Nov 13, 2010

What Do You Think? Newsweek's Lazy Person’s Guide to Being Ecofriendly

Think they are on the money? Could they have chosen better? What would be on your list?

Think you don’t have time to be green? Here are seven small things you can do that have a big impact.

by Ian Yarett, November 08, 2010

excerpts -
The recent election probably quashed the chances for far-reaching climate or clean-energy legislation at the federal level, and with the Republican takeover of the House, even the EPA’s ability to regulate greenhouse-gas emissions may be in jeopardy. In other words, the pressure is on for states, localities, and individuals to do their part to lighten America’s footprint. Now, nobody expects the average person to save the planet. First, it takes time. Second, a lot of us often tell ourselves “someone else will do it.” But even if both are true, there are things individuals can do without breaking a sweat. So if you happen to be on the fence about whether you can easily be a greener guy or gal, we’d like to respond with a resounding “yes you can.” Here are seven ways to get started.

Turn the Knob - Plain and simple, laundry day is a heat sucker. It turns out that 90 percentof the energy used to wash clothes goes to heating the water. -Wash your clothes in cold water. Reduce that nasty carbon footprint. Save more than $100 a year.

Feast on This - Buy Local Produce for fresher and, consequently, higher in nutrients. Reduce needless greenhouse-gas emissions from transport.

Stay Eco-Clean -Typical soaps—including hand soap, dishwashing detergent, and laundry detergent—are petroleum based, and usually contain unhealthy chemicals that can potentially harm people and the environment. But alternatives abound and make more of a difference than you might think. In fact, if every household in the U.S. replaced just one bottle of petroleum-based laundry detergent with an equivalent plant-derived product, 466,000 barrels of oil could be saved.

Be Fish-Friendly - If you’re a new or aspiring saltwater aquarist, consider the ecological impact of your next fish purchase. Ornamental fish are often captured from reefs using cyanide, which is dumped into the water to stun the fish and make them float to the surface for easy collection. The fish that survive are sold to aquarium suppliers, but the majority don’t make it. The cyanide also damages coral (which is already threatened worldwide by the impacts of climate change) and the marine life that depend on reefs for survival.

Get Printer-Smart -“Think before you print,” and if you print, print double-sided. Most office printers can do this automatically, and it’s easy to make this your computer’s—or printer’s—default setting. Americans use 50 million tons of paper each year, which takes more than 850 million trees to produce.

Slow Down - More important than what you drive is how you drive it. By driving aggressively (speeding, rapid acceleration, and frequent braking) on the highway, you could be lowering your gas mileage by as much as 33 percent—and by 5 percent if you’re driving around town.

Bank on This - Do you really need a paper copy of every deposit slip, withdrawal slip, and statement from your bank? If you have a computer with an Internet connection, the answer is no. Taking your banking online also makes keeping records easier and cuts down on your footprint.

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