Thursday, April 22, 2010

Five Ways to Decrease Your Energy Use While You Sleep

save energy while you sleep
This is part five of a five part series on Earth Day, conservation, and being green. With these small steps, we can all save money while making big changes to our environment.

Back in the day, sleeping didn't cost a dime. There was no such thing as a refrigerator, computers weren't invented, and cellphones didn't need charging. Today, even while we sleep, appliances run, air conditioners hum, and clocks stay lit up all night, all the while racking up our bills. Now if we could only find a way to get paid to sleep so we can pay for all of this!

Our energy bills aren't going anywhere, but there some things you can do to decrease your energy use while you sleep. Before you go to bed tonight, give one of these a try. Then, every night you can try to tackle another one before bed:

  1. Plug your computer into a power strip with an on/off switch. Buy one with power surge protection to protect your computer during thunderstorms and electrical surges for even better use of the power strip. Computers that are left plugged in without a power strip can suck up tons of energy (and that story about how computers use less energy by staying on than turning them on and off is a myth).
  2. Turn down the fridge temperature. Fruit and vegetables will keep longer at slightly higher temperatures than freezing, and you'll save on your energy bill.
  3. Put more frozen stuff in your freezer. This will keep your freezer colder longer, and will prevent the frost mechanism from kicking on more often.
  4. Unplug toasters, panini presses, coffee makers, or anything else that isn't programmed or doesn't need to be used. All things that are plugged in can use energy while you sleep!
  5. Use a ceiling fan to move warm and cool air around your home. This will circulate the air that you pay for, and keep the thermostat from kicking on more often.

I hope you enjoyed this five part series on Earth Day and found it informative! Thanks for reading.

P.S.: The author of this page likes to blog on this site, and also sells a line of eco friendly products like reusable dryer sheets, paperless towels, soap nuts, organic facial care items, and organic household cleaners.

Get Kids Involved: Earth Day Activities for Kids

earth day apple
This is part four of a five part series on Earth Day. These small tidbits of information are meant to help you make tiny, unnoticeable changes that amount to something bigger down the road.

It's a whole lot easier to educate a child than it is to educate an adult. Kids today have a better perspective on the environment than anyone else. For example, let's say you had to choose between your 89 year old Grandmother and your 8 year old daughter to educate on Earth Day. Who would you want to teach? Kids are more impressionable, open to new ideas, and eager to learn (sorry Grandma!), and they're going to absorb more of the things you teach them. What you tell them about the environment could amount to a whole lot of changes to the Earth tomorrow.

Here are some activities for kids this Earth Day:

Here are a few more activities to try with your kids that are timeless (and they'll remember them forever):

  • Plant a tree, but not just any tree. Let your kids pick the tree, and help research which trees will grow best in your yard. Maybe the best tree to grow might be a cherry tree, a flowering dogwood, or a shady pine?
  • Reuse things from your cellar. Have a bunch of stuff that's ready to make it's way to the dump? Kids can get creative and find ways to repurpose some of the things in your basement into entirely new things. Try using objects as organizational containers, or even sell off some of your old stuff on Ebay and share the cash with your kids (if they agree to help!).
  • Melt down crayon ends and make something cool out of them. This project is a lot of fun, and a great way to reuse something that would otherwise be tossed away.

Keep reading this blog for the rest of the Earth Day series!

How to Have a Slower, Greener Lunch

This is part three of a five part series about Earth Day, and how you can implement small changes to make a difference everyday.

Lunch is quick. If you're like most Americans, you grab something fast. Take-out from a sub shop, fast food from a hamburger joint, or maybe a salad in a plastic container from cafe. When food is quick, unfortunately it never tastes as good. Is there a way that you can make your lunch last longer, and be more enjoyable? The answer is to get the word "fast" out of your lunch. Being concerned less with the quantity and more with the quality will leave your more satisfied and healthy. Another nice side benefit is that the environment will reap the benefits, too.

Slowing down your lunch is going to take a little bit of extra planning, a change in your current habits. Here are some of the ingredients you'll need for a slower lunch:

* Someone to talk to
* Reusable containers (no disposables allowed)
* Something that involves little packaging

So how will you make time for your new, slower lunch?

  1. Switch your lunch hour to a time when there are less lines at restaurants. Bump it up 15 minutes, or change it to one hour later. By changing the time, you'll avoid the lines at most restaurants and be able to enjoy your lunch more (and think more about what you're eating).
  2. Eat lighter instead of heavy. Lighter foods are easier to eat, so you'll be able to eat them slower, and you won't feel bogged down after you eat it.
  3. Know the busy lunch days for restaurants around your workplace, and skip eating out on those days. Opt for eating in on those days instead.

How eating slower will help the environment:

  1. Eating slower means you'll eat less. By eating less, you'll be consuming less packaging, less disposable utensils, less napkins, and less money.
  2. Slower eating means you'll be able to tell when you're full. This means you'll be losing pounds, and losing weight can help the environment.
  3. You'll be able to think about what you're eating, and that way, you can improve your diet by eating more veggies and fruits.

Keep reading this blog for more Earth Day tips and updates all day long!

How to Lessen Your Environmental Impact During Your Commute

This is part two of a five part series on Earth Day, and lightening your environmental impact.

Maybe for some of us, our morning commute consists of walking downstairs to get some coffee, but not for most people. 70% of America has to leave for work or school, and nearly everyone has to leave the house at some point or another. In other words, it's inevitable that you will have some sort of commute, sooner or later. Here's a few things that you can do to lessen your environmental impact during your commute:

  1. If you drive by car: make sure your tires are properly inflated, make sure the oil is changed, and fully maintain your car. The better your car runs, the less it emits into the environment and the better mileage it gets (not to mention it save you money, too, and it's safer).
  2. If you take the train: Ride your bike to the train, or hitch a ride with someone else who takes the train.
  3. If you have the option to let your kids take the bus, let them take it. It's far less impact on the environment to let them take the bus vs. you picking them up.
  4. If you walk, keep walking! This is great exercise.

5 Things to Do This Morning for Earth Day

Be greener and have a lighter carbon footprint from the moment you get out of bed

This is part one of a 5 part series on Earth Day. Why not make a few small changes in your life, beginning with Earth Day?

From the moment you wake up, we start consuming things. We breathe, we brush our teeth, run the water, take a shower, cook our breakfast, throw away things, and drive to work. What if we just took one or two of those things and started to change them in such a small way that it didn't even affect our lives in the least? That's called being realistic, and that's what will work if you're going to be making some changes in your life. Here are ten things you can do this morning, starting from the moment you wake up, to be a little greener and less wasteful:

  1. Eat stuff with no packaging. Go ahead, eat a raw fruit, a bakery item that you purchased without the bag, or something you baked yourself. The real point is, the less packaging, the better it is for the environment... but it's also better for you! When you bake your own items, you'll be in control of the calories and ingredients, and when you eat fresh fruits, you'll be eating something low calorie, nutritious, and pretty tasty.
  2. While you're at it, bring stuff to work for lunch that doesn't have much packaging, or simply bring your own lunch. By bringing your own lunch, you'll be saving yourself some cash, but also be throwing away far less plastic, paper, and foil than if you visited your local fast food restaurant, sub shop, or favorite take out restaurant.
  3. Turn the water off while you shave and brush your teeth. That's pretty easy.
  4. Take a shorter shower. Don't worry about cutting your shower time in half or even shaving off a few minutes, just worry about reducing it even by a minute. If that's far too hard for you, order a low flow shower head when you get home from work (this will pay itself off in just a few months anyway).
  5. Ask another Mom to drive the kids, and take a walk. Carpooling will help save gas, and give you time to do your own thing. A brief walk will burn calories, and keep you out of the doctor's office (not to mention you won't have to buy the next size up clothing!).

Keep reading this blog all day to keep up to date with more tips in this series for Earth Day.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Why You Should Start Eating More Fruits and Vegetables

The benefits are numerous, but do you really have time to squish in all of those fruits and vegetables into your diet? In a world of processed food, fast food, and hard to pronounce fillers that are taking the place of real food, the real question is, can you afford to not eat more fruits and vegetables? It doesn't take a vegetarian to know that eating plants is good for you, and you don't have to be a vegetarian or vegan to have some of those same benefits. Simply by incorporating more fruits and vegetables into your diet, you'll be doing a few of the following:

  • Losing weight (it's impossible to gain weight on fruits and vegetables alone)
  • Gaining control of your finances (you'll be grocery shopping more, eating less expensive meat, and maybe even skipping fast food more often)
  • Best of all, you'll feel better.

Not fully convinced yet? Read the new lens featuring 30 reasons to eat more veggies, and see if a few of them convince you that you should up your veggie intake. What could you lose? Only pounds, inches, and maybe some debt.