Conservation

145 Simple Steps to Save the Planet by Ruth Cullen

Posted on September 10, 2011. Filed under: -- Energy/Being GREEN, Conservation, Tips | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |


Globe 2 Clip Art

I recently bought The Little Green Handbook- 145 Simple Steps to Save the Planet, and below I am sharing all 145 steps with you.The book is by Ruth Cullen.

  1. Fill your recycle bin
  2. Know your recycleabes
  3. Unscrew your caps
  4. Re-purpose your plastic
  5. Get mileage from your shoes
  6. Donate your clothes
  7. Simplify your life
  8. Recycle your cell phone
  9.  Swap your books and magazines
  10.  Pack your garbage can (gargbage compacting to it’s true size)
  11.  Use biodegradable bags
  12. Pick up litter
  13. Dispose of toxins in the right way
  14. Compost your organics
  15. Fix leaks
  16. Install water saving devices
  17. Drink tap water
  18. Use the dishwasher
  19. Scrape your plates
  20. Take shorter showers
  21. Turn off the faucets
  22. Use a rain barrel
  23. Reuse dirty water
  24. Water at dusk and dawn
  25. Kill weeds kindly
  26. Nourish plants naturally
  27. Plant hardy varieties of grass
  28. Use a push mower
  29. Sharpen your mower blades
  30. Xerscape your lawn
  31. Plant trees strategically
  32. Add mulch and compost
  33. Turn off the lights
  34. Set a timer
  35. Change your lightbulbs
  36. Dust!
  37. Decorate with LED lights
  38. Unplug your appliances
  39. Replace old appliances
  40. Clean your filters
  41. Shut the fridge door
  42. Wash in cold water
  43. Air-dry your stuff
  44. Charge your cell phone in your car
  45. Lose the leaf blower
  46. Get an energy audit
  47. Dress for the weather
  48. Install a programmable thermostat
  49. Insulate your home
  50. Regulate your water heater
  51. Reverse ceiling fans
  52. Forget the fireplace
  53. Don’t use space heaters
  54. Go solar
  55. Consider geothermal heating and cooling
  56. Consider wind power
  57. Avoid the over
  58. Downsize your pan
  59. Consider a solar over
  60. Use cloth towels
  61. Say no to aerosols and solvents
  62. Clean green
  63. Service systems regularly
  64. Pot a plant
  65. Keep a handle on humidity (prevent mold and mildew in your home)
  66. Avoid commercial air fresheners
  67. Light green candles
  68. Check your cookware
  69. Hire a green contractor
  70. Use low or no-VOC products
  71. Explore alternatives to wood
  72. Embrace essential oils
  73. Set traps
  74. Try natural remedies
  75. Power off at the end of the day
  76. Switch to energy star computers
  77. Work from home
  78. Opt for e-mail
  79. File documents electronically
  80. Think before you print
  81. Fill the blue bins
  82. Reuse office supplies
  83. Recycle ink cartridges
  84. Streamline supplies
  85. Buy recylced paper products
  86. Choose nontoxic pens and adhesives
  87. Use a plain paper fax machine
  88. Use dishes (instead of styrofoam)
  89. Brew coffee with a reusable filter
  90. Pack a mug
  91. Bring your lunch
  92. Encourage eco-conscious catering
  93. Avoid short trips
  94. Drive the speed limit
  95. Avoid idling
  96. Inflate your tires
  97. Get long-lasting treads
  98. Remove bike racks and accessories
  99. Take the stairs
  100. Hit the streets
  101. Ride a bike
  102. Drive a hybrid
  103. Share a ride
  104. Shop with a purpose
  105. Be an educational consumer
  106. Buy in bulk
  107. buy local
  108. Buy organic, earth-friendly products
  109. Read labels (make sure it says “certified organic, or 100% recycled”)
  110. Buy secondhand
  111. Use reusable bags
  112. Remember your bags
  113. Opt for cloth (napkins)
  114. Buy bleach free recycled paper products
  115. Buy plastics by the number (look for recycling arrow symbol and usually 1 & 2, but the number varies depending on where you live)
  116. Avoid number 3 & 7 plastics
  117. Avoid disposable products
  118. Shop for natural fiber
  119. Buy recycled jewlrey
  120. Beware chemical contaminants
  121. Support fair trade
  122. Join a farmers’ co-op
  123. Know the dirty dozen–learn which fruits and vegetables are most susceptible to pesticide contamination, and always buy them organic)
  124. Drink green spirits
  125. Eat your greens
  126. Be responsible in front of your family
  127. Teach your children well
  128. Wash your children safely (use all natural products)
  129. Choose cloth diapers
  130. Buy eco-friendly toys
  131. Give green gifts
  132. Buy rechargeable batteries
  133. Use a chalkboard (vs paper)
  134. Buyer beware–seek out certified organic, all-natural products and materials for your home
  135. Support green businesses
  136. Plan ahead
  137. Take an eco-trip
  138. Find a green hotel
  139. Recycle on the go
  140. Tread lightly
  141. Lobby your leaders
  142. Vote smart
  143. Buy carbon off-sets
  144. Support green institutions
  145. Do one thing green
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City of Austin Offers $40,000 in “Carbon Offset Challenge” Grants. Boom, That’s a Lot of Green!

Posted on February 18, 2011. Filed under: -- Austin Related, -- Energy/Being GREEN, Conservation, Texas | Tags: , , , , |


I received this email update (below)  from the Austin Climate Protection Group and thought I’d share the details with you. I hope you find it helpful and hopefully you can even cash in on the grant. Best of luck!!

 

$40,000 in Carbon Offset Challenge Grants now available

The City of Austin’s new Carbon Offset Challenge Grants are designed to highlight local projects doing their part to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. $40,000 will be be divided among up to 16 projects, and up to $10,000 can be awarded to one project. Solicitation information is posted on the City of Austin Purchasing website, and the closing date is March 1, 2011.

Austin Carbon Footprint CalculatorLast fall, Mayor Lee Leffingwell announced the creation of the Carbon Offsets Support Challenge. A City of Austin team will review proposals for the grants, selecting projects that demonstrate a clear methodology for delivering verifiable local carbon reductions. Austin Energy will then give Austinites and visitors the opportunity to purchase offsets that result using the Austin Climate Protection Program Carbon Calculator.

The Carbon Offsets Support Challenge will identify visible greenhouse gas reduction or sequestration projects within Travis County. Examples of projects that may be considered under the Support Challenge might include the use of grant funding to:

  • Grow food on site to feed school children, reducing GHG emissions associated with importing the same amount of food from out-of-state.
  • Support the installation of solar panels on low income housing units, reducing GHG emissions associated with energy used from non-renewable sources.
  • Install a digester to capture methane produced during manure storage that converts the methane into energy, reducing GHG emissions associated with energy created by non-renewable sources.
  • Support the conversion of vehicles to lower emission fuel sources.

The City of Austin Purchasing website offers more information on this opportunity, including instructions on how to prepare your proposal. Once at the Purchasing website http://www.ci.austin.tx.us/purchase/default.htm, here’s how to find it:

  1. Click on “Vendor Self Service (VSS)”
  2. Click on “Public Access”
  3. Click on “Business Opportunities”
  4. Click on “Search for Solicitations”
  5. Click on “RFINT-1100-TVN0100”
  6. Click on “Attachments” to download the details 
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City of Austin’s 6th Bi-Annual Green Garden Festival–See you there!

Posted on February 16, 2011. Filed under: -- Austin Related, -- Energy/Being GREEN, -- On MY Calendar, -- Uncategorized, -- Volunteering, Conservation, Texas | Tags: , , |


I’ll be volunteering for the City of Austin’s Green Garden Festival, and I hope to see you there. Check out the information below for some details about what is planned. And yes, it is FREE!! You’ll find talks and tips to help you create and maintain a yard that is attractive, cost-saving AND earth-friendly. The festival will feature a fun, hands-on Kids’ Corner so don’t forget the kidos.

Enjoy a fun day in the park for adults and kids while learning how to have a beautiful yard and a clean environment.

Sunday, February 27, 2011
12:00-4:00 PM
Zilker Botanical Garden
2220 Barton Springs Road
Arrive in cleaner greener style!  If you carpool, bus, bike or walk to the fest, visit the Commute Solutions table for a thank you gift.

Cost: Free!
Bike Tour: 11:00 am Green Garden Bike Tour Click Here to Register
Bus Routes: Route 30 serves Zilker and Routes 21/22 drop near Deep Eddy. Visit the Capitol Metro Trip Planner and Map Your Route!
Parking for Cars: At the polo fields across the street from the Zilker Botanical Garden. (In case of rain, alternative parking and shuttles will be available.) Bicycle and special needs parking will be available in the Zilker Botanical Gardens parking lot.

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HETs – High-Efficiency Toilets-Take Flushing To The Next Level

Posted on February 15, 2011. Filed under: -- Energy/Being GREEN, Conservation | Tags: , , , , , |


I work for the City of Austin (Texas)  and I wanted to share some information I was reading about HET toilets from our water division’s website. These toilets save thousand of gallons of water per year when used in place of traditional or even low flush toilets, so pay attention. At just 1.28 gallons per flush, they use less than half the water of a standard non-efficient toilet. Dual flush high efficiency toilets typically offer both 0.8 gallon and 1.6 gallon flushes. Have fun flushing!

What is a high-efficiency toilet (HET)?

An HET is a fixture with an average flush volume of 1.28 gallons per flush (GPF) or less. That’s 20 percent less than most toilets on the market today.

How long have HETs been available in the U.S.?

The first HET (a gravity-fed, dual-flush fixture) was introduced in the U.S. in late 1998 by Caroma. At that time, the dual-flush technology had been proven and available in the Australian marketplace for about 10 years. Prototypes of the second category of HETs (1.0-gallon pressure-assist fixtures) were field tested in 2001, but results weren’t ideal. Improved, effective technology hit the marketplace in 2003.

Today, a total of 86 different HET fixture models are available from 16 different manufacturers. The market is expected to grow by 50% in the next year as major manufacturers shift their focus to these exceptionally efficient, high-performance toilets.

Do HETs meet customer performance expectations?

Until recently, most of the HETs installed have been part of pilot programs developed by water utilities, and don’t necessarily represent the range of models available in the marketplace today. However, HETs perform better in laboratory tests than most of their “regular” counterparts, thanks to extensive development and engineering. As with any equipment purchase, we recommend that you research the issue before buying to find the model that best fits your needs and budget. (See Maximum Performance (MaP) Testing of Popular Toilet Models, Veritec Consulting and Koeller and Company, to compare toilet performance.)

What about moving waste in the drainline?

Some customers are concerned about drainline transport (clogging and backups) with ultra-low (e.g., 1 gallon) flush volumes. Unlike some first-generation, “low-flow” toilets, WaterSense labeled toilets combine high efficiency with high performance. Design advances enable WaterSense labeled toilets to save water with no trade-off in flushing power. In fact, many perform better than standard toilets in consumer testing.

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How To Choose a Toilet- Go Green While You Make Brown. Fun Times!

Posted on February 15, 2011. Filed under: -- Energy/Being GREEN, -- Uncategorized, Conservation, Tips | Tags: , , , , , , |


I work for the City of Austin, TX and they are very much into water conservation. Here is information from our water authority on how to buy a toilet becuase a toilet is a major purchase, like any other appliance you would choose for your home, and it deserves the same amount of research and attention. There are many different types of toilets, and many different factors that can influence your decision. Good luck!

  • Performance
    The days of poor-performing low-flush toilets are over — it’s easy to save water and get a toilet that works even better than your old water-waster. The Maximum Performance (MaP) Test measures the maximum amount of waste a toilet can fully remove in one flush. To carry the WaterSense label, a toilet must flush at least 350 grams (a typical baking potato is about 250 grams). 
  • Efficiency
    Replacing old 3.5 gallon toilets with efficient 1.6 gpf models can save $3,000 over the life of the toilet. Newer High-Efficiency Toilets (HETs) save even more water, using about 20% less than a 1.6 gpf toilet.Since 1992, all toilets sold in the United States have been 1.6 gallon-per-flush (gpf) toilets. However, many toilets that are water-efficient when first installed can lose their water savings over time as parts wear out and are replaced. Part of the WaterSense testing criteria helps ensure that these toilets will save water even when flappers are replaced. 
  • Size
    Check the measurements for your bathroom to make certain the toilet you select will fit. Most toilet manufacturers have specification sheets on their websites. Model numbers can be found on the WaterSense Programs list of eligible models. (Please note that models with different bowl types and heights will have different measurements.) Make sure you are comfortable with how the toilet will fit in your bathroom; a 17″-high elongated bowl may not be the best choice for a small half-bath.Also, make certain you choose a toilet with the right “rough-in” distance. The rough-in is measured from the center of the bolts on the floor to the back wall. A standard rough-in is 12″, though 10″ and 14″ rough-ins are also available. A 10″ rough-in requires a smaller tank to fit against the wall. Putting a 12″ rough-in toilet in a 14″ rough-in space will leave a visible gap between the tank and the wall. Several toilet models come with an adjustable rough in, where the toilet can be adjusted on-site for either a 10″ or 12″ space. 
  • Bowl Shape
    Toilets come in both round-bowl and elongated-bowl designs. Round bowls are most common and take up the least space in small bathrooms, but elongated bowls provide more seat room and support. 
  • Flushing System
    There are three basic types of toilet flushing mechanisms. Gravity flush toilets are the most common; when the toilet is flushed, gravity pulls water from the tank to wash the bowl. Pressure-assisted toilets use the pressure in your home’s water lines to compress air in a pressure tank, which is released along with the water when the toilet is flushed. This more forceful flush often clears the bowl better than some gravity toilets, but can be noisy, and requires a minimum household pressure of 25 psi. Less common are vacuum-assisted toilets, which have a chamber in the tank that pulls air out of the trap beneath the bowl to suck water downward with more force.Dual-flush toilets are also available. These toilets are most often gravity toilets, and have both a half-flush and a full-flush option. Some have two buttons or a split button on the top, others have a traditional flush lever that can be pushed up or down to vary the flush volume. 
  • Appearance
    For some, finding a toilet that blends in with the decor is just as important as other factors. There are plenty of toilet manufacturers who offer stylized, efficient toilets in a range of colors. However, it’s important to note that some companies name products by the “design suite” rather than assign different names to toilets that are built and perform differently. As a result, there may be several toilets with the same name, only one of which qualifies for our rebate program. Look for the WaterSense logo on toilet packaging or literature to identify qualifying models, or visit http://www.epa.gov/watersense/product_search.html for a list of WaterSense toilets.Also, while most toilets are made in two pieces (tank and bowl), some one-piece models are available. These generally have a more streamlined appearance, with the added benefit of easier cleaning. However, they can be more expensive. 
  • Price
    The old phrase, “you get what you pay for,” may not always apply to toilet shopping. Many high-performance models are available at a range of prices. More expensive toilets don’t necessarily perform better (although some do). Generally, factors that increase cost are design and flushing technology — a stylish pressure-assisted toilet in a special-order color will be more expensive than a plain white toilet from a manufacturer with less advertising.
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10 Ways To Help Protect the Climate

Posted on February 12, 2011. Filed under: -- Energy/Being GREEN, -- Top 10..., -- Uncategorized, Conservation, Tips | Tags: , , , |


According to Austin Energy, below are 10 tips on how to better conserve energy, save money and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

1. WALK, BIKE or RIDE THE BUS: I rode the bus and walked everywhere I needed to go for years when I lived in Pittsburgh. I stayed in great shape and felt healthier, even though it made my wallet fatter from all of the savings from not maintaining a car.

2. DRIVE SMART: Maintaining your vehicle and keeping your tires properly inflated saves money on fuel AND reduces greenhouse gas emissions. Double win!

3. INSTALL COMPACT FLUORESCENT LIGHT (CFL) BULBS: They are 75% more efficient, last up to 10 times longer and produce less heat than conventional bulbs. A single CFL can save you more than $80 over its lifetime depending on local electric rates. Yet, the small amount of mercury contained in these CFLS has gotten numerous Americans to worry about their health and the environment. Did you know that if every household replaced one conventional bulb, the CO2 reduction would be equivalent to taking 1 million cars off the road! Make sure you change at least one bulb today…

4. PURCHASE ENERGY STARPPLIANCES: ENERGY STAR appliances save you money by using less energy, which also means fewer greenhouse gas emmissions. Your local energy company may offer rebates for swaping out your old appliances for new ENERGY STAR appliances. Check with them today!

6. CONSERVE WATER! It takes a lot of energy to transport, treat and heat water. You can use LESS water by installing low flow showerheads, faucet aerators and low flow toilets. Wondering where all of your water usage is going? Check out this water use calculator today! http://www.ci.austin.tx.us/watercon/calculator.cfm

7. USE YOUR APPLIANCES EFFICIENTLY: To save both water and energy: only run a fully loaded dishwasher or washing machine; put a thermal blanket on your water heater if it is more than 10 years; and use the warm/cold or cold/cold settings on your washing machine. If you don’t run full loads, be sure to adjust your water settings to not use more than necessary per load.

8. REDUCE, REUSE AND RECYCLE: It takes a lot of energy to make, package and transport products. Making products out of recycled materials uses less energy than processing never used materials.

9. COMPOST FOOD WASTE: By composting food scraps and yard trimmings, you keep these materials out of the landfill, where they would produce methane gas. Methane gas has 23 times the heat trapping capabilities of CO2. By composting, you can avoid production of this gas and return much needed nutrients to the soil. Or, you can fill the bellies of local pigs by giving them your food scraps:)

10. USE YOUR VOICE!! Share the tips you’ve read here with others. We can all make a difference, one person at a time.

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50 Ways To Conserve Water

Posted on February 12, 2011. Filed under: -- Energy/Being GREEN, -- Top 10..., -- Uncategorized, Conservation | Tags: , , , , , |


In case you missed it, I work for my local energy company. As a result, I’m overwhelmed with conservation tips and information and thought I would share these water tips with you. This list comes from the City of Austin Water Authority. Feel free to share the tips with whomever, or to visit their site for more information.

  • Replace older toilets with low-flow models to save up to 50%.
  • More plants die from over-watering than from under-watering. Be sure only to water plants when necessary.
  • Install water-saving showerheads that use 2.5 gallons per minute or less.
  • Report water waste from malfunctioning irrigation systems.
  • Use a grease pencil to mark the water level of your pool at the skimmer. Check the mark 24 hours later. Your pool should lose no more than 1/4 inch each day.
  • Make your next clothes washer a water-saver.
  • Use sprinklers that throw big drops of water close to the ground. Smaller drops of water and mist often evaporate before they hit the ground.
  • When washing dishes by hand, use a sink full of soapy water — don’t let the water run.
  • Water lawns during the early morning when temperatures and wind speed are the lowest. This reduces evaporation and waste.
  • Place an empty tuna can on your lawn to catch and measure the water  output of your sprinklers.
  • Scrape food from your plates instead of rinsing. Newer dishwashers and detergents get dishes just as clean without the need to pre-rinse.
  • Hand-water with a hose where possible. Homeowners who water with a handheld hose can use one-third less water outdoors than those who use automatic sprinklers.
  • Cook food in as little water as possible. This will also retain more of the nutrients.
  • Operate automatic dishwashers and clothes washers only when they are fully loaded or set the water level for the size of load you are using.
  • Fix toilet leaks. Plumbing leaks as a whole account for 14 percent of water consumed in the home, according to a study sponsored by the American Water Works Association.
  • Install water-saving aerators on household faucets.
  • Buy a rain gauge to track how much rain or irrigation your yard receives.
  • Fill your pool a few inches lower than usual.
  • Use mulch to retain moisture in the soil. Mulch also helps control weeds that compete with landscape plants for water.
  • Chill drinking water in the refrigerator instead of running the faucet until the water is cold.
  • Clean your driveway or sidewalk with a broom, not a hose.
  • Purchase a rain barrel to capture rainwater for use on your landscape.
  • Choose drought-tolerant plants when landscaping, and group plants with similar water needs together (hydrozoning).
  • Divide your watering cycle into shorter periods to reduce runoff and allow for better absorption every time you water.
  • Use a commercial car wash that recycles water. If you wash your own car, park on the grass and use a hose with an automatic shut-off nozzle.
  • Position sprinklers so they’re not watering driveways and walkways.
  • Make sure you know where your master water shut-off valve is located. This could save gallons of water and damage to your home if a pipe were to burst.
  • Fix leaky faucets. A steady faucet drip can waste 20 gallons of water a day.
  • Adjust your lawnmower to cut grass to a height of 3 inches or more. Taller grass encourages deeper roots and shades the soil to reduce moisture loss.
  • Encourage your employer to promote water conservation in the workplace.
  • Turn off the water while you brush your teeth and save 4 gallons a minute. That’s 200 gallons a week for a family of four.
  • Do not use running water to thaw meat or other frozen foods. Defrost food overnight in the refrigerator or use the defrost setting on your microwave.
  • Start a compost pile or scrape food into the trash instead of running your garbage disposal, which requires a lot of water to work properly.
  • Avoid flushing the toilet unnecessarily. Dispose of tissues, insects and other similar waste in the trash rather than the toilet.
  • Place a bucket in the shower to catch excess water for use on plants.
  • Don’t install or use fountains or other water ornaments unless they use recycled water.
  • Avoid over-seeding your lawn with winter grass. Once established, rye grass needs water every three to five days, whereas dormant Bermuda grass needs water only once a month.
  • Stick to the watering schedule during the summer, and turn off your irrigation system in winter.
  • Wash vegetables and fruits in a bowl or basin using a vegetable brush; don’t let the water run.
  • Use a timer on hose-end sprinklers to avoid over-watering.
  • When the kids want to cool off, use the sprinkler in an area where your lawn needs it the most.
  • Only water your lawn when needed. You can tell this by simply walking across your lawn. If you leave footprints, it’s time to water.
  • Take a 5 minute shower or a 6-inch-deep bath.
  • If you own a pool, use a cover to reduce evaporation.
  • While fertilizers promote plant growth, they also increase water consumption. Apply the minimum amount of fertilizer needed.
  • Aerate your lawn. Punch holes in your lawn about six inches apart so water will reach the roots rather than run off the surface.
  • Check your water meter and bill to track your water usage.
  • Turn the water off while you shampoo and condition your hair and you can save more than 50 gallons a week.
  • Support projects that will lead to an increased use of reclaimed waste water for irrigation and other uses.
  • Get involved in water management issues. Voice your questions and concerns at public meetings conducted by your local government or water management district.
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