Friday, April 10, 2009

Steps I have taken to reduce my impact on the environment

I've been pretty busy the last two weeks, so while I have several sections that are partially complete, I don't have a completed section of text to post. In the meantime, I thought you, my readers, might be interested in looking at what I have done so far to reduce my environmental impact.  I think that it's important to "walk the walk", not just "talk the talk".

  • Reduce
    • Have reduced consumption of meat, particularly red meat
    • Print less frequently, almost always duplex
    • Water
      • Low-flow showerheads
    • Electricity
      • Switched from desktop to notebook computers, use energy-saving modes, turn off at night
      • Have replaced over half of my lighting fixtures with compact fluorescent bulbs
      • Use motion-activated security lights
      • Routinely shut off lights in rooms that are not being used
      • Have energy star-rated clothes washer, dishwasher, window AC unit, printer, computer monitor
      • Use smart outlet strips to reduce vampire currents
    • Gas/Transportation
      • Bought fuel-efficient cars
      • I drive a 1994 Saturn with > 115,000 miles that gets ~30 mpg
      • Combine errands to save gas and time
      • Keep car tires properly inflated
      • Shop at local farmer's market each week, purchase locally-grown organic foods
  • Reuse
    • Have always avoided disposable products; recently stopped using disposable water bottles
    • Stopped using disposable shopping bags, or when I do I reuse them for storing recyclables (paper) or as trash bags (plastic)
    • Give old products to Goodwill or Amvets rather than throwing out
    • I have worn hand-me down clothes my entire life; I had two older brothers, and more recently I wear hand-me down clothing from my father, father-in-law and brother-in-law (everything but underwear)
    • Buy used clothes at the thrift store
  • Recycle
    • Recycle cardboard boxes, paper, plastics, aluminum, glass, tin cans, batteries, computers
  • Increase efficiency
    • Paid extra $ for energy efficient HVAC
    • Bought house close to work
  • Have continuously increased the proportion of organically-grown foods in diet (including those purchased in supermarket)
  • Started a compost pile
  • Started organic farming of vegetables
  • Do not use pesticides, very limited use of locally applied herbicide (not broadcast)
  • Stopped using antibacterial soap (contains triclosan, which is an endocrine disruptor, can react with chlorine to form chloroform, a carcinogen, and can promote the growth of antibiotic-resistant bacteria)
  • Invest in green (socially responsible) mutual funds
  • Caulked windows
  • Started using phosphate-free dishwashing detergent
  • Switched to paperless bill paying and billing
  • Reduced the volume of junk mail we receive (I forget how I did this)
  • Set the thermostat temperature low in winter and high in summer:


Plans for future:

  • Switch to TVA's Green Switch program to invest in alternative energy sources
  • Use a clothesline instead of a dryer
  • Replace old incandescent holiday lights with light-emitting diode lights(LEDs)
  • Have chickens in backyard for eggs & meat
  • Grow tra (Vietnamese catfish) in a pond
  • Replace all disposable batteries with rechargeable batteries
  • Replace refrigerators, clothes washer, and dryer with Energy Star models
  • Cancel newspaper

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