Simple Ways to Celebrate Earth Day
Most folks know they should recycle, use compact fluorescent (or CFL) light bulbs and look for appliances with an ENERGY STAR rating. That’s a great start and all of the above are important. Want to take your green routine to the next level? Add these five additional steps and celebrate Earth Day even more with these simple methods you might not have considered.
Release the Phantoms
Unplug all those chargers you leave plugged in when you’re not charging anything. The energy they waste isn’t enough to register in a big way on your utility bill, but the waste really adds up when multiplied across every home in town.
Touch that Dial
It’s likely that the hot things in your house could be cooler and the cool things could be hotter. For every load of wash, dial the temperature setting to Cold — today’s laundry detergents don’t need hot water. If your household is only a few people, dial down the setting on your water heater until you don’t have to mix the hot water with cold to make the water temperature comfortable. Dial up the temperature in the refrigerator to 40 degrees
F and in the freezer to 0 degrees F; any colder than that wastes energy and doesn’t make food keep longer.
Be Kind to Runoff
Water we use outside eventually flows to streams and lakes, so think about what you’re sending. Never dump chemicals right into the street drain. Sweep up any lawn fertilizer that falls onto the ground as you fill the spreader, and go one step better by using a slow-release organic fertilizer free of phosphorus. Wash your car at a car wash to keep soapy water and oily dirt from running from the driveway into the street drain.
When you water your lawn — if you water your lawn — shut off the sprinkler if water starts flowing into the street. Wait until the soil can soak up the water you’ve already applied before turning the sprinkler back on.
Feed the Worms
Finding earthworms whenever you dig into your garden is a sure sign of healthy soil. Encourage earthworms in your yard by applying a thin layer of compost to the soil surface. The worms will drag it underground, nourishing the soil and creating passageways that aerate your yard.
But worms aren’t just for the outdoors. You can keep a worm farm indoors to turn your kitchen scraps into plant fertilizer. You just need a plastic bin with small holes punched in the sides, shredded newspaper and mail-order composting worms.
Have a Romantic Evening
Rather than cook, have a meal of raw foods. If that’s too adventurous, just tear into last night’s leftovers. Dine by the light from soy candles, use real dishes and cloth napkins, and store what’s left in reusable containers. Then do something other than watching TV after dinner — play a board game, go for a walk or tell ghost stories.