought which believes that something can be done about the global warming when it is eminent. Please check out to see how eminent is it? Even if you believe there is a long way before next ice age then consider this: if you are diagnosed with high cholesterol are you going to wait till your heart stops or are you going to turn around and ask your doctor what can you do now to stop it?
All the small steps we could take to preserve earth can be a giant leap in saving generations to come – Think about it please.
PS: Even though I have been living a green life for a while now, My greatest inspiration to write this blog came after I watched Too hot not to handle on HBO.
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