Monday, February 27, 2017

Cooling Down the Eco-Friendly Way

Winter is (finally) almost over! As we march out of winter and into the warmer spring and summer months, one of the biggest things on people's minds is how to stay cool. However, as detailed in this article, simply running an air conditioner all season long has a significant deleterious effect on the environment. How, then, can you stay cool without contributing to global climate change? Here are some tips to get you through the warm season in an environmentally-conscious way:

  •  Use fans responsibly -- Since fans don't cool air they only move it, make sure that you turn your fans off when you leave the room. Doing this can significantly cut back on the power that you use to stay cool.
  • Blinds and windows can help -- Make sure that you leave these closed during the day and open them up at night when the air is cooler outside. Doing this can help filter out the heat from your home on hot days and will also cool your house down at night.
  • Weather Stripping -- Use weather stripping to seal air leaks around older windows and doors to prevent hot air from finding a way into your home.
  • Get Outside -- Go visit your local pool, river, or lake, and take a swim. If you live in a forested area, a dense tree cover can also filter out a lot of heat. Doing these things will cool you down naturally, and can give your air conditioner a break.
For more tips on how to keep yourself and your home cool, check out articles like this one. With a little preparation, and by following tips like these, you can make it through the spring and summer without polluting the environment.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

It’s Time to Ditch the Paper Receipt

We’ve all been there— at a clothing store, home goods shop, or market, when someone asks us: Would you like your receipt printed or emailed? I have a habit of saying printed, it’s quicker, easier, and guarantees I won’t get junk mail about special sales and offers. But even though a paper receipt may seem like a small piece of trash with little harm to the environment, it’s doing more damage than you think.
Image courtesy of The Guardian

Paper receipts create a shocking 1.5 billion pounds of waste per year. According to the Huffington Post, “Over 250 million gallons of oil, 10 million trees, and 1 billion gallons of water are consumed each year in the creation of receipts for the United States alone.” But luckily, many businesses are going green with an alternative option, electronic receipts. Some businesses have even started asking if you’d like a receipt at all.
Not only are electronic receipts good for the environment, they’re convenient, and won’t weigh down or clutter your wallet. So the next time a cashier asks you if you’d like your receipt printed or emailed, I urge you to think twice before you answer, and choose the more sustainable option.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

BP and the Environment

How many of us remember the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico back in 2010? According to an article called, 5 years after the Gulf oil spill: What we do (and don't) know found on CNN's website,  there was roughly 4.2 million barrels of oil that spilled into the Gulf and BP was responsible for the majority of the spillage. Naturally, this had a devastating affect and people from all around the world were in an uproar. 

(Greenpeace ‘occupies’ gulf oil rig)

This was a major issue and just a few years later, BP withdrew from multi-million dollar green energy programs that focused on low carbon technology and green energy technology. This caused their public image to suffer. Fortunately, BP has made a slow effort to ameliorate those mistakes by putting forth more of an effort to show compassion for the environment. In so doing, they have implemented environmentally friendly tactics and shared many of their operations on their company website. For example, with regard to oil spills, BP has vowed to improve how they control, contain, and clean up oil spills, in the event that they should happen again. As noted on their webiste, they regularly conduct oil spill exercises in order to ensure that they have a positive response in the eventuality of another oil spill. Their website mentioned the use of in situo buring, which when done correctly, will reduce the amount of oil in the water and reduce the effects that the burning may have on the environment, because the burning is controlled. 

Clearly, BP has done a great job at taking slow steps towards becoming a more environmentally friendly oil and gas company. To find out more about BP's attempts to satisfy an eco-friendly future click here!

Save Energy, Save Money

Predicting how our choices today might affect the future can bring on a lot of anxiety.  But thinking about what kind of world we want for future generations is an important aspect of sustainability.  While sustainable decisions are important on a global scale, the choices we make on a personal level are just as important.

Personal decisions we can make regarding energy consumption is an important part of preserving our future.  Much of the energy we are using today is wasted, and finding ways to save it won’t even impact our day to day lives.  But even if you aren’t particularly interested in the sustainability of energy, you too can save with these energy saving tactics.

1.       Wear the right clothes for the climate
CC0 Public Domain

What is the temperature outside?  Is it winter or summer?  What are you wearing right now?  How hard is your home heating or cooling system working to keep you comfortable?  By wearing the right clothes for the climate, you could save hundreds of dollars a year in heating and cooling costs.  So layer-up in the winter, and strip down in the summer.

2.       Set the temperature of your clothes washer to warm, not hot.

Lots of people use hot water to wash their clothing.  For certain clothing, this is a necessary setting for care.  But make sure you are only washing clothes that require that temperature.  When you are doing laundry that is OK to wash cold, make sure to turn down that temperature setting.  The savings in your water heating bill will be worth it, and the CO2 savings will be worth it as well.

3.       Turn off, or replace, your lighting.
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Did you know that about 10% of your electric bill is made up of lighting cost?  An easy way to save energy is to get in the habit of turning off the lights when you leave the room.  If you are already doing this, great!  The next step is to start replacing you lighting with high efficiency LED lights.  LED lighting will last years, and these days, look pretty much the same as any other light.

4.       Check your refrigerator.

Your refrigerator uses more energy than almost anything in your home.  It is really important to make sure is running efficiently.  Check the temperature and set it between 35 and 38 degrees.  Another way to make your refrigerator efficient is to check the rubber seal that runs around the door.  Fix any loose seals so that cool air stays in.

5.       Install a ceiling fan.
CC0 Public Domain

Air conditioning is a great invention for those hot summer nights.  But did you know that your air conditioner is probably running 4 degrees cooler than it needs to be?  By installing a ceiling fan, and circulating the cool air in your home, you can raise the temperature in the summer and you will never know the difference.

By implementing even a few of these simple suggestions, you can reduce your CO2 footprint, as well as your electric bill.  You will be saving the world while saving your money!