Supplement to The Future of Electricity “Your own energy future”
It’s easy to say you want to live a more environmentally friendly lifestyle, but what about putting those words into action?
Amanda Gumbert, associate for agriculture and natural resource issues at the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service, put together a list of easy and inexpensive ways to live so-called greener lives:
• Buy frequently used items in bulk. Buying in bulk reduces packaging, which reduces garbage that ends up in a landfill. Instead of buying two 12-ounce bottles of shampoo, for instance, buy one large 24-ounce bottle. Buying in bulk also reduces trips to the store.
• Borrow or rent items instead of purchasing them. This tip is most applicable to items that will not be used more than once or twice. If you’re traveling to the beach this summer, for example, borrow a set of beach chairs. If you’re doing a home improvement project that requires a special tool, rent it from a hardware or rental store.
• Compost food scraps. Instead of scraping food off your plate into the trash, try combining food scraps and paper shreds to make a compost pile in your back yard. Composting is easy, and it not only reduces waste that ends up in the landfill, it provides an earth-friendly way to fertilize and condition your garden. There are even ways to compost indoors during the winter.
• Take reusable shopping bags to the supermarket. Because more people are taking reusable shopping bags when they go to the supermarket, more checkout clerks and baggers are becoming accustomed to the practice. That means it should be easier to say “no” to plastic bags and say “yes” to bagging your groceries in a more environmentally friendly manner.
• Buy locally produced foods. Buying locally grown fruits and vegetables, locally produced meat products, and local value-added products cuts down on highly processed, heavily packaged foods, which benefits Mother Earth, is a healthy way to eat, and helps fuel the agricultural economy. More grocery stores have heard consumers’ demands for fresh produce and are stocking their shelves with more locally grown items.
• Pledge to drive less. Make 2007 the year you drive less and walk, bicycle, carpool, or take public transportation more. Set a goal—one day a week, for example—to make a conscious effort to cut down on the amount you drive and, therefore, the amount of carbon you emit.
• Unplug your appliances and electrical devices when not in use. This includes televisions, DVD players, microwaves, computers, and cell phone chargers—all of which, when plugged in, can drain electricity even if they’re not in use.
• Cut down on water consumption. You can make a big difference in the amount of water you consume with little effort. Not letting the water run when you brush your teeth or shave, and running your dishwasher and washing machine only when they are full are just two examples of simple water-saving actions. Installing low-flow showerheads and low-flow toilets can also make a huge difference.
• Recycle. Most communities in Kentucky have a local or regional recycling program for paper, bottles, plastics, and other common recyclables. Call your county’s solid-waste coordinator to find a recycling program near you.
To find out more about any of these earth-friendly tips or other ways to do your part for the environment, contact your county Extension office.— Terri McLean, UK Extension
To read the March 2007 FUTURE OF ELECTRICITY column that goes along with this supplement, click here: Your own energy future