The economics of going green
Earth Day was celebrated yesterday, but the true spirit behind its practice lies in adopting daily habits to show our appreciation to mo...
Earth Day was celebrated yesterday, but the true spirit behind its practice lies in adopting daily habits to show our appreciation to mother earth all year long. To appeal to skeptics, here are the top ten tips for going green surfing through the internet, followed by the economics of how they help not only the environment, but your wallet. If environmentalists won’t convince you of the power of these small steps, maybe numbers will.
1. Give up Plastic bags. A couple of years ago, the Panamanian government passed a law to make plastic bags thinner, in an effort to curve the non-biodegradable material’s damage to the environment. How did supermarkets respond? By double-bagging. 12 million barrels of oil were used to make the 88.5 billion plastic bags consumed in the United States alone last year, of which only 2 percent were recycled. The rest, when discarded, will persist for centuries. Opt for reusable bags made of cotton or nylon or at the very minimum, try to reuse bags as much as possible.
2. Stop buying bottled water. It takes 26 bottles of water to produce the plastic container for a one-liter bottle of water, and doing so pollutes 25 liters of groundwater. Don’t leave a trail of plastic water bottles in your wake! Stop buying bottled water. Use reusable water bottles instead made from materials like stainless steel or aluminum.
3. Give Up Hot Water (At Least In the Clothes Washer). Did you know that only 10 percent of the energy used by a typical washing machine powers the motor? About 90 percent of the energy is used to heat the water, and most clothes will come clean in cold water. So switch your washing machine's temperature setting.
4. Check for Leaks in Your Toilet. One in every five toilets leak, and since the leaks are usually silent, most of us probably have no idea if our toilet is leaking. A leaking toilet can waste anywhere between 30 and 500 gallons of water every day! To see if yours is leaking, put a few drops of food coloring in the toilet tank. If the dye shows up in the toilet bowl after 15 minutes, there is a leak.
5. Stop Wasting Gas. Increase your gas mileage by checking your tire pressure. More than a quarter of all cars and nearly one-third of all SUVs, vans and pickups have under-inflated tires, according to a recent US Department of Transportation study. If every American kept his or her tires properly inflated, 2.8 billion gallons of gasoline a year would be saved.
6. Avoid Waste: Recycle. For every trash can of waste you put outside for the trash collector, about 70 trash cans of waste are used in order to create that trash. To reduce the amount of waste produced, recycle as much as you can. Recycling is gaining followers in Panama by the day, as a local group promotes aluminum cans, water bottles, and newspapers recycling in Parque Omar, and local businesses promote their own internal programs. Although the park’s program receives recyclables mostly from park users, locals are invited to drop off their own at the park stations.
7. Buy Orange Juice. Earth Day brings a slew of marketing campaigns centered on the environment, including this one. Tropicana orange juice, fresh off losing 20% of sales on its botched re-branding, is teaming up with Cool Earth to "Rescue the Rainforest". Tropicana says it will protect 100 square feet of forest in Peru's Ashaninka Corridor for every person who visits www.tropicanarainforest.com and enters the 11-character code found on its orange juice containers. 50 codes entered protects one acre.
8. When banking, go paperless. Opting for paperless banking, now offered by most local banks, reduces paper waste, which reduces deforestation, protects water supplies, etc etc etc. "If employees signed up to use Direct Deposit, individually they would save almost a pound of paper every year," according to PayItGreen. And people who pay bills online do so in 15 minutes a month, whereas those who write out checks take two hours.. numbers to consider when deciding to pay your cellphone, electricity, or cable bill online.
9. Give Up Conventional Detergents. Many natural detergents today are made to clean clothes just as effectively in cooler water temperatures. Choose detergents and other laundry products that are plant-based, concentrated and biodegradable.
10. Give Up Paper Towels. No matter how you look at it, paper towels create waste. During your next trip to the grocery store, buy some reusable microfiber towels, which grip dirt and dust like a magnet, even when they get wet. If every household in the US replaced just one roll of virgin fiber paper towels with 100 percent recycled ones, 544,000 trees would be saved.