Rid yourself of junk mail- or at least recycle it. The average U.S. household receives 1.5 trees’ worth of junk mail each year, and many of these trees are thrown right into the trash. If you want to reduce the amount of junk mail you receive, you’ll need to register with the Mail Preference Service. It costs a buck, you can do it easily online at www.dmaconsumers.org/cgi/offmailinglist. For the junk mail you continue to receive, remember to toss it in the recycling their junk mail, $370 million in landfill dumping fees could be saved each year.
If you must use dry cleaners, try to go less frequently. You will not only save on drive time and fuel, you’ll save plastic. Dry cleaners bunch items together into plastic garment bags, so the more items you being at once, the better. If one in ten households took one less trip to the dry cleaners per year and saved two plastic garment bags, the plastic saved could be stitched together to make more than nine thousand hot air balloons. Better yet: Request no plastic garment bags, and return your paper hangers to the dry cleaners for recycling. You can also try eco-friendly dry cleaners, or wet cleaners (which use biodegradable soap)
Recycle them. Better yet: Call to stop phone book delivery and then use an online telephone directory instead. Telephone books make up almost of waste dump sites.
Washing your car in a commercial car wash is better for the environment than doing it yourself. Commercial car washes not only use significantly less water per was- up to 100 gallons less- but they often recycle and reuse rinse water. If every American who currently washes a vehicle at home chose instead to go a professional car was-just once- up to 8.7 billion gallons of water could be saved, and some 12 billion gallons of soapy polluted water could be diverted from the country’s rivers, lakes, and streams.
There’s no need to grab a huge stack of napkins from the concession stand when you know you’ll only use one or two. Each American consumes an average of 2,200 standard two-ply napkins per year, or the equivalent of just over six of these napkins per day. If everyone in the United States used an average of one fewer napkin per day, more than a billion pounds of napkins could be saved from landfills each year. A stack of napkins this size could fill the entire Empire State Building.
You will save money over the long term. A single rechargeable battery can replace up to one thousand single-se alkaline batteries over its lifetime. Americans throw out approximately 169,000 tons of batteries per year.
You can save as much as $7 for a bottle of water, and it may be safer to drink. Tap water is more strictly regulated than bottled water. If everyone drank tap instead of bottles water in the United States, it would save about $8 billion- about as much as the Unites States spends each year in drought response. It also would help prevent plastic waste: Sixty million water bottles are tossed each day in the United States.
Skip gift wrapping altogether, reuse ribbons, or use paper materials like old newspapers or old maps. If each family reused just two feet of holiday ribbon each year, thirty eight thousand miles worth would be saved. That’s enough to tie a bow around the entire planet.
Recycle or return to the manufacturer your old MP3 players. Some companies give customers up to 10 percent off their next purchases when they return old players. About 40 percent of all the lead in U.S. landfills comes from improperly discarded electronic waste, which can result in toxic pollution of the air and groundwater. So be sure to seek out and e-waste collector or recycling.
If you have the choice, buy soda from the fountain in a paper cup instead of from a can or plastic bottle. You’ll reduce the amount of aluminum cans and plastic bottles that are wasted. More paper (48 percent) is recycled and recovered to make new products than aluminum soda cans (43.9 percent) or plastic soda bottles (25 percent).
Use a digital camera instead of one that needs film. Some 686 million rolls of film are processed each year, and the solutions used to make the prints often contain hazardous chemicals that require special treatment and disposal. Avoid using disposable cameras. Despite the claim on the box that they’re recycled, more than half end up in the trash.
Try a hybrid car or more fuel-efficient vehicle. A hybrid rental can go three times as far as a standard sedan on a single tank of gas. There are 1.7 million rental cars in the Unites States. If every one of them were a hybrid, more than nine million gallons of gasoline would be saved- per fill-up!
Use voice mail instead. Answering machines guzzle energy 24/7. When they stop functioning, they become hazardous waste in the nation’s landfills. If all answering machines in the U.S. homes were eventually replaced by voice mail services, the annual savings would total nearly two billion kilowatt-hours. The reduction in air pollution related to this decrease in energy use would be equivalent to removing 250,000 cars from the road for a year.
Look for paper notes made of 100 percent recycled fiber and at least 20 percent post consumer content. Sales of adhesive notes estimated at about $1 billion per year. A pack of one hundred sells for about $1.25, which means some eighty billion little stick ‘em notes are stuck somewhere ever year.
Live on-campus if you can. You’ll cut down on commuting time, gasoline consumption, car maintenance, and pollution. There are eleven million college students, and 50 percent of those enrolled in state universities live off-campus. If half of these students could bike, walk, carpool, or take public transportation to school, more than two million commuter vehicles could be removed from the nation’s busy streets and highways.
If you can, select paper towel tolls with smaller size sheets in order to extend the life of each roll. (Check the package label for sheet sizes.) A decrease in U.S. household consumption of just three rolls per year would save 120,000 tons of waste and $4.1 million landfill dumping fees.
Gift cards, concert tickets, restaurant certificates and movie vouchers can be great alternatives to heavily packaged and wrapped holiday presents. If you buy these items online, you’ll not only save between five and ten pounds of packaging waste, you’ll also reduce the time, stress, and energy associated with traffic, crowds, and long checkout lines. If 50 percent of households replaced just two packaged presents with gifts that could slide inside an envelope, fifty million pounds or more of waste could be saved.
Purchasing greeting cards made from recycled or tree-free materials. Americans send two billion holiday cards each year, so just 1 percent reduction could save fifteen thousand trees
If you’re planning to buy a new computer, consider getting a laptop or notebook instead of a desktop. Laptops require materials and less energy to produce than desktops and use a fraction of the electricity to run. If you choose a laptop over a desktop, you’ll save an average of 220 kilowatt-hours per year and about $20 on your annual electricity bill. If one in twenty-three households made its next computer purchase a laptop instead of a desktop, the energy saved could keep the lights on for every household in Silicon Valley.
Try to limit frequency with which you replace your cell phone, and make sure you e-cycle (dispose of it through an electronic waste management company) or donate your old one. If you keep each mobile phone you buy for three years instead of just eighteen months, you’ll effectively cut the recourses needed to make a new one. If just 10 percent of cell phone users kept their next phone for three years before replacing it, an average of 5.2 million phones could be saved from disposal each year.
If you’re planning to upgrade your television to a flat screen, you can save roughly 275 kilowatt-hours of energy and $25 per year by choosing a thirty two inch LCD panel over an equal size plasma screen. If five in one hundred households made this choice, the total energy saved could power each of the 266 million televisions owned in the United States through forty straight hours of the next Twilight Zone marathon.
ATM receipts are one of the top sources of litter on the planet. If everyone in the United States left their receipt in the machine, it would save a roll of paper more than two billion feet long, or enough to circle the equator fifteen times.
Some banks will pay you a dollar or donate the money on your behalf when you cancel the monthly paper statements you get in the mail if every household took advantage of online bank systems, the money saved could send more than seventeen thousand recent high school graduates to a public university for a year.
Pay your bills electronically. If every household paid just its credit card bills electronically, it would save almost $2 billion a year in postage costs, or enough to wipe out average credit card debt for 250,000 people.
Tips Retrieved from: Rogers, E., & Kostigen, T. (2007). The Green Book Three Rivers Press, New York
Last updated: May 20, 2008