Note – keep reading for an EXTREME example of what NOT to do to be environmentally friendly…
Ten Eco-Friendly/Earth-Friendly Things Everyone can do Today.
Advice from a US Green Building Council LEED Accredited Professional…
I’m surrounded by green products in my showroom and office.
But how can you show a green habit or best practice?
Well, it’s not easy, but there are some listed here… and they can save you money and time.
Use efficient lighting: Compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) use 70% less energy and last 10 times longer than standard bulbs. We use these in our showroom exclusively and save over 34 million watts per year! But your choice is not limited to CFL’s. We also use LED spots in our “green” area for even greater cost savings (with 0ver 90% energy savings) and to add to the overall lighting temperature to show how colors change under different light sources.
Adjust your thermostat: Set your programmable thermostat two degrees warmer than usual in summer and two degrees cooler in winter—then watch your energy use drop.
While you’re at it – insulate and seal your home. Windows, doors, trim… all can be sources of air infiltration that reduce the efficiency of your HVAC system. Double check your attic access if you have one, and make sure it’s insulated and weather-stripped.
Reduce phantom load: Home electronics draw 40% of the electricty they use while turned off—unplug chargers and home entertainment systems when not in use. In my home, we use power strips with on/off switches for equipment. When not watching or listening, we hit the switch and save energy. You can automate this by setting a timer to turn off the juice during times you know you won’t be using the appliance.
Conserve water in- and outdoors: Treating and pumping water takes a huge amount of electricity—saving water saves money and power too. You can also go so far as to capture rainwater from your downspouts in a drum and use that for watering flowerbeds and gardens. There are also a variety of solar-powered pumps that can be integrated as well.
Plant a tree at home: Carefully chosen and planted trees soak up CO2 and shade your home for lower summer utility bills. If you plan in advance, as the tree grows it can shade the south-facing wall of your home and reduce what is called the “heat island” effect. This effect refers to how certain building materials absorb, then radiate heat back into the atmosphere, raising temperatures in the vicinity by as much as 10 degrees.
More great tips below, but check out this video for the extreme example of what NOT to do. Of course, these three shameless examples are from commercial retailers, but the idea is universal. This mini-activism on my part came about when my son and I were visiting the local Bowie Town Center in Maryland on a very-hot day and got quite the “eco shock.”
Drive less: Walk, ride a bike, carpool, take the bus, and combine trips when possible.
Keep your car in tune: A poorly tuned engine wastes 10 to 20% of its fuel; a clogged air filter risks a 10% increase in fuel consumption; and low tire pressure means another 5% drop in efficiency.
Reduce, reuse, recycle: Create less waste by reusing or recycling items.
Buy local: Most food is shipped more than 1,500 miles to get to your plate—locally grown food saves fuel and tastes better.
Talk: Raise awareness among your friends, family, and coworkers, and tell government leaders you want meaningful climate protection planning and policies now. In that spirit, do you know what the following logo’s represent? I copied them from a green convention brochure and they show that the publishers really had the environment in mind when producing their materials.
Make “green” home-improvement choices: Earth-friendly flooring can have a major impact on your home’s carbon footprint. Find a sales person who knows the green side of the flooring business and do your research. Our blog is a great place to start and our sales staff is on the cutting edge of green flooring choices. Better yet, deal with a LEED AP and you’ll know you’re working with someone who has a breadth of knowledge far beyond your average sales person.
Check out your contractor!
Our entire facility is ZERO-Landfill (we recycle all waste or convert it to energy) and we mean “green” when it comes to business.
We use all compact flourescent lights in our showroom at a savings of over 34 MILLION watts per year.
Since you’re reading beyond the main content, I’ll throw in a few more things:
Tell the cashiers you don’t want a receipt.
Opt for no bags as often as possible instead of paper or plastic, if you don’t have a lot to carry and you can handle it.
Let your lawn grow a little bit longer and don’t try to keep up with your neighbors by watering and fertilizing… survival of the fittest, I always say!
Or, opt for a no-cut lawn by xeriscaping (no-water landscaping using stones, natural plants, etc…)