Lean, Green, and Makin’ the Scene: Top 10 Ways You Can Go Green

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In case you haven’t noticed, green is in. Not only do we see a wealth of new green products on store shelves, but increasing numbers of companies are incorporating sustainable practices into their business plans. That’s great for the companies, but many people are beginning to ask, “What can I do to be green?”

Fortunately, there are numerous simple things you can do to achieve your goal of going green. And once you start, you’ll find you just can’t stop! Here are the Top 10 ways you can go green:

10) Apply Solar Window Tint . Solar window tint film can be purchased at any big-box hardware store. Essential for east- and west-facing windows where sunlight tends to pour into the home, window tint film absorbs up to 55 percent of the sun’s heat. Furthermore, it reflects 99 percent of harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays that not only cause fading, but also present a potential health hazard. Apply solar window tint to the exterior of your windows and watch your summertime energy bills decline while helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and overall energy consumption.

9) Switch Your Light Bulbs to CFLs. By now, virtually everyone has heard of those squiggly-looking, ultra-low wattage compact florescent light bulbs (CFLs) that save energy while providing the same brightness as a typical incandescent bulb. In accordance with the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, CFLs will become standardized as the old incandescents are phased off the market in 2012. In the news recently has been a bit of hype and scaremongering over whether the mercury in CFLs present a major health hazard. But at the same time, those florescent tubes in your kitchen also contain mercury. Although a handful of CFL manufacturers do in fact sell very low-mercury bulbs, I hope they consider either replacing the mercury with another gas or encasing the spiral tubing in shatterproof, heatproof plastic.

8) Check Your Tire Pressure. This may sound trivial, but checking your tire pressure on a regular basis saves fuel. This is one of the reasons why many newer cars these days come with a tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) as standard equipment.

7) Get Your Fuel Injectors Cleaned. You may not realize or even think about it, but your gas mileage may be seriously compromised even as we speak. Dirty or clogged fuel injectors make your engine run inefficiently, waste fuel, and increase polluting emissions. Take your car to your favorite auto shop and have them perform a fuel injector cleaning service. It’s very fast, and it may make your car run smoother too.

6) Combine Car Trips and Plan Your Route. I don’t have to tell you that gas prices are going through the roof. Driving around town may be fun, but when you’re doing errands, you might want to consider combining your trips and planning your route so as to drive the shortest number of miles possible. For example, you have to purchase some groceries, go to the library, and get more money from the bank. If you can combine all three trips along the way in one run, you’ve just saved yourself time and money.

5) Compost. Growing up, I recall my mother always complaining about the “stinky” compost pile in the corner of our backyard. In reality is wasn’t so bad, and adding grass and leaf clippings to it annually produced many years of beneficial, nutritious garden soil rather than it rotting uselessly in a landfill somewhere. These days, you can purchase enclosed composting kits from a number of garden centers and mail-order catalogs. If you’re feeling particularly entrepreneurial, you can start a business selling the stuff.

4) Grow Your Own Vegetables. Pick a sunny spot in your yard or on your patio using pots and plant vegetables purchased as young plants from your local garden center. Start off with tomatoes as they are the easiest to grow. If you’re planting in the garden, first turn the soil over with a pitchfork to aerate and add homemade compost as described above. Be sure to water often, and add plant food in order to get the proper balance of nutrients necessary for strong growth. If you’re in an exceptionally adventurous mood, try growing the veggies from seed. Make planting your garden a fun activity for the entire family!

3) BYOB. No, not bring your own beer. Take your own mesh shopping bag to the grocery store and help wean America off volatile sources of foreign oil. And if you do take plastic bags, make sure you reuse them, then recycle them via drop-offs at your grocery store, public library, or recycling facility. These days, there’s no reason a plastic bag should end up in a landfill. Remember to recycle those small plastic grocery baggies you placed your vegetables in as well.

2) Plant a Tree. It may sound silly, but planting a tree adds oxygen to your environment and cleanses the air of carbon dioxide, thus helping the fight against global warming. Research the Internet and mail-order catalogs, visit your local garden center, then find a good spot in your yard to plant your tree. This also makes a fun and educational family project that creates lifetime memories. Put a marker next to the tree and make it a historical monument!

1) Get Educated,Get Involved. Education is truly key to understanding the challenges we face today in moving forward with sustainability. Once you are educated on the key energy and environmental concerns of the day, you will become motivated to act and innovate new ways of living in our era of global warming and decreasing supplies of worldwide oil. So whether you volunteer for community gardens or get involved in grassroots environmental groups, you can make a difference. A quick search of the Internet will also direct you to various websites where you can find out how to get involved in making our world a greener and healthier place.

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