Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Entrepreneur Names 10 Greenest Cities

The January 2009 edition of Entrepreneur magazine lists 10 of the greenest cities in the U.S. They are (in no particular order):
  • Seattle
  • Portland, Oregon
  • San Francisco
  • Los Angeles
  • Austin
  • Philadelphia
  • New York City
  • Boston
  • Chicago
  • Minneapolis

The article explains each one in detail on page 18. It's very interesting.

Do you live in a green city? If so, where is it and what makes it green?

How to Recycle Old Clothing

Have you run out of room in your closet? There are several ways to recycle your old clothing:

  • If the clothing is in good condition and you think others would be interested in buying it, consider posting it on eBay. Consignment stores also will help you sell your old clothes for a fee.
  • If it is in good condition but you don't want to sell it, consider donating it to Goodwill or some other charity.
  • Some recycling centers accept clothing. Call ahead to make sure your local one does.
  • If the clothing is tattered, cut it up and use it as rags. The rags make greener replacements for paper towels since they can be reused.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Upgrade Your CRT Monitor To An LCD

Here's a way you can save energy with style.

Flat-screen LCD monitors only consume about 20% as much energy as a CRT monitor of the same screen size. They also give a better picture. Think about upgrading your monitor to save energy and be sure to recycle your old CRT monitor.

Make Saving Money, Energy, and Getting Fit Your Green New Year's Resolution

Here's a New Year's Resolution that combines many resolutions into one:

Start walking, biking, or taking public transit to work. This will save you money on gas, burn extra calories, and decrease or eliminate emissions, therefore greening your travel.

**Image courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons user Nick_Douglas

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Energy Saving Tips That Will Save You Money This Winter

Many households are facing rising energy costs this winter. Here are some green tips on how to save energy and money this winter:

  1. Make sure nothing is blocking airflow around vents. This includes furniture, drapes, and anything else.
  2. Seal cracks around windows with caulk or buy window seal kits. These will reduce drafts.
  3. Open drapes on the south side of your home to take advantage of natural heat from the sunlight. Keep all others closed to help prevent drafts and add another layer between your room and the outdoors.
  4. Buy an insulation kit for your water heater. These will pay for themselves in energy savings.
  5. Purchase a programmable thermostat if you don’t already have one. Set the heat down during the day when you are at work and at night when you are asleep. If you are not able to get a programmable thermostat then just manually turn down the heat at these times.
  6. Fill unused outlets with outlet covers. Many unused outlets, especially ones on the exterior walls, will let drafts in. This will keep cool air out of your room and warm air in your room. It will also make your house safer for little children!
  7. Replace furnace filters regularly
  8. Set your water heater to 120 degrees. Most have a default setting of 150 degrees.
  9. Call someone to come check the insulation in your attic. If it is not sufficient, have some added. This is where most of your heat is lost.
  10. Cuddle up, cover up. People are a good source of heat. Each person in your home is equivalent to the heat put out by a small space heater. Also, remember that it is winter and tank tops and shorts are not meant for this season!

Many of these tips are simply to use and you will thank yourself, (and maybe me!), when you get your next heating bill!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Throw A Green New Year's Eve Party

New Year’s Eve is right around the corner. Here are some ideas for throwing a greener party:

  • Use e-vites instead of paper invitation cards. There are many sites that offer free online invitations.
  • Use live flowers as decorations instead of buying cut flowers
  • Get out your silverware instead of plastic knives, forks, and spoons. This goes for plates. Cloth napkins will work just as well as paper napkins.
  • Buy food and beverages from local vendors. You can even buy locally brewed beer. Most foods at grocery stores travel thousands of miles on trucks before it reaches the store. It’s better for our environment to buy local and it will help your local economy.
  • Put out multi-colored glasses and cups for your guests to use. This will give them a better chance of keeping track of their beverages and reduce waste.
  • Make sure to put out recycle bins in a place accessible to your guests. This will make your cleanup job easier.
  • Use green cleaning products to clean up after the party. Watch GreenerWays for future posts on green cleaning products.

Have a blast! Party hard and be safe!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

How To Recycle Pencil Shavings

I've been asked several times in the last week if I know of any way to recycle pencil shavings. I know of two options:

  1. Compost: wood pencil shavings are okay to compost
  2. Kindling: wood pencil shavings make decent fire-starters

It seems like a tiny thing, but think of how much they all add up to. Nothing decomposes quickly in an oxygen-less landfill.

Paper or Plastic? NEITHER! Use Reusable Grocery Bags!

The question of paper or plastic is one that is heard at grocery stores across the nation. When asking yourself which one is the green choice, the answer is that neither are very green. Both paper and plastic bags have a hard time decomposing in an oxygenless landfill. Recycling both is an option, but there is an even greener way.

There are many places that you can get reusable grocery bags. One is Reusablebags.com . Also, many grocers sell cloth bags at a low price. Some even give you a credit of a nickel per bag since you are saving them money on bags too.

Recycle Your Christmas Tree - Green Tree Disposal

Is there a greener way to get rid of your Christmas tree than throwing it in a dumpster? Of course!

Many cities send trucks out to pick up Christmas trees over the couple weeks after Christmas. Most local papers list the schedule. Call your local recycling center if you can't find one. Also, a great site to visit is Earth 911, where they will help you locate a tree recycling center nearby.

Christmas trees make great mulch with a refreshing scent. Many trees end up as mulch on trails at local parks.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Bottle Deposits: Benefitting Our Environment, Homeless People, and Recycling Businesses

As a resident of a state that charges a five-cent bottle deposit on carbonated beverages, bottle deposits don't' seem unusual to me. However, there are only 11 states with bottle deposit laws, so it is definitely not the norm across the nation.

Most states that have bottle deposit laws in action charge an extra nickel deposit on each can or bottle of carbonated beverages. This nickel is redeemed when a consumer returns the can to the store or a recycling center. The traditional way was in flat cardboard containers. Now most places will let you bring in a whole bag and they weigh it, figuring out how many bottles/cans that weight contains, and then they pay you back your deposit.

States with bottle deposit laws are: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, Oregon, and Vermont. Oregon was the first state to adopt the law in 1971.

States with bottle deposit laws see an extra 20% recycle rate of bottles and cans. In addition to recycling, the laws have added bonuses to our states. In some states I visit it is commonplace for homeless people to sit around with cups asking for change. This is rare in a state with bottle deposits. It is common for the dumpster behind my apartment to be visited about five times a day by homeless people looking for bottles. A couple that I spoke with told me that they bring in about $50-60 each day from bottle deposits. One said he used to stand at intersections asking for change but now makes about double since he started recycling cans. His plan is to stay at a local shelter and save up money he makes on cans, and get some clothes he can use to get a job.

Michigan is the only state with a dime deposit and they see a 97% recycle rate on bottles from carbonated beverages. The same state only sees about 20% of bottled water bottles being recycled.

So bottle deposits are a great thing for our states. Why aren't more states adopting similar laws? I've hear that grocers and beverage companies are the main opponents of these laws. Why?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Why Tap Water Is My Drink of Choice

When thinking of a topic for the first post I began asking myself, "What is something that applies to everywhere, like in the home, at work, or at school?". A pet peeve of mine that I see everywhere is bottled water-drinkers who send a plastic bottle into our landfill for 8 oz of water that they could have drank for free in the drinking fountain ten feet away. Here is why you are insane if you regularly drink bottled water.

There are several reasons why bottled water is just plain stupid. The first one is obvious; the huge amount of plastic used for a small serving of water. Oil is needed to make the plastic as well as the fuel to transport it from the bottler to the store or consumer. In addition to the gas being used, the trucks emit pollution into our air. Tap water systems bring water into buildings on demand and do it without the harmful environmental damge that bottled water companies do.

The second reason is money. Buying bottled water can be almost 3,000 times more expensive than tap water. Bottled water is usually just tap water put into bottles, you are not getting any cleaner water in a bottle of bottled water just because they put a photo of a water spring or waterfall on the label. When buying bottled water you are paying for the bottle and the brand name, not safer water. In fact, some bottled water samples contain more harmful substances that tap water. Tap water is tested hundreds of times a week, whereas bottled water companies face little-to-no quality standards and the standards that exist don't have anyone enforcing them. The places with "strict" standards require one test per week, while other places don't require a private business to test their water.

Bottled water companies distribute their water all over. The local water supplies in places where bottled water companies are located are seeing a very unfair amount of water being taken. Why not use water from our own water supply instead of depleting another region's supply? Also by using our own water supply the money we spend on water will stay local. There is no reason to send our money to other regions for something we have access to already.

Finally I would like to say that if we did away with bottled water we would not go thirsty and there are still options to hydrate on the go. There are many products on the market that are reusable portable drink containers like canteens and mugs. For consumers who still irrationally believe that tap water is bad, buy a filter for your faucet or for a pitcher.

Everyone stands to benefit from decreasing the amount of bottled water we consume. It would be better for our environment, our pockets, our local economies, and other area's water supplies.
**image courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons

What is Greener Ways?

Greener Ways is a blog dedicated to making people aware of how changing our lives to protect the environment can improve the quality of our life. As well as the satisfaction of saving our planet you can also benefit financially by living a greener life. This blog will give tips for living a greener life and also post developments in green news. Thank you for reading and showing an interest in preserving our home!