Smell Like Dirt

In Spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.” Margaret Atwood

Archive for green living tips

The Top Five


The pain at the pump right now is being felt by everyone. And although, high gas prices are probably going to be a good thing for the environment in the long term, its hard right now as we adjust to these new prices. So, we’re offering additional things we can all do to save money and save the environment at the same time. These are relatively easy and relatively cheap, especially when you consider the return on your investment. So try some of these hints and let me know if you have any suggestions for other quick and easy ideas.

Change your five most used light bulbs from incandescents to compact fluorescent lights (CLFs). They use less energy, last ten years or longer (the ones in our garage will be 11 in August), and burn cooler. If everyone did just the top 5 bulbs in our homes, it would be the equivalent of taking one million cars off our roads. Want to save more energy and pollution? Change all your light bulbs.

Use Dryer Balls. For about $10, you can by these balls to use when you dry your cloths. The balls help break apart the wet clothing so they dry faster using less energy!

Use reusable bags when you shop. And NOT just for groceries! Going to your favorite drug store, office supply store, vitamin shop, or hardware store? Don’t forget your bags! If you make it a hard and fast rule, it will only take two times of forgetting your bags and having to walk back out to your car to get them, to remember to take them the first time. And it makes it so handy to throw a couple over your shoulder, walk through the store filling them up and then emptying them to pay and then filling them back up again. Unless you are doing a big shopping trip, an added bonus is that you don’t have to touch those germ laden shopping carts or baskets!

Unplug appliances when not in use. Appliances burn up to 40% of their electricity even when they are in the off mode. Our TV, DVD, stereo, etc are all plugged in to a surge protector. At night, once we are done with those components, we simply switch off the surge protector. There’s no need for them to burn 40% of their electricity 22 hours a day for the two hours they are in use. We also unplugged the alarm clock and the TV in the guest room. And why should the microwave be burning electricity all day just to use it for 10 minutes (if that!) around dinner time?

Now, this next one is a little more effort, but has a big impact so its worth it: Reduce the size of your lawn! If you reduce, or better yet, eliminate the amount of grass you have, you will cut down on the chemicals (weed killers, fertilizers) you pour on the grass, you cut down on the water you use, you decrease the mowing you need to do. Consider replacing the grass with a natural area. A few native shrubs surrounded by mulch. The native plantings will not need as much care and the benefits native plant provide to wildlife is critical for a healthy ecosystem.

Ok, that last one was a little harder, but you have to admit, going green can be pretty easy and you’ll save money in the long run. And sure, there’s more you can do: install a rain barrel, buy a hybrid, start riding the bike that’s collecting dust in the garage, buy local food, etc. But even if you just do those top five things, it will make a big difference. I’d love to hear how you’re going green and saving money!

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The Tree Controversy

A Real TreeI’ve decided to wade into the controversy of real vs fake trees.  Being a diehard “real” tree consumer, I was a little afraid of what I was going to discover when I started my research on which kind of Christmas tree is more eco-friendly.   Was I ready to give up the tradition of a real tree if I found out that a fake (or “life-like” as one friend calls his plastic tree) tree was better for the environment?  Well, the answer is…..it depends on who you ask.  Like a lot of issues regarding the environment, there seems to be differing opinions.  One camp says that cutting down a tree to stick in your house for a couple of weeks is crazy.  Why, that tree was producing oxygen!  Why would anyone cut down a perfectly healthy tree?  Of course, the tree would not have been planted at all if it weren’t for customer demand.  Another group says that fake trees are plastic, which is a petroleum based product so you are supporting the big oil companies by buying a petroleum based product.  And then there’s all the other chemicals that are in the tree and used in the process of making the tree.  Then there’s the “China Syndrome”….most of the fake trees are made in China so who knows what’s really in them!  Back to real trees.  Not only are you cutting down an oxygen producer, but you also have the transportation costs of getting it to you.  But, fake trees ride around in trucks too, but overall the carbon footprint of a fake tree is bigger than the footprint of a real tree.  Then there’s disposal.  Fake trees can be used many years before they are disposed of, which is a good argument for the “reduce, reuse, recycle” mantra.  BUT, when they do end up in the landfill, it will take thousands of years to break down (if ever).  My real tree, on the other hand, will end up on the brushpile in my backyard to provide cover for wildlife and food for bugs until it turns into compost and replenishes the soil.    But next year, I will have to buy another tree.  So the answer is, I have NO idea which is better.   Another option is buying a live potted tree, enjoying it indoors until after the holidays and then planting it outside.  Which sounds GREAT in theory, but the trees won’t live everywhere in the country, and with the drought in the Southeast right now, planting anything is not a good idea because you will need to keep it watered to give it a fighting chance of survival.So, this controversy is not going to be solved here at Smell Like Dirt.  I would be interested in hearing how you feel about it and what you will be decorating in your home this year……Real or Fake?  

An Environmentally Friendly Holiday!

The holidays are here!  Everywhere you look, decorations are going up and people are out shopping looking for those perfect gift ideas.  During the next few weeks, we will explore the many ways you can make your holiday a bit more environmentally friendly, and our first tip is LED lights.  You may have read that the tree at Rockefeller Center in New York is being lit with LED lights this year.  They estimate that this will cut the energy used by 2/3s.  LED’s (light emitting diodes) use 90% less electricity than conventional strings of lights and if everyone replaced their holiday lights with LED lights, an estimated two billion kilowatt hours would be saved in a month.  That’s enough to power 200,000 homes for an entire year! LED’s are readily available this year almost anywhere you can buy Christmas decorations.   Even if you don’t want to replace all of your lights this year, consider buying a few strings to replace what you are currently using and plan on adding more strings each year.   You’ll be saving carbon emissions and money on your electric bill.Stay tuned for more eco-friendly holiday ideas, and Go Green this holiday season!