Weekly Green Tip #47 from Green52.org

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Green tip for week #47 — Week of March 22, 2009

Observe Earth Hour, Saturday March 28, 2009 at 8:30pm (turn off your lights for an hour)

Support Earth Hour

Support Earth Hour

We are all well aware of Earth Day, but have you heard of Earth Hour?  Earth Hour is a worldwide initiative that began in Australia, and is essentially an advocacy and public awareness campaign to help raise the issue of environmental responsibility on the radar of individuals throughout the globe.  The goal is to have homes and business all over the world to turn off their lights for one hour on Saturday March 28th (Earth Hour begins at 8:30pm).  According to CNET news, approximately 2.2 million homes and businesses observed this Earth Hour in 2007, and in 2008 Earth Hour was observed by approximately 50 million.  See the full story here.

The lofty goal for 2009 is to have Earth Hour observed by 1 billion homes and businesses, and thanks to Facebook, Twitter, other social media, and of course Green52.org, that type of response may be possible.  More information about Earth Hour can be found at the website EarthHour.org.

Please send this article to as many friends and colleagues as possible to be sure this year’s Earth Hour is a success in raising the issue of environmental responsibility for 1 billion people.  With 1 billion people focused on the environment, climate issues, sustainable thinking, renewable energy, and similar issues, it could be the type of kick-start our world needs to take initiative in creating a force of change.  Earth Hour, and particularly the concept of shutting off lights, will make a visible and substantial statement, and it will become all the more visible and substantial if more people hear about the intiative and join in.  Even world landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower and the Great Pyramids of Giza will observe Earth Hour by going dark for the hour beginning 8:30pm on March 28th.

Our weekly green tips at Green52.org are typically relatively simple and easy-to-implement green living and environmental responsibility concepts.  Whether you read Green52.org weekly, or are visiting for the first time, we urge you to incorporate this week’s tip and observe Earth Hour on Saturday 28, 2009 at 8:30pm.  Please help spread the word and invite your friends, family, and acquaintances to do the same.  Tell everyone you know about Earth Hour and Green52.org, and encourage others to take environmental responsibility seriously.  For those of you using Facebook, Twitter and other social media, spread the word about Earth Hour, and tell them you heard about it on Green52.org.

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Weekly Green Tip #46 from Green52.org

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Green tip for week #46 — Week of March 15, 2009

Use a tankless water heater

Tankless water heaters are an energy-saving solution.  As we all know by now, less energy consumption means less environmental impact, and anything we can do to shift our habits from consumption to conservation can have a profound impact on environmental responsibility.  Tankless water heaters are unique from the traditional water heaters most of us have, as they do not store hot water for an indefinite period, which is what creates wasted energy with a traditional water heater.  Many people who use traditional water heaters keep an unecessary amount of hot water on “reserve” in their water heater, when their actual hot water consumption may only be a fraction of what they are continually heating and storing.

By contrast, in a tankless water heater a heating element heats the water “on demand”, or only when it is needed.  Water flows through the water heater and gets heated for the application it is being used for (shower, sink, clothes washer, dishwasher, etc.).  Since the rate of heating may be insufficient for heavy-demand users (multiple showers in a home or apartment running at once, etc.), varying applications and installation configurations can include multiple units, a unit at each hot water source, etc.  Since traditional hot water heaters (with a tank) have a limited duration of useful life (often 8-10 years), you will inevitably have to replace yours.  Before you purchase a new one, give serious consideration to the enviornmental and energy-saving (i.e., money-saving) benefits of a tankless water heater.

For resources to check out, look at the tankless water heaters from Noritz (tanklessisgreen.com) and Navien (navienamerica.com).

Keep reading Green52.org weekly to find green living and environmental responsibility tips that you can incorporate, with a new tip each week.  Green52.org encourages you to spread the word about resource conservation and environmental responsibility — an easy way to start is by telling your friends about Green52.org.

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For more weekly green tips, come back to Green52.org and tell
your friends and colleagues about the weekly green tips found at
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Weekly Green Tip #45 from Green52.org

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Green tip for week #45 — Week of March 8, 2009

Teach respect for the environment

Whether you are a teacher, a parent, a business owner, a President, Governor, Mayor, community leader, or just an individual hoping to make an impact, to improve the environment we need to improve our own habits, and improve the habits of those around us.

For parents, it is important that you teach respect for the environment as you raise and educate your children.  Be sure that camping, hiking, and other outdoors activities are part of your routine, so they learn to appreciate the environment and so they develop a respect for the world around them.

Make sure that you recycle and adopt environmentally responsible practices (like the green ideas found here on Green52.org) and teach them to follow your example.  Create ways for your kids to get involved, by leading a recycling program at their school, helping you find ways to conserve energy at home, and other practices that will increase their awareness.

For teachers, business owners, community leaders, church leaders, and politicians, it is important to lead by example.  Environmental responsibility is an issue that is unifying, and should not be controversial.  Teachers can help improve the environment simply by incorporating environmental responsibility into your classroom.  Recycle paper, glass and plastic, reduce the amount of waste, and encourage your students or your school to engage in community projects with an environmental focus.

Create new programs for your community to encourage environmental responsibility, as improving the environment is a great way to bring people from all political affiliations, all socio-economic backgrounds, all ages, and all belief systems together.  We all want the environment to be preserved for future generations.

To realize the impact of leading the masses toward an environmental responsibility mindset, consider the impact that political discussion has had in making environmental awareness issues mainstream.

Since our newly elected President, Barack Obama, took office, media attention, political discussion, and dinner table conversation have now turned to issues that need attention, such as wind energy, geothermal energy, plug-in hybrid technology, solar power, and smart-grid systems.  Increasing the level of discussion, and increasing awareness, can ultimately have great impact on changing habits, fueling new ideas, and improving environmental responsibility on a wide-scale basis.

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Weekly Green Tip #44 from Green52.org

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Green tip for week #44 — Week of March 1, 2009

Incorporate native plants in your landscaping

Many people plan their landscaping around whatever looks nice, regardless of its cost, environmental impact, or the challenges of maintaining such plants, flowers, or specialty grasses year after year.  This year, as you begin breaking ground in the spring, consider the environmental benefits and ease of maintenance that can be had from using native plants.

What are native plants?   Native or indigenous plants are plants that have adapted to a particular environment, climate, or geography over thousands of years in a specific location.  As a result, such plants are very hardy and tend to be an appropriate and natural environment and habitat when used in their appropriate region.

Benefits of native plants include drought resistance, the fact that they require less maintenance than other non-native plants, and the elimination of many of the fertilizers, pesticides, water and other resources or contaminants that impact the environment.

Reduced use of pesticides in maintaing native plants means they tend to be safer choices for homes with pets and children, and they help reduce water contamination from rainwater.  In some instances, the use of native plants provide a nice alternative to grass lawns in areas where grass is hard to maintain, or where someone is interested in an alternative with less environmental impact.

Next time you are planning landscaping at your home, church, office, community center, or even as a volunteer project to restore natural habitat to an area in your community, spend some time learning more about the plants that are native plants for your area.

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Weekly Green Tip #43 from Green52.org

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Green tip for week #43 — Week of February 22, 2009

Use reusable bags

This is pretty obvious, but for some reason, Americans are either reluctant (or downright unwilling) to use reusable bags for shopping.  I know, it’s very convenient to drive your big SUV 3 blocks to McDonald’s and then drive two more blocks to the grocery store, only to buy two items, place them in a plastic bag, and drive back home to throw the bag away.  That type of “convenience” is a big contributor to the climate crisis and environmental ignorance our society is faced with.

As a simple change, which will drastically reduce plastic or paper bag production, consumption, and waste, consider storing reusable cloth, nylon or even previously used paper/plastic bags in your trunk, with your bike, or near your door.  Next time you walk, bike, or drive to the local store to pick up an item or two, carry them and tell the clerk to skip the bag, if it’s only a couple of items.  If you have several items, place them in the reusable bag you brought with you, and put the bag back in a handy place where you can remember to take it with you next time.

As a challenge, write down the number of plastic bags and paper bags you use from shopping, the grocery store, etc. during the course of one month.  Just put a tally sheet on your fridge, and add one for each bag that makes it inside your home.  After that month, commit to cutting that number in half, and keep doing so each month until you have the number to zero, or as few as you can possibly get by with.

Then, you will be incredibly well-informed and in a great position of knowledge and personal experience to tell your friends and coworkers to do the same.  For the bags you consumed during the month, be sure to recycle them, and reuse any that you can as trash liners, garbage bags for the car, and other “repurposed” uses.

Like many of the green tips and environmental responsibility ideas found on Green52.org, this is not breakthrough news, it is not rocket science, and most importantly, it’s not difficult.  This idea alone won’t fix the perils facing the planet, but every bit helps.

If you don’t have tote bags or other reusable bags at home, check at your grocery store next time you go, as many have now offered reusable bags as alternatives to paper or plastic.  Obviously there are many retailers and online vendors who carry every variety of organic cotton bags, bags from recycled materials, personalized bags, etc.

If you own or operate a business, consider branding reusable bags with your logo or website to give away to employees to encourage them to use them, or to donate to charities or give away at trade shows.  There are several good resources for reusable bags on the web, including Reusable Bags.com , EcoBags.com, and many others.

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For more weekly green tips, come back to Green52.org and tell
your friends and colleagues about the weekly green tips found at
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Weekly Green Tip #42 from Green52.org

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Green tip for week #42 — Week of February 15, 2009

Get a home energy audit

Once you have been living in a home for awhile and see the monthly utility bills, it is easy to lose sight of the fact that those bills may be higher than they need to be.  The simple fact is that many homes consume more energy than they should, due to ineffective insulation, poor sealing of doors, attics, garages, and more.

There are several ways to improve your home’s energy efficiency and reduce energy consumption, and a home energy audit is usually a good place to start.  Although it is possible to do your own self-diagnosed audit, it sounds a bit like giving yourself a medical check-up.  Since you are not likely trained to find all the potential problems and identify the most effective solution, it may only get you part way there.

In some areas, your utility company will provide a free, reduced-cost, or negotiated-price audit by a trained professional.  Energy audits may involve equipment that helps with the diagnosis, such as blower doors, which measure leaks within the home, or infrared cameras which can identify air infiltration, leaks or missing insulation.

Check with your utility provider to find out what energy audits they may offer or suggest.  You can learn more about home energy audits at the U.S. Department of Energy website, here.

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Weekly Green Tip #41 from Green52.org

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Green tip for week #41 — Week of February 8, 2009

Insulate your water heater

When you step outside in the winter, you usually remember your jacket, but when you step back inside a warm home, have you ever thought about adding a jacket to your water heater? Probably not.  However, simply adding an insulating sleeve to your water heater in your home can be a quick and cost-effective green tip that will not only save energy, but it can save money.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, adding insulation to your water heater can reduce heat losses by 25%–45%.  That could save 4%–9% in water heating costs.  Find the U.S. Department of Energy’s page with more information here.

You should be able to find a hot water heater blanket or insulating sleeve for $20-$30 at your local hardware store or online.  This week, spend the $20 to conserve energy, and may be able to recoup that cost within a year or so.

Remember, saving energy, saving the environment, and saving money can sometimes go hand in hand.  Not all environmental responsibility initiatives have to be complicated — encourage your family, friends and colleagues to start with some of the ideas you have found here at Green52.org, and please tell others about our site.

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For more weekly green tips, come back to Green52.org and tell your friends and colleagues about the weekly green tips found at Green52.org.

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