Buying in bulk is one way to save money and protect the environment. Bulk items that can be stored without expiring reduce the need to travel to and from the store frequently, saving time and gas. In addition, bulk items typically feature less packaging than smaller-sized products and o en cost less per unit. Perishables are not something that should be purchased in bulk unless the items will definitely be used prior to their expiration dates. But cooking oil, toothbrushes, cereal, toilet paper, canned goods, pet food, cleaning supplies and printer paper are just a few of the many items that can be bought in bulk and stored for future use. Just be sure to store these items where they can be easily accessed or you may forget you have them and go to the store to buy more.
According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, 91 percent of long-distance holiday travel is by personal vehicle. And while many people may associate holiday travel with long lines at airport check-in counters and security checkpoints, the BTS notes that just 5 to 6 percent of holiday trips are taken by air. e remaining 2 to 3 percent are taken by bus, train, ship or another mode of transportation. e average long-distance holiday trip for the Christmas/New Year’s holiday is 275 miles, which is slightly longer than the average long-distance trip during the rest of the year, indicating that many travelers are willing to travel farther for the holiday season than they might be during the rest of the year. In addition, when traveling long distances for the Christmas/New Year’s holiday, travelers spend roughly four nights away from home on average.
Did You Know? Solar energy and harnessing the power of the sun for reasons beyond natural light is not a new concept. British astronomer John Herschel converted solar power by using a solar collector box to cook food while on an expedition in Africa in 1830. And in 1931, Albert Einstein collected a Nobel Prize for his work in solar and photovoltaic experimentation. According to Solar Energy World, a solar energy and green living resource, by using renewable energy sources, such as solar power, one can greatly reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. This includes emitting 20,000 fewer pounds of carbon dioxide each year into the atmosphere; 50 fewer pounds of nitrogen oxide; and 70 fewer pounds of sulfur dioxide.
Raking leaves may be an autumn tradition for many homeowners, but those who want a less strenuous way to prevent their lawns from being suffocated by fallen leaves may want to consider mulching them. Fallen leaves should never be left to linger on a yard for very long, and some homeowners may be surprised to learn that waiting to rake until all of the trees on a property have shed their leaves can be detrimental to the lawn. That’s because fallen leaves trap moisture and prevent sunlight and air from reaching the grass, making lawns more vulnerable to disease. Fallen leaves also can harbor insects, again putting lawns at risk of disease. Mulching may be the best option for homeowners who prefer to avoid spending several weekend afternoons each fall raking leaves. Many lawnmowers are now equipped with mulching capabilities, which can remove the need to rake. When leaves are mulched, they are minced into tiny pieces that are left behind on the lawn. Such pieces are so small that they won’t block air or light from reaching the grass, nor are they likely to harbor insects. But as these tiny pieces of leaves decompose, they enrich the soil with nutrients, so much so that some lawns may not even need to be fertilized in the fall.
Some may argue that grills, with their charcoal and natural gas heating components sending carbon gases into the air, are bad for the environment. But the disposable plastic containers, dishes and cutlery that are staples of outdoor entertaining may be more harmful to the environment. In addition to the energy expended and the chemicals used to produce plastic products, disposable items often end up in storm drains, and from those drains they wash into waterways and oceans, where pieces of the plastic are consumed by fish and other aquatic animals. If the plastic does not injure or kill the fish, it may end up contaminating the animal, passing on dangerous chemicals if that fish later becomes a food source. Many plastics marked as #1 or #7 can be recycled and made into new items, even fabrics. Even plastic products that cannot be recycled can be reused. Bring picnic and barbecue supplies home to wash and use again. While less convenient, cloth napkins, reusable plates, silverware and cups are better for the environment. Designate a special set of items for outdoor use that can be used again and again.
According to Scotts®, a premier lawn seed and care company, grass clippings contain the same beneficial nutrients, including nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium, as fertilizer. Grass clippings can provide as much as one-third of the annual feeding requirement of your lawn. Homeowners who mow their own lawns can save themselves the trouble of bagging and disposing of clippings by leaving the clippings on their lawns. To make the most of grass clippings, mow regularly so grass blades do not grow too high and make sure mower blades are sharp before moving. Grass blades that grow too high and get left behind on the grass may prevent the soil from getting the moisture it needs to thrive, so always mow before the grass gets too high. While grass clippings can benefit the soil and contribute to a lush and healthy lawn, always bag and remove clippings if you notice signs of disease in your lawn. Diseased clippings can spread fungus that affects the health and appearance of a lawn. It’s also acceptable to bag clippings if you want to add them to a compost pile that will eventually be used to enrich the soil.
Many people opt for bottled water hoping to avoid the potential pathogens lurking inside of regular tap water. But consuming bottled water contributes to the ever-growing problem of discarded plastic bottles and other waste, and you may not be getting what you think when choosing bottled water over tap water. The National Resources Defense Council says sales of bottled water have tripled in the past 10 years to around $4 billion per year, fueled largely on the premise that bottled water comes from crystal-clear springs or untouched glaciers. According to U.S. government estimates and industry experts, as much as 40 percent of bottled water is derived from tap water. The NRDC says one brand of spring water was found to come from a well in an industrial facility’s parking lot near a hazardous waste dump. Also, many bottled waters are exempt from the Food and Drug Administrations bottled water standards because the FDA says its rules do not apply to water packaged and sold within the same state. When waters are covered and tested, they may be subject to weaker regulations than regular tap water. What’s more, even if bottled water is thoroughly filtered, data suggests that plastic bottles could be putting your health at risk. According to the organization Ban the Bottle, water contained in polyethylene terephthalate bottles can absorb chemicals from the plastic the longer the water is in storage. These include a chemical called antimony, a white metallic element that in small doses can cause nausea, dizziness and depression. In large doses, antimony can be fatal. Bottled water that is sitting in a hot area can leach the chemicals even faster.
According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, carbon dioxide is the primary greenhouse gas emitted through human activities. Carbon dioxide is naturally present in the Earth’s atmosphere as part of its carbon cycle, but human activity is altering that cycle by adding more carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. In addition to adding more carbon dioxide to that natural cycle, human activity is influencing the ability of natural sinks, such as oceans, forests and plants, to remove carbon from the atmosphere. The combustion of fossil fuels for energy and transportation is the primary carbon dioxide-emitting human activity. In fact, the EPA notes that electricity, transportation and industry are the three main sources of carbon dioxide emissions in the United States. Electricity accounted for roughly 37 percent of total carbon dioxide emissions and 31 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions in the United States in 2013. Transportation, which involves the combustion of gasoline and diesel fuel to transport people and goods, was the second largest source of carbon dioxide emissions in 2013, accounting for 31 percent. In addition to automobiles, transportation-related sources of carbon dioxide emissions include airplanes, marine transportation and trains. Though much of the world has grown increasingly eco-conscious over the last decade or so, carbon dioxide emissions remain high, as such emissions in the United States increased by 7 percent between 1990 and 2013. However, the 2014 U.S. Greenhouse Gas Inventory Report, which tracked total annual U.S. emissions and removals dating back to 1990, indicated a 9 percent decline in greenhouse gas emissions between 2005 and 2013, suggesting that efforts to reduce emissions were beginning to bear fruit.
Reducing energy consumption during the dog days of summer does not mean you have to turn off your air conditioner on sultry summer nights. Closing the shades during the daytime hours can keep sun from coming in and heating up your home, making it easier for your air conditioner to maintain a cooler temperature. Routinely cleaning the air conditioner’s filters is another way to reduce energy consumption, as clean filters will ensure the unit does not have to work as hard to maintain a cool temperature.
Though urban areas may not be in close proximity to beaches, lakes or streams, stormwater from such areas is one of the primary ways that pollutants are delivered to major bodies of water. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, high stormwater flow can send untreated sewage into our waters, including our oceans. Stormwater from urban areas also may be responsible for delivering heavy metals, pathogens (bacteria, viruses or other microorganisms that can cause disease) and sediment into our waters. That’s why it’s important not to put waste or chemicals in storm drains. Eco-friendly infrastructure can reduce and treat stormwater at its source, preventing many of the environmental problems associated with stormwater runoff.
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