Welcome to the 23rd "Green" Tips Message. This message is sent to all subscribing users on a weekly basis providing simple tips on becoming more Green! This article is part of Earth911’s “Green Eight” series, where they showcase eight ways to green your life in various areas.This week's message provides simple tips on:
8 'Must-Dos' of Being Green
1. Get Audited!
Don’t worry, we’re not talking about your taxes. Think back to what you learned in seventh grade biology about the discovery process. The first step in the scientific method (trash is, after all, a very technical thing) is to ask questions about something you observe in your environment. Since you are reading this, you must already be aware of the fact that your trash is in need of a makeover, so we think it’s safe to move directly to step two: research.
Though this isn’t the most pleasant job, a trash audit is a necessary step to really getting a grasp on what you currently throw out, and more importantly, what you can save from the trashcan. The audit itself is simple, just follow these easy steps:
1. Pick a time period – A week is a good place to start.
2. Get everyone on board – If they live in your house and they make trash, they are involved, so catch ‘em up to speed.
3. Throw stuff away – Go about your normal routine, and throw away what you usually do. It is important that you be honest with yourself and not try to be on your “best behavior.” Remember, you are trying to get an accurate measurement of your waste output.
4. Weigh in – If you can, weigh your trash. Each time you take a trash bag out of the house, plop it on the scale. This way you can have a baseline for comparison (sort of like “before” and “after” photos when you’re starting a new workout program). Though you will visually be able to see your trash dwindle, the satisfaction of cold, hard facts is the icing on the cake.
5. Put on some gloves – Check daily to see what you threw away that could have been recycled, composted, reused or avoided. This part is the “eeewwww” moment – we are talking about trash here. But, by doing it daily, it wont be as bad. Don’t be deterred by what you find. Remember your mission. You can do it.
6. Get graphical – Make a list, chart, pie graph, power point…whatever you want. Just write down your findings, and use those findings to make a plan. What can you recycle that you are currently tossing in the trash? What can be composted? What can be reused and, in turn, what didn’t need to be there in the first place?
2. Reduce Food-Related Paper Use
- Oil-based food stains are the easiest way to make your paper not recyclable. That’s why recycling locations for paper towels or paper napkins are unavailable.
- The average American family uses 1.5 rolls of paper towels each week.
- Brown paper bags have more of an environmental footprint as plastic bags when considering manufacturing and disposal.
You’ll be lucky to find paper towels for less than 75 cents per roll. That means you’re paying at least $4.50 a month for disposable towels, so cutting your use to one roll a month would save $45 per year.
Paper bags are only about 2 cents per bag, but if you make two lunches every day, that’s $14.60 per year thrown into the trash after one use.
FYI: Several states and stores are already talking about a 5-cent charge for each disposable bag required to carry your purchases. We won’t crunch the numbers, since it probably doesn’t apply to you yet, but there’s another financial argument for reusable packaging.
Use reusable cloth towels for cleaning the house and your spills, and throw them in the laundry instead of the garbage (the cost to wash towels will be negligible if it’s done with the rest of your laundry). Check into lunchboxes or plastic containers to carry your lunch, which will be a one-time investment instead of constantly funding your disposable habit.