Plumbing and Mechanical

After Earth Day: Eco-FriendlyTips For Home & Work

April 23, 2009
Some easy ways to save energy and water in our day-to-day lives.

OK. You’ve planted a tree with your kids or grandkids, lugged your recyclables out to the curb (or to the recycling center), and fixed all the leaks in your home (and maybe your customers’ homes, too). Now what?

Searching the Internet for Earth Day topics, I came across this site called Earth Day Network. One of the blog topics was “Top 10 Ways to Go Green Without Changing Your Life”:

1. Use mugs, not plastic or “foam” cups. Ditch those nasty polystyrene cups at work, and bring in your own mugs instead. The MCA of Chicago does that at its new training center - mugs with the MCA of Chicago logo are available for coffee and teas, and soft drinks are provided in aluminum cans.

Also keep a supply of plates and cutlery on hand to use instead of plastic ones. Or recycle whatever plastic you can in your area.

2. Drink tap water, not bottled water. I’ve written about this subject in the magazine a few times. In most areas of the country, tap water is safe and tastes good. If taste or health is an issue, there are a myriad of whole-house and point-of-use water purification systems on the market.

If you need something portable, buy an aluminum or Nalgene plastic refillable bottle. Better yet, buy some with your logo and give them to your customers and employees. Several drinking fountain manufacturers are now adding bottle fillers to their drinking fountains to make it easier to refill water bottles.

3. Decide what you want before you open the fridge. Didn’t our parents tell us that when we were kids? When you open the refrigerator door, up to 30 per cent of the cooled air escapes. Turning the lights out when you leave a room is another one I leaned as a kid, as well as closing the door all the way when you came into the house - “Were you born in a barn?”

4. Recycle your cell phone. When you have finished with your cell phone, find a way to recycle it. Many charities take them or look online to find companies willing to take your phone and maybe even pay you for it. You can also recycle old computers/monitors/keyboards and other electronic equipment. Even CDs and the plastic cases - I know I get a lot of press releases and photos on CD these days.

You can also recycle your eyeglasses when you get new ones. I know the Lions Club takes eyeglass donations - they refurbish them for use in developing countries.

5. When your light bulbs need changing, use energy-saving bulbs. And energy-saving light bulb uses 20 percent of the electricity of a normal one and lasts up to 12 times longer.

6. Always cover your pans with lids when cooking. Keeping the lid on saves energy, allowing you to turn the gas or electric burner down. It can also speed up cooking time when you are waiting for something to boil.

7. Turn off the oven 10 minutes before the end of the required cooking time. Because ovens are so well-insulated, they will retain enough heat to finish the cooking.

8. Defrost food before cooking. Cooking food from frozen can use twice the electricity than cooking defrosted food.

9. Buy recycled toilet paper. It is often cheaper than the main brands. Plus, it’s thinner than the thicker-ply toilet paper most Americans use, which means it’s less likely to clog.

10. Don’t run water when brushing teeth or washing hands.You can save water by turning the tap off while brushing your teeth and only using what is necessary.

The same goes for washing hands or dishes. In fact, there is some research that indicates cleaning dishes in a dishwasher uses 37 percent less water than washing by hand. Make sure you buy one with an EnergyStar rating.

The EPA has additional suggestions for saving energy and water at home, at work and in the classroom.

Do you have an energy-saving or water-saving tip that you use at your home or company?