Weekly Green Tip #52 from Green52.org

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Green tip for week #52 — Week of April 26, 2009

Composting and Using Rain Barrels

For week 52 of Green52.org’s year-long mission of providing weekly green tips, we are providing a two-for-one weekly green tip.  Instead of only one green idea this week, we want to celebrate the past 52 weeks of weekly green suggestions and environmental responsibility initiatives by providing two new ideas in this 52nd green tip post.  This post caps off a complete year of successful weekly green tips, and a strong readership who have hopefully learned to reduce their environmental impact and support the advocacy efforts made by our site.

On to the tips for week 52:

Composting.

For those of you not already familiar with composting, this is a great way to help the environment, while helping your garden, naturally.  According to the EPA, yard trimmings and food residuals make up a total of 24% of the municipal solid waste in the United States.  Composting, in its most natural form, is a ecological process where plants or vegetation fall to the ground, decay, and ultimately return minerals and nutrients to the surrounding plants, animals and microorganisms.

You can easily and cost-effectively create compost in your own yard, which can then be used for plants and gardening. Not only does this provide a way to recycle and reuse yard waste, it can save money, save garbage/collection costs, and reduce your contribution to the landfill . The compost you create can be used in lawns and gardens to help condition the soil and replenish nutrients.

You can find an extraordinary number of composting barrels or bins by simply searching online.  To find out more about how composting works, or how to make it work for you, check out the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) site on composting here.

Using rain barrels.

Rain barrels are an easy way to harvest rain water, to offset part of your water demand, so some of the water used for yard/gardening can come from rain water, rather than from city/municipal water.  Many commercially available rain barrels connect to your home gutter/downspout system, so you can collect a significant amount of rainwater during a rain storm, in turn using that water during  drier day to water plants or your garden.

There are a great variety of sources for rain barrels, and various styles and systems.  Although you need to make a choice that makes the most sense for you, a few resources we can suggest include: http://www.composters.com/rain-barrels.php; and http://www.rainbarrelsource.com/.  There are even companies that use eco-friendly recycled barrels, like repurposed wine barrels, such as BarrelDepot from Minnesota, here.

If you start composting or using a rain barrel outside your home, you are helping reduce your own “carbon footprint” and environmental impact.  Composting helps utilize yard waste, instead of sending it to the landfill (and it can help you get rid of grass clippings, leaves, etc. without paying trash collection costs for removing them.  Rain barrels allow you to conserve water, and have a “free” water supply for gardening and other plant watering needs.

EDITORIAL NOTE AND THANK YOU:

With these two tips on post #52, Green52.org has now completed one full year of green tips, with a total of 52 weekly green idea posts.  Thank you to each and every one of our many readers who have helped make Green52.org a success, and for each of you who have incorporated one or more of the ideas to help the environment, which was the sole focus of the last year of our initiative.  Please contact us by email at: info AT sustainable thinking DOT org if you would like to suggest an idea for future Green52.org posts, or if you would like to partner with Green52.org for a future environmental responsibility and sustainability project.

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For more weekly green tips, review the 52 weekly green tips at Green52.org and tell
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Weekly Green Tip #23 from Green52.org

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Green tip for week #23 — Week of October 5, 2008

Buy Quality Goods and Products

Every know and again, our weekly green tip at Green52.org is so simple it seems almost self-evident. Yet even the simplest and best ideas often don’t get implemented. This week’s green tip is simply to buy quality goods. What this means, is that whether you are shopping for electronics, furniture, cars, bikes, clothing, or household items, buy the best blend of quality and value you can.

Why is buying quality goods a “green living” idea, and what impact does it have on environmental responsibility and sustainability? Plenty. We are a society of consumers, and product manufacturers have developed increasingly efficient and cost-effective ways of making cheap and low cost products. Cheap and low cost products are sometimes (not always) made of inferior quality and more prone to obsolescence, product failure, and wearing out.

Whether it is a tv, a pair of shoes, a dishwasher, a briefcase, or a living room chair, you will invariably have several options as a consumer. Choices range from least expensive to most expensive. Although differences in price are sometimes based on different options, features, novelty, or brand, the differences also are typically evident in quality of workmanship, construction, and durability. Any time you purchase a product that is made well, made from high grade materials, and designed to be functional for years to come, you have invested in something that can be good for you and the environment.

Replacing low quality goods creates waste, not only from items going to a landfill, but from the cost of making, transporting, and selling those goods in the first place. Any time you have purchased two items in the span of time one might have been used had it been higher quality, the environmental impact of your purchase is often roughly double. Not to mention the fact that savings at the time of initial purchase can often be far outweighed by having to repurchase the same item again during the time the higher quality item may have remained effective.

So, next time you are confronted with the choice of whether to purchase the “cheap” item or the “quality” item, remember that the impact of your choice is greater than simply affecting your checkbook.

Remember that green living and environmental responsibility is not an “all or nothing approach”. Even small steps make a big impact if everyone takes them. Do your part to help keep our environment in good condition for future generations!

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Green52.org is an interactive community — we want you to share your ideas and contribute too! Feel free to click the “comments” section on this or any of our green idea articles to add your comments, suggestions, and discussion.

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.

Weekly Green Tip #22 from Green52.org

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Green tip for week #22 — Week of September 28, 2008

Use rechargeable batteries (and recycle them when they no longer work)

This week’s simple green tip is one that many of you have probably already adopted as habit, but it bears repeating. Batteries have become a nearly essential part of our daily lives, particularly with the tremendous amount of electronic devices, kids toys, and household products that are battery operated. While some products come with a device-specific rechargeable lithium ion or other form of rechargeable battery, many others say “batteries not included” or come with non rechargeable batteries.

Although many of your devices will already have rechargeable batteries built in, many items like flashlights and children’s toys do not. For those products, simply switching to rechargeable batteries can reduce an immense amount of waste, as you will be able to get many cycles of use out of the same batteries, rather than continually repurchasing new sets of AA, AAA, C, D, or 9V batteries which ultimately get quickly used and discarded.

Not only will you save the wasted energy consumed in production and transportation of those batteries, but you will reduce the waste and energy consumed in recycling them, as well as the wasted energy involved in the packaging materials for the sale of batteries. Best yet, you will likely save a significant amount of money. Although rechargeable batteries will cost you more upfront, particularly when you factor in a charger, they are still very low cost when you consider the life of those batteries and how many traditional batteries a rechargeable saved you from having to purchsae.

Rechargeable batteries come in many shapes, sizes, price points, and options. Recharging methods can even vary from a plug-in wall charger, to a battery designed to be charged by the usb port in your computer (like the USB cell, here), to batteries that can be recharged from a solar panel or using a solar charger (like the ones available from Solio.com). Sites like GreenBatteries.com identify some of the types of rechargeable batteries and more information about them.

Once your batteries are spent, make sure that these get recycled appropriately. These should be handled by your local recycling center or hazardous waste center. Batteries can leach mercury, cadmium, and other harmful substances, and should be handled appropriately to keep this waste from further degrading our environment. The Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corporation (rbrc.org) has information about recycling rechargeable batteries. There is also information about battery recycling at Earth911.com, here. Or, find out more about how to obtain a battery recycling collection kit for your home or business from Battery Solutions, here.

Remember that green living and environmental responsibility is not an “all or nothing approach”. Even small steps make a big impact if everyone takes them. Do your part to help keep our environment in good condition for future generations!

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Green52.org is an interactive community — we want you to share your ideas and contribute too! Feel free to click the “comments” section on this or any of our green idea articles to add your comments, suggestions, and discussion.

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.

Weekly Green Tip #21 from Green52.org

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Green tip for week #21 — Week of September 21, 2008

Reuse or repurpose glass bottles and jars

Don’t get us wrong, at Green52.org we are all about recycling – if you are choosing between throwing away a glass jar or recycling it, recycling is clearly the right choice. That said, recycling is not the only good option when it comes to what you should do with your glass Mason jar, salsa jar, jelly/jam jar, etc.

For some reason many people now treat glass jars/containers as disposable/recyclable, without even considering that they may be reusable. Years ago, I remember nothing went to waste for my grandparents. When they emptied a glass jar, it became a new functional tool for some other use.

Plastic containers were not always available in all the shapes, colors, and sizes we now take for granted. In that era, people had to get creative with what was available. The standard jelly jar with screw-off lid became a canning jar for tomatoes, a container for nails or bolts in the workshop, a drinking glass, a way to store leftover stew, and much more.

Recently, as I was about to recycle a glass jar myself, I thought about the fact that millions of these jars likely make it to landfills or recycling centers each year. If they are recycled, at least the glass is reused, but extraordinary energy and renewable resources are expended in the transportation, storage, and recycling process. If you can make a conscious effort to reuse or repurpose such glass jars, you will be doing yourself and the environment a favor. Consider it an opportunity to get organized while focusing on green / sustainability / environmental responsibility.

Glass jars have the benefit of being reasonably durable (if not dropped/shattered), and the fact they are clear allows you to see what is stored inside. For this week’s green living idea, here are some ways to reuse that Mason jar or glass container (feel free to click the “comments” link to add more of your own ideas to contribute to the Green52.org community):

  • Use the jar to store leftover soups/stews/etc
  • Store sugar, coffee, flour
  • Store small loose items in a workshop (nails, bolts, nuts)
  • Use the jar as a retro / fun drinking glass
  • Store grass seed, ice melting salt, or other outdoor/gardening uses
  • Store pencils/pens/paper clips/desk items in an office closet

There are literally hundreds of possible uses for repurposing or reusing your glass jar, the key of this week’s green tip is just to open your thinking to another way to be environmentally responsible and to focus on sustainability, with minimal cost or complication. Feel free to comment with your own ideas or tell a friend about Green52.org

Remember that taking small steps today can lead to substantial benefits to the environment tomorrow!

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Green52.org is an interactive community — we want you to share your ideas and contribute too! Feel free to click the “comments” section on this or any of our green idea articles to add your comments, suggestions, and discussion.

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.

Weekly Green Tip #20 from Green52.org

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Green tip for week #20 — Week of September 14, 2008

Shower less (less time, not less often!)

Okay, I know what you’re thinking… even if showering less uses less water and is good for the environment, do we really want to encourage people to skip bathing and possibly smell bad? No, I’m not suggesting anyone should abandon showering altogether, or even that they should skip their normal showering routine; rather; we should just be conscious of the length of time we shower.

Although shower output (in terms of gallons used per minute) varies, consider an “average” shower 10 minutes, for the sake of argument. Then consider an average gallon per minute (gpm) “flow” of 3.3 gpm. That means each “average” shower consumes approximately 3.3 gallons. If you were able to successfully cut that by 1/3 time, that would mean you would cut your water consumption to 22 gallons per shower! If you shower once each day, this 11 gallon savings per day results in saving approximately 4015 gallons of water per year! That’s if you only reduce your shower time by 1/3, let alone 1/2 or more.

Some people may shower less, and some may shower more, so individual results may be different, but the point is that at Green52.org we encourage you to sweat the small stuff. Think about the daily routines and habits you never consider, and begin to consider their cumulative impact on the environment. Then think about how easy it is to change these patterns to create a healthier environment (and sustainable environment) for your children and future generations.

Another water saving device for showers is a flow restrictor or low-flow showerhead. Available in nearly any hardware store or home products store, these simple devices can help reduce water waste that showers often produce, by reduing the “flow” (i.e., gallons per minute) each shower has. Although this can be noticeable, some of the less drastic flow reducing showerheads can have significant benefit with relatively minimal negative impact (meaning, you can still wash the soap off efficiently).

As we’ve said in previous green ideas and weekly green tips, these are not “save the world with one simple step” ideas. Instead, these are tips and ideas that move from consumption to sustainability, one small step at a time. This week, and for many weeks in the future, consider water usage each time you take a shower, and consider how you can take steps to cut back the waste.

Remember that taking small steps today can lead to substantial benefits to the environment tomorrow!

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Green52.org is an interactive community — we want you to share your ideas and contribute too! Feel free to click the “comments” section on this or any of our green idea articles to add your comments, suggestions, and discussion.

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.

Weekly Green Tip #16 from Green52.org

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Green tip for week #16 — Week of August 17, 2008

Try online banking!

One doesn’t immediately think of “online banking” and “green living” as two things that go hand-in-hand.  However, it’s a logical idea for trying to take small steps toward a more sustainable and environmentally responsible future.  Online banking can now be utilized by the masses, with not much more than what most of us have had for years – a computer, a scanner, and an internet connection.

Many banks offer online account information, bill pay, funds transfer, even loan applications or check depositing.  Think of how many people make weekly or more often stops at the bank to deposit a check, withdraw money, pay a bill, or any other banking activity.  Each stop requires the energy resources it takes to get you to the bank (presuming you are using a car or public transportation), and most bank transactions have a paper trail (meaning you use a deposit slip, withdrawal slip, etc.).

Using online banking means you have the ability to access most of the functions you would do at the bank office, from the convenience of your home.  Since online banking typically gives you the flexibility of not receiving paper statements in the mail, you can further reduce your environmental impact by managing your bank accounts electronically, depositing checks, transferring funds, and more, without ever stepping into your car.

Will online banking make the world a greener place and save the environment from global warming?  No, not alone.  Keep in mind that each green tip you see on Green52.org is part of a multi-step weekly process to identify ways to live a more environmentally responsible (i.e. “green”) life, without making drastic change.

Remember that taking small steps today can lead to substantial benefits to the environment tomorrow!

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Green52.org is an interactive community — we want you to share your ideas and contribute too! Feel free to click the “comments” section on this or any of our green idea articles to add your comments, suggestions, and discussion.

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.

Weekly Green Tip #7 from Green52.org

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Green tip for week #7 — Week of June 15, 2008

Purchase your music in digital format

This week’s green living tip is a simple way to make a small step toward environmental responsibility. Technology finally has progressed from plastic records, plastic tapes, plastic cd’s and more, to digital music that can be downloaded online. Downloading your favorite song, album, or compilation of music online may not seem like it is a plan of action for saving the planet, but remember, every effort to reduce, reuse, and recycle helps!

When you download music electronically, rather than purchasing cds, you save the environmental cost of the manufacturing, shipping, and distribution of that cd. Add in the environmental cost of everyone driving to their favorite record store or cd shop, the plastic bag the cd will get placed in, the plastic wrap, the paper receipt, and the plastic cd case you may ultimately throw away, and that is a lot of product and waste for something as simple as purchasing music.

Purchasing your favorite music online helps you avoid the environmental cost of all the items mentioned above. Even better, it’s instant gratification -you can get the music you want, when you want it, and you save gas, all while reducing your impact on the environment.

Buying your music online is a simple, effective way to implement a green living and environmentally responsible decision. 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. Please leave a comment, suggestion, or idea below.

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