Each week, we will post a new suggestion for saving energy, water, and generally living more lightly on the Earth. These are also available in Spanish on this website.
Our thanks go to an Eco-minded parishioner in Mary Immaculate Parish, Pacoima, California for these Eco-Tips.
Kids: Pass on Your Stuff and Help Save the Earth
Kids, wouldn’t it be great if there was a way to help save the Earth, get rid of stuff you don’t want, and make someone happy, all at the same time? There is. Instead of throwing away your old things, you can find a new home for them. Pass on to someone else those old board games you don’t play with anymore, books you outgrew, and puzzles that are now too easy for you.
Pick up Trash and Protect Animals
Cigarette butts, snack wrappers, take-out boxes, and drink containers are our most common liter. Each one can hurt animals in a different way. Little animals like squirrels and skunks sometimes stick their heads in small plastic containers (especially yogurt containers) trying to get the food that’s left, and get stuck there. Deer and other animals often cut their tongues on half-opened cans. Six-pack rings can trap and strangle birds, fish, and other animals. Animals mistake cigarette butts which are made of plastic and eat them, which can kill them. So, when you go hiking take a trash bag to collect your trash and other trash along the way. The animals from the forest will greatly appreciate it.
One Rechargeable Battery Can Replace 1,000 Regular Batteries
Did you know? People in the United States buy three billion batteries every year. That’s about 10 batteries for each person in the country, including babies. Most of these batteries are made to be thrown away. But rechargeable batteries are made to be reused. These batteries aren’t perfect. But they are better for the Earth than disposable batteries. One rechargeable can take the place of up to 1,000 regular (single use alkaline) batteries during its lifetime. Yep, that’s right 1,000! Amazing, no?
Make the batteries that you use last longer:
- Take them out of equipment that you are putting away for a while.
- Don’t put batteries (or things that have batteries in them) in really hot places. Heat shortens a batteries’ life.
- Don’t use old batteries with new ones. It wears out the new ones faster.
- But most important use rechargeable batteries.
Take a “no garbage” lunch to work or school. That’s exactly what it sounds like – a lunch that leaves you with no or very little garbage to throw away when you are finished. Save your brown paper bag and re-use it. Carry a reusable container. If you cut your sandwich into four pieces, it can fit inside a container. Buy snacks in large packages instead of small individual ones and pour them in small containers. This a lot less expensive than buying pre-packaged snack bags. Pick snacks that are healthier and have their own natural wrapping such as bananas, apples, oranges, etc. And finally carry your milk or juice in small thermos or buy drinks that come in recyclable containers.
These Come From Trees!
Do you want to save trees – and money – at the same time? Check out the blog “These Come From Trees” – which describes itself as “An experiment in environmentalism, viral marketing, and user interface design with the goal of reducing consumer waste paper!
The group sells inexpensive, but durable stickers that look like this:
A single “These Come From Trees” sticker can save roughly a tree’s worth of paper, each year!
The project has indeed gone viral, with stickers appearing everywhere from the Denver airport to Seton Hall University. Schools can order them for free, and the project has developed a simple lesson plan which guides students through calculations of paper and money saved.
Save Food and Energy in the kitchen – Don’t overcook
Meals should be planned according to the guest list. Consider who will eat what and what portions are appropriate. Don’t feel obligated to offer guests every potential appetizer or entree under the sun. There is no need to overfeed guests either. Don’t throw leftovers away. Send them home with guests, pack them into your refrigerator or freezer, or donate them to a shelter. Turkey carcasses and ham bones make for great soup. If there is a whole pie or untouched leftover, donate it to your local food bank. Find your local food bank here…
Pack your presents in ordinary gift wrapping.
Be creative. Use newspaper or colorful pages from magazines and hang them a Christmas ornament. You can also pack presents in a beautiful scarf and make the packaging part of the present.
Think of giving experiences rather than things:
As we enter the holiday season, consumers flock to malls, department stores and outlets in droves to search for that perfect gift, that one card that says it all, that tree to end all trees. But as we feast, give gifts, decorate and travel, we also consume lots of resources and generate lots of waste. A recent report noted that the amount of household garbage in the United States generally increases by 25 percent between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, from 4 million tons to 5 million tons. Think about what you can do to stop the impact of the holidays on earth.
When decorating this Christmas think green:
- Decorate with more energy efficient LEDs (light emitting diodes) strings rather than the larger, old fashioned lights. And be sure to turn them on only when someone’s around to appreciate them.
- Wrap gifts using old newspapers or paper bags.
- Avoid foil and plastic-embossed paper because these use more resources in the manufacturing process.
- When you’re not enjoying a fire in your fireplace, close the flue and block the hearth to prevent heat loss.
Green Your Holidays, and every day:
The holidays are here and we want to remind you of a few things you can do to stay green.
- Carpool when you go shopping.
- Bring your own bags.
- And most important don’t waste food. Save the plastic containers and jars from food you buy and use them to save food or take the leftovers from a restaurant.
Saving Water in the Garden:
Rock yards and cactus are not the only solution to a water-wise landscape. Managing the amount of water used is also a factor. Some parts of the US – Arizona, for instance – receive very little rain each year; therefore people rely on municipal water for landscape plants and gardens. Selecting low water-use plants is important but managing what little rain falls can make a difference, too.
Rainwater harvesting is the process of catching and storing rain or creating a path for the water to find its way to trees, plants, or gardens. Watch how water flows on a property during a rain storm. Direct it in to storage barrels or cisterns with gutters and use it later. Slow the flow on hills or slopes by creating a slight ditch (or row) on a contour to prevent soil erosion as well as to allow the water time to settle into the soil.