Environmentally Friendly Green Tips
"Going green" is not only good for the environment but it can also be good for your wallet. By making simple, inexpensive changes you can save money at the gas pump and on your electric bill.
The more we use computers and printers, the more paper and energy we consume. How many times each day do you print an e-mail to read later offline or to keep a paper copy "just in case?"
Most people assume global warming is caused by burning oil and gas. In fact, between 25 and 30 percent of the greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere each year -- 1.6 billion tons -- are caused by deforestation.
Following are other tips to help you be more environmentally friendly:
- Green jobs
- Union-made hybrids
- How to save gas
- Home improvements
- 10 things you should never buy again
Good jobs and a clean environment are important to American workers - we cannot have one without the other. Combating climate change can create huge economic opportunities along with environmental solutions - especially today, with recession dragging down working families' prospects and putting millions at risk.
We need to end American dependence on foreign oil and create an economy based on clean energy, green buildings and green manufacturing that by creating a new generation of high-paying green jobs.
Union members have long built cars, vans and trucks at the forefront of advanced technology. With gas prices soaring, how about considering a union-made gas-saving hybrid?
Hybrid electric cars and trucks combine the internal combustion engine of a conventional vehicle with the battery and electric motor of an electric vehicle. The combination offers low emissions for a greener environment with the power, range, and convenient fueling of conventional (gasoline and diesel) vehicles. Plus, hybrids don't need to be plugged in.
Union-made hybrid vehicles currently eligible for Alternative Energy Vehicles Tax Credits worth up to $3,000 include the Chevrolet Silverado, GMC Sierra, Mercury Mariner and Ford Escape.
Gas has never been so expensive. The price at the pump is creating a terrible burden for millions of working families.
Passenger cars are responsible for 30 to 50% of greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution, 33% of toxic water pollution, and over 45% of toxic air emissions. But there are some basic driving and maintenance habits that you can adjust, such as making sure that you have clean oil and properly inflated tires which can increase fuel mileage up to 15%.
What's the #1 way to use less gas? It's simple: Drive more slowly. Every mile your drive over the speed limit can cut your fuel economy by up to 33%. For most cars, a highway speed between 55-60 mph is the most fuel-efficient rate of travel. And if you keep your speed under 35 mph when driving around town, you'll save a bundle. And it's safer, too.
*Tip: Save on gas, take public transit! You will not only save on gas, but you will also help provide jobs for union transit and construction workers that can't be outsourced.
About 35% of all electricity produced is used to run homes. The EPA estimates that each homeowner could reduce home electricity use by 30% by just using energy more wisely and purchasing energy efficient products, such as unplugging seldom-used appliances and electronics, which could save you $10 on your monthly electric bill.
10 things you didn't know you can recycle
- Appliances: Goodwill accepts working appliances and some stores will recycle your old appliance when you purchase a new one. Or contact the Steel Recycling Institute to recycle them.
- Athletic shoes: One World Running will send still-wearable shoes to athletes in need in Africa, Latin America and Haiti
- Batteries: Contact www.batteryrecycling.com
- Clothes: Wearable clothes can go to your local Goodwill outlet or shelter. Donate wearable women's business clothing to the nonprofit Dress for Success, which gives them to low-income women as they search for jobs. Offer unwearable clothing to local animal boarding and shelter facilities, which often use them as pet bedding.
- Compact fluorescent bulbs (CFL): Take them to your local IKEA store for recycling.
- Computers and electronics: Find the most responsible recyclers.
- Foam packing peanuts: Your local pack-and-ship store will likely accept these for reuse. Or call the Plastic Loose Fill Producers Council to find a drop-off site: 800-828-2214. For places to drop off foam blocks for recycling, contact the Alliance of Foam Packaging Recyclers or call 410-451-8340
- Ink/toner cartridges: www.recycleplace.com
- Oil: Find used motor oil hotlines for each state.
- Phones: Collective Good will refurbish your phone and sell it ot someone in developing countries. Call to protect repgorams cell phones to dial 911 and vies them to domestic violence victims.
Print less with GreenPrint
When you add the gas and oil we use by running computers to read e-mail -- and to check it constantly on our BlackBerry devices -- you can see that e-mail isn't all that environmentally benign.
When you print e-mail and Web pages, there's usually one useless sheet at the end, the one with the unsubscribe message, your e-mail provider's logo, legal disclaimers, etc.
You can eliminate printing unnecessary pages by installing GreenPrint. The software previews the document and highlights potentially unnecessary pages for removal. If you agree a page isn't needed, it won't be printed. It works with Word or any other program. And GreenPrint provides reports on how much ink, paper, and money you save.
Unplug your BlackBerry
Checking e-mail from a BlackBerry seems environmentally neutral, as no paper's involved. But did you know chargers for BlackBerry, cell phone, and handheld games can consume 10% of the electricity in your house?
Support the Polar Bear S.O.S. campaign for the Natural Resources Defense Council. The idea is stickers to put on your chargers with the words, "Unplug for Polar Bears." You can order these free stickers online.
Most important to buy organic to avoid pesticide residue:
- Bell peppers
- Imported grapes
- Styrofoam cups - It's not biodegradable.
- Paper towels - wastes forest resources, landfill space, and your money.
- Bleached coffee filters - Dioxins, chemicals formed during the chlorine bleaching process, contaminate groundwater and air and are linked to cancer in humans and animals.
- Teak and mahogany - Every year, 27 million acres of tropical rainforest (an area the size of Ohio) are destroyed. Rainforests cover 6% of Earth's surface and are home to over half of the world's wild plant, animal, and insect species. The Amazon rainforest produces 40 percent of the world's oxygen.
- Chemical pesticides and herbicides - American households use 80 million pounds of pesticides each year. The EPA found at least one pesticide in almost every water and fish sample from streams and in more than one-half of shallow wells sampled in agricultural and urban areas. These chemicals pose threats to animals and people, especially children.
- Conventional household cleaners - Household products can contain hazardous ingredients such as organic solvents and petroleum-based chemicals that can release volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into your indoor environment, positing a particular danger for children. The average American household has three to ten of hazardous matter in the home.
- Toys made with PVC plastic - 70% of PVC is used in construction, but it is also found in everyday plastics, including some children's toys. Vinyl chloride, the chemical used to make PVC, is a known human carcinogen. Also, additives, such as lead and cadmium, are sometimes added to PVC to keep it from breaking down; these additives can be particularly dangerous in children's toys. PVC is also the least recycled plastic.
- Plastic forks and spoons - Disposable plastic utensils are not biodegradeable and not recyclable in most areas.
- Farm-raised salmon - Several studies, including one performed by researchers at Indiana University, have found that PCB's and other environmental toxins are present at higher levels in farm raised salmon than wild salmon.
- Rayon - Developed and manufactured by DuPont as the world's first synthetic fiber, it is made by from liquefied wood pulp. Unfortunately, turning wood into rayon is wasteful and dirty, because lots of water and chemicals are needed to extract usable fibers from trees. Only about a third of the pulp obtained from a tree will end up in finished rayon thread. The resulting fabrics usually require dry cleaning, which is an environmental concern as well as an added expense and inconvenience.
Much of the our rayon sold comes from developing countries, such as Indonesia, where environmental and labor laws are weak and poorly enforced. There is mounting evidence that rayon clothing manufacturing contributes to significant forest destruction and pollution in other countries.