Going Green

If you’re anything like me, all this talk about the danger that the environment is in has made you want to start making a difference. Of course, you’ve saved the plastic bags from the grocery store to reuse, or have recycled the plastic cool whip containers because they are great for leftovers; but, over the years the bags have accumulated and taken over your kitchen closet and every time you open the cabinet, a new container comes tumbling out.

Well, us environmentally conscious gals are now in luck. Because of technological and environmental advances, there are simple, clutter free ways to save the planet and a little cash as well:

The Cars
If you are looking to invest in a new car, why not invest in the environment at the same time? Many big name car companies have come out with Hybrid cars. These automobiles have a gas engine accompanied by an electric motor, which aids in acceleration and automatically recharges when you drive. This dual engine allows drivers to get the best gas mileage out of their cars and reduces the amount of carbon dioxide, said to be one of the largest contributors to global warming, and pollutants released into the air by driving. While these cars are a bit more pricey than the average (around $3,000 plus more), the government has introduced a new environmental tax credit to anyone who purchases a Hybrid. These tax credits range from $1000 to $3000, and all depend on when you buy the car (the earlier in the year the better!).

Also, because Hybrids are so fuel efficient, you’ll be spending less time and money at the pumps, which means that you’ll have a little more money to put toward that ever growing credit card bill (or if you’re feeling really spontaneous, treat yourself to an extra night out). To check out what Hybrid car is the best fit for you go to eartheasy.com.

If you’re not in the market for a new car here are a couple easy things you can do to help reduce driving pollutants: take public transportation as often as possible, car pool to work, or take advantage of the weather by walking or riding your bike to nearby stores.

The Temperature
Turning down the thermostat a couple of degrees in the winter and up a couple degrees in the summer cuts down on the amount of energy you use, and will also cut down your utility bill. Ceiling fans are also beneficial because they help circulate warm and cool air throughout the house, so you don’t have to turn your thermostat up or down as often.

At Work
There are some simple things to do around the office to make your time at work more energy efficient and environmentally safe. First of all, take yourself off mailing lists that send snail mail. This type of junk mail results in the killing of about 63 million trees per year, and half of this mail isn’t even opened. Instead, opt for online catalogs that can be sent to you through your email (and are usually accompanied with coupons, which is a free bonus!). Also, when leaving work (or the house) turn your computer off completely because even when it’s on standby it is still using up energy.

The Light Bulb
According to Energy Star, “If every American home replaced just one light bulb with an Energy Star [light bulb], we would save enough energy to light more than 2.5 million homes for a year and prevent greenhouse gases equivalent to the emissions of nearly 800,000 cars.” So with that said, go out and replace at least one light bulb in your house with a compact florescent bulb! While CFLs are a little more expensive than regular light bulbs, at around $3 a bulb, they last for about 10,000 hours, use 70 percent less energy and, in about five months, will have paid for themselves in lower electric bills.

Since it’s so easy to change a light bulb, you may even want to purchase light emitting diodes, or LEDs. LEDs are rather new to the market place, and cost more than CFLs but are reported to decrease energy consumption by 80 to 90 percent, and to last an average of 100,000 hours. If your light bulbs are relatively new and don’t need replacing, you can always open the shades and take advantage of the sun for the cheapest and easiest way to conserve energy.

Instead of adding to that collection of plastic shopping bags you have in your kitchen closet, buy a canvas tote bag. If you know you are going on a shopping spree, or even running a quick errand, grab the tote bag before you leave the house to put your purchases in. Some stores have even jumped on the tote bandwagon, by either selling or providing reusable shopping bags to their customers.


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