It’s not enough to buy greener products and recycle or compost them at the end of their useful life. Most products consume precious resources during their production and use that need to be used sparingly. Saving energy, water, paper, and other resources that are consumed every time we use our favorite products begins with new habits and some resource-saving designs.
SAVE ENERGY AT HOME AND WORK
Hit The Lights
Better yet, like many of us Waste Watchers, use light dimmers, and experience the mood uplift when the electric bill arrives. Rather than rely on a large ceiling light, which only disperses light (and can make your room hot), use task lamps on desks and install a reading light near your bed to save energy and money. Check out Team ENERGY STAR for more tips.
Find Your ‘Creative Outlet’
Power strips are a great way to wrangle your electricity usage by letting you plug all your gadgets into one place. But do you ever find your strip unable to fit all your large, square shaped chargers? Try a Pivot Power Strip that swivels to accommodate all your plugs. This way you can power all the things you need and turn them all off when you’re done.
Let the Sun Shine In
Move your desk near a window. Using natural light can not only save energy but can also give you a window to the outside world, opening up your living space. Invest in skylights. Check out Solatube to find out how you can bring more natural light into your home or business.
Crack a Window
Summer days too hot? Before you rev up the AC, try opening a window and let the breeze flow in. Still not cool enough? Try using a ceiling fan. They are $100 in Home Depot, and will repay their investment many times over. Our Junky Jacquie cools off her bedroom in the evening with the AC, then lets a ceiling fan circulate the cooler air quietly and in an energy-sipping way all night.
Watch the Watts
Use the Kill-A-Watt to determine the amount of electricity used by the appliances in your house. Plug the appliances you use most often into the Kill-A-Watt and it will tell you how much electricity that device uses and estimate the energy costs for you. When you know how much energy an appliance uses and how much it will cost you to keep it plugged in all the time, you’re sure to rethink your energy waste.
Go For the Cold
Did you know that washing your clothes in cold water can get them just as clean as using hot water? (Even for sheets and towels!) P&G even says so — and they’re putting their money where their mouths are with Tide Coldwater and Ariel’s ‘Turn to 30‘ campaign in Europe. The next time you launder clothes, turn the dial down, see for yourself, and watch the savings add up.
Hang ’em Out to Dry
- Imagine your sheets and shirts pinned to a clothing line billowing in a backyard. For the concrete jungle and college dorm rooms, a drying rack is the next best thing. Levi’s encourages everyone to air dry their blue jeans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The color will last longer, too. Melissa used one in her dorm room at Cornell to dry her towels in between showers, as well as her blue jeans. Learn more at Melissa’s post, Sisterhood of the Air-Dried Pants.
Energy Efficiency is the Way to Be
The EPA tells us the average home uses more energy than a car. Make sure that your walls and attic are well insulated so that your house stays warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Upgrade to EnergyStar-rated windows to reduce your heating and air-conditioning bills. Plant trees around your home so the foliage will block the infrared radiation in the sunny months while the bare branches will let it through during winter.
Walk, Don’t Drive
Forget the car. Walk. (Think of it as a way to show off the shoes you found at a thrift store.) If you can’t walk, use public transit. The train is fast and easy, and you don’t have to worry about getting stuck in traffic. If driving is a necessity, see if you can set up a carpool.
Ride a Bike
Burn calories not fossil fuels! Avoid being stuck in the traffic for hours and save the time you usually spend in the gym by simply riding your bike to and fro. You don’t even need to own a bike to do so! Local bikesharing programs, like NYC’s new Citi Bike and Washington D.C.’s Capital Bikeshare, make it as easy as swiping a credit card. With so many cities now offering bikes available for daily, even hourly rentals, and bike lanes becoming as common as bus lanes, biking is becoming a form of transportation, not just recreation.
Take Public Transportation
Get to know the forms of mass transit in your area. New Yorkers love it, you can too! In fact, October 24, 2013, New York City broke their record number with 5,985,311 subway riders in one day.
Carpool and Rideshare
Save time by commuting in the HOV lane, make a new friends, and save money by sharing the tab for gasoline. Besides, it is a lot more fun to have company, especially on long drives! Check out Carpooling.com (they’re one of our sponsors) to learn more about how to link up with others in over 40 countries.
Drive a Hybrid Car
…like a Prius, and drive with a GPS instructed eco-route to the farmers market.
Try a Stay-cation
Planes, trains, automobiles all contribute to your families carbon foot print. Find a local landmark or try a new restaurant in town to save some money for you and a little stress for the planet!
Virtual Water, Real Impact
Did you that every pound of beef you eat took 2500 gallons of water — called ‘virtual water‘ to make? To cut down on consuming embedded water, participate in Meat Free Mondays and eat vegetarian as often as you can.
Turn Off That Faucet
Turning the faucet off while brushing your teeth, shaving, and washing your face are simple habits to save water over a lifetime. Save even more water by participating in Movember and don’t shave for all of November!
Invest in Efficient Bathroom Fixtures
Or, consider a Navy Shower and turn off the water while lathering up. Either way, you’ll end up using less water, saving energy, and you’ll love the money you’ll save!
Shower With a Buddy
Save even more water and water by showering with a buddy, a Shower Buddy that is! A Shower Buddy has a timer that tells you when your five minutes are up. (Of course, if you have a real live buddy, by all means…) Read Jacquie’s post Showering Without My Buddy to learn more about the benefits of a shower buddy.
Then save water by showering with a bucket. No kidding. Think of all the water that’s wasted in even in the short amount of time it takes for your shower to warm up. Shudder to think of how much water goes down the drain during the entire time you’re soaping up and shaving! Try placing a bucket in the shower to catch some of that water. Your garden (and the planet) will love you for it!
Lather Once, Period
Who says you have to ‘repeat’? Especially if you have short hair, lather and rinse just once. (And doing so might allow you to indulge in a higher quality brand of shampoo, too! Link HERE to check out our Tips for living better with less.
Save Those Rain Drops Too!
Install a rain barrel outside your home, ideally at the bottom of gutter spouts, to catch all the rain water that runs off your house. Rain barrels are great to use for watering lawns or gardens.
When she has water left over after boiling an egg, our ‘Junky’ Jacquie waters her plants straight from the cooled down pot. Not to worry — your plants won’t start smelling like eggs. In fact, they’ll benefit from all the nutrients. And of course, when cooking, try to use only the amount of water that’s really needed.
SAVE PAPER & WOOD
Stop Unwanted Mail
Direct mail has its place, but no one likes seeing unnecessary mailings go straight into the recycling bin. The Direct Marketing Association can help you get off unwanted mailing lists at this site. It’s an easy and effective way to stop paper waste before it starts. To cut down on unwanted ads, simply put a sign on your mailbox that says: NO ADVERTISEMENT!
Bank Without the Paper
Most banks offer a paperless banking option and will send you e-mail receipts for all your transactions. Look for ATMs with envelope-free deposits too!
Cut down on paper waste by printing double-sided. For years, our own ‘Junky’ Jacquie has been using the reverse side of used paper for scratch, and is proud to say she’s never bought a pad of lined paper in 35 years in business. Word to the wise: if you try this yourself, be sure to cross out the side that’s printed on so you don’t get mixed up!
Save Your Coffee Sleeves
If you buy a cup of coffee every morning from your favorite coffee place, you would use 365 coffee sleeves in one year. It is estimated that the US alone uses over 1.1 billion disposable coffee sleeves a year. That’s a whole lot of paper. Instead of tossing your sleeve, keep it in your purse.
Better yet, ditch the paper sleeve entirely! Get yourself a coffee cuff, a stylish and sustainable alternative to a paper sleeve.
Slow Down That Roll
Use a Control-N-Roll to reduce your toilet paper and paper towel consumption. This handy foam insert acts like a break to keep you from pulling too much paper off of the roll. The Control-N-Roll can save a family of four up to $200 or more a year by saving those ‘extra’ sheets. This little gadget also helps preserve the precious natural resources that are used for paper production.
Grab a PeopleTowel
Save those paper napkins from the take-out packs to use instead of tissues. Hate seeing all that brown paper towels go to waste in public restrooms? Check out Peopletowels.com . We love People Towels so much, we created our very own official We Hate To Waste People Towels. Check them out: HERE.
Use Alternatives to Wrapping Paper
Alternative gift-wrappings let you express your personal creativity while cutting down on waste. Try cloth wrappings inspired by the Japanese Furoshiki tradition— a beautiful and sustainable alternative to wrapping paper. Learn more about this in our story ‘Forget Wrapping Paper, Try Cloth Bags!’. Have fun using recycled newspaper, matching the newspaper articles and pictures to the recipient’s interests like Kate suggests in the comment on our Top Ten Tips for a No-Waste Holiday post.
Patronize retailers that make it easy to cut down on packaging. Lush Cosmetics sells many colorful ‘naked products,’ keeps packaging down to a minimum, and will wrap gifts in their distinctive ‘knot’ wraps.
Respect Wood Resources
Have you ever thought about how many years a tree grew before it was cut down and hauled to the lumber yard? Wood is a precious resource and it a terrible thing to waste. Waste Watcher Tamara Maren uses up every bit of leftover wood from her projects, right down to the last scrap. She has made a chicken coop, a playhouse, a tack box, saddle racks, picture frames and more all from leftover wood that would have otherwise gone to waste. Learn more about how to make wooden crafts from scraps in Tamara’s story: Loving Wood Down to the Last Curl.
SAVE ON PACKAGING
Swap That Shampoo Bottle for a Bar
Mike Graham from the WeHateToWaste community uses a bar of shampoo soap instead of a bottle. It comes with no packaging other than the paper it’s wrapped in and each bar offers the same amount of usage as a 24 oz bottle of shampoo, plus it is much easier to get the last drop of the product!
GET THE LAST DROP
Don’t let a single morsel, drop, or smidge go to waste. Become a part of the 100% product use-up club! The most common household products embody a host of resources and likely have travelled thousands of miles to get to your home. It’s our duty as consumers to make sure we use up products completely — and save money, too.
Get Every Drop From Liquid Cleaning and Personal Care Products
Use up products like toothpaste, lotion, body wash, dish soap, and detergent before it’s time to recycle the bottles. Leaving no drop behind, ‘Junky’ Jacquie balances her Palmolive bottle on its head overnight just to let those last drops flow to the cap. Find out how our Waste Watcher Alex figured out 3 Ways to Get ALL Your Money’s Worth of Pantene.
Squirt, Don’t Pour
Rather than pouring laundry detergent into the cap, squirt the soap directly into the washing machine. This way you won’t leave behind detergent in the cap – not to mention less of a mess. One WasteWatcher recommends using Method laundry detergent. It’s not only ultra-concentrated, but its packaging is specifically designed so that you can pump detergent directly into the washing machine. If you still prefer to measure out the detergent with the cap, try throwing it in with your wash. Just remember to fish it out before it goes in the dryer!
Go With Gravity
Get gravity on your side to help you use up products completely. To get every drop out of your products, store bottles upside down. Get help if needed from a simple device we came across called MyBotto.
Wind Up the Toothpaste…
To get every dollop of toothpaste, some waste watchers roll, flatten, and even cut the neck. Spare yourself the trouble by getting a wind up key and squeeze out all the toothpaste in that tube neatly and completely. You can buy them in most drugstores for under a dollar or use a binder clip.
…Or Cut the End Opposite the Cap
Fellow Waste Hater, Kim isn’t satisfied until every drop of product is used. She snips the toothpaste tube or the lotion tube at the end opposite the cap in order to get every morsel. If she finds too much product, she uses the same binder clip to keep the tube closed until it’s completely empty.
Enlist Your Spatula
Our ‘Junky’ Jacquie uses her spatula to pick up every ounce of mayonnaise from the sides of the jar and every last bit of cookie dough morsel from the sides of the bowl. There are even specialty ones like The Spatty, which are small enough to get the last bits from bottles and jars of pricey cosmetics and lotions. Read more about how The Spatty came to be in Cheryl Rigdon’s post Shark Tank’s Cheryl Rigdon Gives Us the Scoop on Spatty.
Use Up the Soap
Many waste watchers bring home half used bars of soap from hotels, just to be sure they don’t go to waste. (By the way, we’re delighted to see those new hotel soaps with the little hole in them — saves waste and saves money.) There are also organizations, such as the Global Soap Project, that works to recycle hotel soaps and distribute it in developing countries to promote good hygiene.
Coax That Antiperspirant All the Way to the Top
Don’t throw out that antiperpsirant stick so fast! With just an extra nudge, you will discover an inch or more of product. To learn how ‘Junky’ Jacquie throws away no deodorant before its time, see her post, The Secret to Getting More Swipes.
Soap in a Sock
Whenever Mizar Turdiu of GreenDivas.com is at a hotel, the one thing she will use is the bar soap. She believes it’s just obnoxious to carry soap in luggage and she will NOT buy any soap pumped out of a plastic bottle! Plus, when have you ever not found soap in your hotel bathroom room? Doubt it. When her stay is over, she wraps it up in a piece of “dirty” laundry or it’s original box and takes it home. Then— here’s the BEST part — she takes one of her son’s orphaned camp socks, which are nice and thick, and she pops the soap right in and hangs it in her shower. With a little water, the ‘Soap in a Sock’ gets all lathered up and because it’s such a “gungy” sock; it exfoliates like nothing else. When the soap supply gets low, pop another bar of soap into the sock.
Do you have a tip you’d like to share with us about how to save energy, water, and other resources? Just send it HERE.
Want to learn even more about how to save resources? Check out our blog posts HERE.
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