Did you know that by recycling a single run of the Sunday New York Times we could save 75,000 trees? Recycling is not the only thing that you can do to live green. You can use eco-friendly products. Instead of buying bottled water, use a filter on your tap. Bottles produce large amounts of container waste that could be greatly reduced by either recycling them or just drinking water from the tap. You can walk or bike for transportation and save money on gas while improving your health. Using simple ingredients such as baking soda and vinegar, you can make cheap and non-toxic cleaning products. A lot of the cleaning products that we use each day contain phosphates that pollute the groundwater.
What is Living Green?
Each individual leaves his or her mark on the Earth. Whether it is a good mark, or a bad mark is up to you. Living Green is not necessarily a hard thing, or something that is completely changing your lifestyle. Living Green to you could mean deciding to recycle every newspaper that you receive, or using a mug to drink your coffee each morning instead of 365 Styrofoam cups each year. It could mean buying fresh groceries at the local market instead of going to the grocery store to buy not so fresh groceries, or car-pooling, or even biking to work.
Living Green is re-thinking how we live now, and how we should live in the future. It is about looking at the story behind all the products we use, and helping us make informed choices about what products we choose to use. Real change is possible, and it starts with the individual. It starts with you.
A Day in the Life of Living Green in Lancaster.
It’s Monday morning. You wake up in your Millersville University dorm room, or your apartment on King Street, to your alarm at 8 am. A good way to start out living green is with your cup of Joe. There are a lot of coffee roasters that offer varieties of certified-free trade, 100% organic coffee, in flavors ranging from medium-bodied Bolivian French Roast to extra-strength European Espresso. You recycle the milk carton that you finish with your cereal.
You see that your bulb in the kitchen blew out, so, of course, you replace your conventional light bulb with a compact florescent bulb! While it costs more at the register, it uses 75 percent less energy and lasts up to 10 times longer. General Electric now offers “white-cap-covered-bulbs” for a sleek look. While at the store, you remembered to take your own reusable canvas bag, which saved a plastic bag from going into a landfill and wasting precious oil to make on.
Getting dressed for work is a cinch. You get into your Guess Green clothing (just released May, 2008 from Guess in honor of Earth Day). You stop in the bathroom, and use your Non-Virgin Toilet Paper. (The NRDC says that if everyone replaced just one roll in their house with the recycled stuff, it would save 423,900 trees.
You head off to work at Lancaster Central Market, on your bicycle of course, and when you arrive, you grab a cup of water in a biodegradable cornstarch cup. This cup will break down in about 4 or 5 weeks if left in a landfill. You eat your lunch with the same type of biodegradable cornstarch. These can even be thrown into the compost! Since you work at Lancaster Central Market, you are able to get organic food, which keeps your body free from pesticides and hormones.
You head to a meeting with local city councilmen. The black oval walnut table that you sit at has been signed, dated and numbered by designer John Wiggers and is made from Forest Stewardship Council-certified sustainable wood. This means that the lumber was collected by manufacturers who are making the best use of forest resources by avoiding over-consumption.
After a long day at the office, you head out for a cocktail. There’s no better spirit than a Fresh Basil Rickey, made with Square One vodka. It’s made from a limited production of single-grain vodka using U.S. Department of Agriculture-certified organic American rye. To make it, muddle basil leaves directly into the cocktail shaker. Add other ingredients and ice and shake vigorously for about 15 seconds. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a lime twist or a floating basil leaf.
You bike back home, getting both exercise and saving on gas emissions. When you get home, you water all of your plants, which are contributing to the oxygen in the air. Instead of wiping down you kitchen counters with paper towels, that then get thrown into the trash, you wipe them down with a rag that can be washed and reused. You start a load of laundry in your Energy Star Washer, which uses less water, and less energy, saving on some natural resources.
You begin to look through your mail, and realize with a contented sigh, that you saved paper by signing up for not getting any junk mail.
You get a shower before bed, and instead of taking a 30 minute shower, you speed it up. Spending just two minutes less in the shower each day is preventing about 400 pounds of CO2 (in the form of energy used to heat and treat the water) from entering the atmosphere each year.
Aahh.. It’s bedtime, why not snuggle in front of an energy-efficient TV, like the 20 inch Sharp Aquos LC-20S7U, with a built in DVD player and PC input. It’s Energy Star-qualified and consumes less power compared with previous Aquos models, due to its lightweight.
Why you should Live Green.
Old habits are hard to break. It’s easy for us to say, “We should reuse, reduce, and recycle. We should waste less, and take better care of our planet.” It’s harder for us to actually do those things. So why live green?
Look at all the additives, pesticides, preservatives, and other compounds that we use each day that we know are harmful to the Earth and us. It is not that hard to use natural ingredients, and make our Earth and us healthier. The more clean air, water, and natural resources we use today, and if we are using it wastefully, there will be a lot less for our children and grandchildren to use. These things will not last forever. Our Earth has been taking care of us for thousands of years, giving us the right climate, food, and oxygen we need. It is about time we take care of the Earth that has been taking care of us for so long.
A few quick ways to incorporate it:
We have all heard the term “Reuse, renew, recycle”. What does it actually mean?
Reuse – Reusing is the first of the three R’s. Reducing means lowering the amount or toxicity of the design, manufacture, purchase, or use of products before they become solid waste. There are many benefits of reducing: it saves natural resources, reduces toxicity of waste, and reduces costs for communities, businesses, and consumers.
It reduces costs for businesses because when they manufacture their products with less packaging, they are buying fewer raw materials, which means they are saving money, which in turn can cause a decrease in prices for the consumer. Consumers have economic benefits because when buying products in bulk at stores such as BJs or Sam’s Club, there is less packaging, which means savings.
Reduce – The second R is reduce. To reduce, you need to throw away less. By repairing things or donating them to charities or other organizations, we are able to reduce the amount of things we are wasting.
Recycle – Recycling is the third of the three R’s. Recycling means taking a product at the end of its life, and turning it into something else that is completely useable. Don’t know how to recycle? There are three main ways the average person can recycle. They are curbside recycling, electronics, and composting. Curbside recycling commonly includes five types of materials: aluminum cans, glass bottles, paper, plastic, and steel or tin cans.
The fast pace of technology means that we are constantly changing our types of cell phones, radios, and televisions. These often contain dangerous elements such as lead and mercury that can potentially contaminate our soil and water supply. You can either donate your old ones to a friend, or an organization that will properly dispose of it, or consider renting or leasing electronics instead of constantly buying new ones.
Lastly, composting is a way to recycle organic material, and turn it into a landscape asset for you. Composting reduces the amount of food waste in your trashcan, turning it into fertilizer for your garden.
This information was taken from the United States Environmental Protection Agency.
There are many eco-friendly products that you can use that will help you to reduce the amount of toxins and chemicals that you are releasing into the soil and ground water. Here are some brand overviews:
Method – Method is a cleaning line that has the idea that all cleaning products should be made from all natural ingredients, so you can be sure that your pets, your children, and even you yourself will be safe no matter what you eat off of. The company recently produced a line that is called “Free and Clear”, which is a line of products that are free of fragrances or dyes. When you visit their website, you can read about how each product is made, and how it differs from the normal products that are not eco-friendly. Method
Clorox Green Works – Green Works claims to be the first line of natural cleaners developed by a major consumer products company. That’s debatable, as Method actually has been out a lot longer, but at least they’re helping us to Live Green! Green Works has an alliance with the Sierra Club, which is the oldest grassroots environmental organization in the United States. Green Works products began being sold in January 2008, and are close to the regular prices of Clorox. When you visit the company’s website, you can see a fact sheet, an ingredients list, and other information.
Home Cleaning Remedies.
Glass – Mix together equal parts vinegar and water in a spray bottle to clean surfaces. Wipe away with newspaper for streak-free shine.
Chrome – A dry cloth and baby oil will keep faucet handles looking brand new.
Stinky Carpet – Sprinkle baking soda onto the carpet. Let sit for half an hour, and then vacuum it up.
Carpet Stains – Combine equal parts of vinegar and water in a spray bottle, and wet the stained area. Then dab and scrub with a sponge until the stain lifts.
Furniture Cleaner – Mix the juice from half a lemon with ¼ cup vegetable or olive oil. Dab the mixture onto a cloth and rub directly onto the wood.
All Purpose Cleaner – For a general all-purpose cleaner that you can keep on hand to clean the kitchen or bathroom, combine ½ cup vinegar and ¼ cup baking soda in spray bottle.
Toilet – Pour one cup of vinegar in the bowl with ¼ cup baking soda and let sit for half an hour, then scrub toilet clean with a brush.
Mildew – Combine vinegar and lemon juice in a spray bottle with a pinch of salt. Let the mixture sit on the mildewed surface but don’t wipe it clean.
Mold – Mix 1 cup hydrogen peroxide with three cups of water and apply to the surface.
Stinky Drain/Garbage Disposal – Drop half a lemon down the drain and run boiling water over it. Remove the lemon after half an hour. Another method: Pour ½ cup vinegar down the drain works, too. Flush with hot water.
These recipies were taken from Be Jane.
Did you know that the Christmas holidays add 25 million tons of garbage to our landfills? Here are some suggestions to have a truly Green Christmas this year.
- Wrap gifts in reusable cloth bags
- Re-use wrapping paper, or wrap gifts in newspaper
- Give unusual gifts for presents. Instead of buying new gifts that won’t get used, make something that they can eat, such as homemade soup, a pint of spaghetti sauce, jelly, or homemade pie. Remember to include instructions on how to defrost and prepare it!
- Create gift baskets and fill them with exotic mustards, green tea, soup mixes, or candy. Try to find unusual or foreign ones that the person you are givig the gift to normally wouldn’t be able to find.
- Tuition to an unusual class, such as a two-hour private cooking lesson at your home with an Italian chef.
- Subscription to a magazine.
- Membership to a museum or group.
- Gift certificates.
- The gift of your time.
What’s all the talk about Hybrid cars? What are they?
Hybrid cars feature a small fuel-efficient gas engine combined with an electric motor that assists the engine when accelerating. The electric motor is powered by batteries that will recharge automatically when you drive. They also are efficient because the engine temporarily shuts off when the car is stopped in traffic. It restarts automatically when put back into gear. They also have smaller and more efficient engines.
The following gas-electric hybrid cars are now available in the United States:
Honda Civic Hybrid, Honda Accord Hybrid, Nissan Altima, Toyota Prius, Toyota Camry Hybrid, Ford Escape Hybrid SUV, Lexus 400h Hybrid SUV, Toyota Highlander Hybrid SUV, Mercury Mariner Hybrid SUV, and Mazda Tribute compact SUV.
The information on hybrid cars was found on Earth Easy.
Alternatives to Driving.
There are also a few alternatives to driving that may help to be even more eco-friendly. These alternatives are biking, public transportation, and walking. Public transportation is available almost everywhere, and there are lots of parking garages and lots that are designated just for people to drive and park so they can catch the bus or train to where they need to go from the city. If possible, it’s nice to walk to a bus stop, and save more fuel and money. By walking, jogging, skating, or biking places, you will not only reduce your emissions, but increase your health as well.
Try to car pool to get to work, school, activities, or a night out. It’s a great way to meet new people. Find out if your company gives rebates or incentives for commuting by public transit or car-pooling. If not, ask them to consider a program.
Quick Recycling Facts.
If just 1 percent of American homes replaced an older toilet with a new WaterSense labeled toilet, the country would save more than 38 million kilowatt-hours of electricity – enough electricity to supply more than 43,000 households for one month.
Letting your faucet run for five minutes uses about as much energy as letting a 60-watt light bulb run for 14 hours.
Leaky faucets that drip at the rate of one drip per second can waste more than 3,000 gallons of water each year, and a leaky toilet can waste about 200 gallons of water every day.
A full bathtub requires about 70 gallons of water, while taking a 5-minute shower uses 10-25 gallons.
The average U.S. home uses the energy equivalent of 1,253 gallons of oil every year.
During the winter, you can save as much as 3% of the energy your furnace uses simply by lowering your thermostat one degree F (if it’s set between 65 and 72).
About 15% of the energy you use for heating your home goes to warming up air that leaks through the cracks.
The most effective new appliances typically use 50% less energy than old ones.
Refrigerators with a freezer on top instead of on the side save about 20% energy.
1 ton of 100% non-recycled newsprint uses 12 trees.
At least 38.9% of the U.S. waste stream is paper.
Americans throw away 44 million newspapers everyday. That’s the same as dumping 500,000 trees into landfills each week.
If every household reused a paper bag for one shopping trip, about 60,000 trees would be saved.
We save enough energy by recycling 1 aluminum can to run a TV set for 3 hours.
A steel mill using recycled scrap reduces related water pollution, air pollution and mining wastes by about 70%.
Glass never wears out – it can be recycled forever.
If every American household recycled just one out of every ten plastic bottles they used, we’d keep 200 million pounds of the plastic out of landfills each year.
Styrofoam is not recyclable. Each year Americans throw away 25,000,000,000 Styrofoam cups.
If only 100 thousand people stopped their junk mail, we could save up to 150,000 trees annually.
These quick recycling facts were found from the Environment Protection Agency.
Top 5 Green Product website shopping guide
(My favorite sites)
This is one of my favorite websites for shopping, because I love to clean, it distresses me, so why not clean green? I love this website for the fun facts that they give with each of their products that really help you to know what you’re saving by using Method cleaners.
This website is an eco-friendly comparison shopping website. This website includes a place to shop, fun facts, and a lot of great stuff.
This site is a fun one to go onto, and the site has different categories. The categories included on this website are: For the Home, Bed & Bath, Green Building, Fair Trade, Children, Clothing, Body, Pets, Garden & Outdoor, and Sale items.
This site also has different categories so that you can find exactly what you want, or look at how things will be used in different places. The categories they have include Home and Outdoor, Apparel, Mind Body Fitness, Solar Living, and Outlet Store.
This is a company called live it green. “It’s the name of our company. It’s a way of life: when given the option, make the socially conscious decision. We develop products and services to help make a living a sustainable life more convenient. This website includes links to Carbon Neutral Clothing, Treetini, which is a martini that for every drink bought, a tree is planted, and a link where every 10 itunes bought plants a tree as well.
Sidebar Story: Slow Food Movement
What is slow food? That’s the very question I asked myself when I first heard about it. The Slow Food Movement started in Italy in 1986. The three words that describe the Slow Food Movement are “Good, Clear, and Fair”.
“Good” – tasty, high quality, and local
“Clear” – sustainable, non-polluting, (recycling manure)
“Fair” – living wages for producers
Does Slow Food combat fast food? Actually it does; Italy is known for good and enjoyable food. They like to slow down and enjoy their food! The things that fast food stand for are corporate, pollution, and exploitation of wages. These are the very things that the Slow Food Movement is against.
It seems like to make America slow down and enjoy food is an impossible task, because it is not embedded in our culture like it is in European countries. The things that slow food does hope to accomplish in the United States are good quality foods. Good quality leads to health and slimness, which is something that the United States is striving for since a lot of people are obese.
I interviewed Dr. Carole Counihan, who helped me to learn about the Slow Food Movement. When I asked her how she became aware of the Slow Food Movement, she told me that it started with her doctoral work. Dr. Counihan did her doctoral work in Italy; she lived there for about 6 years over a 13-year span. Dr. Counihan wrote a book called “Around the Tuscan Table”, which was based on interviews done in Tuscany. Through networking, she learned about the Slow Food Movement, and eventually she became a member of the Editorial Board of Slow Magazine.
Dr. Counihan also told me about a bi-annual conference in Italy called Terra Madre (www.terramadre.com). This conference brings together food producers, chefs, and academics to teach about the way we grow and distribute food. It helps chefs to create a market for Slow Foods so they will buy local and support local businesses instead of corporations. One possible huge market for Slow Food would be university dining halls. Terra Madre is probably the leading activist for Slow Foods.
You may be asking yourself, “What can I do about it?” There are groups called “Convivia”, which are locally based groups to further the mission of Slow Food. The two closest to Lancaster are in York and Philadelphia. The Philadelphia Convivia holds programs such as dinners with all local foods and locally made wines. The dinners cost about thirty dollars per person. These programs are designed to educate people, especially young people who will be able to make a difference in their jobs and lives.
There is a university in Italy called the University of Gastronomic Sciences, which has an Undergrad and Masters Programs educating people about transforming food systems. (www.unisg.it) Some education programs in the United States are a Sustainable Agriculture program at the University of New Hampshire, and Michigan State. There are doctoral programs at Indiana University in Food Studies and Anthropology, and a Food Studies program at New York University.
The Slow Food movement has also started working in grades K-12. Specifically in Berkley, California, they’ve started an “edible schoolyard project”, where the students grow, harvest, cook, and in some cases sell the food. There is also an Urban Nutrition Incentive in Philadelphia at University of Pennsylvania and University High School. These programs are working to start young to build ideals and taste for fresh food.
This may all seem to be a little confusing to you right now, so some vocabulary might help you to understand the Green lifestyle, and what the different parts are.
Bio-based Product – A product (other than food or feed) that is produced from renewable agricultural (plant, animal and marine) or forestry materials.
Biodegradable – Capable of decomposing in nature within a reasonably short period of time.
Ecological Footprint – The resulting impacts on the environment based on the choices we make (i.e., raw materials selection, transportation, etc.)
Ecosystem – The interaction of organisms from the natural community with one another and their environment to sustain one another.
Emission- The release of any gas, particle or vapor into the environment.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) – An independent executive agency of the federal government, established in 1970, responsible for the formulations and enforcement of regulations governing the release of pollutants, to protect public health and the environment.
Environmentally Friendly – A generic statement often used to designate a product or process that has a reduced ecological footprint when compared to other products/processes.
Fossil Fuel – Any petroleum based fuel (gasoline, natural gas, fuel, oil, etc.)
Global Warming Potential (GWP) – This is the impact of greenhouse gas emissions which contribute to the ‘greenhouse effect’. Elevated concentrations of greenhouse gases contribute to global warming and increased climate variability. Also referred to as Climate Change.
Greenhouse Effect – Greenhouse gases trap heat inside the atmosphere, warming the earth’s surface. (Greenhouse gases include carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide.)
Green Tag – A green tag or Renewable Energy Certificate (REC), represents the environmental attributes created when electricity is generated using renewable sources instead of fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and natural gas. REC’s can be sold separately from their associated electricity and enable customers to "green" the electricity they consume from their retail power supplier(s).
Life Cycle Assessment – A compilation and evaluation of the inputs, outputs and the potential environmental impacts of a product or system throughout its life cycle.
Nonrenewable Energy – Sources of energy that cannot be replaced in a reasonable period of time. Fossil fuels (coal, petroleum, natural gas) are examples of nonrenewable energy sources.
Offsets – Greenhouse gas reduction activities undertaken to compensate for emissions elsewhere.
Recycling – The series of activities, including collection, separation, and processing, by which materials are recovered from the waste stream for use as raw materials in the manufacture of new products.
Recyclable – A designation for products or materials that are capable of being recovered from, or otherwise diverted from waste streams for recycling.
Renewable Energy – Energy derived from sources which are regenerative or recurring. Examples include wind energy, hydro, geothermal, or wave action.
Renewable Resources – A resource that can be replenished at a rate equal to, or greater than its rate of depletion. Examples of renewable resources include corn, trees, and soy-based products.
Sustainability – “Humanity has the ability to make development sustainable to ensure that it meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” (World Commission on Environment and Development, Brundtland Commission, “Our Common Future”). Leaving the world better than you found it.