As you may have noticed, I've been working on the book Green Chic in my spare time. I'm not done reading it yet, but I want to share some of Christie Matheson's suggestions with you. There is so much important information, I figured I'd post it in parts to make it easily digestible (like a plant-based diet! ... had to throw that in there). Today I'll share some easy changes you can make from the chapter "Little Green Things." (Don't you just love that chapter title!?)
- Replace your lightbulbs with CFL's (compact fluorescent lightbulbs). CFL's use on average 2/3 less energy than incandescent bulbs. Also, use lower wattages in rooms in which you don't need to see as well (like the bedroom) and save higher wattages for places you do need to see well (like the bathroom and kitchen). Christie's suggestions are 23W in the bathroom, 19W in the kitchen, 13W in the living room, and 11-13W in the bedroom. CFL's cost more than incandescents, but last ten times as long and save you money on your energy bill. The only thing with CFL's is that it's not safe to simply trash them when they burn out. If they break, they can leak mercury, which we all know is not good! Awesomely enough, IKEA offers receptacles for them.
- Turn off the light if you leave a room, even just for a short time. Pretty obvious, right?
- Don't buy bottled water. I remember seeing a commercial on this about a year ago that really drove the message home for me. Something about 100 years in a landfill for your one bottle of water. Your best option if you like to tote water around with you is to buy a faucet attachment water filter and fill up a reusable bottle. Trying to reuse bottles from purchased bottled water is a bad idea because they serve as great breeding grounds for bacteria. Along these same lines, if you're like me and have to have your daily Starbucks, get yourself a reusable coffee cup. Added benefits: your coffee stays warmer longer and a lot of times you get a small discount on your drink.
- As far as I know, at this point conserving water has passed conserving energy in importance. We are running out of clean water (and evil factory farms like Smithfield like to dump animal waste into rivers or let it seep into groundwater from their lagoons of waste). So, that said, don't leave the faucet running while you brush your teeth or go #2 with people around, don't run the shower for long periods of time before getting in, and try to use less while washing dishes.
- This one is pretty simple. Ask for no bag when you purchase something small. Throw it in your purse or pocket instead.
- Take shorter showers. This one is going to be the hardest for me. I am notorious for my long showers. Christie suggests checking a clock as you get in and out of the shower to get an idea of how long you take, so you can begin cutting back. Yesterday I took ten minutes (sadly it was one of my shorter showers, too). I'd like to see that number drop to six! If you can stand it, turn down the heat a bit, too.
- This one is for the ladies! Try waiting 15-20 minutes after you get out of the shower before you dry your hair. Your hair will still look great and you'll cut back on drying time.
- Unplug chargers. Even when they aren't charging anything, they're still sucking energy. Plus, they just plain aren't pretty! If you think about it, you're already unplugging your phone or ipod or whatever, so how hard is it to take the extra second to unplug the charger, too?
- Wash your clothes with cold water. It works just as well and helps prevent fading.
- Turn your thermostat down a degree or two in the winter and up a degree or two in the summer. Amazingly, you'll save 240 pounds (if you use electric heating, 320 pounds if gas) of CO2 emmissions a year by turning it down a degree in the winter and about 120 pounds by turning it up a degree in the summer.
- Lastly, do NOT go out and buy a whole new set of "green" furniture. Just buy greener the next time you need something. Consumerism is very not green.
Remember the addage: "reduce, reuse, recycle," and think of it literally in that order. Yes recycling is great, but first we need to reduce our consumption and reuse everything we can. I hope these suggestions help one of you three or four loyal readers!