Tips for Living a Greener Life
By Kathy Anzelmo, Instructor of Biological Sciences
When I discuss with my students the various environmental problems that we face, many of them are discouraged and want to know what they, as individuals, can do to help the planet. Here is a list of suggestions. Every action, no matter how small, helps to raise awareness and consciousness about these issues and shifts global energy towards healing of the planet. The Earth needs our help.
• Stop junk mail. Have your name removed by contacting Direct Marketing Association at www.dmaconsumers.org
• If the junk mail has a Business Reply return envelope, insert the mail back into it and write “Please remove from mailing list” by your personal info. It works as they have to pay the postage for you to send it back.
• Use unbleached paper products. The process of bleaching paper creates dioxin, a toxin which ends up in waterways.
• Use cloth rags and towels instead of paper towels whenever possible.
• Use reusable plates, cups, and cutlery over paper products. Although they are biodegradable and better than plastic, paper products do use harsh chemicals during production.
• Letting the water run constantly for the following activities wastes water: Teeth brushing—9 gallons, Shaving—14 gallons, Washing dishes—25 gallons.
• Low flow shower heads and double flush toilets save 50 percent of water used.
• Do full loads for clothes washing. Top loading washers use 30 – 60 gallons each cycle.
• Drip irrigation hoses for plants have the least loss of water evaporation.
• Turn your water heater thermostat down to 120° – 130°. Water heaters account for about 20 percent of all the energy we use in our homes. Insulate tanks.
• Turn off the gas pilot lights for your furnaces in warm weather.
• Clean your refrigerator coils at least twice a year.
• Hang your clothes on a clothes line instead of using a dryer.
• Keep your thermostat at 78° in the summer and 68° in the winter.
• Compact, fluorescent lights save electricity. The new LED light bulbs are even better.
• When building a new house, use products that are sustainable and green.
• Standby power for electronics is “phantom” electricity used in the home. By using a surge protector, one click can turn off all electronics at once.
• Ditch the McMansion. Smaller homes use less energy.
• When picking up a few things at the market, ask for “No Bag.” Carry them out with the receipt in your hand. Or, bring a canvas bag for shopping.
• Decrease your bottled water use. Go to www.storyofbottledwater.org for more info.
• Use tap water or PUR/Brita pitchers instead. Pour into reusable beverage containers.
• Use reusable containers for food storage instead of plastic bags, plastic wrap, or aluminum foil.
• Snip six-pack rings and tie up plastic mesh bags to protect wildlife.
• Use cloth diapers or a diaper service for your children.
• Balloon releases can wind up in waterways and be mistaken for food by animals.
• Compost grass clippings, household fruit, and vegetable scraps. It serves as a natural fertilizer and moisture retentive mulch.
• Prevent pests naturally. Many pesticides end up in waterways.
• Plant trees as “carbon dioxide sinks” for carbon sequestration.
• Plant a deciduous tree on the south side of your house for shade in the summer.
• Xeriscape—plant native species that are suited for local rainfall amounts.
• Buy cars with high miles per gallon ratings. Small cars with manual transmissions get the best mileage.
• Keep cars tuned up and change the air filters regularly.
• Keep tires inflated at the correct pressure for the best MPG.
• Make sure the place where you get your car oil changed recycles the oil.
• Plant a vegetable garden.
• Organically grown food is better for you and the environment.
• Eat low on the food chain. Start with a vegetarian meal once a week.
• Be a locavore. Supporting local farmers uses fewer “petroleum miles” for delivery of products.
• Louisiana farmers markets can be located at www.LDAF.la.gov. Click on “Louisiana Grown.”
• Recycle old paint or let it evaporate outdoors in its can before disposal.
• Buy second-hand clothes.
• Recycle as many commodities as are possible in your community.
• Loyola’s recycling program takes junk mail, manila folders, office paper, newspaper, magazines, phone books, paper bags, aluminum cans, tin cans, and plastic. Corrugated cardboard boxes can also be taken if they are flattened first. They can be brought to our blue recycling dumpster by the rear of the Danna Student Center on West Road.
• PRECYCLE—buy products with thought as to where they will end up in the waste stream.
• Making the correct buying choices can prevent excessive and unsound materials from getting in to the waste stream in the first place. Go to www.thestoryofstuff.org for more info.
• Use rechargeable batteries. Regular batteries contain mercury and cadmium, which are heavy metals and sources of contamination at waste dumps.
• Consume less, share more, and live simply, so that others, including all of God’s creatures, may simply live.
View the complete spring 2012 issue of LOYNO.