How about saving the planet and its animals, all at once?
Many people give up the consumption of animal products for numerous reasons, which may include personal health and well-being, ethical beliefs, food expense reduction, and more. Thinking today about the reasons why I choose to follow a vegan lifestyle lead me to considering the environmental impact of the lifestyle. For those of you who are opposed to giving up your cheeseburgers regardless of the information presented, this will at the least provide you with some food for thought (a small side order for your burger).
In the past, the United Nations issued a report, somewhat like a call-to-action, for the world to reduce its consumption of animal products (both meat and dairy). As quoted in the U.K. Guardian, the UN feels that a "global shift towards a vegan diet is vital to save the world from hunger, fuel poverty and the worst impacts of climate change." Clearly, this is a pretty serious issue.
Is bottled water any better than the water flowing from your tap at home? Most people assume if you’re paying money for something in a plastic bottle then it’s of superior quality compared to something that’s piped into your home for a lot less money. This isn’t always true. Many times the bottle being labeled as “spring” water is really just filtered or unfiltered tap water. According to the NRDC there isn’t much of a difference in quality either. Our conclusion is that there is no assurance that just because water comes out of a bottle it is any cleaner or safer than water from the tap.... read more
Over the past few years, I've seen many local dry cleaners claim to be eco-friendly. I rarely have to use dry cleaners, but I've gotten curious over whether or not such a thing exists.
As of 2007, 85% of all dry cleaners in the US used perchloroethylene (perc) as a solvent when dry cleaning. Perc is a synthetic, volatile organic compound (VOC) that is both a health risk to humans and it's dangers to the environment. Even minor exposure to it can cause dizziness, headaches, drowsiness, nausea, skin and respiratory irritation. What's worse is that prolonged exposure has been linked to liver damage, kidney damage, and cancer. Perchloroethylene was identified as a "probable" human carcinogen by California’s Proposition 65 in 1986.
Even dry cleaning methods that claim to be green, are often not. Ask them what their methods are before dropping your clothes off. Some use hydrocarbon, which is petroleum based. Some use liquid CO2, but that will sometimes require a Solvair machine. The Carbon Dioxide Dry Cleaner Alliance does not allow dry cleaners using Solvair to become members. Solvair replaces perc with glycol ether as a solvent, and according to the EPA, glycol is a suspected toxin and hormone disrupter. ... read more
Shut off your monitors and put computer into standby or hibernate mode when you know you're going to be gone for more than a few minutes.
Turn your computer off every night. I used to hear that shutting your computer down regularly wasted more energy than turning it off and on, but I've since learned that it saves energy to shut it down.
Set printers, copiers, etc. to go on sleep mode after even a brief period of inactivity.
Buy printer paper made of recycled paper and urge employees to print on both sides. And don't print things too frequently, unless it's very necessary.
I generally only blow dry my hair in the winter (I live in the Northeast, and in the summertime blow drying my frizz in the humidity is totally useless!) and blow drying my hair is something that I had never really thought much about in terms of energy consumption. Until recently, that is.
When it comes to going green, I try to ask myself if things that I do or use are necessary. For instance...paper napkins, paper towels? Unnecessary. It suddenly dawned on me that blow drying my hair is really an unnecessary use of energy. My hair will dry on its own. ... read more
If you have not done so, now is a great time to turn off the pilot light on your furnace or fireplace. It is easy to do, and will save you money (like $30 or more according to some sources.) ... read more
You live an eco-friendly life. You compost, you garden, you dry your clothes on a clothesline, you use cloth napkins and cloth diapers...but, have you considered moving into a “green” home? And if you have, how do you even begin to find such a thing?
First off, find a a green real estate agent. They do exist! Ecobroker has a database of green real estate agents who are educated and certified in the area of green real estate. Ecobroker's site also a search function where you can find green properties in your area. You can check off green features in your search, such as just looking for properties with energy-efficient appliances, green building materials like bamboo or cork floors, and more.
Another resource is Listed Green. They list green, energy efficient LEED homes.
If you want to do the research on your own, think about what types of green features you want your home to have. Energy efficient home design? Solar panels? Built using recycled materials? Keep yourself up-to-date on green home terminology. EcoHearth has a great glossary to help you out.
When house hunting, also consider size. Look for a house with only the space you need. Does a family of four need a McMansion with 6 giant bedrooms, a family room and a living room, a dining room and an eat-in kitchen? Probably not. All of those rooms that you rarely need just use more energy.... read more