Read an Excerpt
Reduce Reuse Recycle
Hey thinker: Here is a tricky question! Which requires more energy . . . a paper towel or an electric dryer to dry your hands? Careful . . . surprise it is the paper towel. Did you know electric dryers are twice as energy efficient as paper towels? This even holds true when using recycled paper.
It is true the production of electricity that powers the electric dryers generates carbon and therefore greenhouse gases. But, the production of paper towels is twice as harmful to the overall environment. Why? It is because the manufacturing of paper towels results in many pollutants including chlorine being discharged into the air. You know how stinky paper factories can be: that, coupled with the fact that paper towels are made from virgin wood rather than recycled or scrap left over wood product, make it a double whammy to global warming. The loss of the carbon-absorbing trees and the heavy pollution coming from production of paper towels makes an easy choice for consumers when the occasion occurs. The best tip is just to air dry your hands or shake until dry, though that frequently isn't an option. This great tip is compliments of the Sierra Club's Green Life.
What about that new television signal? As of Feb. 17, 2009, analog TV signals will cease being broadcast. But 88 percent of all households get their programs via cable or satellite, so analog TVs in those households can keep plugging along just fine. And even if you don't have cable or satellite, you'll be able to purchase a digital-to-analog converter. This is a much less expensive option than replacing the entire set.
But, if you do purchase anew television remember LCD screens use the least energy (followed by plasma screens), and cathode ray tubes (CRTs) use the most. Here are a few facts about TV energy consumption:
A plasma TV uses 30 percent more energy than the same size LCD version.
A CRT TV uses three times more energy than the same size LCD version.
Standby mode consumes ten to 23 percent of all that juice.
Consider plugging all your electronics into timer-equipped power strips to turn them off completely, at least overnight sierraclub.org/howgreen/screen/answer.asp
No royal flush here: The Pharmaceutical Drug Disposal Take Back Program has become a must due to the number and amount of drugs identified in our water system. Consumers should be aware many drugs are not filtered from the water. Our bays, rivers and streams are contaminated with pharmaceutical drugs that may harm the survival of fish.
In fact antibiotics, anticonvulsants, mood stabilizers and sex hormones have been identified in the drinking water of 41 million Americans according to the Associated Press. usatoday.com/news/health/2008-03-09-water_N.htm
Dispose of pharmaceutical waste at hazardous waste take-back sites. Do NOT dispose of unused/expired medications in the trash or down the toilet. Ask for medications with low environmental impact. Fill Rx for only the amount you will need with refills as an option. Encourage your pharmacy to take back unused or expired medication. With a smart diet and exercise many medication will not be required any longer. teleosis.org/hn-drugs-in-our-water.php whitehousedrugpolicy.gov/pda/022007.html
Be aware of the warning signs: Look for #3 in the triangle-shaped recycle symbol on products representing (polyvinyl chloride) (PVC), number 6 (Polystyrene) and number 7 (Polycarbonates). The Poison Plastic PVC plastic, commonly referred to as vinyl, is one of the most hazardous consumer products ever created. Only Sam Suds could explain it so well. Please see this informative three-minute cartoon video: revver.com/video/77761/sam-suds-and-the-case-of-pvc-the-poison-plastic
After viewing you will know why communities near polyvinyl chloride facilities suffer from groundwater and air pollution. These health risks include angiosarcoma of the liver, lung cancer, brain cancer, lymphomas, leukemia, and liver cirrhosis.
Children can be exposed to phthalates by chewing on polyvinyl toys. While it is still legal for US retailers to sell children's and baby toys containing dangerous PVCs. The European Parliament voted in July 2005 to permanently ban the use of certain toxic phthalates in toys. Reducing these products comes easy once the wool has been pulled from your eyes.
In March 2008 US Target stores claimed that they are halting the sales of such plastics in their stores. How do we know when we are being exposed to those poisonous toxins? It is easy to identify the odor. Remember the scent of a brand new car or a shower curtain, a new doll and more? That's the smell of poisonous chemicals releasing gas from the PVC. One of the most common toxic additives is DEHP, a phthalate that is a suspected carcinogen and reproductive toxicant readily found in numerous PVC products. coopamerica.org/pubs/realmoney/articles/plastics.cf
Plastic bags are close to being banned, too. In the meantime, they should be returned to the grocery stores where they were obtained. The stores will recycle them for you. Unfortunately, they can't be recycled in many recycling centers. They get caught up in the machinery and cause more expense than they are worth.
Reduce a bad idea: Co-op America suggests, that when you find something that just can't be recycled . . . return it to the manufacturer and tell them to produce or package a product that stops waste! Buy products in bulk when possible to decrease the amount of packaging individual products. It is far better to prevent the production of harmful products than it is to figure out how to recycle or remove it from our air, land and water later.
For example, the packaging of yogurt and butter tubs often is not recyclable. Mold plastics require different melting temperatures.
What if we all returned these containers to their parent company and asked for something that won't further destroy the environment?
Speaking of waste, think how often in the trashcans plastic bags are changed at your place of employment. Most often the plastic liners are far from full. But when the routine janitorial service schedule roll around a nearly robotic thing happens: even with one cup in the trash the entire bag is pulled out and a new plastic bag replaced.
Here is another opportunity to become part of the solution in preventing further global pollution. Take a look and see what is in your waste can. See if there is a common area for recycling paper. Bring your own cup. Take food waste such as peelings home for your compost container. Be aware of what you are tossing in the trash. Reduce the urge to outperform the basketball stars. Involve your co-workers. This is another great tip from our favorite Green.Life@sierraclub.org
What about Christmas trees? This site offers a tree recycler near you with a zip code locater. In addition you may read about the environmental debate regarding real trees vs. artificial trees. This is a tough call. Consider cutting a healthy tree or bringing more plastic your home? Of course you'd only bring in the plastic once vs. cutting a tree every year. This is another reminder proving that every choice we make has an environmental impact. The best solution is to purchase a rooted evergreen tree. After the holidays either plant it in your yard or donate the tree to your city for a nice little tax deduction before the end of the year. christmastree.org/home.cfm
Feel like nobility: Little Lord Fauntleroy when you use cloth napkins: not paper. Use washable napkins and towels rather than paper products. Only one-third of paper comes from recycled paper and cardboard in the US paper mills. The remaining two-thirds come from virgin fiber, or freshly cut trees. By using recycled paper products, we are saving valuable trees that filter and clean our air and saves almost $2 billion dollars in production costs for energy (11.5 billion kW) if all paper used had a 50 percent recycled content.
Please remember to look for a product that states "made from recycled material". Don't buy over-packaged products that waste our resources. Kings County Natural Resources Kids: metrokc.gov/dnr/kidsweb/whats_in_garbage.htm
Just do it! Make the switch to reusable and rechargeable batteries. When you consider the number of cameras, flashlights, remote controls, and battery-operated toys, there is more than two pounds of packaging waste plus all the toxic material in disposable batteries. Rechargeable may cost a little more to purchase but they save you money in the long haul.
Get rid of your old batteries now at several drop-off disposal sites. Car batteries can also be recycled. They contain over 20 pounds of lead, three pounds of plastic and one gallon of sulfuric acid. Now a little poetry for those chemists out there:
Johnny was a chemist's son,
But Johnny is no more.
What he thought was H2O,
Was H2So4 (sulfuric acid).
Please recycle all batteries. Earth 911: earth911.org/master.asp?s=ls&serviceid=126 to find your closest drop off location. Or call number at 1 (800) 8-BATTERY or visit batteryrecycling.com, Battery Solutions 734-467-9110
Calling all salespeople, resell all your treasures by advertising just about anything to your heart's desire on Craigslist.org. There is absolutely no listing fee or hidden charge of any kind. You can find a room to rent, a car to purchase or employment. And, you can do this in many cities and countries around the world. After you log on, scroll down the right side of the screen and pick your location. http://washingtondc.craigslist.org/
Holy sheet! What to do with those sheets and towels or even used clothing filled with holes and no longer useable? Donate them to animal boarding shelters that reuse them for pet bedding. Car washing facilities also appreciate reusing those donations of soft well-worn towels.
Repair and reuse not replace: CDs/DVDs/Game Disks: Send scratched music or computer CDs, DVDs, and PlayStation or Nintendo video game disks to AuralTech for refinishing, and they'll work like new: 888-454-3223, auraltech.com Exercise videos can be swapped at videofitness.com
Styrofoam anyone? Here is another place to unload more landfill waste products; UPS stores will accept any flat sheets of Styrofoam for reuse for their product packaging. Small nurseries and mailing stores will too, take back Styrofoam and bubble wrap Still no home found for all that individually shaped Styrofoam.