12 Days of Greening: Don't Throw That Away, Someone Could Use It!
Here's another green tip as we lead up to Earth Day on April 22.
On the eighth day of greening, Ferndale Patch gave to me ... a tip about not throwing EVERYTHING away. Some of that stuff can be donated and doesn't need to end up in the landfill!
- Freecycle, donate or sell items that you no longer use: You don't want that old container? Tired of the shabby sheets? Sick or using that dented pot? Don't trash it! The trash is the last place many of the items we no longer want or need should end up. Someone wants them or, at the very least, could use them. So, contact your favorite local charity to schedule a pick-up or have a garage sale. (In Ferndale, you have to get a permit to have a garage sale at the City Clerk's office. Click here for a fee schedule.) You could even make a buck or two if the thing you're trying to get rid of are really super hip clothes. And, if they are, you could even sell them back to places such as Mother Fletchers, Vogue Vintage or 2nd Time Around to name a few. The point is, however, that a lot of these things don't need to be thrown away. Someone could use them and that would keep them out of the landfill. Just say no… to throwing things away! (Check out today's Green Week event here.)
- Turn off the water as you brush your teeth: This is an easy one that we all should have been doing since we started brushing our teeth! But, just in case you are one of the last holdouts, please make turning off the water a habit starting today. Doing so will save hundreds of gallons of water a year depending on the flow rate of the faucet, how long you take to brush and how many times a day you brush. Saving water also means saving money. Not convinced yet? Here's another way to put it: The average bathroom faucet gives water at around two gallons per minute and social scientists measure the average tooth-brushing at 90 seconds. Even assuming a regular twice-a-day brushing, the maximum water consumption is still six gallons. You’d fill the bath after a week!
- Change to CFLs and use timers and motion sensors: An ENERGY STAR-qualified Compact Fluorescent Light Bulb (CFL) uses about 75 percent less energy than a standard incandescent bulb. Do you know what that means? We'll break it down: Less energy = lower electric bill = cleaner air and more money in you pocket! Try and argue with that. Also, when that CFL does die, a million years from now, you can recycle it at Home Depot or the Southeastern Oakland County Resource Recovery Authority (SOCRRA). Yes, we know that CFLs are more expensive but check this out: According to ENERGY STAR, a joint program that works with the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy, if every American replaced just one light with another that's earned the ENERGY STAR label, enough energy would be saved to light three million homes a year. Additionally, it would save about $600 million in energy costs and prevent nine billion pounds of greenhouse gas emissions per year – the equivalent of what about 800,000 cars produce. On a more personal scale, ENERGY STAR estimates that a CFL will save you $40 in energy costs over the life of the bulb and it will last 10 times longer than a normal light bulb. Not too shabby.
- Install low-flow showerheads and faucets: Saving water has never been easier! You can pick up a low-flow showerhead or faucet and you're ready to go. Make sure that your showerhead is 2.5 gallons per minute or lower. For the kitchen faucet, look for 2.2 gallons per minute or lower. And the bathroom faucet, you'll want to look for a 1.5 gallons per minute or lower faucet. For maximum water efficiency, switch all your faucets to flow rates of no more than 1.0 gallon per minute, and look for a 1.5 gallons per minute showerhead with a shut-off valve to save even more water. But, perhaps you don't have the time to make it to the store. If you don’t have a low-flow toilet, place a glass jar (ex. pickle jar) filled with water in your toilet tank to reduce the amount of water used per flush. Put a bucket in the shower while you’re waiting for the water to warm up, and use the water you catch for watering plants or cleaning. And remember to fix those leaky faucets; you may think a constant drip is just annoying, but it’s also a huge waste of water (you can lose about 20 gallons of water per day from a single drippy faucet!). Finally, only run the dishwasher when it’s completely full – not only does that make sense, but it's a water saver as well.
- Buy foods locally and organic when possibly: There are so many wonderful places to purchase local foods, many of which are organic, like the local farmers markets or neighborhood markets. It would be great to have a regular farmers market in Ferndale, but in the meantime there's always Royal Oak's or Eastern Market in Detroit. However, what about looking in your own back yard? You really can't get more local than that. Plus, starting a vegetable garden is not only a great way to keep it local but a wonderful adventure... and, we might add, a way to save on your own personal food costs. So, saving money and the Earth, all in one small package of cucumber seeds.
- Take your own bags to ALL stores: By now, most of us have heard all of the horror stories about single-use plastic bags and hopefully you have started to use multi-use bags at the grocery store. But, if you haven't, here's a quick overview: Many plastic bags are made of polyethylene, which is a petroleum product. Over Four trillion plastic bags are manufactured each year, with the USA using over 380 billion. Unfortunately, we also throw away over 100 billion of those bags and due to their durability, plastic bags can take up to 1,000 years to decompose, they slowly decompose. Plastic bags break into tiny pieces and leech toxic chemicals into soils, lakes, rivers, and oceans. Furthermore, improperly discarded plastic bags also are a threat to wildlife. For example, approximately 1 billion seabirds and mammals die each year by ingesting plastic bags. So, now is the perfect opportunity to take the next step and use your multi-use bags at the drug store, for carry-out food pick ups and just about any other store in town. And, beside, multi-use bags are way more stylish that those boring ol' plastic ones. So, if saving the Earth isn't your thing, how about switching over to multi-use bags to just look cool?
- Go to the Ferndale Public Library for books, magazines, DVD's and music: Make the Ferndale Public Library your first stop when it comes to reading, listening or viewing material. Not only is the library a very "green" building, but borrowing from the library instead of buying is a great way to save trees, lower toxins in the environment, reduce landfill waste and save money! Oh, and it's worth mention again: The library is very green (and recently re-reopened after a massive flood this winter). So, get in there and utilize it -- all the while you're helping the environment.
- Ride a bike to the office or corner store: Like they say, you never forget how to ride a bike! So leave the car parked at home for at least one day a week and hop on you bicycle and explore the community. You'll quickly wonder why you ever stopped riding! If you're unsure of the best route to get to the office on your bike – because, after all, the bike can go places the car can't – go to Google maps and choose "bike." It will map the best route for you and your two-wheeled beast. You can also check out www.bikely.com. There you'll find routes others have made for the area or you can even plot your own! Please remember to follow the rules of the road and always wear a helmet while you are out there saving gas money and the planet ... oh, and you're also getting a little exercise, too.
For more information on water conservation, check out the green week Green Tuesday, April 19, at the Ferndale Public Library. The topic is water conservation and Mr. Rain Barrel will be on hand to answer question and demonstrate rain barrels.
What are the 12 Days of Greening? Glad you asked. For 12 days, leading up to Earth Day on April 22, Ferndale Patch and Douglas Christie, chair of the Ferndale Environmental Sustainability Committee as well as Ferndale Patch's green columnist, will provide you with tips. Each new day, a new tip, until we have 12 on April 22. That's it. Pretty simple. Now go get green!