Living Green

Every day that you use water and energy you are creating waste. That means, every day you are impacting on the environment.

The following tips will help you to make choices with the good of the environment in mind.


Water

  • Fix any leaky faucets, toilets or water pipes - small drips add up.
  • Wash your car the natural way (when it rains) or at a facility that recycles water.
  • Install water saving devices for your taps and showers.
  • Install a dual flush toilet.
  • A faucet aerator will reduce the flow without reducing the water pressure.
  • Don't leave the tap running while brushing your teeth or shaving.
  • A shower (about 10 minutes) uses 2/3 the amount of water as a bath.
  • Avoid corrosive drain cleaners and opt for alternatives.
  • Most commercial tile cleaners contain chlorine, one of the most dangerous chemicals found in municipal sewers, use alternatives.
  • Most dry cleaning solvents also contain chlorine - try to buy clothes that you can wash rather than dry clean.
  • Only do full loads of laundry, use as little water as possible.
  • An efficient washing machines save some 1500 liters of water per year!

Fuel

  • Avoid using cars - walk, cycle or use public transportation whenever possible. Buses and rail systems are three times more fuel-efficient than private cars.
  • Urban rail systems are the most efficient - and they will be even cleaner in future when they are running on clean energy.
  • Buy local products.  It will save fuel because products haven't traveled across the globe to get to you.
  • Shrink your car! The most important question when you buy your next car is: "What's its fuel consumption?" 
  • Fly only when you really have to! Air traffic is top of the league of climate-killers.


Toxins

  • Use non-toxic cleaning alternatives in your home.
  • Furnish your home with furniture made out of natural fibers, wood, metal and glass.
  • Avoid the use of polyvinyl chloride (also known as PVC or vinyl) in your home. The entire life-cycle of products made from PVC pollutes the environment and your home.
  • Avoid the use of aerosols.
  • Choose water based latex paints over solvent based paints when painting your home. Never use lead-based paints.


Waste

  • Do not throw out your toxic household wastes, such as paint, paint thinner and car fluids, in the garbage or down the drain. Check with your local facilities for proper disposal.
  • Take your own bags to the grocery store. If you take plastic bags, use them until they are worn out.
  • Compost your food waste and use as nutrient rich soil for your lawn.
  • Avoid excess packaging.
  • Always use reusable mugs, lunch containers, batteries, pens, razors, etc.
  • Use handkerchiefs instead of disposable tissues and help save trees.
  • Use recycled non-chlorine bleached paper when you do have to use paper.

Electricity
Efficient Heating

  • In moderate and cold climate zones, space heating takes up at least half of the overall energy use.
  • Proper insulation and ventilation is the first and most important energy saving measure.
  • Remarkably, a properly insulated house, which only needs a third of the heat to keep you warm, will not be more expensive to build.
  • In hot regions, energy use for active cooling (air conditioning) can be minimized or even avoided.
  • Fix air leakage with weather-stripping and caulking.
  • Insulate your electric hot water heater and pipes.
  • Using electric hot water heaters for space heating is extremely inefficient, using gas to heat the water almost halves electricity consumption.
  • Conserve electricity by turning down the heat while you are away from your home - or install a programmable thermostat.
  • Energy saving shower heads can save up to 20 percent of hot water usage - and cut your electricity bills.
  • Keep your water heater down to 130° F (54° C), this is hot enough to kill bacteria and still save energy.
  • Avoid anything battery operated or use rechargeable or solar rechargeable if batteries are unavoidable.

Efficient Lighting

  • Replace incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescents (CFLs).
  • The compact fluorescent will be more expensive to buy, but you will need to replace it 8 times less often and it will use less electricity.
  • Fluorescent tubes are even more efficient than compact fluorescent lamps, and last even longer (10,000-20,000h).
  • Avoid halogen floor lamps, which typically have a power of 300W or more and produce lots of heat.
  • Also pay attention to the light fixtures, clever use of reflectors, and directional lamps to get the light where you need it can save you another 50 percent energy cost and improve your comfort!
  • CFLs at the end of their operating life should be disposed of properly so the mercury inside can be recycled. 
  • As a general rule, always turn off the lights when you leave the room or the house.

Efficient Appliances

  • Using only highly efficient and money saving appliances can reduce the electricity consumption of an average household to as low as 1,300 kWh/y, without any loss of comfort.
  • Refrigerator
  • Your refrigerator uses more energy than any other appliance in your home, but there are a few things you can do to keep energy consumption to a minimum:
  • The fridge should be kept at 38-42°F (3-5°C), the freezer at 0-5°F (-17 to -15°C).
  • Try to open the fridge door less frequently and for a shorter duration to conserve energy.
  • Don't place your fridge in a warm spot - near a heater or in direct sunlight.
  • For efficient operation clean the condenser coils on the back or bottom of your fridge at least once a year.
  • Keep the door gasket clean to make sure the seal isn't broken.
  • Buy a high efficiency refrigerator that consumes around 100 kWh/y.

Freezers

  • For most home consumers it is better to buy a two door refrigerator/freezer combination with separate compartments, than a separate refrigerator and freezer.
  • Chest type models are more efficient than uprights.
  • Larger freezers do need more electricity, so don't buy a freezer that is larger than you need.
  • The most efficient models on the market will only use 180 kWh for a 300 liter chest.


Cooking

  • Check and compare energy ratings before buying large appliances.
  • Use electric kettles to boil water which consume half the energy needed to boil water on the stove.
  • Cook food in glass dishes, they heat up quicker than metal pans.
  • The bottom of your pan or pot should be the same size as the burner to use the minimum amount of energy.
  • Pressure cookers use very little energy.
  • Don't waste energy preheating your oven, most ovens don't need it.
  • You can also turn your oven off 15 minutes early for major items like roasts and casseroles - the heat left in the oven will finish the job.
  • Turn down the heat after water boils - lightly boiling water is the same temperature as a roaring boil.
  • Water will boil more quickly if there is a lid on the pan.
  • Cooking frozen foods uses more energy - thaw them out first.

Washing Machines

  • Buy a high-efficiency model with a power consumption of less than 0.9 kWh/washing cycle.
  • Look for the energy star, the energy star means a product meets strict energy efficiency guidelines set by the US Environmental Protection Agency and the US Department of Energy.
  • If you have a gas fired water heater consider buying a 'hot fill' washing machine.
  • Up to 90 percent of the energy used for washing clothes goes to heating the water.
  • A warm wash and cold rinse will work just as well as a hot water wash and a warm rinse on nearly all clothes.


Clothes dryers

Traditional clothes dryers are very energy intensive. So-called 'condensation' models – without an exhaust tube – use even more energy.

  • Consider drying the natural way (i.e. on a clothes line in/outdoors) if practical, this will save you 3-4 kWh/washing cycle.
  • If line drying is not an option, first make sure that your washing machine can spin at 1600 or even 1800 rpm. This will almost halve the energy needed for drying. Drying through spinning is 20 times less energy intensive than with heat.
  • There are two clothes-drying technologies that use far less energy: the gas-fired clothes dryer and the dryer with an electric heat pump. The gas-fired dryer is the best alternative, especially for more intensive use: it uses 60 percent less energy (including the gas) and dries 40 percent faster.
  •  If gas is not available, consider a dryer with a heat pump. A heat pump dryer will use half the electricity of a traditional dryer. However, heat pumps can be rather expensive.
  • Clean your dryer's lint trap after every load to keep the air circulating efficiently.

Travel

  • The International Ecotourism Society (TIES) is a great resource for those interested in green travel.
  • It defines ecotourism as "responsible travel to natural areas which conserves the environment and improves the welfare of the local people." 
  • You may want to use the guidelines published by The International Ecotourism Society to determine whether your upcoming vacation is green or not.

Here are the principles TIES uses for ecotourism:

  • minimize impact.
  • build environmental and cultural awareness and respect.
  • provide positive experiences for both visitors and hosts.
  • provide direct financial benefits for conservation.
  • provide financial benefits and empowerment for local people.
  • raise sensitivity to host countries' political, environmental and social climate


In Your Office

Protecting the environment has to be part of your everyday life outside your home as well. When you are at work you could cut down the use of electricity and paper products.

Paper

Our ancient forests are being stripped away for many disposable paper products you can find at home and at work, such as toilet paper, phone books, newsprint and writing paper.

Here are a few things you can do to save paper and trees:

  • Photocopy or print on both sides of the page.
  • Reduce your number of copies.
  • Buy recycled, chlorine-free paper and recycle office paper when you are finished with it.
  • Reuse envelopes.
  • Use a plain paper fax machine so you can reuse and recycle the paper.
  • Read news online and reduce paper used for newspaper.

 

Supplies

  • Implement purchasing policies that consider the environment.
  • Use paper clips, staples or non-toxic glue instead of adhesive tape.
  • Use stick-type glues or basic white glue.
  • Avoid solvent based markers.
  • Use correction tape that covers errors or lifts them off without the use of solvents.
  • Use refillable pens and pencils rather than disposable ones.


Computers and IT

  • Buy a laptop instead of a desktop it consumes five times less electricity.
  • Enable the power management function on your computer, the screensaver does not save energy.
  • Use one strip for your computer, modem, printer, monitor, and speakers and switch it all off when not working on it.
  • Minimise printing.

Other Tips

  • Take your own ceramic cup to work and avoid paper cups.
  • Bring your lunch in a reusable container.
  • Help educate your coworkers about the environment.
  • Set up a recycling program.
  • Encourage your company pension plan not to invest in companies that harm the environment.
  • Make sure the office lights are turned off when the last person leaves.

In Your Yard

  • Every bit of greenery helps to reduce CO2 and prevents soil erosion.
  • Plant flowers, trees, bushes, ground cover and vegetables instead of grass.
  • A lawn also uses more water, and mowing contributes to global warming.
  • Avoid the use of fertilizers and toxic chemicals on your lawn.
  • In a drought or winter don't waste water on a lawn beginning to turn brown, it will revive after normal rainfall resumes.
  • If you must water do it in the morning or at night to prevent evaporation.
  • Plant native plants in your garden - they need a lot less water.
  • Catch rainwater to use in your garden and indoor plants.
  • Compost, made from rotted organic material, is the best all round soil conditioner.
  • A worm farm is also a useful way to get rid of organic waste and is great in the garden.

Food Choices

Did you know that you can help protect the environment by simply making some changes to your diet? You can lower your impact on the planet by cutting down on animal products. Not everyone realizes the impact that raising animals for food has on the environment. In the United States, more than one third of all fossil fuel and raw material consumption is used to raise livestock.

Meat

  • It can take up to 15 times more water to produce animal protein than plant protein.
  • Animals contribute significantly to global warming by producing more than 100 million tons of methane annually.
  • Livestock operations generate roughly 130 times more animal waste than the human population of the United States, which makes its way into the environment without going through the sewage treatment systems.
  • This untreated waste pollutes our waterways more than all other industrial sources combined.
  • It takes up to 10 pounds of grain to produce just one pound of meat.
  • More than 260 million acres of US forests have been cleared to grow grain for livestock.
  • In the Amazon, more than 2.9 million acres of rainforest were destroyed in the 2004-2005 growing season to raise crops that were used to feed animals in factory farms.
  • Due to the land required to raise animals animal farming is the leading threat to endangered species.
  • According to the Worldwatch Institute, the meat industry is directly responsible for 85 percent of all soil erosion.

So whether you decide to go vegetarian or simply cut down on the amount of animal products you consume, eating more plant-based foods is a powerful action you can take to help protect the environment.  Eating less meat can also provide significant health benefits to you and your family.  A more balanced diet can result in better health and protect against diseases such as cancer and heart disease.  Meat free Mondays is a good way to start and next time you go food shopping, think about the planet and buy green!

Seafood

  • Our oceans are in crisis, factory fishing ships are using state-of-the-art technology to target one species of fish at a time.
  • When the population collapses they turn to another species for profit.
  • Avoid any seafood that is on the endangered list.
  • Many of our oceans' creatures are in serious danger from the world's most destructive fishing practice - bottom trawling.
  • Add a heaping plate of mercury contaminated fish to that mix, and you have reason to take a second look at what is on your plate from the ocean.
  • Given the crisis facing our oceans from pollution, global warming and over fishing, we must consider eating less fish.
  • If you do eat seafood ask questions; find out where it came from, how it was caught, and what else may have been killed in the process.
  • For more information on the best choices of seafood visit the Southern African Sustainable Seafood Initiative website: www.wwfsassi.co.za

These are some of the things we can do to help save the planet and the sooner each of us take responsibility the better. Bottleworx is another innovative project that can make a huge difference not only to the environment but also to humanity.

So please join us and make a difference

Eco-Partners