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Sustainably Speaking: Incorporate sensible changes to enjoy Earth Day every day
April 21, 2011 Al and Lois Herbel   

Read more by Al and Lois Herbel
On April 22, 1970, Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson proposed celebrating Earth Day. For 41 years, our nation has celebrated Earth Day and taken time to assess what needs to be done to protect the environment. Recycling is one of those activities. Listed below are some interesting facts about recycling.

Did you know:
• Recycling one aluminum can saves enough electricity to operate a TV for 3 hours.
• Recycling one glass bottle or jar saves enough electricity to light a 100 watt bulb for 4 hours.
• Recycling one ton of plastic saves between 1,000 to 2,000 gallons of gasoline.
• More than 30 million trees are harvested to produce a year’s supply of newspapers.
• A ton of paper made from recycled paper saves:
o 7,000 gallons of water
o 17 to 31 trees
o 60 pounds of air pollutants
• Recycling a pound of steel saves enough energy to light a 60 watt light bulb for 26 hours.
• Americans recycle only 5 percent of all the plastic produced in this country.
• One drip per second from a leaky faucet wastes 540 gallons of water a year.
• Using recycled glass uses 40 percent less energy than making new glass.
We are fortunate in our community to be able to recycle tin, glass, aluminum, No 1 and 2 plastic, corrugated cardboard, newspaper and waste paper.
Recycling is only one of many activities in which to participate in order to positively impact our environment. Listed below are a few favorite Earth Day tips.
• Install a programmable thermostat and lower the temperature in the winter and raise the temperature in the summer.
• Reuse your water bottle and avoid buying bottled water.
• Install low-flow faucets, showerheads and toilets.
• Buy locally produced foods and buy in season.
• Replace incandescent light bulbs with energy efficient compact fluorescent bulbs.
• Turn off lights and electronics when out of the room. Install light sensors. Unplug cell phone chargers when not in use. Plug in microwaves to a power strip and turn the power strip on only when using the microwave.
• Walk, bike, carpool or consolidate trips whenever possible.
• Go to the library instead of buying books.
• Get off junk mail lists.
• Use reusable cloth bags when shopping.
• Consider organic leaning products like vinegar, borax and baking soda.
• Install a clothes line.
• Consider buying a fuel-efficient car or a hybrid.
• Whenever possible, attend meetings electronically (conference calls, Skype, distance learning, etc.)
• Include xeriscaping and native plants in your landscape. Use a drip system wherever possible. Reduce the amount of turf, and plant Buffalo Grass in your landscape.
• Irrigate your landscape in early morning hours and in non-windy conditions,
• Channel rain gutters to drain on to your landscape.
• Plant edible landscapes, a garden or a tree.
• Preserve garden produce by canning or freezing.
• Purchase Energy-Star appliances.
• Use Forest Stewardship Council Certified lumber.
• Purchase fair trade coffee and tea.
• Recycle medications at a local pharmacy. Don’t flush down the stool.
• Take batteries to a recycling center.
• Reduce idle time buy turning off the engine if you are stopped more than 10 seconds.
• Do full loads of laundry using warm/cold water.
• Wash full loads in the dish washer.
• Limit the length of your shower.
• Have a garage sale or donate unwanted articles to Goodwill or a similar agency.
• Don’t run water when brushing your teeth.
• Retrofit your home with energy saving devices such as whole house fans and sun tunnels.
• Add insulation in your attic, caulk around windows, doors, etc.
• Use the printer as little as possible, double side print, increase the margins and use smaller font whenever possible.
• Drive smart – watch your speed, use slow acceleration, etc.
• Monitor adequate tire pressure.

In addition to these tips, one could compost. More than 24 percent of the solid waste stream is composed of materials that can be composted and kept out of the landfill. Composting involves placing yard trimmings and food residual in a container or area so it can decompose. The decomposed matter is called humus and is used to enrich garden and lawn soils.

This article lists several things we can do to conserve natural resources, save money and contribute to a better place to live. Although it is impossible to immediately do everything on this list all at once, we can pick and choose several we want to become a habit. Then, we can gradually incorporate more tips into our lifestyle over time. In the meantime, we can enjoy Earth Day everyday and be reminded that “There are no passengers on Spaceship Earth. We are all crew.” Marshall McLuhan

(Editor’s note: For questions or comments, contact Lois Herbel, who is an environmental education consultant lherbel@yahoo.com Al Herbel, who is a LEED Accredited Professional, sustainability consultant alherbel@mail.com They may be contacted at 308.436.2328.)
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