We all know that we need to do more to help the environment. But while it is very easy to want to do more, knowing exactly what to do is much trickier. Is what you’re doing really going to make much of a difference? Well good news, as at least you’re conscientious enough to read this far. So here’s 10 ways you can reduce your carbon footprint.
Tagged With being green
AU - Please note that water restrictions are in place across most (if not all!) of Australia right now. These tips are about saving water when caring for your lawn, but you should check what restrictions are in place in your local area!
Spring is upon the northern hemisphere (AU - and down under we're living with water restrictions!), and with a little know-how, you can water your lawn more smarter this year. Tutorial site wikiHow offers strategies to reduce your water usage while maintaining a healthy, hearty lawn. For example:
Water deeply to encourage deep root growth. Frequent shallow waterings encourage weed germination, and they also cause the grass plants' roots to grow shallow, leaving the plant more susceptible to drought and to certain diseases. Watering only when your grass really needs it encourages the roots to grow deeper
The article is full of other smart watering tips—like watering early to avoid evaporation—that are worth a read before you put out the sprinklers. Photo by Finstr.How to Water Your Lawn Efficiently
Predicting the future is near impossible -- but that doesn‘t stop us all from having a red hot go. Human beings have been predicting the future since the beginning of history and the results range from the hilarious to the downright uncanny.
One thing all future predictions have in common: they‘re rooted in our current understanding of how the world works. It‘s difficult to escape that mindset. We have no idea how technology will evolve, so our ideas are connected to the technology of today.
Here's a competition which looks right up Lifehacker's alley. As part of a honours course at Swinburne uni, a group of students are creating a book called "101 things to do with 'old' technology" and they're running a competition to get ideas from the public.
Get creative and make us your own little sketch of what you'd do with an "old grey box". You can be as serious, as funny, or as strange as you like with your entries. All entries will be published in the book for our Swinburne University Honours project, and your name will be published with it too, if you wish.
Entries are in the form of black and white line drawings - head on over to the post at Melbourne Maniacs for further details on how to enter. Entries close on May 26.
Even if you only have a few battery operated devices at home, it can feel like you're always buying new ones. As an example, Wii remotes are terrible power suckers - make sure you take the batteries out when you're not playing. So would it work out cheaper to buy rechargable batteries?The Simple Dollar blog has helpfully crunched the numbers on whether investing in rechargable batteries makes financial sense. Assuming a use of 10 AA batteries a month, the rechargables worked out cheaper over two years, saving around $US75 per year after that. Of course this will depend on the quality of the batteries and recharger you buy, but it's worth checking out the article and comparing your own situation.And of course, switching to rechargables would save sending piles of batteries into land fill!Got any tips for getting the most out of your batteries? Share in comments please.
The EcoGeek blog spends a lot of time looking at environmentally friendly cars - so much time that as a public transit enthusiast, it often leaves me a little cold. But they had a very interesting post today on the array of hybrids and electric cars that are approaching the retail horizon over the next few years. It's worth a read if you're considering buying a greener car in the next couple of years.The bad news according to the Ecogeek is that you're better off waiting for the next gen options to hit the road:
"Even if you don't have a hybrid, you will save so much more gas with the next generation plug-ins and full-electrics that it really isn't worth upgrading now."
We should be seeing the next gen Toyota Prius by 2010 (or perhaps 2011 in Australia?) and apparently Mitsubishi's got a hybrid in the wings as well.Of course, it remains to be seen how many of the cars it mentions will actually make it to our shores. In the meantime, walking or public transport remains far more environmentally friendly. :)
Wise Bread offers up a couple of ways to save money on petrol - and the big one is just slow down your driving speed.
On highways, the "sweet spot" for fuel efficiency is 55 miles per hour, or 90 km/hour. In fact, due to wind resistance at speed, you may use up to 20% more fuel if you speed up from 90km/hour to 120 km/h, according to figures the article quotes from Eartheasy.com.
Even on city streets, there are some ways to increase fuel efficiency - learn to take your foot off the accelerator when you can see you'll need to slow down or stop. Accelerating burns fuel - so it's wasteful to accelerate up to a red light, then hit the brakes.
Looking for other ways to save on petrol? We previously told you how to shop around online to find the cheapest petrol. Got any other tips for saving on petrol? Share in comments please.
Trying to cut back on your use of that energy sucking air conditioner (or maybe just don't have one)? A tipster at the Natural Living blog suggests this simple hack to get the most out of your standing fan instead:
"You need a fan, and a plastic bottle of water.Fill the 3/4 of the bottle with water and put it in the freezer.Once deep frozen, put the plastic bottle in front of the fan, and tadaa! Fresh air!"
Given that it's been a bit on the chilly side in Sydney for the past couple of days, I haven't tried this tip myself, but I reckon it's worth filing away for those upcoming hot summer days!
If turning the lights off for an hour for Earth Day last week was your version of a big effort for the environment, may we tempt you with some more low effort ways to make a difference? The delightfully titled "The Lazy Cheapskates Guide to Saving the Planet" offers up a few tips for the well meaning but lazy. I've cherry picked the ideas that seemed most practical.Make sure the seals around your windows, doors and heating ducts are intact - otherwise you're wasting power and money on inefficient heating/cooling Turn down your water heater (they recommend 120 F which is about 49 C) and always wash your laundry in cold water. Washing in hot water is usually unnecessary, expensive and chews through power. Use cruise control when driving (I didn't know that it's more fuel efficient, but then my car doesn't have CC) If washing dishes by hand, *don't* do it under running water. Fill the basin, then wash. If you have a dishwasher, make sure you only run it when it's full, and skip the prewash if possible.
I'd add - hang your laundry out to dry! Dryers chew up power and in our fairly mild climate they're just not necessary. Get a laundry drying rack for indoors if you don't want to wave your smalls at the neighbours. Got any other tips for easy greening? Share in comments please.
Talk about your green-friendly mashup - mybabytree.org lets you can sponsor a tree planting through WWF (World Wildlife Fund) - and then lets you see the exact area of forest your tree is growing in, thanks to Google Earth.
Trees cost $US5.50 (about $6) each to sponsor via PayPal. The trees are being planted in Indonesia as part of a venture by WWF. Once your payment is processed, you get an email informing you that your tree will be planted in a few days: "Once that is done, we will mail you the exact location and you will be able to see your tree on Google Earth."
The Ecogeek blog pointed out that while the resolution in Google Earth isn't quite good enough to be able to make our your particular tree, "even now the context is nice". This idea is geeky, I like. :)
Yahoo Green covers several low-cost methods of reducing your water use at home intended to save you money and save your planet. The quality of the tips vary, but the article includes a lot of tips that anyone can implement for free. For example, to minimise appliance water consumption, the article suggests:Fully loaded: Dishwashers and clothes washers should be operated when full for optimum water conservation. If you must wash partial loads, adjust the water levels as appropriate. Scrape, don't rinse: Pre-rinsing dishes before loading the dishwasher is unnecessary. Scrape off food and then trust that bad boy to do its job.
Your mileage may vary with some of the tips, but it's at least worth finding out, for example, if you can get away with scraping rather than rinsing. Thanks Ellen!Low-cost ways to conserve water at home
Sci-Fi blog I09 wanders into eco-utopia today with its To-do list for Futurists. Inspired by novelist Ernest Callenbach, it lists five practical things you can do, including recycling the waste you produce, and repurposing an old machine which you were going to throw out.It also encourages people to reach out and work together:
"Spend one day volunteering with an organization or getting together with friends to help your community produce less environment-damaging waste. Think broadly about what it means to produce less waste. It could mean everything from cleaning up garbage in natural areas, to helping someone else refurbish their old computers. The point of this item on the to-do list is to work with other people (even if it's online) to reduce polluting waste, because you can't change the future all by yourself."
It also recommends a book called "Collapse" by Jared Diamond - which is about how societies destroy themselves by misusing natural resources.
Ah, beer. Fans of the amber stuff may not wish to share their tipple, but according to the Wise Bread blog you can put beer to several uses in your garden - as a slug killer, and to help protect your garden visitors from bees.
Salt is a traditional slug-killer, but as the post says "that means you have to find them first":
"Instead, entice them with a little beer, which slugs love. Simply pour a little into some empty jars and place them in the soil, with the rims of the jars at ground level. The slugs will drop in for a drink, but they can’t get back out. And what a way to go; Certainly better than the salt-shriveling death."
Bees and wasps are also beer fans, apparently. So if you're entertaining outdoors, you can place some small containers of beer around the perimeter of your yard or garden, and the bees will flock to the sugary treat and leave your guests alone.
Photo by thesaint.
Spring is just around the corner, and financial weblog The Simple Dollar details how to save tons of money and live healthier by planting a kitchen garden.
A kitchen garden merely refers to a garden that consists almost exclusively of plants intended to be eaten. Although one might put a few decorative plants around the edges of such a garden, the vast majority of the garden is intended for food.
The post details how to plan your kitchen garden based on what you want to eat (as opposed to what seems like it belongs in a garden) and highlights the significant chunk of money you stand to save with your garden. If you're an old hand at planting a garden you intend to eat, let's hear your best tips in the comments.Planning a Kitchen Garden
A poster to the eco-australia blog has put together a helpful guide for maximising your recycling mojo and reducing the amount you put into landfill.
Local resources for rehoming your old stuff include Freecycle Today and e-Cycled. The Australian Giving Centre lists organisations that will accept donated blankets, clothes, computers, mobile phones, furniture, bikes and more.
Along with some useful links to places you can recycle stuff, it also has a checklist you can use to work out if you can find a home for your old stuff before putting it in the bin:Can it be recycled? Can it be composted? Can it be donated? Can it be sold/traded? Can it be given away free to a friend or neighbour? Can I use it for something else? Can I make it into something else Where is the best/safest place to dispose of it (if it is dangerous to the environment eg. paints)?
I would also highly recommend calling your local council or checking their website for a guide to what you can recycle through their rubbish collection service - the Port Phillip Council in Melbourne has a very useful 1 page guide which said what kind of household items can be recycled and which can't - along with translations of the different recycling codes you find on plastic bottles and the like. Stick it on your fridge!
So how's your recycling mojo? If you have tricks for reducing, reusing or repurposing things, please share in comments.
Even if you have your own reusable shopping bags, sometimes you get stuck at the supermarket without them - and so your plastic bag collection grows.Not to worry - the Wise Bread blog has seven ideas for reusing those pesky bags that keep coming home with you. Among the suggestions are using them to stuff cushions (as a bonus, when you move house you have a secret stash of plastic bags!), or keeping a few in your bag or car for cleaning up after your dog when you go for walkies. But far and away the most fun and original suggestion was making a kite out of a plastic shopping bag. (see My Best Kite for a full run down on how to do this).So how do you keep from being overrun by plastic bags? Do you carry your own bags? Or do you have your own clever uses for leftover shopping bags? Please share in comments.
Adelaide Council has introduced a free bus service provided by what it says is the world's first all-electric, solar powered bus. The Tindo Solar Bus (named for the Aboriginal word for sun) offers a free service which runs seven days a week between major facilities in North Adelaide and the city. Details of the route can be found here.The environmentally friendly bus will recharge using solar panels installed at the Adelaide Central Bus Station.
If you're expecting a new computer for Christmas, this post is for you. Help combat landfill and share the computing love by taking some time to repurpose your old computer.
First up, you may be able to extend the life of your computer by upgrading some of its components, or you could repurpose it (or bits of it) as a home server. Or you could give it to a friend or relative (make sure it's powerful enough/stable enough to meet their computing needs or you're not really being that helpful).
If you can't repurpose the computer, recycling's the next option. Extreme Tech's just posted a helpful article on ways to recycle your hardware, which suggests googling "computer recycling" and your city to see what options come up. Freecycle is another option - a well established email list in which members can give away their unwanted stuff, or see what others are giving away.
If you can't repurpose the computer yourself, Computer Choice, the tech arm of independent consumer organisation Choice, has a very useful list of computer refurbishers and recyclers, broken down by state. Make sure you call them to double check they can take your computer, as the list is a couple of years old.
The Choice website makes a great point when it says: "Don’t let old computers sit around the house unused. The sooner you recycle it, the more chance it will be useful to someone else."
Good magazine has an interesting chart in their latest issue that details how much energy your vampire devices use, and how much it costs you to keep them plugged in. The guide differentiates between devices that are in "active" (ready to leap to life) and "passive" (just plugged in) standby modes, and some items are real shockers. A plasma TV, for instance, can cost about $160 per year just to keep plugged in. That Wii you got your hands on? $25 before you even hit one virtual tennis ball. The takeaway for me, at least, is thinking about putting some devices on power strips and turning them off if I know I won't be using them for a day or more.Vampire Energy
It's been estimated that up to 4% of America's power usage is sucked up by electronic gear in standby mode. If you're interested in getting an idea of how much your appliances and gadgets are costing you just by standing there, check out Good Magazine's Vampire Energy chart. Hint: your plasma TV and computer are the main offenders.
I often grumble about the amount of junk mail that pours through my letter box and wish I could nuke it like I do the spam that comes through my email inbox. The waste of paper is just obscene. I glare especially hard at junk mail delivery people when I see them shoving their junk mail into mail boxes with "no junk mail" stickers on them. I thought there was nothing to be done about junk mail - but I was wrong!The Australian Catalogue Association has a code of conduct saying members and their deliverers will not deliver materials to addresses displaying a "No Advertising Material" sign. This appears to be a voluntary code of conduct, but there's a fairly long list of companies signed up to abide by it. The signees also agree not to litter or deliver when the mailbox is overflowing!You can contact the Distribution Standards Board to add your address to the "do not deliver" list. They'll also provide you with a free reflective No Advertising Material sticker. Mail a stamped, self addressed envelope to:DSB Sticker, PO Box 7735, St Kilda Rd, Melbourne Vic 8004.Note that this won't stop all unsolicited mail - newspapers are exempted, along with political pamphlets.The DSB also provides a hotline for consumers to report illegal or irresponsible distribution practices. It is 1800 676 136.I am signing up today!Thanks for the tip, Mary!