Get The Most Sustainability Out Of Your Stuff, Page 2

by NeilT, 2008-05-19

Continued from page 1, below are 22 tips and ideas that can lessen a persons impact on the environment. None of them will save tons of CO2/year by themselves, but together could reach that goal.

First 11 Tips ...

#11. Turn off lights when no one is in a room

Lighting accounts for a good percentage of home electricity use, about 9% on average. Most of us leave many of our home lights on when there's no reason to. The average home could cut 4.5% of it's electricity use by reducing use of lighting by half. This would translate to around 315kg CO2 per year.

Take a challenge to try keeping unused lights off at home.

#10. Turn off unused electronic devices

Most electronic devices consume energy even when turned off. The amount of energy can, over time, be more than when we are actually using the item. Studies have shown that up to 75% of the electricity use by some electronic devices is consumed while they are in the "off" state.

A good idea is to use a power bar and once you have turned off all related items (like from an entertainment center) turn off the bar.

#9. Set computers to automatically go into standby mode

A computer in sleep mode uses as little as 1% of the electricity compared to full power, and can be back up and running within a few seconds. This is a great tip that requires no extra effort or sacrifice on our part but saves a lot of electricity.

A computer that is in standby mode most of the time, and only turned on when in use, could save up to 745kg CO2 per year. That is significant.

Take a challenge to try turning off unused work computers at night.

#8. Adjust thermostat temperature

A small change of the thermostat at home can save a lot of energy. Try dropping the temperature by 1 or 2 degrees in winter, compared to what it would normally be set to. Conversely, try raising the A/C temperature by 1 or 2 degrees in the summer. This may mean having to put on a long sleeve shirt or sweater while inside during winter, but is that worth all the extra emissions required?

#7. Use rain water for plants

Do you have a bucket lying around unused? Use it to collect rain water at the down-spout from your roof. You can buy rain barrels (or some cities give them away) but a bucket will do just fine.

Not only is this water not draining your community source, it will be free of the chlorine or other chemicals normally added. Chlorine isn't necessarily good for your plants.

#6. Eat less meat

Here is a simple statistic: the average North American diet requires 1.4 hectares per person to support, while a vegetarian requires 0.2 hectares. Raising livestock for food is an extremely energy-intensive process. This doesn't mean everyone should go vegetarian, but just think of the impact if we all reduced our meat consumption by half.

See some savings estimates for eating less meat.

#5. Use the microwave when possible

Studies have shown that to reheat or cook the same meal a microwave can use up to two-thirds less energy than a standard electric oven. Microwaves consume a lot of energy when running, but compared to an oven they are much quicker and have significantly less waste energy.

This isn't meant to imply that microwaves can replace ovens, but especially for reheating food they can save a lot of energy.

#4. Take shorter showers

Baths and showers are one of the major home water users. Try taking shorter showers, or a sailor shower (get wet, turn off water, soap up, rinse off) and you will save a lot of water. Taking a shower with your partner can save water as well.

Take a challenge to try shorter showers for a week.

#3. Carpool when going out with friends

This is so simple, but most of us have been raised in an individualistic car-centered culture so it's not habit to think of carpooling. Yet, carpooling has so many advantages:

  • An entire vehicle's emissions off the road
  • Save on gas money
  • Less vehicles on the road means less traffic
  • Spend more time with friends and family

#2. Do you really need to replace that?

It's a habit in most industrialized nations to feel the desire to replace something before the original item is worn out. Often this will be because of a new minor convenience in the newer item or that we just don't like the look of that older item. However, there really isn't a way to be less sustainable. The impact can be lessened by giving away or donating the old item, but it's still not a full offset.

#1. Wash clothes in cold water

There really isn't much need anymore to wash most items in warm or hot water, especially considering the cold water detergents available. Clothes washers set to use hot water consume a lot of energy (well, the hot water heater is using the energy).

See some savings estimates for washing with cold water.

First 11 Tips ...