Environmental Protection & Preservation
A Greener State of Mind in 2013
New Year's resolutions aren't for everybody, but they make a good starting point for anyone wanting to make positive changes in their lives. And with rising fuel prices, the concern over global warming and diminishing natural resources always in the news, what better time to go green than now?
By switching to a fuel-efficient, hybrid vehicle, car owners can save on fuel costs and reduce their consumption of fossil fuels. For example, hybrid technology includes the car's ability to shut off at a stop and then start when the accelerator is pressed. Check out the U.S. Department of Energy's Website to compare hybrids and estimate fuel savings.
New to you car. Buying used is great because, as Wired.com puts it, the debt of carbon consumption to create the car has already been paid. Not just any used car will do. Get something fuel efficient like a Ford Focus
that gets 26/36 mpg city/highway, respectively, a Toyota Echo or a Honda Civic that average 30 mpg.
When possible, take public transportation, walk or ride your bike. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, if you leave your car at home two days a week you can reduce your greenhouse gas emissions by an average of two tons per year.
No Hybrid? You Can Still Go Green With Your Car
You don't need a hybrid or electric vehicle to go green. Start by checking your cars reliability and improve what you can.
- The EPA suggests you go easy on the brakes and avoid hard acceleration, which uses fuel.
- Drive on properly inflated tires so you don't use more fuel; check tire pressure often.
- Regular tune-ups are a must. Fixing a car that has failed an emissions test can improve gas mileage by an average of 4 percent, according to the EPA.
- Use the recommended grade of oil. It can lower your gas mileage by 1 to 2 percent, according to fueleconomy.gov.
Recycle and Upcycle
Recycling products is a good start. Return bottles and cans to a recycling center or the grocery store, especially if you live in a state with a container-deposit law.
Buy recycled products as well. "Upcycles" are new products made from older, worn-out or soon-to-be-discarded items. People have been upcycling for years, but now you can turn those old compact discs into stylish coasters or turn tin cans into decorative vases or pen-and-pencil holders.
Bring out your inner artist by using used car parts to turn them into creations such as a bird feeder (with headlamp covers), or incorporate old tires into your yard by turning a large tractor tire into a sandbox or making planters from tires.
Don't throw away those empty printer ink cartridges either. Companies like Cartridge World
refill used cartridges for less packaging and chemicals going into landfills. Plus, it's easier on the wallet.
Keep It Fresh
Buy fresh food that doesn't come in resource-consuming containers or bags. If you can buy organic, which involves better land-use practices without the use of pesticides, that's even better.
Teach your family to be less dependent on meat. Take one day a weak, like Meatless Monday, and be vegetarian. According to grist.org, "if every American had one meat-free day per week, it would reduce emissions as much as taking eight million cars off the roads."
The Weekender, an arts and entertainment magazine, suggests you turn out the lights when leaving a room (parents have bugged their kids about that for years) and unplug appliances not in use. If your coffee machine is not brewing a pot, for instance, unplug it. This "vampire energy" has a negative impact on the environment and wastes resources and money. Cell phone chargers and other appliances continue to consume energy even when they are turned off.
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