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Easy ways to live greener

by Jack Kirven . Q-Notes staff
Contributing to a healthier environment for you and everyone else is actually not a tedious process. It can be very simple, especially if you make minor adjustments to your daily habits. Here are some ideas for how you can help.

Keep your car regularly maintained
Changing your oil and getting regular tune-ups keeps your vehicle running efficiently. Keeping fluids clean and level, checking the air pressure in your tires and replacing filters regularly will reduce your car’s carbon footprint. Advanced homework: Replace your paper filters with cotton filters, which last the lifetime of your vehicle with regular cleaning and further improve your car’s performance.

Drive the speed limit
Do the math: Driving 80 mph rather than 70 mph for a 60-mile trip only saves you about 10 minutes. Leave on time and you won’t need to rush. You’ll be safer on the road and your gas mileage will improve. Advanced homework: Purchase your next vehicle equipped with cruise control, the use of which dramatically improves gas mileage. Also consider getting a hybrid or learn more about new ways of converting your car to run on alternative fuels.

Turn your lights off
You do not need the lights on in rooms where you aren’t spending time. Turn lights off when you leave a room. Advanced homework: Replace your bulbs with longer lasting alternative bulbs that provide more light with less energy for a much longer amount of time. Consider placing your lamps on timers.

Check your home for leaky faucets
You may not realize it, but that slow drip in your shower is wasting hundreds of gallons of fresh water every month. If you have a fast drip or multiple slow drips (check outside as well!) you will be paying for thousands of gallons of water that you aren’t using. Advanced homework: Replace your faucets, showerheads and toilets with lower usage alternatives.

Water your plants at dawn
Watering your grass and plants at dawn decreases water waste from evaporation and gives the soil time to aerate throughout the day. Watering in the peak of afternoon creates evaporation wastage. Watering in the evening can lead to mold or fungus because the water will sit in the soil all night. Advanced homework: Install a timed watering system that uses a preset amount of water at a preset time in the morning. Even better: Install a timed watering system that can sense when the soil is already moist enough and doesn’t water the plants when its raining or when the ground is already saturated.

Recycle your grocery bags
Even where other forms of recycling are limited, most places will at least take various forms of glass, paper and plastic. Make it a point to recycle all those extra plastic bags that the bagger gave you for whatever mysterious reason. Advanced homework: Buy several canvas shopping bags. Harris Teeter offers them for $0.99 each and they can be reused indefinitely. Each canvas bag can hold the equivalent of several plastic bags, plus they are sturdy and stand up better in the trunk of your car. Using the same 5-10 canvas bags repeatedly versus throwing away thousands of plastic bags over the course of time makes a huge difference in landfills.

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