The Tipping List
The Lazy Environmentalist
10 tips for helping the environment without even trying
By: Janet Parkinson
We know. You’re concerned about the environment, but you’re not about to install a wind turbine in your backyard or use a composting toilet. You might even drive – gasp! – an SUV. That’s okay. These tips are easy and will still make a difference.
1. Use your dishwasher. Believe it or not, running a dishwasher for a full load uses less water than washing dishes by hand with the water running. And with most dishwashers today, you don’t even need to rinse the plates before you load them.
2. Turn ’em off at night. Computers, cell-phone chargers, gaming consoles – they all continue to suck up power while you sleep. Turning them off takes only seconds, and you’ll even notice the difference on your electric bill.
3. Cup bugs; don’t kill them. Got a bee in the house? Instead of unloading a stream of toxic insecticide, try this easy trick. Put a clear glass over the critter when it’s on a flat surface, such as a window. Next, slide a sheet of paper under the glass. Then just hold the glass out the window or back door and let the bug fly free.
4. Try organic produce – but only when it really counts. Studies show that pesticides in tubers and root veggies, like potatoes and carrots, are in the body of the veggie itself, so washing or peeling doesn’t get rid of them. Changing to widely available organic root vegetables won’t put much of a dent in your wallet, and your family and the earth will be ingesting fewer pesticides.
5. Check your tire pressure. Your car manual (or the manufacturer’s website) will list the proper inflation. Whether you drive a hybrid or a Humvee, your gas mileage will improve when your tires are properly inflated. And better mileage will conserve natural resources and your hard-earned cash.
6. Knot your plastic bags. Sure, in the ideal world, you bring your own organic-cotton carrier bags when you shop, and you always recycle your plastic bags at the supermarket. But sometimes real life doesn’t work out quite like that. So before you toss a bag in the trash, take two seconds to tie a knot in the middle. Why? The knot weighs the bag down, so it’s less likely to pollute trees and waterways.
7. Run full laundry loads. A small load uses more than half the water of a large load, so doing one full load is more efficient than doing a couple of smaller ones. And try switching from hot to cold or warm water for most loads – 90 percent of the energy used by a washing machine comes from just heating the water!
8. Go vintage. If it’s good enough for Julia Roberts and Angelina Jolie, it’s good enough for you. The next time you need a party dress, hit your local vintage shop instead of the mall. You can find some real treasures and save yourself some real cash.
9. Boil only as much water as you need. Just making a cup or two of tea or cocoa? Don’t fill the kettle all the way. Heating up an overfilled kettle takes more time and uses more power. Try an electric kettle instead – it brings water to a boil faster than your stove, and most have a fill line so you can easily see how much water you’re putting in.
10. Turn off the tap when you brush your teeth. Keeping the faucet running can waste four gallons of water each time. Multiply that by twice a day and four people, and that’s 32 gallons of wasted water every day! Put a sticky note on the bathroom mirrors to remind everyone, and it’ll become second nature in no time.