7 Ways to Go Green in Spring
Spring is officially here! There isn’t anything better than an abundance of sunshine, warm temperatures and smiling faces. This is the season to not just go green, but to $ave $ome green too!
Here are a few simple changes you can make to reduce your environmental footprint and save money this spring.
1. Declutter Your Life
Get rid of all of your things you own that you don’t want or haven’t used in a year. While “spring cleaning” is not a new phrase, it’s definitely a daunting task to clean out your closet. What do you toss? What do you donate? What can be recycled?
- Keep It. One excellent rule of thumb to remember is if you have used it in the past year, you’ll probably use it again. If you haven’t, you probably won’t. Hang on to the essentials. Also, if it’s not broken, why replace it?
- Donate It. Make a list of your belongings. It’ll show you that your tastes change. Keep unwanted items out of landfills by donating them to Goodwill or asking family and friends if they have any use for them.
- Recycle It. Paper – old mail, magazines, or books – they all can be recycled. Something to think about: A family size of four uses 1.25 tons of paper per year on average. The EPA states that if you recycle one ton of paper, it saves 3.3 cubic yards of landfill space, in addition to enough energy to power the average American home for six months.
- Trash It. Landfills are for items that have no use. When disposing of hazardous materials, be cautious, if the distribution is off, it can cause toxic components that could leach into the soil and groundwater. If something isn’t recyclable, most of the time it can be reused in some creative capacity.
2. Use Natural Cleaning Supplies
You’ve cleared off your countertops and hardwood floors, but there is dirt, grime, and grit from the winter (ick!) all over the floors. How should you clean them?
- Traditional cleaners may be more harmful than good. Many times they are responsible for 10 percent of toxic exposures reported to local poison control centers. “Natural” and “green” cleaning products are available at your local grocery store.
- You, however, can save some money and create your own cleaning product from supplies you already own.
- Spray Cleaner: Combine 2 cups of water, 1/4 cup of white vinegar, 1/4 teaspoon of tea tree oil, and 1/4 teaspoon of lavender oil. Mix ingredients together and store in a spray bottle.
- Deodorizing Cleaner: Mix 1 part vinegar and 1 part water in a spray bottle to clean countertops, floors, stovetops, and other appliances. Try scrubbing dishes, surfaces, and stains with a lemon and this mixture with baking soda for a deep clean.
**Please remember that homemade cleaners may not completely eliminate all bacteria, such as the H1N1 virus. Read the product’s label and follow instructions as noted.**
3. Go for an Energy Upgrade
For many of us, going off the grid isn’t an option (unless your tax return is huge). If you’re looking to save money on your electric bill, here three easy changes you can make:
- Replace incandescent light bulbs with efficient CFLs or LEDs. Americans spend 20 percent of their electricity budget on lighting, period. If you choose energy-efficient lighting, the average household can save over 1,000 kilowatt-hours, 1,600 pounds of carbon dioxide, and up $110 per year in electricity.
- Install a programmable thermostat that automatically adjusts your home’s temp. If the thermostat’s initial cost (approximately $115 or s0) deters you, remember it can help to reduce your energy usage by more than 15 percent during the summer and up to 25 percent in the winter.
- Shade your windows. Window treatments, like light-colored blinds and drapes, can save you up to $210 per year on heating and cooling costs.
4. Wash Your Dirty Car
According to the International Car Wash Association, automatic car washes use less than half of the water used when you wash your car at home. The average home wash uses approximately 80-140 gallons of water, while the automatic car wash is about 45 gallons. Commercial car washes often reuse water and then send it to treatment centers instead of lakes and streams.
If you’re set on washing your car with your kids at home, consider these tips:
- Park on gravel or grass, so soapy water soaks into the ground, becomes filtered, and recharges the groundwater.
- Avoid soaps with labels that say “harmful, danger or poison.”
- Turn off the hose when you’re not using the water.
5. Start Your Compost
Composting is a way to recycle certain materials and scraps from your kitchen and turn them into a soil for home gardens. The EPA estimates that each American throws away an average of approximately 1.3 pounds of food scraps daily. This makes up 24 percent of our municipal solid waste. Items like food scraps, grass clippings, plant cuttings, dry leaves, hay, straw, simple paper products, crush eggshells, coffee grounds, sawdust, and wood clippings can go into the compost. Knowing what items go into a compost is essential for a successful outcome.
6. Plant the Garden You’ve Always Wanted
There’s nothing better than fresh fruit and vegetables from a garden… this year, make it your garden! Find a spot with plenty of sunshine, enrich the soil with compost (see tip #5) and fill it with things you love. A garden puts your favorite fruit and vegetables at your fingertips and can save you time (and gas too!) going to the grocery store.
7. Get Your Fitness On
Take steps to improve your health this season by increasing physical activity! While there are many forms of exercise and gyms to join, a good place to start is something most of us already do every day… WALK! Breathe in the fresh air on a daily walk and encourage your friends or family to come along too – just remember to socially distance yourself from people outside of your household! If you’re running local errands, consider riding a bicycle because it’s great exercise and helps to reduce pollutants from car exhaust.
For more tips, stay tuned to our blog here at St. Anne’s!