Easy Ways To Save The Planet


Being eco-friendly is probably a lot easier and less painful than it seems.  In celebration of Earth Month, it might be time to take a few minutes to consider a switch to more eco-friendly thinking and acting.  Here are 5 free and easy ways to get you on the fast track to living a greener, more sustainable life.  
Turn off the Water:
The Earth might seem like it has abundant water, but the fact is that only one percent of all water on the planet is available for humans.  Buy fixtures and products that are water efficient – they work just as well as the ones that aren’t.  When you shop, look for the WaterSense label to find efficient products.  Turn off the water while you brush your teeth and scrub your dishes.  Use a bucket to wash your car instead of a hose.  Only run your washing machines and dishwashers when you have full loads to clean.  These small changes can make a huge difference, and save a
tremendous amount- hundreds of thousands of gallons per household - of water from being wasted!

Don’t Idle:
Don’t do it!  Idling cars in parking lots and drive thrus not only waste fuel and money, but they pollute the air with exhaust fumes and particulates. Idling is not always necessary, and when possible, can be avoided.  It’s wasteful enough when you or I idle our small cars, but imagine the waste from idling school buses. Remind your school system to turn off bus engines when buses are parked.  Exhaust from idling school buses pollutes the air in and around the bus, and can enter school buildings through air intakes, doors and open windows.  The pollution generated from exhaust can trigger asthma and allergic reactions in some children, and will most definitely be uncomfortable and gross for everyone else.  Constant idling also wastes fuel and money – your money – and is not necessary to keeping the engine in good working order.  Turn off the engine, and save the planet for a minute or two while you wait!

Smaller footprints, Bigger feats:
Reduce your carbon footprint by using a couple of these simple tips to maximize your car usage.  Leaving your car at home twice a week can cut greenhouse gas emissions by 1,600 pounds per year.  Save up errands and shopping trips so you make fewer trips.  If you commute to work, ask if you can work from home at least some days, or see about carpooling with some office mates.  You’ll reduce more than your carbon footprint – you’ll reduce air pollution, cut down on traffic congestion and save money!
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle:
Start to consider how the choices you make at the grocery store can impact your personal waste stream – how much trash you put out in a day, a week, a month, even a year.  When you go to the store, look for products without excess packaging and, if possible, the ones that come in recyclable or reusable containers.  Styrofoam is not necessary to keep foods fresh, and although many of us are on the go all the time, we can do with a lot fewer individually-wrapped treats than we think and start using reusable containers for our lunches and snacks.  Choose reusable shopping bags and water bottles instead of their plastic alternatives.  These ‘convenience’ items are causing a tremendous strain on our environment – both by piling up in landfills and failing to biodegrade, and by choking our oceans with trash that many sea creatures mistake for food.  They also force us to continue to pay for things that we use only once, both to manufacture these products and in sharing the costs with the supermarkets to have them available to us when we ‘need’ them.  Buy a reusable shopping bag and a water bottle once, and you can use it over and over and over again – it just makes sense (and cents!).  Reusing and repurposing cans and glass jars is also a great way to reduce the trash we generate, and can be a really fun way to organize things in your home.  Reusing and recycling items within your own homes saves you time and money, and provides you with an endless stream of containers for the endless stream of things we all need to contain.  Think it over!

Get your Rot on:
Composting our organic waste – fruit and veggie scraps, coffee grounds, egg shells, lawn clippings, leaves and branches, garden waste – can benefit both the environment, and our wallets.  Saving organic waste from entering our waste streams by starting to compost reduces the risk of over burdening our landfills.  Compost is also a really effective – and essentially free – way to fertilize your lawns, gardens and flowerbeds.  Grass clipping that are left on the lawn can protect soil erosion and help filter the water that runs off into storm drains.  Composting also allows you to create your own ecosystem, a great learning tool for our kids – it takes all kinds of neat worms and insects to decompose organic waste, and in creating a space for them to thrive, you discourage them from setting up shop in other areas in and around your house.  Composting also prevents synthetic chemicals and excess nutrients from entering local waterways, a nasty byproduct of commercial fertilizers and an ongoing threat to the health of our environment.  
It is easy being green, and in most cases, will save you some green as well. With a little bit of planning, you can lay the foundation for a more sustainable lifestyle and celebrate a healthy future for our families and our environment.