Tuesday, January 23, 2007

100 Ways To Go Green

Going green will be good for the earth, good for your budget, good for your health
and a great gift for John’s 70th Birthday!


  1. Drive less. Walk, ride you bike, take public transport or carpool. Approximately 50% of car use is for trips within 3 miles (5 km) of home. Resolve to not drive within this 5km radius of your home. You'll be saving fuel and reducing pollution, and you can also save on trips to the gym with this added exercise. Parking the car for 60 days this year = CO2 savings of 917 pounds.
  2. Do not idle your car for more than 10 seconds (unless it’s 40 below, in which case, just hope it starts!) Idling for longer than 10 seconds uses more fuel than restarting your vehicle.
  3. Avoid aggressive driving. “Jack-rabbit” starts and hard braking can increase fuel consumption by as much as 40%.
  4. Drive steadily at posted speed limits. Increasing your highway cruising speed from 90km/h to 120km/h can raise fuel consumption as much as 20%.
  5. Make sure your tires are properly inflated to prevent increased rolling resistance. Under-inflated tires can cause fuel consumption to increase by as much as 6%.
  6. Use your air conditioner sparingly. Using a vehicle’s air conditioner on a hot summer day can increase fuel consumption by more than 20% in city driving. If it’s cool enough, use the flow-through ventilation on your car instead of the air conditioner.
  7. Service your vehicle regularly, according to the manufacturer's instructions. A poorly tuned engine can use up to 50% more fuel and produces up to 50% more emissions than one that is running properly.
  8. Change your oil every 5000-8000km.
  9. Recycle air conditioner coolant - If your car has an air conditioner, make sure you recycle its coolant whenever you have it serviced. You can save thousands of pounds of carbon dioxide each year by doing this.
  10. Consider joining a car co-op rather than owning your own car. With a car co-op, you can have the convenience of a car when you need one, but will be discouraged from driving unnecessarily. Also, you can get the car you need for the job you’re doing. If you need an truck occasionally but not all the time, this gets you one when you need one.
  11. When renting a car, get the most energy efficient vehicle you can and resist the free/discounted “upgrade”.
  12. If you’re buying a new car – buy the most energy efficient car you can. Look for the EnerGuide label posted on all new cars, vans and light-duty trucks. The label provides the vehicle's fuel consumption rating and estimated annual fuel costs. If you can't find the EnerGuide label on a vehicle, ask the dealer for its fuel consumption rating.
  13. Reduce air travel. Use teleconferences whenever possible rather than attending distant meetings. Holiday closer to home. And if you do travel by air, consider purchasing “carbon offsets” as a way of offsetting some of your emissions. (see #83 for more info.)
  14. Take the stairs instead of the elevator.

  15. Eat local, organic food in minimal packaging whenever possible. Food transportation is one of the fastest growing sources of greenhouse gas emissions. According to David Cadman, president of Vancouver's Society Promoting Environmental Conservation, the average morsel of food has travelled 2000 kilometres to get to your plate. Instead, grow it yourself or buy it fresh from the local farmers' market. For more info see www.farmfolkcityfolk.ca
  16. Buy, grow or pick fruit in season and then freeze or can it for the winter; that way you can still enjoy fruit out of season without having it shipped great distances.
  17. Eat vegetarian meals more often. Vegetarian food requires much less energy to produce, so eating meat-free meals every other day = annual CO2 savings of 487 pounds.
  18. Do not eat meat/fish that are endangered or harvested in a way that is particularly detrimental to the environment. Some fish and sea-food stocks, like sword-fish, abalone, orange roughy and black cod are seriously depleted and risk extinction. Fortunately, other fisheries, notably halibut, crab and Albacore tuna are well-managed and well-stocked. (Albacore tuna are caught individually by trolling, so dolphins are not killed in the process. Other tuna fisheries, like Yellow Fin or Blue Fin, are less discriminate.) Shop accordingly - and tell your fish-monger and restauranteur why. The relative health of different fish stocks changes from year to year. For more info see http://www.livingoceans.org/index.shtml
  19. Take your own coffee mug to your local coffee shop.
  20. Make your own baby food.
  21. Drink water out of a reusable container rather than always buying water bottles.
  22. Take your own cloth bags or backpack when you go grocery shopping. Just put the loose fruit/veggies directly into the basket or cart and then put your purchases directly into your cloth bags – no need for any plastic bags! For more info see www.reusablebags.com
  23. If you do use plastic/paper bags, reuse them until they’re worn out and then recycle them. Many grocery stores now have a recycle bin for plastic bags.
  24. Compost. Many cities provide composts for a minimal fee. If you live in an apartment, you can ask your landlord or strata if you can set one up in the common yard area for all to use; otherwise, you can have an indoor compost.
  25. Recycle as much as possible. Recycle aluminum cans, glass bottles, plastic, cardboard and newspapers = CO2 savings of 850 pounds.
  26. Write to your government to demand mandatory labeling of genetically modified foods.
  27. Use cloth napkins (and cloth handkerchiefs for that matter)

  28. Turn lights off unnecessary lights. For more info see www.bchydro.com/business
  29. Use compact fluorescent light bulbs. Switch two standard light bulbs to more efficient fluorescent bulbs = CO2 savings of 1,000 pounds. For more info see www.miltonhydro.com/lighting.html and www.oee.nrcan.gc.ca

    Heating/Cooling: (Nearly half of every energy dollar you spend goes to heating your home.)
  30. Draw the drapes at night to help keep the warm air in during winter months. (Lined drapes are especially effective).
  31. Turn down the heat/air conditioner when you leave the house. Why heat an empty house? Do the same to rooms you are seldom in. (Timed automatic thermostats are widely available for a reasonable price.)
  32. Put on a sweater and turn down the thermostat. Turning the thermostat down two degrees for one year = CO2 savings of 500 pounds. For more info see www.utilitieskingston.com/info/esavings.html
  33. Change your furnace filters twice per winter. (It’s easy to do yourself.)
  34. Install proper weather stripping and caulking. This will help keep your house warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Proper weather stripping and caulking of doors and windows can reduce heating bills by a whopping 25 per cent. This investment can pay off faster than almost any other home improvement, even if your house is already well insulated. Visit the following sites for clear and easy-to-follow steps:
  35. Cool your house with a ceiling fan during warm months. Ceiling fans are efficient and use little electricity, less than 1/10th the wattage of air conditioners. Cost to run is approximately $1.50 per month vs. $20 per month for air conditioners. Ceiling fans can also be used with the air conditioner. The thermostat can be set 9 degrees F higher, for the same resulting temperature. This represents a savings of 30% of air conditioning costs and energy consumption.
  36. When turning on your air conditioner, avoid using the coldest setting. Let the air conditioner warm up for a while before lowering the temperature setting. The room will cool just as fast.
  37. Shut gas supply to fireplace and heaters. The pilot light generates a considerable amount of heat, and should be off during warm months. Re-lighting the pilot light in the fall is as easy as pushing a button on most units.
  38. Paint your home a light color if you live in a warm climate, or a dark color in a cold climate. This can contribute saving up to 5000 pounds of carbon dioxide per year.

  39. Wash your clothes in cold or warm water rather than hot. Doing this every load = CO2 savings of 600 pounds. The rinse temperature doesn't affect the quality of the cleaning.
  40. Wait until you have a full load of laundry or dishes before you start the machine.
  41. Avoid using too much detergent. Call your water utility and ask them how “hard” or “soft” your water is. You may be using up to six times as much clothing detergent as you need. Your appliance manuals will tell you how much you need for your water type.
  42. Do not use chlorine bleach or other harsh chemicals (so avoid dry-cleaning!).
  43. Hang your clothes to dry rather than using a dryer. If you do use a dryer, don’t overload it and clean your dryer lint screen after each use. Lint build up greatly reduces efficiency. For more info see www.electricitychoices.org
  44. Take shorter showers. Reducing your daily shower time by five minutes will save up to 100 litres of water per shower.
  45. Replace the current shower head with a low-flow model = CO2 savings of 300 pounds.
  46. Turn off the water when you brush your teeth. Leaving the water running wastes up to 9 litres of water a minute or 26,000 litres of water per family, per year. This means your street alone could fill an Olympic size swimming pool each year. So turn the water off and when you're done, don’t let the taps drip. For more info see www.eartheasy.com/live_water_saving.htm
  47. Fill a jar with water and put it in your toilet tank so that your toilet uses less water each time it flushes.
  48. Lower settings on water heater. Experiment within the 120-140 range to find the lowest setting which supplies you with enough hot water. If you're ready for a new water heater, consider a tankless water heater. These models can save as much as fifty percent of the cost of heating water
  49. Use fewer chemicals when cleaning your house. A 15-year study in Eugene, Oregon by Dr. William Morton of Oregon Health Science University compared the incidence of fatal cancer among women who went to work and housewives who stayed home. The risk turned out to be significantly higher for housewives. What could explain this? Scientific American offered an answer in a February 1998 article on indoor exposure to toxic pollution: "Could everyday items with which people happily share their homes be more of a threat to their health than industrial pollution? …In short, the answer is yes." If you buy chemical cleaners in Canada, look for the Ecolabel maple leaf. Most household products sold in Canada do not list their ingredients so it’s impossible to compare the toxicity levels, but the federal government does put a maple-leaf "environmental choice" logo on products considered the least harmful. (Hint: Baking soda, vinegar & lemon juice are great SAFE cleaners!)
  50. Choose safe & eco-friendly personal hygiene products.
  51. When you clean out the cupboard in the basement or under the sink, check with your local recycler or hazardous waste agency before putting out the garbage. You may have hazardous waste that should not go to the landfill. Take leftover paint, pesticides, solvents, gasoline, oil, oil filters, and empty oil containers to a designated drop-off site. For more info go to www.productcare.org or www.usedoilrecycling.com

    Kitchen Appliances:
  52. Make your freezer more efficient. During winter, freezer space often goes unused. Your refrigerator continues to use energy, however, to freeze this space. Take empty milk jugs, or other plastic containers, and fill them with water. Place them outside until they freeze, then put them in your freezer. This will fill the empty space and reduce the area to be kept cold.
  53. Make your fridge more efficient. Vacuum the coils in the back of your refrigerator twice a year to maximize efficiency. Check the door gasket occasionally to be sure the seal isn't broken by debris or caked on food. If your refrigerator has an energy-saver (anti-sweat) switch, it should be on during the summer and off during the winter.
  54. Make your stove more efficient. Use the burner which is the closest match to pot size. Heat is lost and energy is wasted if burner size is larger than pot size. Use lids on pots and pans so you can cook at lower settings. Only preheat when baking. Turn oven off a few minutes before food is ready, and let oven heat finish the job.
  55. Buy energy–efficient appliances. When shopping for a new appliance - especially a major appliance such as a refrigerator, dishwasher, or air-conditioner - choose a model with an Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER) of 10.0 or higher. By opting for a refrigerator with the Energy Star label, indicating it uses at least 15 percent less energy than the federal requirement, you can reduce carbon dioxide pollution by nearly a ton in total. Office/School:
  56. Don't waste paper. Only print what you need. Printing can be the most energy-intensive step so edit documents on-screen. If you have a choice of printers, avoid using a laser printer for draft-quality printouts. Write/type single-spaced and use both sides. Inkjet printers can easily accept used paper, so you can print on the unused side. Or keep discarded pages for jotting notes. Cut scrap paper into squares for use in recording phone messages. For more info see www.recycling101.ca/officePaper.html
  57. Turn off the monitor when your computer is not in use. Over half of the energy used by the computer goes to the monitor, so turning it off will save significantly.
  58. Turn all equipment off when it is not in use (except your fax machine). Even machines on standby use up to 30 watts of electricity.
  59. Eliminate loss of phantom power: plug your TV, DVD player, VCR and stereo into a power bar. When you turn them off, turn off the bar, so they won't be drawing "phantom power" while you're not using them. For more info see www.standby.lbl.gov and www.pioneerthinking.com/electricitybills.html
  60. Choose a laptop if you're buying a new computer. Laptops use 10 per cent or less of the electricity consumed by typical desktop computers. When buying a laptop, look for systems comprised completely of 3.3-volt components (processor, memory and LCD). These systems use 40 to 50% less energy than 5.0-volt systems, and are generally equipped with a lighter battery.
  61. Choose an inkjuet printer if you're buying a new printer. Inkjet printers have low energy consumption, are inexpensive and permit the re-use of paper, saving costs and reducing environmental impacts. If you are buying a laser printer, look for one with an energy-saver feature, which reduces energy use when idle by over 65 per cent. Even when idle, laser printers consume between 30 and 35 per cent of their peak power requirements.
  62. Reuse or Recycle your old computer. Electronic waste is becoming a serious and increasing problem with the high turnover of computers. Computers contain significant amounts of lead and heavy metals that are dangerous to the environment. Here are several alternatives to sending your computer to the landfill:~ Pass it on. The simplest solution to recycling your old computer. Ask at a local school or put a notice on a community bulletin board offering your computer free for the taking. ~ Recycle. Several computer manufacturers have developed recycling programs. For a small fee, you can have old computer equipment picked up for recycling. 'Coupon' points are available from HP towards future purchases. For more info, visit: hp.com.recycle~ In the US, the National Cristina Foundation (NCF) provides computer technology to people with disabilities, students at risk and economically disadvantaged persons. ~ Share the Technology Computer Recycling Project - provides a searchable national computer donation database to connect computer donors and charities seeking donations. ~ National Technology Recycling Project - constantly updated, nationwide directory to find the non-profit computer recycler closest to you.
  63. Use rechargable batteries or recycle your old batteries.
  64. Recycle your mobile phone. There are 9.3 million mobile phones replaced in Canada every year. It equates to around 1,000 tonnes of landfill and a whole bunch of nasty chemicals. Go to www.pitch-in.ca or www.charitablerecycling.ca to find a collection centre near you.
  65. Recycle your glasses. 200 million people around the world need glasses every year and many of us have old pairs. So don't throw them out! Find the nearest place to donate at www.clerc.ca

  66. Go organic. Do not use pesticides on your lawn or plants. Household use of pesticides and herbicides rival farm and industrial use in their overall impact on the environment. They also threaten health, particularly in pets and children, who are more likely than their parents to roll around on chemically-treated lawns. If it is a "'cide", it is designed to kill things and probably cuts a wider swath than you intend. "Integrated pest management" is the banner under which can be found a wide variety of alternatives to home-front chemical warfare.
  67. Use a push mower instead of a gas or electric mower. A typical older 3.5 horsepower gasoline mower emits the same amount of pollutants in one hour as a new car driven for half a day (approximately 550km).
  68. Brown is beautiful; let the lawn go brown in the summer in order to conserve water. Alternatively, plant a ground cover that doesn’t require a lot of water rather than having a grass lawn. An hour of sprinkling uses about 1,300 litres of water, the equivalent of 25 toilet flushes, 5 loads of laundry and 5 dishwasher loads combined.
  69. Water your outdoor plants in the early morning or in the evening – not in the heat of the day, when much of the water will evaporate before it benefits the plant. If you have automatic sprinklers, remember to turn them off when it's raining.
  70. Plant more native trees, bushes, flowers etc. This will encourage native wildlife bck to the area and will each tree will provide oxygen for 2 people for the rest of their lives! Deciduous trees are also great for shading the house in summer and letting light through in the winter. Keeping lots of plants in the house has the added benefit of cleaning your air. Balconies are also great places for plants and gardens! For more info see www.tree-planting.com or www.gardenline.usask.ca
  71. Buy/Swap heritage seeds at events sponsored by seed saver organizations. For more info see http://www.seedysaturday.ca/

  72. Buy less stuff. If something's broken, mend it rather than replace it. Every time you repair something, you help the world's resources last a little longer. If you feel you really need something, try to find it second-hand or borrow it. Taking advantage of community toy & book libraries is a great alternative to individual purchases.
  73. Share. Send things you no longer use to charity or friends. Give books to the library.
  74. Choose to give “green” gifts to friends and family. (E.g. acts of service such as babysitting, home-cooked meals, household chores, massage; or memberships in environmental or other organizations the gift recipient would be interested in.)
  75. Avoid anything “disposable” such as paper towels, take-out food containers, diapers, razors, dusters, contact lenses, etc.
  76. Buy eco-friendly products and avoid products made with harmful chemicals (E.g. choose toilet paper made from chlorine-free, recycled material; choose latex or water-based paints so there's no need for toxic thinners and solvents. Use olive, peanut or almond oil to polish unvarnished wood.)
  77. Patronize businesses with good environmental records and avoid companies with bad environmental records.
  78. Buy locally-made products when possible. Craft fairs are great places to get unique, local gifts.

  79. Use a financial institution that is committed to sustainability.
  80. Know what your mutual funds, stocks etc. are supporting. Invest in companies that operate sustainably; avoid investing in companies with poor environmental records. It’s called socially responsible investment (SRI). Canadians now have 60 different SRI funds to choose from. For more information, see www.socialinvestment.ca/, the site of Canada's socially responsible investment umbrella organization.
  81. Use a credit card that donates a portion of its profits to environmental causes.
  82. Go “carbon neutral”. Here's how it works: if you add polluting emissions to the atmosphere, you can effectively subtract them by purchasing 'carbon offsets'. Carbon offsets are simply credits for emission reductions achieved by projects elsewhere, such as wind farms, solar installations, or energy efficiency projects. By purchasing these credits, you can apply them to your own emissions and reduce your net climate impact. See David Suzuki for more information on how to do this.

    Family Involvement:
  83. Join the "walking school bus" movement: recruit neighbouring parents and take turns walking the kids to school. As the number of kids walking to school has steadily dropped (it is only 10 per cent in the U.S.), traffic jams and clouds of carbon monoxide outside schools have become commonplace. Just walk away.
  84. Pack lunches in reusable containers.
  85. Limit “screen time” including T.V., video games, computer etc.
  86. Turn “garbage” into art or musical instruments (use materials such as plastic/metal containers, toilet paper rolls, egg cartons, old greeting cards, used stamps, film canisters, buttons, cardboard boxes, plumbing pipe, miscellaneous keys etc.)
  87. Re-use wrapping paper or use newspaper comics to wrap presents.
  88. Spend time in natural settings to foster a love and respect for nature. You won’t try to save something you don’t love!
  89. Choose recreational activities that have a minimal impact on the environment.
  90. Teach children to be environmentally aware. Model eco-friendly practices and then explain why you do them. Also, involve children in activities such as “explore the forest” daycamps, wilderness slideshows, seashore interpretation walks etc.
  91. Teach your children not to litter. It may seem obvious, but schoolgrounds are often dotted with litter.

    Spread the word and volunteer:
  92. Donate time &/or money to organizations that promote sustainable living. Some to consider (and there are many more) include David Suzuki , Sierra Club or World Wildlife Fund
  93. Talk to friends, family, colleagues, strata councils, landlords, teachers, governments & strangers about what you’re doing, why it’s important, and how easy it would be for them to help too. Whatever you do at home could be done at school and/or work! To sign petitions or to contact governments on "Green" issues, go to Sierra Club or David Suzuki
  94. If you’re an artist, use your medium to comment on environmental issues.
  95. Celebrate & promote “Earth day”, “Buy Nothing Day”, “Bike Month”, “Car Free Day” etc. For more info, go to BC Sustainable Energy Association.
  96. Participate in eco-friendly events such as community garbage clean-ups and tree plantings.
  97. Write to companies to tell them how you would like them to change. (E.g. tell them you would buy their product if they reduced the packaging.)
  98. Tell your local grocery store and restaurant managers that you want to buy local, organic food that is harvested in an eco-friendly manner.
  99. Attend public meetings on environmental issues and show your support for solutions.
  100. Vote for politicians who are aware of environmental issues and have a commitment to take action. And hold them to it!


"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. In fact, it is the only thing that ever has." -Margaret Mead