Help Our Planet - Town of Gravenhurst

Earth Week Tips

Help Our Planet

Simple Everyday Tips to Help Our Planet 

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Set a programmable thermostat. It will automatically adjust the heat or the air-conditioning to match your daily patterns. You won't waste energy while your home is empty, and you won't have to remember to turn the thermostat up or down. Want to do better? Turn it down two degrees in the winter and up two degrees in the summer and you'll keep nearly 400 Kg of carbon dioxide from warming the earth.

Don't wash it. Standard washing machines use 151 litres of water per load. If your clothes don't stink, don't wash them―and save a load a week. If Canadian households were more judicious about laundry, each year they would save enough water to fill more than 7 million swimming pools. When you do wash, put full loads (saving 12,870 litres of water a year) in cold water.

Plug in a laptop, not a desktop. In the market for a new computer? A laptop uses about half the energy of its desktop counterpart. Choose a model with the federal government's Energy Star rating and use 70 percent less energy than a noncertified model.

Don't Litter: Its a pretty simple concept! Dispose of your waste in garbage cans, not on the roadside or elsewhere! Do your part to help to keep our communities clean.

Turn off the tap. The average faucet releases about 11 litres of water a minute, so shut it off while you brush your teeth or shave.

Install a better showerhead. If you have a wrench, you can preserve the diminishing fresh-water supply and reduce expensive water-heating costs. Install faucet aerators and high-efficiency showerheads and in a year's time you'll save between 4,000 and 30,000 litres of water. Bonus: The added air makes the pressure feel greater, too.

Clean up your dishwasher. Switch to a dishwashing powder that's biodegradable and plant-based. These cleansers cut through grime, but they do it without the bleach and phosphates that threaten river and marine life and leave chemical residue on your dishes.

Choose the right appliance for the job. Electric kettles use less energy than stovetop ones. A toaster oven uses up to half the energy of a conventional electric oven. An electric slow cooker makes soups and stews using less wattage than a stove. It truly pays to pick the right appliance.

Reuse everything. Change your mind-set and think twice before throwing anything out. Resealable plastic bags that held carrots today can hold crayons tomorrow. Coffee-cup cardboard sleeves from this morning's brew can be tucked in a purse pocket to be used again at 4 p.m. Mom might just like that cashmere sweater you're sick of wearing. And Fido doesn't know the difference between a new chew toy and the one you make yourself out of old dish towels.

Carry a water bottle with you. Buy a reusable bottle that fits your lifestyle (and your purse) and skip buying a new one at every lunchtime stop.   

Don't idle. Pausing somewhere? Shut down your engine: Idling for any length of time burns more gas than it takes to restart the car.

Choose biodegradable cat litter. Most cat litter is made from bentonite clay, which is mined and never breaks down.Try the biodegradable, flushable brand.

Think local food. Your last meal may have travelled 2400 KM to get to your table. Find food near you. Green markets, farm stands, and conscientious supermarkets all offer locally grown produce. Buy it and you'll conserve fuel, reduce pollution, and enjoy fresher food.

Bring your own bags to the market. Sounds obvious, right? Well, in an average year, in the U.S. alone, households use about 100 billion plastic bags, 99 percent of which are never recycled. Stash some canvas bags in your car or buy a pair of Acme Workhorse 1500 bags (reusablebags.com).

Change your light If every household in Canada replaced one regular light bulb with one of those new compact fluorescent bulbs, the pollution reduction would be equivalent to removing one million cars from the road.

Turn off computers at night By turning off your computer instead of leaving it in sleep mode; you can save 40 watt-hours per day. That adds up! If you don't want to wait for your computer to start up, set it to turn on automatically a few minutes before you get to work, or boot up while you're pouring your morning cup 'o joe.

Recycle Glass Recycled glass reduces related air pollution by 20 percent and related water pollution by 50 percent. If it isn't recycled it can take a million years to decompose.

Recycle newspaper There are millions of newspapers printed each day. Recycling just the Sunday papers would save more than half a million trees every week.

Hang dry Get a clothesline or rack to dry your clothes by the air. Your wardrobe will maintain color and fit, and you'll save money.  Your favorite t-shirt will last longer too.

Rethink bottled water Nearly 90% of plastic water bottles are not recycled, instead taking thousands of years to decompose. Buy a reusable container and fill it with tap water, a great choice for the environment, your wallet, and possibly your health.

INVEST IN YOUR OWN COFFEE CUP If you start every morning with a steamy cup, a quick tabulation can show you that the waste is piling up. Invest in a reusable cup, which not only cuts down on waste, but keeps your beverage hot for a much longer time. Most coffee shops will happily fill your own cup, and many even offer you a discount in exchange!

GREENER LAWN CARE If you must water your lawn, do it early in the morning before any moisture is lost to evaporation. Have a few weeds? Spot treat them with vinegar. Not sure if you should rake? Normal clippings act as a natural fertilizer, let them be. If you've waited too long, rake by hand -- it's excellent exercise.

KEEP YOUR FIREPLACE DAMPER CLOSED Keeping the damper open (when you're not using your fireplace) is like keeping a 48-inch window wide open during the winter; it allows warm air to go right up the chimney. This can add up to hundreds of dollars each winter in energy loss.

MAINTAIN YOUR VEHICLE Not only are you extending the life of your vehicle, but you are creating less pollution and saving gas. A properly maintained vehicle, clean air filters, and inflated tires can greatly improve your vehicle's performance. And it might not hurt to clean out the trunk--all that extra weight could be costing you at the pump.

PLASTIC BAGS SUCK Bring your own bags to the grocery store. Plastic bags are not biodegradable, and are making their way into our oceans, and subsequently, the food chain. Stronger, reusable bags are an inexpensive and readily available option.

GIVE IT AWAY Before you throw something away, think about if someone else might need it. Either donate to a charitable organization or post it on a web site designed to connect people and things.

STOP PAPER BANK STATEMENTS Some banks will pay you a dollar or donate money on your behalf when you cancel the monthly paper statements you get in the mail. If every household took advantage of online bank statements, the money saved could send more than seventeen thousand recent high school graduates to a public university for a year.

SKIP THE COFFEE STIRRER Each year, Canadians throw away millions of straws and stirrers. But skipping the stirrer doesn't mean drinking your coffee black. Simply put your sugar and cream in first, and then pour in the coffee, and it should be well mixed.

Determined to stir? Break off a piece of pasta from the cupboard. You can nibble after using it, compost, or throw away with less guilt.

USE RECHARGABLE BATTERIES Each year 15 billion batteries produced and sold and most of them are disposable alkaline batteries. Only a fraction of those are recycled. Buy a charger and a few sets of rechargeable batteries. Although it requires an upfront investment, it is one that should pay off in no time. And on Christmas morning when all the stores are closed? You'll be fully stocked.

Additional Environmental Resources

http://footprintseducation.org/kidz-zone/how-can-i-help.php

http://www.wikihow.com/Help-Save-the-Earth

http://www.vanityfair.com/news/2006/05/savetheplanet200605

http://www.arvindguptatoys.com/arvindgupta/101ways.pdf

http://www.davidsuzuki.org/what-you-can-do/top-10-ways-you-can-stop-climate-change/

http://www.50waystohelp.com/

http://www.realsimple.com/home-organizing/green-living/planet-friendly-tips

At Work

http://www.davidsuzuki.org/what-you-can-do/green-your-workplace/five-easy-ways-to-go-green-at-work/