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Case Study > One Year Of Going Green

Your W5 title (FLASH)

One Year Of Going Green

with Hannah

Background

Becoming Eco-Friendly

What has Hannah done so far?

Reusable Bags

CSA

Composting

Eco-friendly Trash Bags

Walking or Biking

Klean Kanteen

Unplug Appliances

Keeping the AC Off

Keeping the Heat Off

Washing Clothes With Cold Water

Eco-friendly Cleaners

Seventh Generation

Chami Clothes

Packing Lunch

Used Handbags

Used Clothes

Wash Hair Ever Other Day

Recycling

Cancelled Newspaper Subscription

Online Magazine Subscriptions

Conclusion

 

Background

Hannah Miron is a 33 year old, single woman, who moved to Lancaster City 4 years ago. Hannah was born and raised in a town just outdis of Lancaster City called, Neffsville, PA. She works for a staffing agency during the day and is working hard to pay off her student loans. Hannah tries to travel whenever the budget allows and is planning some longer-term "voluntouring" trips after she finishes paying off her student loans. In the future, she would like to work with something related to eradicating poverty through spreading education, facilitating a better understanding (from Americans) of other cultures, helping to teach others that if everyone even just takes small steps it will make a huge difference, and helping those who cannot physically travel to see the world; She says she’s just not quite sure what this dream job will look like.

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Becoming Eco-Friendly

Hannah’s has recently developed a philosophy of becoming more conservative in terms of using less and re-using more. She decided to live her life for one year without buying any clothes; plastic beverage bottles; using new plastic bags, getting her hair cut, trying to eliminate as much as she could of items that were use once and throw-away and trying to possess fewer items overall. It began out as an economic decision, but quickly grew into an ecological lifestyle change. Her year promise to herself is over in January of 2010, but she is thinking that she will extend the experiment because she really likes that her carbon footprint is smaller. Hannah has found that although some of the eco-friendly products are initially a little more expensive, she has been saving money.

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What has Hannah done so far?

Using cloth/reusable bags when grocery shopping

In every study, reusable bags are rated best for the environment. Each of reusable bags is designed to replace two paper bags or up to 4 plastic bags each time it is used. They are also designed to be used weekly for two years or more, which will help to replace up to 416 plastic bags over its entire lifetime. Every time you throw away a non-reusable bag, even a biodegradable bag, you throw away precious resources (1 bag at a time, 2009).

Hannah says that she also declines plastic bags at most other places besides grocery stores. She states that she has slipped a few times and purchases small things and realized she should always carry a cloth bag with her EVERYWHERE.

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Joined a local CSA

Hannah has joined a local CSA, Community Supported Agriculture, for fresh produce. She made a goal to not let any food go to waste. Hannah only grocery shops to supplement what she gets at the CSA. She says that she only buys what she is going to eat and she eats everything that she buys.

Over the last 20 years, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) has become a popular way for consumers to buy local, seasonal food directly from a farmer. Community Supported Agriculture consists of a community of individuals who pledge support to a farm operation so that the farmland becomes, either legally or spiritually, the community's farm, with the growers and consumers providing mutual support and sharing the risks and benefits of food production. Typically, members or "share-holders" of the farm or garden pledge in advance to cover the anticipated costs of the farm operation and farmer's salary. In return, they receive shares in the farm's bounty throughout the growing season, as well as satisfaction gained from reconnecting to the land and participating directly in food production (Local Harvest, 2009).

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Composting

Hannah has been composting since June 2009 and has reduced her garbage bag usage to one 13-gallon bag every three and a half weeks.

Composting is the decomposition of plant remains and other once-living materials to make an earthy, dark, crumbly substance that is excellent for adding to houseplants or enriching garden soil. It is the way to recycle your yard and kitchen wastes and is a critical step in reducing the volume of garbage needlessly sent to landfills for disposal. A great variety of things can be composted at home, saving them from a one-way trip to the landfill by turning them into a valuable soil amendment for home use. These things include: grass/lawn clippings, hay, kitchen wastes, leaves, straw, weeds and other garden wastes, wood chips and sawdust.

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Switched to eco-friendlier trash bags made with corn/biodegradable products

We use billions of plastic bags each year and less than three percent ever get recycled. It takes a normal plastic bag over a thousand years to degrade in a landfill, but eco-friendly bags will do so in 12 to 24 months (Lets Go Green, 2009). If disposed of in a compost bin, eco-friendly bags can biodegrade in as little as 30-60 days in composting conditions (Eco-products, 2006).

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Walking or biking instead of driving

Hannah has chosen to walk or bike within Lancaster City instead of driving. She says that she has a rule against using her car if she’s going somewhere in the city. Hannah also consolidates trips so that she uses her car for a bunch of errands in one trip. She says that she will wait a few extra days to get something at a store to make sure that she can tack it on to other errands so she doesn't’t have to make a bunch of little trips. She will be switching to using the bus or biking to get to work at least two days per week.

Almost 100 percent of the cars on the road today require fossil fuel for them to work properly. Even the cleanest of fossil fuels, release pollutants into the atmosphere that lower the quality of the air we breathe and contributing to climate change. The bigger the vehicle the more pollutants are released (Canuck, 2008). Walking or riding a bike instead of driving a car can greatly help the environment.

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Switched to Klean Kanteen instead of plastic water bottles

Hannah has switched from using plastic water bottles to Klean Kanteens. She also bought a thermos bag to keep the kanteen cool; she says that it worked really well at Disney World in 100-degree heat!

Before Klean Kanteen, hydration bottles were made from either poly carbonate plastic or aluminum. It is now known that both those materials are associated with a host of diseases and illnesses; this information that wasn't common knowledge in 2004. In 2004 Klean Kanteen introduced the first personal hydration bottle made from stainless steel to give health and environmentally conscious people an alternative to plastic. The bottles have always been made from toxin-free materials, with large-mouth openings and rounded corners and threads so they're easy to clean. When you buy a Klean Kanteen you're purchasing a handcrafted bottle designed to last a lifetime. Klean Kanteen bottles come in two bottle styles, the Wide and Classic and multiple colors and sizes. You have different cap options too. Klean Kanteens are made to be refillable and reusable so you'll never need to buy water in a plastic bottle again. The bottle itself is also 100% recyclable (Klean Kanteen, 2009).

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Unplug appliances

When Hannah is gone overnight, she makes a point to unplug the lights, television, and all appliances.

Though it's known by a laundry list of names-phantom load, idle current, vampire power and wall wart are the most common-this "phantom energy" does the same thing: sucks extra energy from the grid into your home when you aren't looking and you don't need it. Many gadgets, electronic devices and appliances draw power even when they're switched off or not in use, just by being plugged in and though it may seem trivial, it can add up over time. Chargers for cell phones; digital cameras, power tools and other gadgets draw energy even when they're not in use. Appliances like televisions, computer monitors, and DVD players can also draw power whenever they're plugged into an outlet. All together, phantom energy can account for about 10 percent of an individual home's electricity use. It might not sound like much, until you consider that cutting out that 10 percent will get you over a month of free electricity every year. There are a handful of devices designed specifically to combat phantom energy, but plugging bundled devices, think TV, DVD player, and DVR, or computer, monitor, and printer- into the same power strip and then turning off the power strip will help a lot (Smith, 2008).

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Keeping the AC off

Hannah keeps her Air Condition off unless the thermostat in her house reads 85 degrees or higher. If it reaches that point, she will keep the Air Conditioning set at 80 degrees when it’s on.

Maintaining your air conditioning unit to keep your energy costs down could be very simple. One of these ways is working together with the weather. This will help to keep costs down. Keep the thermostat as high as possible for your comfort. For every degree you raise the thermostat, there is a three percent cut on your cooling bill. Block the windows with shades, blinds or curtains to keep the sun out during the day. Keep all exterior doors and windows closed while the air conditioning unit is running. If possible, when the outdoor humidity is lower at night, turn off the central air, and open the windows to allow air to circulate. Use fans to help (Granger, 2009).

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Keeping the heat off

Hannah also keeps her heat off unless the thermostat in her house reads 55 or lower. When turning it on, she keeps the heat set at 58-50 degrees. She will add more blankets, sweaters, etc instead of raising the heat.

Some tips to keep the heat in your house and your bill lower include; 1) Hold a paper by your windows when the wind is blowing. If the paper is moving, cold air is coming in and your heating bill is higher than it needs to be. Caulk windows around the edges and place a rolled towel across the bottom. You can also cover them with plastic and keep heavy curtains pulled shut. The heat will stay in; the cold wind will stay out. 2) Check your door for heat-loss. Remove old weather-stripping and replace it with new stripping. 3) Shut up any rooms you do not use regularly. Close the vents and cover them with heavy plastic. Shut the doors and place a rolled up towel across the bottom of the door. 4) Check your furnace for efficiency. Replace the air filter. Make sure the vents in the rooms you use are unblocked and open. Check resources for ideas on cleaning your furnace. 5) Cover air conditioners that are in the windows or the walls. Tape them tightly shut. 6) Consider going off-grid for at least part of your energy needs. 7) Keep the door closed as much as possible. If you have an entryway, consider hanging a heavy curtain across the doorway to create a barrier between the door and your living space (Collins, 2009).

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Washing clothes with cold water

About 90 percent of the energy used for washing clothes in a conventional top-load washer is for heating the water. There are two ways to reduce the amount of energy used for washing clothes, use less water and use cooler water. Unless you're dealing with oily stains, the warm or cold water setting on your machine will generally do a good job of cleaning your clothes. Switching your temperature setting from hot to warm can cut a load's energy use in half (Energy Savers, 2009).

Some tips for when your doing laundry include: 1) Wash your clothes in cold water using cold-water detergents whenever possible. 2) Wash and dry full loads. If you are washing a small load, use the appropriate water-level setting. 3) Dry towels and heavier cottons in a separate load from lighter-weight clothes. 4) Don't over-dry your clothes. If your machine has a moisture sensor, use it. 5) Clean the lint filter in the dryer after every load to improve air circulation. 6) Use the cool-down cycle to allow the clothes to finish drying with the residual heat in the dryer (Energy Savers, 2009). Doing these simple things will help to reduce costs from doing laundry.

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Switched to more eco-friendly cleaners

Hannah has switched to more eco-friendly cleaners. She switched to Ecover for dishes and laundry and to Method for shower, bath, kitchen, and floor cleaning.

Ecover is an international company active in the production of ecological cleaners. Their mission is to provide effective, sustainable solutions for the hygienic needs of mankind. Their dishwashing products include dishwasher tablets, Rinse Aid, Grapefruit & Green Tea Dish, Automatic Dishwashing Powder, Herbal Dish, and Dishwashing Liquid with lemon and aloe vera. All of these products are made with plant based ingredients. Their laundry products include Fabric Softener, Non-Chlorine Bleach Powder, Delicate Wash, Stain Remover, Non-Chlorine Bleach, Laundry Wash, and Laundry Powder, all of which are also made from plant based materials (Ecover, 2009).

Method has many different kinds of products that are eco-friendly. They sell their products individually but they also sell their products in “cleaning kits.” The bathroom cleaning kit is everything you need to shine the tile, scrub the tub and keep the throne royal. It has a plant-derived spray to fight soap scum and mildew stains with no harsh fumes. Also included is a gently abrasive scrub made with milled marble for a deeper clean. There is a bleach-free bowl cleaner to remove tough stains and ring-around-the-rim. It has flush able wipes for quick clean-ups like sinks, countertops, toilets and tiles. It’s all non-toxic and biodegradable, with a fresh scent that’ll make the bathroom smell more like a spa and less like a bathroom (Method, 2009). If you’re using typical kitchen cleaners, you could be leaving chemical residue on your plates or nasty toxins near your fruit bowl. If you follow method’s method: non-toxic dish detergent, natural all purpose spray and compostable cleaning wipes, then all you leave is a sparkling clean and the sweet smell of grapefruit, lavender and cucumber (Method, 2009).

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Switched to Seventh Generation tissues and bath tissue

Hannah has switched to Seventh Generation tissues and bathroom tissues because they do not use virgin growth wood for their paper.

Seventh Generation is committed to becoming the world's most trusted brand of authentic, safe, and environmentally responsible products for a healthy home. Seventh Generation brand-name products include: non-chlorine bleached, 100 percent recycled paper towels, bathroom and facial tissues, and napkins; non-toxic, phosphate-free cleaning, dish and laundry products; plastic trash bags made from recycled plastic; chlorine-free baby diapers, training pants and baby wipes; and chlorine-free feminine care products, including organic cotton tampons (Seventh Generation, 2009).

Seventh Generation bathroom tissue is made from 100 percent recycled paper (80 percent minimum post-consumer). Buying products made from recycled paper helps reduce the need for virgin wood pulp. Their multi-pack bathroom tissue is significantly softer to the touch (Seventh Generation, 2009).

Seventh Generation facial tissues are made from 100 percent recycled paper (80 percent minimum post-consumer). Buying products made from recycled paper helps reduce the need for virgin wood pulp, which means more trees are left standing. Made from 100 perent recycled paper and whitened with an environmentally safe process, never with chemicals containing chlorine. No added dyes or fragrances (Seventh Generation, 2009).

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Switched to Chami Clothes

Hannah has switched to Chami Clothes instead of disposable dishtowels or paper towels for cleaning. A Chami cloth is a soft, quality synthetic drying and polishing cloth for all smooth surfaces. It is absorbent, lint free, and mildew resistant.

Using a reusable dishtowel instead of disposable dishtowels or paper towels is so much better for the environment. Dishtowels are not very expensive and you can generally get them in packs of multiple towels. They will last you a while, all you have to do is wash them and they will last for years. This will save paper and trees from being used as much.

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Started packing her lunch for work

Hannah has started packing her lunch for work instead of going out to get lunch. She has stopped going out to lunch so she could stop using her car as much. Instead of going out she stays in to read or work on puzzles.

Another option that goes along with packing a lunch is using a reusable lunch bag. If you stop throwing out a paper sack every day, that adds up. Reusing means you’re not only using stuff again, it means less energy is being used to make more stuff. And that means you are keeping waste out of our landfills, less energy from being processed and less resources from being consumed, all from bringing a reusable lunch bag (Whole Foods Market, 2009).

Whole Foods Market teamed up with pop music icon and environmental activist Sheryl Crow to create a special edition of our signature reusable shopping bag, A Better Bag. These bags are made from 80 percent post-consumer recycled plastic bottles. In fact each bag represents approximately two or three 20-ounce plastic bottles depending on the size of the bag you choose (Whole Foods Market, 2009).

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Buying used handbags

Hannah likes to buy used handbags instead of new ones. Instead of going straight to the store to buy a new gizmo, gadget, widget or hoozit, see if you can find a used one instead. If it’s already been used, you’re lengthening the lifetime of that product, and reducing the need for new ones, which in the end saves the environmental impact of creating and selling that item. And it’s an easy habit: ask around, and someone might have a used hoozit to give away for free (or cheap), or look in used shops or yard sales (The Good Human, 2007).

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Buying used clothes

When Hannah eventually begins to buy clothing items again, she’ll buy good quality used items or a fewer number of higher quality pieces instead of mass-produced items from overseas. She is also thinking of having a few professional pieces hand-made.

A few tips for buying used clothing include: 1) Set a budget. This is difficult at first -- you don't know how much things cost. But eventually you'll be able to tell yourself, "I'm going to spend 20 dollars today." It becomes a game to see how much you can buy for 20 dollars. 2) Discard your prejudices. Some people think thrift stores and used-clothing shops are nasty, dirty places. Some are. Most aren't. Explore your neighborhood. Find a shop or two that you like, and you'll be hooked. 3) Go with a friend. It's good to have a second opinion. Your friend may have an eye for what looks good on you. 4) Try things on. Sizes vary widely between manufacturers and even by eras. 5) Examine each item thoroughly. 6) Check washing instructions. 7) Look for new clothes with tags. Sometimes unsold department store inventory finds its way to used-clothing stores and thrift shops. You'll generally pay more for these items, but not much. 8) Wash clothes when you get them home.

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Wash hair every other day Instead of washing her hair every day

Hannah washes her hair every other day to save some water. Only washing your hair every other day will reduce the time spent in the shower on the days you don’t wash your hair, ultimately saving water as an end result.

Washing your hair every day can be automatic. But like many habits, it’s a practice invented and reinforced by advertising. The truth is, daily shampooing can strip hair of its natural oils. If you’re a daily washer, you may notice that missing a day causes your hair to get greasy. That’s because your glands are used to secreting oil to make up for those daily scrubbings. But if you shampoo less, you'll produce less oil, and will be able to go longer between washes. Plus, you'll use fewer products and save water and money (The Green Life, 2009).

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Recycling paper, glass, plastic, and Styrofoam

Hannah recycles paper, glass, plastic, and Styrofoam. Dart Container will take clean, used Styrofoam. Her parents drive her to Dart Container once a month with items to recycle.

Paper is one of the most versatile and important materials used in homes, schools, offices and businesses throughout the world. In 2007, 56 percent of the paper used in the U.S. was recovered for recycling. That’s an average of 360 pounds of paper recovered for every person in the country. Because of this high recovery rate, the paper industry set a new goal of a 60 percent recovery rate by 2012 (Earth 911, 2009).

Glass is one of the most popular materials recycled today, both because of the purity of the ingredients and the quick turnaround of recycling. Your glass containers actually begin their life as readily available domestic materials, such as sand, soda ash or limestone. Similar to paper, glass comes in a variety of colors, which comes into play in the recycling process (Earth 911, 2009).

Plastics play an important part in everyday life, and many of the plastics we use are recyclable. Plastic bottles are commonly recycled in communities across the U.S. Plastic bags are widely recycled at grocery stores and in some municipal drop-off centers, and a growing number of communities are recycling wide-mouth containers. Americans are currently recycling about 4 billion pounds of plastics annually - but we can do better. Plastics are a valuable resource that can be made into everything from carpet, clothing and building materials to new bottles, bags and containers (Earth, 911, 2009).

Dart Container Corporation is nationally recognized as a leader in promoting and understanding the facts about polystyrene foam products and associated environmental issues. Dart currently operates eleven polystyrene foam drop-off locations at their production plants for anyone who wishes to recycle foam products. In addition they have recycling centers at their production facilities in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Florida, and Ontario, Canada, capable of reprocessing 12 million pounds of foam products annually (Dart, 2009).

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Cancelled newspaper subscription

Hannah has cancelled her newspaper subscription to save paper and money. Most, if not all, newspapers can now be found online so there really isn't’t much need for a printed newspaper. Printing a newspaper is a waste of paper. The only people that should be receiving newspapers are those who don’t have the Internet or have a problem reading online. Newspapers can be found everywhere. Either subscriptions need to be cancelled or they need to be pulled from public places. There are so many newspapers everywhere when all of them aren't’t needed.

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Switching magazine subscriptions to online reading

Hannah has also switched all of her magazine subscriptions to be online readings. Doing this saves paper and helps the environment. Switching to the online version still allows you to see everything that is in the print version of the magazine as well as being able to explore the special features they have on their site.

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Conclusion

Hannah Miron has really made an impact on her life by making subtle changes in her daily routines. By deciding to become more eco-friendly for a year she has shown how much she would like to help the environment. By thinking of extending her year, it shows that she is truly passionate about the things she does. These many things that Hannah does are very simple tasks that anyone can do. So why don’t we do these things? If we all made a bit more of an effort to become more environmentally friendly, we could really make a difference in the world.

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This site was created by (Brittany Fricke) (contact) who is a student at Millersville University of Pennsylvania

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