Even though Earth Day is April 22nd, that doesn’t mean we can’t make some easy eco-changes to start practicing the rest of this week.
Make your laundry a little greener
Front loading washing machines clean clothes more thoroughly and use less water and energy than most top-loading counterparts, and using cold water will improve its energy efficiency. In addition, using phosphate and bleach-free products made from biodegradable, plant- and vegetable-based ingredients is better for the water supply, and nixing the dryer saves loads of hydro costs. Read more tips for greener laundry here.
Keep your house cooler
In the heat of the summer, keeping the doors and windows closed is your best bet–even if you’re just running outside for something. What’s more, make sure you have good insulation, which prevents heat leaking through the walls and ceilings, and air sealing prevents heat coming through air movement. Finally, consider upgrading to a programmable thermostat, and take advantage of “fan only” option, which uses some of the cool basement air and circulates it within the house. Check out more ideas for cooling your house in the summer here.
Live off the grid
Go big or go home, right? If you think you might want to live off of the grid, it takes a lot to do it the right way. But a good way to get started is reducing your energy use and trying some alternatives to appliances. One idea is a DIY washing machine: all you need is a five gallon bucket and a toilet plunger. Go even a step further by making your own laundry soap, too. Check out more details here, and other ideas for off-grid living.
Buy a bike
If you don’t already own a bike, it’s time you did. Not only are they better for the environment than an automobile, but they are also a great way to improve your health and enjoy the outdoors. Even if you don’t plan on riding often, opt for a comfort bike, hybrid, or commuter bike, all designed for the casual rider, with lower (or no) gearing and an upright riding position. For a comprehensive list of tips on choosing a bike, read more here.
Use less water
There are plenty of ways you can use less water in your home, and most of them just take a simple swap to what you’re already doing. When you’re running your dishwasher or washing machine, wait until you have enough dishes or laundry to run a full load. In the springtime, use a rain barrel placed below your gutter downspout, which will help capture water and save it for another use. A few times a week, cut back on eating meat if it is a part of your diet: it takes 1,857 gallons of water to produce a single pound of beef. You can also head to to the Water Footprint Calculator or download the Waterprint iPhone app (Free from itunes .com) to check out how much water you use. For 15+ more tips, check out ideas on saving water here.
Recycle the right way
Although we know generally what to recycle: paper, plastic, cans, and glass, there are many things we’re recycling the wrong way… electronics especially When it comes to your own computer, consider cleaning it out and, if it still works, donating it to a local charity, school, or organization. To recycle ink cartridges, Hewlett Packard will take them. For batteries, you can drop off them off at many retailers, including Bell Mobility, Blacks Photography, Canadian Tire, Fido, Futureshop, Home Depot, Telus Mobility, Best Buy, and Target, among others. Because these batteries won’t end up in the landfill, it’s better for our environment and the recycled remnants are used to manufacture new Ni-Cd rechargeable batteries. Collective Good International snags old cell phones. Check this out for more out-of-the-ordinary recycling needs.