If everyone took the time to reduce, reuse, and recycle we could greatly improve environmental conditions. It is pretty hard to do everything, but every single thing each of us does helps the effort.
• Buy water efficient products like shower heads, toilets, washing machines, and dishwashers.
• Only wash full loads of clothes and dishes.
• Add a sand-filled jug in your toilet tank and save about a half-gallon of water each flush.
• Taking 5 minutes off your shower can save up to 12 gallons of water.
• Scraping or wiping off dishes before putting them in the dishwasher or sink allows you to skip the pre-wash cycle.
• Try washing fruits and vegetables in a large bowl rather than under a running faucet.
• Turn off the sink while brushing teeth, shaving, or washing dishes.
• Fix leaky faucets and toilets which can waste 20 gallons of water a day.
• If you must water your lawn or garden, do so early in the morning when the water will not evaporate as quickly.
• Instead of sprinklers, use soaker hoses or drip irrigation to water your lawn and garden.
• Native plants normally require less water and will help for a more natural eco-system.
• Set your thermostat to 68 degrees in the winter and 74 degrees in summer to cut energy use.
• Keep the heat or air conditioning at a steady temperature.
• If you aren’t using it, TURN IT OFF. This is harder than it sounds, at least everyone at my house thinks so.
• Unplug small appliances and chargers when no one is using them.
• Some appliances run all the time like your refrigerator and water heater.
Replace these and other appliances with energy star appliances when possible.
• Replace regular light bulbs with LED light bulbs.
• Wash clothes in cold water.
• Replace windows and doors with energy efficient ones or if you can’t now, at least cover windows with plastic and add weather stripping.
• Insulation is very important in saving energy as well.
• Use plant-derived and non-toxic pesticides and weed killer.
• Plant a buffer of trees and shrubs around the edge of your property to capture polluted runoff.
• Mulch or ground cover plants on bare ground can prevent soil erosion and flow of water.
• Let downspouts flow into rain barrels, rain gardens, or layers of rocks.
• Use raised garden beds to keep topsoil from running into local waterways.
• Wash your car on grass or gravel so that the soapy water won’t run off your property.
• You can also wash your car at a car wash where they recycle their wash water.
• Keep fertilizers off of driveways and sidewalks where they can easily flow to storm drains.
• It is best to fertilize in the fall so spring rains don’t wash off lawns into water ways.
• Never use more pesticides than you need and make sure containers do not leak.
• Instead of concrete, use porous surfaces like gravel or pavers for patios to minimize run-off.
• Build a trench or storm water pond to keep polluted storm water from reaching local waterways.
• Use toxic and plastic free personal products. Lots of facial scrubbers have plastic for exfoliating. These and the toxic chemicals end up in our waterways as well.
• Use phosphate-free and biodegradable soaps and detergents.
• Stop using disposable plastic bottles. This is the biggest thing. There are many other options.
• Carry reusable totes in the car at all times for shopping trips.
• Don’t use plastic straws. If you must use a straw, buy reusable metal straws.
• Buy a lunch box instead of plastic and paper bags.
• Instead of using sandwich bags, buy reusable containers to put food and snacks in.
• Don’t use k-cups. There is a refillable one if you can’t live without your single cup coffee maker.
• Try using cloth diapers.
(Keep in mind that most plastic put in single stream recycling bins are being diverted into landfills so the best option is to avoid disposable plastic as much as possible and find reusable alternatives. Also, if you are against oil, you should know that plastic is manufactured from petroleum.)
• Carpooling is a great way to reduce vehicle emissions and make the ride more enjoyable.
• Drive Less. When possible walk, bike, or take public transportation.
• When in the market, buy a hybrid or electric car.
• Avoid letting your car idle.
• When planning errands and the to-do lists, think of what places are in the same direction and combine those trips.
• Use cruise control to save on fuel and emissions when can.
• Avoid hauling items on your roof rack that increased drag and end up using more fuel.
• Use electric or manual lawnmowers and yard tools instead of gas-powered machines.
• Utilize a rain barrel to collect water from downspouts to water plants or wash cars.
• When starting the shower and waiting for the water to heat, use a bucket to catch the water to later use for plants or pet bowls.
• If you fill a baby pool over the summer, reuse the water in a garden or to rinse off outdoor areas.
Plants and Food:
• Leave your grass clippings on the lawn for a natural source of nitrogen.
• Compost and mulch leaves in the fall.
• Use kitchen scraps such as egg shells and unused portions of fruits and vegetables to add to compost and/or soil.
• Save all kinds of objects that would normally end up in the trash, as you can find no other use, to upcycle into other art and projects. You have to think outside of the box on this one, if you can help the environment, even better. A great example of that is a bat house we made from a wooden shipping box that was going to be thrown out. The video at the top of the page is an example of using materials differently.
• RECYCLE EVERYDAY!
• Be sure you hire a trash company who offers a recycling service and be sure to follow their guidelines. This is important to not contaminate that which can be recycled.
• #5 plastics are collected for “The High 5 Recycling Initiative” to be turned back into raw materials.
• Dry plastic bags and bubble wrap are collected at stores for Trex recycling.
• Recycle your cardboard and paper products in the blue bins. It is important that they are clean and dry. Other products can be made from this material and keep extra trees from being cut down.
• Aluminum cans are also everyday items that should be recycled in the blue bins so it can be reused.
• Recycle your electronics. 22-55 tons of electronics enter the waste stream.
• Donate your car instead of sending it to the junk yard. Many nonprofits accept car donations and they will repair or recycle the vehicle.
• Properly dispose of used motor oils and antifreeze at participating gas stations, car repair centers, and landfills. Not only does it keep motor oil out of waterways, but they actually make clean oil out of the dirty oil reducing the amount of petroleum used.
• Recycle scrap tires at a tire shop or retailer who can reuse, recycle or rethread them.
We are often asked, "What happens to the stuff you can't recycle?", so we wanted to share this example of an upcycled art project created by reusing materials that would generally end up in the landfill.
(The Great Blue Heron is to start the conversation about local shorebirds dying from plastic pollution.)