Tips for Green Living

Source: “30 Tips for Green Living.” California Real Estate Magazine, September 2008 (pp 28-30).



            If you’re looking for meaningful ways to green your lifestyle, try any combination of the following 30 tips. The tips range from easy lifestyle changes to more time- and money- intensive changes to create a greener lifestyle. Each of these will lessen your carbon footprint and save you green in your wallet.


1. Give Your Car a Break.

            You may not be able to retire your car completely, but try to opt for public transportation, carpooling, walking, or biking when you can, and you’ll save both money and carbon emissions. For each gallon of gas you save, you keep 20 pounds of carbon dioxide out of the environment and nearly $5 in your wallet.


2. Inflate Your Tires.

            Under-inflated tires can lower gas mileage by 0.4 percent for every pound drop in pressure of all four tires. So keep’em pumped!


3. Get Rid of the Lead Foot.

            According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), quick acceleration and heavy braking reduce fuel economy by as much as 33 percent on the highway and 5 percent around town. Give the lead foot a rest to improve your fuel efficiency and your passenger’s ride.


4. Stop Idling.

            Although most of us grew up needing to let the car “warm up,” any car built after 1990 doesn’t need the warm-up, so go ahead and get a move on.


5. Go for Double-Paned Windows.

            According to the DOE, the typical U.S. family spends $1,300 a year on home energy bills. If your windows are letting air in or out, some of that money is being wasted, as is the energy it’s paying for. Double-paned windows are up to 40 percent more energy-efficient than standard windows, and could shave 10 percent to 25 percent off your heating or cooling bill, on top of saving five tons of carbon dioxide emissions per household per year.


6. Caulking and Storm Panels.

            Double-paned windows are expensive, and it could take decades for their savings to counterbalance their cost. To improve insulation without switching windows, seal up any leaks or gaps around doors and windows with caulking and weather stripping, then add a storm panel to your single-pane window to increase energy efficiency for far less money than double-paned windows.



7. Plant Trees.

            On top of soaking up carbon dioxide, trees that surround your house can provide shading in the summertime, keeping your house cool and requiring less energy-intensive air conditioning.


8. Swab Your A/C for a Ceiling Fan.

            Ceiling fans are remarkably effective in cooling and use far less energy (or chemicals!) than air conditioning. If you still need a little A/C, consider running it on low, and using ceiling fans to effectively circulate the cool air.


9. Get Your Ducts in a Row.

            In addition to increasing your electricity bills and your carbon footprint, faulty ductwork can cause serious, life-threatening carbon monoxide problems in the home. Check your ducts for air leaks. First, look for sections that should be joined but have separated, and then look for obvious holes. If you use tape to seal your ducts, use mastic, butyl tape, foil tape, or other heat-approved tapes (look for tape with the Underwriters Laboratories logo). Be sure a well-sealed vapor barrier exists on the outside of the insulation on cooling ducts to prevent moisture buildup.


10. Be Reasonable.

            You don’t have to be uncomfortable in your home to save energy or reduce emissions, but try to keep it as warm as you can stand it in the summer, and turn it down to 68 or below in the winter.


11. Get Rid of Foil, Plastic Wrap, and Tupperware.

            It’s best to avoid plastic when possible. Plastic is made with petroleum, just like gas, a resource we’re running out of, and it’s next to impossible to recycle. It also tends to leech harmful chemicals into foods. Opt for recycled foil, glass Pyrex containers, or wax paper.


12. Try a Meatless Monday.

            According to the New Dream Foundation, for every 1,000 people who cut out just one beef meal a week, we’d save over 70,000 pounds of grain, 70,000 pounds of topsoil, and 40 million gallons of water each year.


13. Bring Your Bag.

            Both plastic and paper grocery store bags are wasteful and unnecessary. Bring your own cloth bag to the store if you can; if you forget, be sure to reuse or recycle the bags you get at the store.


14. Reach for Organic Cotton.

            If cotton is the fabric of our lives, then, according to the World Wildlife Fund, our lives are full of pesticides and degraded water. Conventional cotton production is responsible for 25 percent of global insecticide use. According to the Organic Trade Association, choosing one organic cotton T-shirt instead of a conventional cotton T-shirt keeps one-third of a pound of chemicals (pesticides and fertilizers) out of the air, land, and water.


15. Change your Bulbs.

            Electricity is the largest source of U.S. carbon emissions, claiming about 38 percent of the responsibility. A switch to compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) or light-emitting diodes (LEDs) can reduce emissions and energy use drastically. Keep in mind, CFLs still contain mercury; LEDs are really the best bet, but still hard to come by for certain light fixtures.


16. Turn Off and Unplug.

            Research conducted by the DOE shows that in the average American home, 75 percent of the electricity used to power home electronics is consumed while the products are turned off. Unplugging seldom used appliances could shave up to $10 off your monthly electricity bill.


17. Reach for the ENERGY STARs.

            There’s an ENERGY STAR version of almost every appliance these days from a computer to a fridge. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) doesn’t just hand those stars out. They really translate to energy savings; so if you need a fridge, a light bulb, or an air conditioner, opt for the ENERGY STAR version. According to the EPA, by choosing their ENERGY STAR-qualified products, consumers can cut energy use by 30 percent, a savings of about $450 each year.


18. Switch to Solar or Wind Power Without Buying Your Own System.

            According to the DOE, at least 50 percent of customers have the option to purchase renewable electricity directly from their power supplier. Such power is sometimes referred to as “green power” or “clean power,” and costs an average of $1.25/month extra. In California, numerous power companies offer green power; if yours doesn’t, ask them to  and start a petition.


19. Shower Efficiently.

            You don’t need to bring an egg timer into the shower with you, but try to be conscious about how much time, and water, you’re spending in there. Even a one- or two-minute reduction in shower time can save up to 700 gallons of water per month.


20. Use the Cold Water.

            If your shower takes awhile to heat up, catch the cold water in a bucket and use it to water your garden or lawn.


21. Go Native.

            Using native plants in landscaping helps to drastically cut down on water use. Native plants are acclimated to the amount of water naturally present in your area, so you don’t have to do much to help them grow. Native plants in the yard can reduce residential water use by 20 to 50 percent.



The Amazing Cucumber
This information was in The New York Times several weeks ago as part of
their "Spotlight on the Home" series that highlighted creative and fanciful
ways to solve common problems.

1. Cucumbers contain most of the vitamins you need every day, just one
cucumber contains Vitamin B1, Vitamin B2, Vitamin B3, Vitamin B5, Vitamin
B6, Folic Acid, Vitamin C, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium
and Zinc.

2. Feeling tired in the afternoon, put down the caffeinated soda and pick
up a cucumber.  Cucumbers are a good source of B Vitamins and Carbohydrates
that can provide that quick pick-me-up that can last for hours.

3. Tired of your bathroom mirror fogging up after a shower?  Try rubbing a
cucumber slice along the mirror, it will eliminate the fog and provide a
soothing, spa-like fragrance.

4. Are grubs and slugs ruining your planting beds?  Place a few slices in a
small pie tin and your garden will be free of pests all season long.  The
chemicals in the cucumber react with the aluminum to give off a scent
undetectable to humans but drive garden pests crazy and make them flee the

5. Looking for a fast and easy way to remove cellulite before going out or
to the pool?  Try rubbing a slice or two of cucumbers along your problem
area for a few minutes, the physiochemical in the cucumber cause the
collagen in your skin to tighten, firming up the outer layer and reducing
the visibility of cellulite.  Works great on wrinkles too!!!

6. Want to avoid a hangover or terrible headache?  Eat a few cucumber
slices before going to bed and wake up refreshed and headache free.
Cucumbers contain enough sugar, B vitamins and electrolytes to replenish
essential nutrients the body lost, keeping everything in equilibrium,
avoiding both a hangover and headache!!

7. Looking to fight off that afternoon or evening snacking binge? Cucumbers
have been used for centuries and often used by European trappers, traders
and explorers for quick meals to thwart off starvation.

8. Have an important meeting or job interview and you realize that you
don't have enough time to polish your shoes?  Rub a freshly cut cucumber
over the shoe, its chemicals will provide a quick and durable shine that
not only looks great but also repels water.

9. Out of WD 40 and need to fix a squeaky hinge?  Take a cucumber slice and
rub it along the problematic hinge, and voila, the squeak is gone!

10. Stressed out and don't have time for massage, facial or visit to the
spa?  Cut up an entire cucumber and place it in a boiling pot of water, the
chemicals and nutrients from the cucumber will react with the boiling water
and be released in the steam, creating a soothing, relaxing aroma that has
been shown to reduce stress in new mothers and college students during
final exams.

11. Just finished a business lunch and realize you don't have gum or mints?
Take a slice of cucumber and press it to the roof of your mouth with your
tongue for 30 seconds to eliminate bad breath, the physiochemical will kill
the bacteria in your mouth responsible for causing bad breath.

12. Looking for a 'green' way to clean your faucets, sinks or stainless
steel?  Take a slice of cucumber and rub it on the surface you want to
clean, not only will it remove years of tarnish and bring back the shine,
but it won't leave streaks and won't harm you fingers or fingernails while
you clean.

13. Using a pen and made a mistake?  Take the outside of the cucumber and
slowly use it to erase the pen writing, also works great on crayons and
markers that the kids have used to decorate the walls!!