Putting effort into conserving makes a BIG difference. Here’s how things added up for our family of three from our biggest ways of living green in 2007:
- Hung laundry out to dry, spring through fall (October/November). In seven months, about 140 loads of laundry (conservatively) saved $69 and 630,000 watts of electricity.
- Composted all vegetable waste. Two to three half-gallon(ish) bins move out of our kitchen every week, turning about 130 pounds of stink-producing waste into fertilizer.
- Brought my own shopping bags to all the stores where I shopped. At a per-month average savings of 43.6 plastic bags, I refused approximately 523 bags in one year.
- Switched just about all our light bulbs to CFLs — 23 light bulbs. If we save an average of 46 watts per hour (replacing a 60-watt bulb with a 14-watt bulb), and use the average bulb just 1 hour per day, we’ll save 386,170 watts and $41 in a year.
- Lowered the thermostat at night (to 55 degrees, then a compromise at 58 degrees). Our gas company claims lowering the thermostat by one degree saves 1% on your bill, which would come to 2% off our bill (our new “low” is 2 degrees lower than previously), or $2.40 a month. I don’t know if that’s correct, but our last 2007 gas bill was 8% lower than our last 2006 gas bill.
- Donated 26 bags of goods (375 pounds) to charity for re-use, Freecycled 184 pounds and sold 150 pounds (last half of 2007 only) — 709 pounds of items that might go into the landfill from some homes.
- Recycled our paper, plastic, glass and cardboard in city bins — a total of about 21 large carts full, or at least 315 pounds (15 pounds per full cart).
- Switched to natural cleaning products – especially baking soda.
- Saved water by flushing less and catching “warm-up” water to re-use for watering plants, cooking pasta, the dog’s bowl, etc.
- Recycled plastic bags we do receive.
- Recycled shipping materials (packing peanuts, etc.) by taking them to our local shipping store for re-use (two huge garbage bags full).
You don’t have to get all obsessive with a spreadsheet like I do. But this week, take a look at your own house and think about how the little things add up.