It’s easy being green: how to be more environmentally friendly

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REDUCE > REUSE > RECYCLE

Everyone seems to have tips on how to be environmentally friendly which makes appearing green a lot easier than it may feel at times! There are hundreds of pages on the internet with tips on being more environmentally friendly but the aim of this blog is to provide the most comprehensive and practical list that anyone can pick up and use. This week Happiness Weekly finds the easiest tips to help you become green – get environmentally friendly and be conscious of climate change. The best thing about these tips? You’ll notice that not only are you able to easily be good to the environment but will save money doing it!

TIPS FOR HOME
Don’t rinse the dishes:
If using a dishwasher, you can save water, time and energy but avoiding a rinse with hot water before it goes in.
Don’t open the oven: When checking on your food, look through the oven door, don’t open the oven until you’re ready to take your food out.
Drying clothes: Use a clotheshorse or clothesline where ever possible to dry your clothes. Your wardrobe will hold its colour better, you will save money on bills and of course it’s better on our environment.
Temperature control: Avoid heating or cooling your home where possible, but also be conscious of washing your clothes in cold or warm water, rather than hot. Only do laundry when you have a full load.
Napkin no-no: Think twice about whether you need a napkin at fast-food places. Say no to paper napkins and invest in some cloth napkins instead.
Thoughtfully gift wrap: Reuse wrapping paper, bows and gift bags or wrap items in old maps, cloth or newspaper. Be creative: turn a paper shopping bag inside out and create your own colourful gift wrapping that’s sentimental and environmentally friendly.
Drink tap water: Avoid buying bottled water – nearly 90% of plastic water bottles are not recycled and take thousands of years to decompose. Buy a re-useable drink bottle.
Bathe sensibly: Take short showers – the shorter the shower, the more water saved. You could also install a flow-reducing shower head which saves you water and energy. Having a bath could be saved for special occasions (once a month or less). A bath uses almost twice as much water as showers and adds to the heating costs. Dual flush toilets will also help conserve water.
Brush your teeth mindfully: Turn off the tap as you brush your teeth to conserve water.
Reduce letters: De-clutter your mailbox with a no junk mail sign, when communicating with others use email rather than traditional letters.
Don’t use phonebooks: Use the yellow and white pages online – or simply Google what you are looking for. Don’t forget to recycle any old volumes you have lying around!
Respect unwanted items: Before throwing something out, give it away, donate it to charity, sell it on eBay or plan to host a garage sale. Alternatively, if you’re looking to buy something check online – eBay has most things or Craigslist or Gumtree for furniture or try thrift stores etc.
Turn it off: Once you have finished using an appliance, turn it off at the power point. This will save in unnecessary electricity costs. Turn the lights off when you’re not in the room and participate in Earth Hour each year – Saturday, 23 March 2013. Try to avoid using lighting for as long as you can each day, open the blinds and use natural lighting.
Grow it yourself: Plant your own vegetable garden and fruit trees, or if you’re in a unit start your own herb garden. Use herbicides and pesticides sparingly – if you must use them, use pyrethrum and those made of natural ingredients so birds, frogs and reptiles don’t get sick or die if they feed off your plants. Plant trees or grass to reduce areas of exposed soil and stop soil and fertilisers from being washed into the waterways, you could also plant native trees and shrubs along riverbanks to protect water quality and improve wildlife habitat.
Start a compost bin: Disposing of garden waste carefully is important because weeds, prunings and grass clippings can introduce or spread weeds. Starting your own compost bin for these waste products as well as food scraps and shredded newspaper is highly recommended. Not sure how? Bunnings, or your local gardening shop, may have some ideas for how to get stated if you’re not sure. The alternative may be to start a worm farm.
Clean green: Use eco-friendly cleaners or create your own – there are plenty of tips and recipes on the internet!
Cancel mailing lists: Remove yourself from mailing lists you don’t use and encourage anywhere that sends pamphlets to email you the same information.
Read about it: Put environmentally focussed magazines on the coffee table and read inspiring books such as “We are the weather makers” by Tim Flannery.
Use the microwave: Learn to cook quickly – using the microwave uses two-thirds less energy than your stove.

TIPS FOR WORK
Turn off the computer at night: By turning off your computer instead of leaving it in sleep mode, you can save 40 watt-hours per day. That adds up to 4 cents a day or $14 per year. Avoid using a screensaver, it uses unnecessary energy.
Paper saver: Use both sides of a piece of paper before you throw away. Use scrap paper and set printing options to default print to double-sided or duplex printing. Take old documents to a recycle bin or shred the paper and take it to the local pet store to use. While you’re at it – recycle any old newspapers in the office too!
Reuse what you can: Reuse old envelopes and packaging when sending out items.
Don’t print it out: Unless you really have to print – try to avoid it as it uses ink (reduce waste of the plastic ink container), paper (save trees!) and power (conserve energy).
Separate the trash: Keep two bins under your desk – one for recyclables and one for waste.
Invoice via email: Suggest that your accounts department invoices via email. This will not only save on postage costs but also paper and ink!
Recycle and reuse printer products: Cartridges and toners can be reused and refilled – just Google to find a local place that does it. Alternatively, if it’s at the end of its life, take it to your local the post office to recycle it (they also accept Christmas Cards and old mobile phones).
Go paperless: Encourage working in a paperless environment.  Use flash drives, external hard drives and CDs to store data rather than printing out the information and filing it.
Work from home: If possible, work from home when you can to reduce carbon emissions and try to take public transport rather than driving to the office.
Talk about it: Include an environmental topic at staff meetings. This raises awareness and creates a forum where staff can bounce ideas off each other.
Donate to charity: Set up a workplace giving system to donate to organisations serious about conservation (WWF Australia, Kimberley Wildlife Rescue, Planet Ark)

GENERAL TIPS
Eat less meat: Cut back the amount of meat you consume by substituting one meal a day for a vegetarian option or having a meat-free day once a week. Livestock production accounts for about 18% of all human-caused greenhouse gas emissions and about 23% of all global water used in agriculture.
Encourage local produce: Eat locally produced meat, fruit and vegetables to encourage and promote a sustainable economy. Visit your local farmers market on weekends for the freshest local produce.
End the diaper dilemma: There’s a lot of choice for diapers on the market. Choose environmentally-friendly disposable nappies or cloth diapers for infants. Also, during your menstrual cycle, you could consider wearing a Diva Cup.
Plant a tree: It’s good for the air and land, will save on cooling costs (if it’s at your house) and provides you with shade.
Maintain your vehicle: It’ll extend the life of it, creates less pollution and saves gas. Clean air filters and inflated tires can greatly improve your vehicles performance.
Use matches over lighters: It may seem small, but think of the plastic and fuel associated with lighters.
Avoid plastic bags: Use fabric bags to carry your groceries. Plastic bags are not biodegradable and are making our way into our oceans. Use re-useable bags where ever you can.
Travel with e-tickets: Most airlines, cruise companies and other travel companies provide e-tickets which are cheaper and easier to process than paper tickets. Tourism is moving towards paper-free processing for all customers.
Download your software: Avoid asking for a compact disc or buying from shops that produce these – think of all the packaging wasted as well as the disc once you’ve used it! If you download it, you may also get free upgrades later on!
Go online: Receive and pay bills online, check bank statements and details online and save receipts online (rather than printing them out) – this will save in paper.
Lighten up: Change the lights in your house to install compact fluorescent light bulbs.
Limit dry cleaning: Cut down on the amount of money spent to keep your clothes looking great and also on the toxic chemicals used in cleaning them. Wear clothes made of natural fibres such as cotton or hemp.
Buy in bulk: Purchasing food in bulk will not only save money but also packaging.
Fresh air is best: In summer, try to open a window in the office or home instead of using air conditioning if you can. In winter you can reduce heating by rugging up a little bit more.
Read the best material: You could subscribe to some eco-focused blogs such as Keeper of the Home.
Be mindful when camping: Make sure all fires are out before leaving and cigarettes are properly extinguished – and don’t forget to take your rubbish out with you!
Reuse plastic utensils: Wash and reuse plastic utensils and containers. They’re great for picnics and camping! The containers can be used to preserve your pre-prepared food in the fridge.
Upgrade your PC yourself: Upgrade your computer by inserting a new memory card, rather than purchasing a new one.
Use rechargeable batteries: Invest in rechargeable batteries and a charger, rather than using disposable batteries.

RECYCLE TIPS
– Recycle unwanted wire hangers. Most dry cleaners will accept them back
– Cut up old towels and shirts for rags and use them to clean up in the kitchen instead of paper towels
– Watch what you buy – choose products made from recycled materials and select reusable products rather than disposable. Choose energy efficient appliances when buying anything new, check out the energy rating
– Instead of timber floorboards, get bamboo. It’s environmentally friendly due to its high yield and it takes just four to six years to mature compared to 50-100 years for hardwood
– Join a community that supports cleaning up. If you’re in Australia, The Two Hands Project is fantastic! You could also look at regeneration groups such as Greening Australia, Landcare, The Australian Trust for Conservation Volunteers, and the Threatened Species Network
– Create a habitat for native animals, plant local species in your garden and add logs and rocks
– Leave dead wood in the bush. Buy your firewood (particularly plantation timber) from a timber yard
– De-sex your cat, keep it inside and put a bell on its collar – native animals do most of their feeding at night and can easily become extra food for pets
– Use an alternative to cars and driving where you can. Walk, cycle, take public transport where you can, or organise to carpool with someone
– Don’t put oils, fats or harmful chemicals down the sink – they will eventually end up in the rivers, lakes or oceans and harm our water quality and wildlife. Use a strainer in the sink to collect solids from washing up
– Take your car to a professional car wash – they use a lot less water, or if you must wash it at home, wash it on the grass to stop detergent from going into the water ways
– Know what you can and can’t recycle. This is important, not a lot of people actually know. They just think because it’s cardboard it can’t be recycled – but did you know because of the grease, you can’t recycle pizza boxes? Each city has its own specifics and guidelines, try to follow these.

THE FAST FACTS
– Recycled glass reduces related air pollution by 20% and related water pollution by 50%
– Twenty recycled aluminium cans can be made with the energy it takes to manufacture one brand new one
– Australia is the second highest producer of waste per capita after the USA, sending 18 million tonnes to landfill per annum
– Recycling items like newspapers, aluminium cans and milk cartons at home has become second nature over the past few decades. According to Australian Packaging Covenant data, included in the report, the recycling rate for packaging has soared from 39.2% in 2003, to 63.1% in 2011. However, Australian households and businesses are still sending almost 22 million tonnes of waste to landfill each year.  That’s the equivalent weight of 416 Sydney Harbour Bridges being buried.  The reality is that much of that material is recyclable
– 544,000 trees are saved if every household in the United States replaces their paper hand towels with 100% recycled ones
– Each year we throw away 20 million tons of electronic waste. One ton of scrap from discarded computers contains more goal than can be produced from 17 tons of gold ore
– Recycling one ton of cardboard saves nine cubic yards of landfill space
– The global recycling industry employs over 1.5 million people and is valued at $160 billion.

HELPFUL RESOURCES
Everyday tips to help protect the environment.
– Calculate your Carbon Footprint on Earth Day Ecological Footprint Quiz
– Find the right drop-off locations in your area for recycling goods or call 1300 733 712.
Second Nature: Recycling in Australia report

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Happiness Weekly encourages readers to proactively work towards a successful, happy and secure existence. Just like happiness – Happiness Weekly is for everyone.

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