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Green Tips

Small changes can add up to big climate results

A cleaner way to clean

Washing machine full of clothes

Did you know?

Eighty percent of dry cleaners in the US use perchloroethylene, a solvent that has been linked to cancer, nervous system damage and hormonal disruption. Seek out a non-toxic professional dry cleaning alternative or "green cleaner" in your area.

If your washing machine has a setting for the amount of clothing you're washing, choose a low setting—you'll use less water and your clothes will get just as clean. Using cold water can save up to 80% of the energy required to wash clothes.

Use less hot water. Washing your clothes in cold or warm instead of hot water can save as much as 500 pounds of carbon dioxide per year.

The average washing machine uses about 41 gallons of water per load, whereas newer, high-efficiency models use less than 28 gallons of water per load.

   

A bright idea

CFL bulb

Did you know?

Only 10% of the energy used by an incandescent bulb produces light; the rest is given off as heat. Compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs) are up to four times as efficient as incandescent bulbs.

Replacing one incandescent lightbulb with a compact fluorescent light can save 150 pounds of carbon dioxide per year. CFLs produce the same amount of light, use one-third of the electricity and last up to 10 times as long.

Artificial lighting accounts for 44% of electricity use in office buildings. Make it a habit to turn off the lights when you're leaving any room for 15 minutes or more and utilize natural light when you can.

    

A home run

Leaky faucet

Did you know?

A leaky faucet that fills a coffee cup in 10 minutes will waste an estimated 3,000 gallons of water per year.

Improperly sealed or caulked windows can account for up to 25% of total heat loss from a house.

Choose low-toxic paints that are low in volatile organic compounds or VOCs, which can irritate the lungs and cause allergic reactions. Zero-VOC paints also are available.

If using solid wood for a project, select products with the Forest Stewardship Council label, certifying the wood was responsibly grown and harvested. Or find salvaged wood products at local used-building materials retailers.

   

Waste not

Polystyrene cup floating in water

Did you know?

Polystyrene ("Styrofoam") is difficult to recycle, both because recycling facilities aren't commonplace and you can't make it into new high-quality polystyrene.

Recycling 1 ton of paper saves 7,000 gallons of water, three cubic yards of landfill space and 4,100 kilowatt-hours of electricity.

Reuse containers and reduce waste. The average child's school lunch generates 67 pounds of packaging waste over a year.

Batteries can cause serious harm to human health and the environment when disposed of with municipal solid waste. Many companies and retailers will take your old batteries and properly dispose of them or have them recycled.

Did you know?

Twenty-six recycled PET plastic bottles equals a polyester suit. Five recycled PET bottles make enough fiberfill to stuff a ski jacket.

According to US EPA, about 40% of heavy metals including lead, mercury, and cadmium in landfills come from electronic equipment and discards.

The US uses 100 billion plastic bags annually, consuming about 12 million barrels of oil. Less than 1% of plastic bags are ever recycled. Reusable bags can help reduce the number of plastic bags you use.

About a third of all the food that’s produced globally is never eaten. With some planning and small steps in preparation, storage, and freezing, you can make great strides to decrease waste in your kitchen at home and save money too.

Twenty percent of what goes into landfills is food, according to the EPA. If you’ve got some small outdoor space, consider starting a compost bin, or see if there are community options nearby to drop off your inedible scraps or peelings.

   

Now you're cooking!

Stack of dishes

Did you know?

Generating enough electricity to cook for an hour in a standard electric oven creates 2.7 pounds of CO2. A toaster oven creates 1.3 pounds over 50 minutes; a microwave creates 0.5 pounds over 15 minutes.

Use a microwave to save energy. Microwave ovens use around 50% less energy than conventional ovens do.

Did you know?

The average dishwasher in US homes today uses 8.7 gallons of water per load. Washing by hand for 10 minutes with water running can use 20 gallons.

Today's dishwashers are about 95% more energy-efficient than those bought in 1972—your old dishwasher may be costing you more in energy bills than it would take to buy a new one.

   

Down the drain

Water flowing from a shower head

Did you know?

If your toilet is from 1992 or earlier, you probably have an inefficient model that uses between 3.5 to 7 gallons per flush. Newer, high-efficiency toilets use less than 1.3 gallons per flush.

Older showerheads can use 3 gallons per minute or more. New, efficient models use 2 gallons per minute or less. A family of four using low-flow showerheads instead of full-flow models can save about 20,000 gallons of water per year.

Letting your faucet run for five minutes uses about as much energy as a 60-watt lightbulb consumes in 14 hours.

A full bathtub requires about 70 gallons of water, while taking a 5-minute shower uses only 10 to 25 gallons.

   

See the forest for the trees

Tree Kangaroo

Did you know?

The average US citizen uses 50 pounds of tissue paper per year. Try to buy the highest content of post-consumer recycled content, looking for either 100% recycled or FSC certified tissue or toilet paper.

Consider switching to e-billing. In the US, paper products make up the largest percentage of municipal solid waste, and hard copy bills alone generate almost 2 million tons of CO2.

Plant a tree. An average tree can absorb 1 ton of carbon dioxide over its lifetime.

The average US office worker goes through 10,000 sheets of copy paper per year. Print on both sides and in draft mode whenever feasible.

   

Easy money

Bottled water pouring into glass

Did you know?

US consumers spend up to 10,000 times more per gallon for bottled water than for tap water.

Refrigerators account for one-sixth of a home's energy use. Opening the door accounts for between $30 and $60 of a typical family's electricity bill each year. Select energy-efficient models when buying replacements.

Many idle electronics—TVs, DVD players, stereos, microwaves—use energy even when switched off to keep display clocks lit and remote controls working. Switch off power strips and unplug electrical devices when you're not using them.