Green Around the Clock
This April 22 marks the 40th anniversary of the first Earth Day, started to boost awareness about the environment — and to ensure that pro-planet types would no longer be ignored by legislators. But you don’t have to be lobbying Congress to make a difference. Do your part by practicing these six habits each day
In the Morning
- Brew “certified” coffee. A USDA Certified Organic label means it was grown using sustainable standards.
- Green “to go.” Not brewing at home? Take a travel cup to your favorite java joint; they may fill it at a discount.
- Double up. Configure your office printer or copy machine so it prints on both sides of the page.
- Put it to sleep. If you’ll be away from your computer for more than 20 minutes, change it to “sleep” mode.
- BYOB. Bags, that is. It’s good for your wallet, too: Some retailers, such as CVS, now pay you for every disposable bag you don’t take ($1 on a special CVS card for every four trips on which you BYO).
- Truly turn off electronics. Plug your devices — the TV and DVD player, or the computer and printer — into a UL-certified power strip; switch the whole group off for the evening to prevent phantom electrical draw.
Start ‘Em Young
- Game off? Yep, get the kids to turn off video games (both the TV and the console) after they’re done playing, and you’ll win back about $100 per year.
- Pitch in. Live in one of the 11 states with bottle bills? Have your kids collect aluminum cans and plastic bottles to redeem for cash to spend on a treat.
- Don’t tap out. Teach children to turn off the water while brushing their teeth. Leaving the tap running during the recommended two minutes of brushing can waste up to five gallons of water a day.
- Book it. Dr. Seuss’s 1971 book, The Lorax, stars a creature who “speaks for the trees” against those who’d cut them down. Talk about the message with your tykes (book and matching plush doll, $5 each, Kohl’s).
Green My Ride
In January 1994, GH lamented that American cars were only required to average 27.5 miles per gallon, noting, “If the U.S. required American automakers to produce cars averaging 45 miles per gallon of gas (the Honda Civic VX already averages 55 mpg)… the country would save 3.1 million barrels of oil a day.” So how are we doing? U.S. cars are required to average 35.5 miles per gallon — by 2016. In the meantime, use these three tricks to up your mpg.
- Slow down. Driving 10 mph above 60 is like adding nearly 50 cents to the price of a gallon of gas, since higher speed equals more guzzling.
- Get pumped. Once a month, check the pressure of each of the tires against the guidelines listed in your car’s manual; add air if needed. Doing this can improve mileage by about 3 percent.
- Air out. Replace filters regularly. A new oxygen sensor alone can improve mileage by as much as 15 percent.