Let's be Green.


I know, I know. Earth Day was last week, but it really got me thinking about my own responsibilities concerning the environment. 

It is just easier to be green (don't think of Kermit!) at home.  I can recycle there. I can turn out lights, change the thermostat, add insulation, and even pick different plants that need less water.  My Pet Peeves today revolve around those annoyances at the office that deal with keeping the environment cleaner and healthier.

First of all, what is it with these over-heated or over-air-conditioned offices?  Especially in the winter when everyone is dressed for cold weather. You walk into an office or store and it is 89 degrees in there.  You immediately start sweating in your long johns, your sweater, and whatever other cold weather clothing you have on.

And it also seems difficult to recycle in many offices.  I see soda cans and plastic water bottles in with regular trash all the time.  It seems like recycling is not that difficult.  If I can do it at home, then we can do it at the office?

Why do people leave the lights on in every room, office, closet, and hallway when they are not in use?  I have no problem with people using lights, just be in the room to enjoy it!

What about those people who have to print every single solitary document that comes to them via email?  90% of the emails we get are garbage anyway!  If you do print, can't you print double sided?  That sure would save a bunch of trees!

These all seem to be small things.  But if we all did them, I am sure we could have an impact without any real change to our day-to-day activities. What do you think?

Okay, I will get off my soapbox (made of salvaged wood!)

Peeve On!

The Peeve Meister

P.S.  Congrats to elmendf, our Rant-of-the-Week winner from last week.


I am thinking that the ...

I am thinking that the ones that leave lights on don't feel a need to turn them off because they aren't the ones paying for the electric to run them, or they were never taught from an early age to turn off things when not in use. Again with the ones that print too many things. Its not wasted paper to them. If the costs of those things were to be their responsibility, you'd see a difference in what was wasted or not wasted.

LOL, I agree and that's ...

LOL, I agree and that's why I try and do as much as I can around my home too! I recycle when and where I can, I changed my bulbs, I don't run the air if I don't need to, use my ceiling fans, conserve water and I teach my kids to do the same and fuss at them when I see them NOT doing it. during the day I don't need lights on in the house and esp. cuz I'm home by myself during the day, I only have the tv and computer on.

a big peeve of mine is ...

a big peeve of mine is wasting water, my husb is very good at that. he'll start his shower but then go sit on the toilet!! WTF, WHY!! I go and turn it off when he does that! and when brushing teeth, I BETTER NOT hear water running the whole time!!!

I try to conserve energy ...

I try to conserve energy at home as much as possible. I have changed all my light bulbs to energy conservative ones, don't run the water while brushing my teeth or the kids teeth, had the kids take a bath together until my son figured out that he has something to play with and my daughter knows that she is a girl and he is a boy. I don't water my grass at my house and only water the veggie plants twice a week for 5 minutes at a time, drive my car instead of my suv, recycle bottles, cans, burn cardboard boxes or leaves or other debris that won't cause any damage burning it, have the AC set at 78 (still too hot for me), and we sit in the dark. But it seems to me that the more I try to conserve the more the power company jacks up the prices. I have ceiling fans that stay on to keep the air circulating so the AC doesn't come on very often.
But to those people who can't seem to get it through their thick skulls...

Turn off the water while brushing your teeth.
Turn off the lights if you aren't in a room. That goes for the TV too!
Stop running in and out of the doors. We aren't paying to heat/cool the outdoors.
If you watch tv, turn off the lights. You don't need them on.
Use ceiling fans. It helps clear out the stale air.
Burn the yard debris, cardboard boxes(or break them down to use for moving later) newspaper.
Put seals around the doors and windows. Keeps you from losing energy.
Put curtains up. Keeps the rooms cool in summer and warm in winter.
Change lightbulbs.

I could go on but I do have to get more work done.

Oh and dont' turn on the ...

Oh and dont' turn on the water and sit on the toilet. Wastes up to 10 gallons of water that most people pay for.

<p>you said it better than ...

you said it better than I could girl!!!!
78 is a little hot for me too esp. in the summer down here! at night I turn it down to 75 cuz you can't sleep when it's hot and if I sleep with the fan we get congested. and when I leave home, I turn it to 80 so it barely comes on but won't leave the house too hot either.

I think all this green ...

I think all this green stuff has to do with where you live. For example, we can't turn the lights out up here in the winter. We only get 4 hours of sunlight (10am to 2pm). So if the lights in the main area outside my office were turned off because nobody was there, then I would be in complete darkness trying to leave at the end of the day. But then come summer, the lights are never on. It's so bright that we don't need lights, and right now the sun is getting close to NOT going down. Don't really need lights during that!

Heat - we need it up here! Most of us don't wear long-johns or dress very warmly. Why dress warm if you are just going from your car to the store? The only time we dress for the conditions outside is if we are planning on doing an outdoor activity - snowmachine, snowboard, ski, whatever. At work our heat is set at 65, no higher no lower. But you have to remember - there are times that it's -10 up here, so we don't need it as warm. And it doesn't matter HOW good your windows are, -10 gets through it. There is NOTHING you can do on those days. But when summer comes we need to cool down. The other day it was 56 and ya know what I did? I used my AC.

We don't have an actual recycling program here, and our town is currently working on a curbside program. It's in the begining stages, and you have to pay for them to bring your "garbage can" to take part in it. This is only available for homes, and only for homes that signed up months ago. So if we wanted to recycle at work, we would have to drive everything over to the center ourselves. Doesn't really help the environment to have all these companies drive there does it? I'm sure if they would open their program to include companies they would get more participation and it would better serve the environment.

<p>we used to have a ...

we used to have a curbside recycling program BEFORE the hurricane, I REALLY wish it would come back...it helps cut down on SO much trash! we were able to sit out paper and aluminum and any plastic EXCEPT those with a 5,6,7 or 8 on the bottom, if I remember correctly.

ive made it a habit to ...

ive made it a habit to turn the lights off when i leave work. its part of my "leaving for the day and make sure everything is cleaned up" routine. also, lately, ive been showering in the morning with the lights off. as there is now enough light in the bathroom to where i dont need them on. yeah for spring!

<p>There are so many ways ...

There are so many ways to do your part and most not only don't cost more, they actually save you money!

Recycling just one glass bottle saves enough electricity to light a 100-watt bulb for four hours.

Remember, the law of supply and demand and you'll know why it pays to take the tiny bit of effort it does to recycle. When you don't recycle, you waste energy and that causes more demand from a limited resource. That drives up the price which we all pay.

Now, the least expensive ways to conserve on your energy use, and therefore lower your energy bill, around the house are as follows (borrowed from http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20070514131013AA3JfRU)

1. Green up your appliances. Getting rid of that old refrigerator in the garage could save you as much as $150 a year, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Appliance use comprises about 18% of a typical home’s total energy bill, with the fridge being one of the biggest energy hogs. If any of your appliances is more than 10 years old, the EPA suggests replacing them with energy-efficient models that bear their "Energy Star" logo. Energy Star-qualified appliances use 10%-50% less energy and water than standard models. According to the Energy Star site, if just one in 10 homes used energy-efficient appliances, it would be equivalent to planting 1.7 million new acres of trees.

Also, consider what you put in that energy-efficient refrigerator. Pesticides, transportation and packaging are all things to consider when stocking up. Buying local cuts down on the fossil fuels burned to get the food to you while organic foods are produced without potentially harmful pesticides and fertilizers.

2. Watch the temp. Almost half a home's energy consumption is due to heating and cooling.

Turn down the thermostat in cold weather and keep it higher in warm weather. Each degree below 68°F (20°C) during colder weather saves 3%-5% more heating energy, while keeping your thermostat at 78°F in warmer weather will save you energy and money. A programmable thermostat will make these temperature changes for you automatically.
Clean your furnace's air filter monthly during heavy usage.
Consider a new furnace. Today's furnaces are about 25% more efficient than they were in the 1980s. (And don't forget to check out furnaces carrying the Energy Star label.)
To keep your cool in warmer weather, shade your east and west windows and delay heat-generating activities such as dishwashing until evening.
Use ceiling fans instead of air conditioners. Light clothing in summer is typically comfortable between 72°F and 78°F. But moving air feels cooler, so a slow-moving fan easily can extend the comfort range to 82°F, according to "Consumer Guide to Home Energy Savings" by Alex Wilson.
3. Save water. The Web site "Water -- Use it Wisely," created by a group of Arizona cities, lists 100 simple ways to save water. We’ll share just a few here:

Put an aerator on all household faucets and cut your annual water consumption by 50%.
Install a low-flow toilet. They use only 1.6 gallons per flush, compared to 3.5 gallons per flush for pre-1994 models. If you have an older model, adjust your float valve to admit less water into the toilet's tank.
Of course, you don't need products to save water -- behavioral changes also add up quickly: using a broom instead of the garden hose to clean your driveway can save 80 gallons of water and turning the water off when you brush your teeth will save 4.5 gallons each time.

4. Clean green. Stop buying household cleaners that are potentially toxic to both you and the environment. In his book, "The Safe Shopper's Bible," David Steinman suggests reading labels for specific, eco-friendly ingredients that also perform effectively. These include grain alcohol instead of toxic butyl cellosolve, commonly found in carpet cleaner and some window cleaners as a solvent; coconut or other plant oils rather than petroleum in detergents; and plant-oil disinfectants such as eucalyptus, rosemary or sage rather than triclosan, an antifungal agent found in soaps and deodorant. Or, skip buying altogether and make your own cleaning products. Use simple ingredients such as plain soap, water, baking soda (sodium bicarbonate), vinegar, washing soda (sodium carbonate), lemon juice and borax and save money at the same time. Check out these books by Annie Bertold-Bond for cleaning recipes: "Clean and Green" and "Better Basics for the Home."

5. Let there be energy-efficient light. Compact Fluorescent Light bulbs (CFLs) use 66% less energy than a standard incandescent bulb and last up to 10 times longer. Replacing a 100-watt incandescent bulb with a 32-watt CFL can save $30 in energy costs over the life of the bulb.

6. Save a tree, use less paper. You can buy "tree-free" 100% post-consumer recycled paper for everything from greeting cards to toilet paper. Paper with a high post-consumer waste content uses less virgin pulp and keeps more waste paper out of landfills.

Other tips:

Remove yourself from junk mail lists. Each person will receive almost 560 pieces of junk mail this year, which adds up nationally to 4.5 million tons, according to the Native Forest Network. About 44% of all junk mail is thrown in the trash, unopened and unread, and ends up in a landfill. To stem the flow into your own home, contact the Direct Marketing Association's Mail Preference Service at P.O. Box 643, Carmel, NY 10512, or download the online form. Opt out of credit card or insurance offers at OptOutPrescreen.com or by calling 888-567-8688, a single automated phone line maintained by the major credit bureaus.
Buy unbleached paper. Many paper products, including some made from recycled fibers, are bleached with chlorine. The bleaching process can create harmful byproducts, including dioxins, which accumulate in our air, water and soil over time.
Finally, here's a third answer to the old "paper or plastic" question: No thanks. Carry your own cloth bags to the store to avoid using store bags.

7. Want hardwood floors? Opt for bamboo. Bamboo is considered an environmentally friendly flooring material due to its high yield and the relatively fast rate at which it replenishes itself. It takes just four to six years for bamboo to mature, compared to 50-100 years for typical hardwoods. Just be sure to look for sources that use formaldehyde-free glues.

8. Reduce plastics, reduce global warming. Each year, Americans throw away some 100 billion polyethylene plastic bags -- from grocery and trash bags to those ultra-convenient sandwich bags. Unfortunately, plastics are made from petroleum -- the processing and burning of which is considered one of the main contributors to global warming, according to the EPA. In addition, sending plastics to the landfill also increases greenhouse gases. Reduce, re-use and recycle your plastics for one of the best ways to combat global warming.

9. Use healthier paint. Conventional paints contain solvents, toxic metals and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that can cause smog, ozone pollution and indoor air quality problems with negative health effects, according to the EPA. These unhealthy ingredients are released into the air while you’re painting, while the paint dries and even after the paints are completely dry. Opt instead for zero- or low-VOC paint, made by most major paint manufacturers today.

10. Garden green. First, use compost instead of synthetic fertilizers. Compost provides a full complement of soil organisms and the balance of nutrients needed to maintain the soil’s well-being without the chemicals of synthetic fertilizers. And healthy soil minimizes weeds and is key to producing healthy plants, which in turn can prevent many pest problems from developing to begin with.

Use native plants as much as possible. Native plants have adapted over time to the local environment and support native animals. They also use less water and require less of your attention.
Focus on perennials. Gardening with plants that live for more than one year means you don't have to pay for new plants every year; it also saves the resources used commercially to grow annuals.
Stop using chemical pesticides. American households use 80 million pounds of pesticides each year, according to the EPA. These toxic chemicals escape gardens and concentrate in the environment, posing threats to animals and people, especially children. A better alternative is to try a variety of organic and physical pest control methods, such as using diatomaceous earth to kill insects, pouring boiling water on weeds or using beer to bait slugs. You can find more non-chemical pest control tips at the National Audubon Society's site.
Finally, consider using an old-fashioned push mower. The only energy expended is yours.

I will add my own tip regarding gardening here: USE LIME! Most grass yards are waaay over fertilized. That makes them acidic. We don't hear about it anymore but we Still have acid rain. That makes your lawn acidic. Watering your lawn, compost or manure, composting materials like when you mulch-mow all make your lawn more acidic. When the Ph level falls below 6.5-7 your lawn is no longer neutral and is acidic. Acidic soil causes your grass to become unable to take up and use all those nutrients you throw down in the form of fertilizer. Then it will be less able to withstand high traffic and drought or any diseases. Weeds also love acidic (low Ph) soil. If you have moss you have an acidic lawn. Chances are your lawn already has all the nutrients it needs. Do NOT use fertilizer if you have been using it for the past 2-3 years or more. Get a Ph tester and see if it is 6.5 or lower (they cost only $5-$20). Then you will likely find your lawn needs lime to make it more alkaline. Put down 1-1.5 lbs per square yard. You will have the nicest lawn anywhere around and use less water, no fertilizer (in the years that you lime, every 3rd or 4th year) and you will prevent your natural local bodies of water from suffering from so much of that awful runoff tha causes algae blooms which destroy all other life in them.

One more note on lime. It's CHEAP! $4 worth will do 40 square yards. It also takes time to work, about 2-3 months (longer with clay soil, less time with sandy soil) so start now!

I have become so much more ...

I have become so much more aware of leaving lights and anything electrical on at work and at home. I just saw that most electric appliances use energy when we turn them off, so I guess I should take the next step and get one of those powerstrips so I can power them off completely.

I did put those energy saving florescent bulbs in my closets, garage, and laundry room. I will put them in the other rooms when they are dimable.

It is easy to recyle in Los Angeles. You can put almost anything in the blue recyle containers. And we are always being beat up about water usage, so I feel I am pretty good at conserving water.

TGIX, you brought up a ...

TGIX, you brought up a good point. I need to start using more environment friendly cleaning products.

<p>well walter my cfl ...

well walter my cfl bulbs were put in back around march-april 2006 when my house was being fixed up and I haven't had to replace NOT a one of them YET!! 2 years and counting... I'm not sure why YOURS doesn't last.
and like madmess said, I use a power strip also. I use it for our phone chargers and we flip it on when we are charging and I flip it off when we're done.

Leaving all of the lights ...

Leaving all of the lights on in the office - now that is my big pet peeve. Every single light bulb does NOT need to be on to run a business. I know some businesses leave lights on during the night to help preven theft, but those aren't the ones I'm referring to.

Well, I've telcommuted for ...

Well, I've telcommuted for about five years. Now we hear grumblings from our company that they're thinking about hauling us back into the office. My biggest fear is that they'll do that, then follow up with some agressive green campaign, when in fact, the greenest thing we are ever liable to ever do for that company is to telecommute. The irony will probably make me keel over stone cold dead.

With the DWGI now well over 10 for me, I can't afford to drive in to work ... we owe it to the world to keep telecommuting (and if you think that is so great all by itself, come by sometime when I get paged at 2am Sunday morning and end up working through to 8PM that night!).

Oh, the DWGI? That's the Dollar's Worth of Gas Index ... it is based on the number of gallons a dollar's worth of gas would buy you when you started driving. For me that was roughly 2.95 gallons based on an average of 33.9 cents a gallon in 1969.

Our cost of electricity ...

Our cost of electricity has doubled recently since the industry here in Maryland was deregulated - DOUBLED. I use compact florescent bulbs all over the place, 29 at last count, and watch other things MUCH more than I ever have before (and I've always been a conservationist, back to the hippie days which I grew up on the tail end of and subscribed to their earth-friendly philosophy since I was a child). Well, my bill, when the cost Doubled, actually went down a little some months, remains about the same other months. That's how much less energy I'm using. Should have done it a lot sooner. I'm not suffering one bit either. My house is cool in summer and warm in winter with zone heating/cooling. More on that later. I also have no problem with the CFL's burning out prematurely. My father had one that died in a month or so and my first ones didn't last as long as the newer ones but that was a few years ago. The new ones all seem to do just fine. If yours don't Walter, that may be a sign you have "dirty" electricity in your house and you should have it checked. I discovered my parents' house had very dirty electricity and when they had it checked they found out just what I thought, that the wiring was so faulty they almost certainly would have had an electrical fire (ask any fireman, they're among the Worst, almost impossible to put out) and they'd have probably lost their new home, their dream home. The original electrician should have been shot for the lousy job he did. I discovered it due to intercoms that transmit the sound through the AC. They crackled and popped constantly. If you have crackling on speakers when you turn light switches on you have bad/dirty electricity. You should have it checked. Bulbs burning out prematurely is another sign, almost a sure sign if it happens a lot. Get it checked! Now about zone heating/cooling - With central air and central heat we heat/cool everything even the rooms we're not using. That's very wasteful. I now have two in the room air conditioning units that don't hang out the windows like most window AC's and when using those rooms we close the doors and don't need to keep the whole house at 70º or cooler costing more, using more energy. That's zone cooling. In the winter we have space heaters, highly efficient Heat Dish's in a couple of places that heat the objects in the room first (like people) by focusing the heat on you and using the properties of infrared. They don't have to first heat the entire room, with heat going first UP and then slowly building to where it comes down from the ceiling to the point where you are comfortable. You turn on the Heat Dish and you are in front of it - WARM, Instantly! That does require you aren't moving about but when I'm sitting at a desk working, when my son's sitting at his desk doing homework or when watching TV or he's playing his video game that is all that's needed. The rest of the place can be 63º for all I care. It works!

I don't like the new ...

I don't like the new bulbs,mine did not last either and the lighting level is lower than the traditional bulbs too and they give me headaches.
We did just replace our furnace and a/c for energy efficient ones .We reuse glass jars and plastic bags,we buy in bulk etc.i do use vinegar and baking soda for cleaning but i can't give up my oven cleaner!!!So don't even go there!!!
If the government would get off its ass and really subsidise alternative energy and hybrid cars that would really make a difference.

Mad - when I was shopping ...

Mad - when I was shopping the other day I bought some things that were organic, and they gave me a coupon book for all sorts of orgain stuff with it. In there they had a coupon for cleaning stuff that was green made by the Clorox people. It's called Green Works.


Check your local store for it! Also, our local store has a thing that if you spend over $50 they give you a reusable shopping bag. They have that for wine now too, as long as you buy 3 bottles you get the wine bag. China has a type of bag/thing they use... I can't remember what they're called though, but it's something they actually brought back from the "old days" when they recently banned plastic bags.

Snake - I know what you're talking about. I hate when I'm driving around at night (in the winter) and I see the tall buildings (what few we have) and there's a floor with ALL the lights on. I mean come on, I know there is nobody there! And you're waaaaay up there on the 12th floor or higher, nobody is going to break in!!

<p>AKsnowbunnie Says: I ...

AKsnowbunnie Says: I hate when I’m driving around at night (in the winter) and I see the tall buildings (what few we have) and there’s a floor with ALL the lights on. I mean come on, I know there is nobody there! And you’re waaaaay up there on the 12th floor or higher, nobody is going to break in!!

I think that's usually the cleaning crews at work.

I used to wonder about that myself, especially when I lived in Boston and when I lived in Baltimore city. Then I'd notice that one floor of lights would go off and another would go on as the cleaners worked their way from floor to floor. Some buildings were so large it took the entire night to clean and they only finished when people came back in to work the next day. Also, you could sometimes see the people walking back and forth up there pushing a vacuum or at the windows wiping them clean.

I printed off uses for ...

I printed off uses for baking soda and vinegar for cleaning. You would be surprised what those 2 items can be used for. I bought a big container of both to clean with.

My pet peeve on this one ...

My pet peeve on this one is the idiot that stands with the refrigerator door open and browses. I want to shove them in and close the door.
I love thinking of ways to conserve. When we make mistakes in computer printing, we recycle the paper to print things that are not so important or cut it up to make memo pads for the telephone. Newspaper is used to clean windows (using vinegar, of course).
We love to catch rain water to use on our porch and house plants. It’s also good to wash your hair in.
After Katrina we had to have some pine trees removed due to their death from salt water intrusion to the roots. I asked the workers to mulch the wood on property for my use at no cost. I have used it to prepare plant beds for winter and mulching for moisture in the summer. It has also been used to level a spot in the back yard where we want to place a storage shed. I kind of chuckle when I see people at Wallyworld paying for bags of pine mulch!
I have not had good luck with the new light bulbs, but we make sure we use only the wattage we need in regular bulbs. In particular the bedroom ceiling lights that take three bulbs should have smaller wattage bulbs.
Composting beats commercial fertilizer hands down. It also uses paper, grass clippings, egg shells, coffee grounds, etc. instead of having them wind up in a landfill.
When I was still working my pet peeve was coworkers that took more office supplies than they needed. Then they would proceed to use 1/3 of a pencil then grab a new one. And the rampant use of post-it notes---- sometimes I thought they were going to paper their walls with it!!!!!!!!!!!!
I have found that by simply picking up empty soda cans thrown down by my curb or are in my path when I walk usually bring in an extra $20 a year. Some dolts don’t realize they are throwing down money when they litter.
And PeeveMeister--- speaking of soap boxes--- I like to tear mine in elongated pieces and tuck them in the corner of the yard for the squirrels and birds to take for lining their nests.