Green Team: Being Green in the Home

April 22nd is Earth Day, and in preparation for this day, we’re here to give you a few tips on how a few little decisions can make a big impact (especially when we all do them)!

The Green Team would like to encourage everyone to consider every day an Earth Day!  Every day is a chance for you, your family, and your friends to find ways to care for our environment.  This issue explores simple changes in the way we eat, play, and get around, that can have a positive effect on the state of our environment.

Our challenge to you:  Pick at least one way to be green and start doing it as part of your life.  Once you have that mastered, pick one more.  Then pick one more, and so on.

Tips on Being Green Around the Home

  • Replace light bulbs with compact-fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs).  CFLs use 2/3 less energy and last 10 times longer.
  • Why so cold?  Turn up the A/C to 26 degrees or higher.  Even better, turn it off in unused rooms.
  • Unplug gadgets.  Electronic equipment and appliances use energy even when they’re turned off.  Americans alone waste $1 billion a year powering items like TVs and DVD players while they’re turned off. So unplug your TV, stereo, computer, microwave and other electronics when you’re not using them — or use a power strip that you keep turned off unless you’re using one of the items.  Make sure to unplug your cell phone and MP3 player chargers as soon as the devices are powered up.
  • Eat less meat.  Meat production takes a lot more energy and resources than growing vegetables or grains, and 18 percent of human-generated greenhouse gases come from the livestock industry. You don’t have to be a vegetarian to make a difference in this area: Try skipping meat just one day a week.
  • Put the brakes on driving.  Vehicles consume half of the world’s oil and emit a quarter of the world’s greenhouse-gas emissions. Leaving your car at home even one day a week can save a lot of gas and emissions over a year. Try walking, biking, or car pooling to get where you need to go.  When you do drive, make sure your tires are properly inflated — underinflated tires can cut your gas mileage by 5 percent.
  • Use dishcloths instead of paper towels.
  • Buy reusable shopping bags.  Instead of getting plastic bags from stores each time you shop, invest in canvas or other reusable bags.
  • Find laundry detergent that is phosphate-free and triple concentrated (www.methodhome.com).
  • Buy local and organic food.  Eliminate chemicals from your life as much as possible. By buying local, you cut down on fuel needed to transport food.
  • Avoid disposable plates and cups whenever possible.
  • You can save water and prevent water wastage in the following ways:
  • Do not throw away water when you can re-use it for cleaning purposes, or watering plants (i.e., dehumidifier water can be used to water a plant or clean the floor; rainwater can be caught to wash the car or water the lawn).
  • Check if there are any water leaks at home. Submit a work request to repair dripping taps, toilet tanks, and pipe lines. If water leaks from a tap at one drop per second, you would be wasting approximately 10,220 liters of water per year!
  • Avoid flushing the toilet unnecessarily. Dispose of tissues, insects and other such waste in the trash rather than the toilet.
  • Take shorter showers. Replace you showerhead with a low-flow version.
  • Do not let water run while shaving, washing your face, or brushing your teeth.
  • Operate washing machines only when they are fully loaded. Otherwise, set the water level for the size of load you are using.
  • Wash clothes efficiently.  Ninety percent of the energy used in clothes washing goes to heat the water, so washing cold is a simple way to cut energy use drastically.  Plus, make sure to wash full loads.  When it’s time to dry, make sure to check the lint screen before every load, and clean it afterward, even better– hang some items and let them air-dry instead of running them through the dryer.
  • Don’t use plastic garbage bags – or if you must, use something like Perf’s Go Green kitchen bags.  Go Green bags breakdown in one or two years (whereas traditional plastic bags can sit for 1000+ years).  Available on www.amazon.com.
  • Clean with non-toxic cleaning solutions, ounce for ounce homemade cleaning formulas cost about one-tenth the price of their commercial counterpart—and that includes costly, but worthwhile essential oils, and concentrated, all-purpose detergents for homemade recipes.  And even more important, they remove toxic chemicals and their smells and residue from your home.  Look for an email from the Green Team, and future articles with ‘recipes’ for eco-friendly cleaners!

And finally:  SHARE WHAT YOU DO WITH OTHERS to create a Green Community.  As always, if you have green practices of your own that you would like to share through the Green Team, or questions about going green, please submit to dkrgreenteam@state.gov.

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