Disposable: What Is Best for the Environment?

The greenest choice you can make is undoubtedly to stop using disposables. It’s better to avoid using disposable plates, glasses, and cutlery and limit them to those occasions when you can’t do otherwise.
For instance, using durable plates, glasses instead of disposable ones and washing them in the eco mode to minimize water and energy consumption is a wiser option.

But when disposable is inevitable, what is the best choice for the environment? Giving a specific answer is not easy because the data concerning the environmental impact such as water consumption, soil, ecotoxicity, climate change, etc., different items have can be conflicting. However, one of the most eco-friendly solutions is to choose compostable tableware that can be found in the following materials:

Bamboo – Bamboo is a fast-growing material, only 3-5 years old, compared to other conifers that might take 10-20 years. Nonetheless, bamboo plates and cutlery are quite fragile, leading to more waste than other types. If you’re opting for this material, select organic bamboo tableware from sustainable crops and reuse it as much as possible.

Premium Photo | Disposable tableware made of bamboo wood and paper.

Wood- It is biodegradable and compostable. Go for those made of recycled wood. Wooden disposable cutlery can be used several times, so avoid throwing them away after the first use.

Finnish Kuksa - Bushcraft Canada

Potato – Yes! Dishes and bowls can be made from potato paste obtained from industrial potato processing waste. They cannot be reused, but they are biodegradable and become compostable within a few weeks. They can then be used for composting at home as well.

Pulp Tek Round White Sugarcane / Bagasse Extra Large Plate - 11 3/4" x 11  3/4" x 1" - 100 count box - Walmart.com - Walmart.com

Palm leaves – These are obtained by processing and drying palm leaves and are easily compostable. Mixed plant fibers are usually a mixture of bamboo and processing waste of other plant fibers. Look for them with organic certification.

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Compared to other options such as paper, plastic, cellulose, and others, it is impossible to rank all materials involved according to their environmental impact. Still, we’ve classified them based on their contribution to climate change.

Polyethylene (PE) laminated carton – This is a carton board suitable for food contact, bonded to a thin layer of polyethylene by lamination.

Polypropylene (PP) – It is centrifuged (a technique used to separate particles based on their size, shape, density, etc.) after cleaning, dried, and stabilized with additives before being extruded into pellets.

Polystyrene (PS) – polymer obtained by polymerization of styrene, an aromatic hydrocarbon.

Polylactic acid (PLA) – polymer obtained from plants such as corn, wheat or beets, sugar cane, and rich in natural sugar (dextrose).

Cellulose pulp – Cellulose pulp is obtained from wood by various methods, starting from the trunk or processing waste. The three main pulp production chains are the sulfate cycle (about 80%), the sulfite cycle, and the semi-chemical cycle.

Pulp contributes the least to climate change but is better than PP, PS, and PLA in water and soil consumption. In contrast, the pulp is better than polylactic acid (PLA) because of its ecotoxicity in the marine environment.

Disposable plastic waste accounts for 49% of pollution problems, but eliminating plastic is not enough to improve it. It is essential to correct bad habits and dispose of plastic waste properly so that it can be recycled and reused to the maximum extent possible without ending up in the sea, where it would become dangerous for the marine ecosystem and the food chain to which we belong.

When disposal is unavoidable in some cases, such as events involving large numbers of people or when it is impossible to wash the dishes, try to at least minimize consumption through these good practices:

Choose food and products that do not require containers or cutlery and can be easily eaten with hands.
Ensure that each guest can easily recognize his glass and perhaps the plate and write a symbol or initials on it. In this way, they won’t be using more than one and lead to more waste.

Reuse plates, glasses, and cutlery whenever possible; even « disposable » items can be washed and reused several times, especially those made of bamboo and wood.

Differentiate between the various types of plates, cutlery, and glasses after use, remove food debris, and dispose of them as directed.

What are your thoughts about disposables? Share it with us in the comments below!

Sustainable Food – At What Cost?

Mention a local, sustainable food program to most chefs and foodservice operators, and you might see a glazed look in their eyes. Or worse, they will start shaking, stuttering, and breaking into cold sweats, mumbling something like « it costs too much » while looking for a way out of the conversation. By converting conventional food programs into more sustainable models, I have not only experienced these anxiety symptoms myself, but I have also found a tonic to cure them.

Definition

Sustainable food promotes environmental, economic, social, and nutritional well-being. However, in terms of the exact models of a sustainable food program, whether in a school system, hospital, restaurant, or university, no two models are alike, nor should they be. Locality, fiscal and physical limitations, staff size, and skill level are just some of the factors that make this type of program challenging to replicate. However, when it comes to dollars and cents, each institution shares the same common denominators: food, work, and other expenses. These realities will ultimately be affected – up or down – and that can ensure the success of a program.

The Real Cost of Food

The difference between purchasing sustainably produced food and conventional food is likely to be more generous. And it should be! For too long, we have paid a hidden cost for « cheap food, » and this cost is beginning to manifest itself in countless environmental, health, and trade tragedies. Small and medium-sized farmers and producers deserve a fair price for their efforts, and we must give it to them. The good news is that there is a way to reduce the impact on our bottom line and support these artisans simultaneously.

Many wonder how much more it will cost. Let’s be clear: food costs typically account for one-third of our total expenses. Therefore, any shift to buying more sustainable food will only impact a portion of our total budget. This, coupled with the fact that it is unlikely that we will replace each ingredient with a sustainable equivalent, means that changes in food costs will represent no more than a percentage of your total operating costs.

The food service industry has created its monster. For years, we have responded to customer dissatisfaction with quantity rather than quality. We add more options. We increase the size of the menu, the size of the food court, and everything – including portions! Well, guess what? Customers are often still unhappy. What’s needed is more emphasis on fewer choices. And the results you can expect? Less waste, more attention to detail, more resources for a better quality product.

Labor costs

Like food, the labor costs and staff levels required to produce sustainable food will fluctuate with the program’s scale. Fresh, whole foods require more « manual labor » than processed foods. However, many do not stop to realize that with some strategic menu planning, you can save labor. If staff levels were designed to produce a menu loaded with many options, reducing those choices and focusing on the quality rather than the number of ingredients will help balance the workload.

But be aware of staff skill levels. For too long, many « cooks » have become complacent in their art. Those who had culinary skills, to begin with, may have forgotten or misplaced them with the advent of highly processed foods. In recent decades, there has been an influx of less-skilled labor into the foodservice sector – it doesn’t take much talent to open cans and tins and work in a line kitchen. It’s essential to teach staff how to handle all these new and marvelous foods properly. What is the point of investing in better food if the customer is served food that is poorly prepared and poorly presented? The investment in restructuring and staff training cannot be neglected; otherwise, the result will waste time and money.

Other costs

Other costs, such as infrastructure, equipment, marketing, and advisory resources, need to be considered part of a more sustainable food program. But like food and labor costs, they should not be overlooked either. Systematically reviewing the entire food chain, from purchasing to service, will reveal opportunities and limitations and ultimately create a menu that uses ingredients that will fit your business model.

And don’t go it alone! Would a neurosurgeon start his practice without training? Would you hire a chef who has no experience in the kitchen? So why would you try a sustainable food program without using the best resources? Look for well-connected organizations in agriculture. Use the many « Farm-to-Chef » and « Farm-to-School » programs that exist across the state and country. Hire a resource to help you get it right. One thing I hear most often when I travel around the restaurant world is, « Oh, we know how to do this ourselves. » We don’t need any help ». If that’s the case, why are there so few genuinely sustainable food programs?

In the end, a sustainable food program may cost a little more, but it will also provide peripheral savings. I have seen kitchens eliminate disposable dishes, set up composting programs, then save on waste removal and procurement costs.

On the one hand, engaging in the process of prioritizing sustainability is not an easy undertaking. On the other hand, any conventional restoration program that is fortunate enough to be led by people who have the courage and willingness to invest in knowledgeable resources, training, and dedicated effort will reap the abundant benefits of this new food movement. So wipe that sweaty front, stop mumbling about costs and seize this opportunity. Such a modest investment will ultimately pay off for everyone.

9 Tips for a Waste-Free Party

Your birthday or someone very special is coming, and you’re going to throw a party? Yay! But have you thought about how to minimize waste in the organization of the event? You can plan a super party without garbage and debris! Check out the tips here!

1) Forget the Balloons!

Use colored ribbons that can be reused over the years. They are beautiful and give a lot of life to the environment. A decoration made with handmade or reusable items gives a special touch to the party.

ribbons decoration ceiling - Google Search | Wedding table decorations  pink, Ceiling design, Ceiling decor

2) Do Not Exaggerate the Feast

Calculate the number of people coming and the amount of food needed. When in doubt, it is better to estimate a little down than a pile-up because the leftovers are often lost in the end and result in waste. Don’t forget that many children start eating a dish, but don’t finish it. The good idea is to make small amounts of varied dishes. Finally, if you have to buy ingredients in supermarkets, choose ingredients with recyclable packaging and preferably with the I-recycling seal.

3) Choose Reusable Cups, Plates, and Cutlery

Ask family and friends to lend you some extras if necessary. This way, you save money and don’t generate a pile of garbage at the party’s end. When it comes to napkins, fabric napkins are always the best option! A small and seemingly insignificant object, like a napkin, can have a considerable impact on the environment. For instance, if 50% of the American population used one paper napkin three times a day per meal, over one year only, 164,250,000 (yes billion) napkins would be used!

4) Reuse Candles From Previous Parties

The candles on a cake are the center of attention for a few seconds. After they are lit, they still have a lot of life left in them. Reuse them on other occasions!

5) Make Confetti From Leaves

Did you know that confetti is a super polluter? Confetti is often made of paper, but it is also regularly made of plastic. This plastic can end up in the environment after being discarded. A sustainable and festive alternative is to make confetti from leaves yourself. Collect a pile of sturdy leaves and start (with the children) with a punch. Don’t forget the Christmas lights. This ensures a festive and welcoming atmosphere, even if it’s not Christmas.

6) Ask Guests to Reduce the Packaging and the Cards They Buy

The amount of waste the guests produce is surprising. To wrap a gift, only a sheet and a bow, preferably cellophane (since it is recyclable), are enough.

7) Avoid Outdoor Parties

Yes, there won’t be any waste for you, but the amount of waste generated by an out-of-home party is massive. If for some reason you want to do it anyway, a picnic in a park is better. It’s a fun option, and with good planning, it can also be waste-free!

8)Buy or Make Games That Can Be Reused

Reuse toys, milk cartons, boxes, and other things to make games and treasure hunts. The kids will love it! Moreover, you can save them from being used in a new game next year!

9) Don’t Waste Time and Money on Souvenir Bags

Most « souvenirs » are plastic garbage that ends up in a landfill, such as candy, lollipops, and chocolates. Instead, give your guests a piece of cake to take home with them. If you want something more elaborate, give seed and a vase for your guests to plant at home. It will be much more original!

With these tips, you can keep festive waste to a minimum and have more fun!

10 Weirdest But Greenest Inventions of All Time

The misuse of technologies has generated innumerable challenges for the sustainability and conservation of the environment. Paradoxically, the current industrial and commercial development has put the balance of the Earth at risk. That’s one of the problems that worry all parents. Possibly on more than one occasion, you have wondered what kind of future awaits the children in your family environment. Is that so?

The environmental challenges that we face are not minor and must be taken seriously. That is why quick and effective solutions are urgently needed. Thousands of scientists worldwide are working on inventing new materials and objects to allow consumers to choose an ecological and sustainable alternative.

If they can become famous, several of these inventions would represent a breakthrough in preserving our environment! It will only be necessary to overcome some obstacles such as people’s consumption habits, affordable prices, and, most importantly, safe in their use, manipulation, and results.

#1. Cigarettes With Seeds

Given the number of people who smoke globally, it occurred to someone that cigarette residues could stop being a nuisance (ash and smoke pollute and cigarette butts take about 15 years to degrade) and become something productive. Thus arose the idea of ​​cigarettes with seeds, which are equipped with biodegradable filters; After its decomposition, wildflowers will sprout from its remains that will help purify the air—an excellent way to give the bad habit of smoking an ecological twist.

#2. Energy-Saving Lamps

Light bulbs are one of the most effective creations that strive for sustainability in all aspects of the invention. Not only are they made with less polluting materials than their incandescent predecessors, but they also save up to 75% energy, last 10-12 times longer, and almost all of their components are recyclable. The next step was the LEDs that do not contain the minimum amount of mercury that the low consumption ones had and are as or more effective than these.

#3. Solar Cell Phones

As weird as it may sound, solar cell phones are a real thing. Their batteries can be charged by exposing them to the sun! Smartphones are « energy-eating » items, since being for daily use and having specific charging capacities, it is necessary to connect them regularly to chargers to keep them running. Thanks to the Fraunhofer Institute’s invention, with just 2 hours of sunning our batteries, we would have a charge for the rest of the day. The only drawback is that users tend to charge their phones at night, but it will convince them to change their habits.

#4. Newspaper WoodFrom Tree to Paper to Wood

In the Netherlands, Mieke Meijer from the company Vij5 has created this new material called Kranthout (which means newspaper-wood in Dutch). Although it looks like wood, it is basically a by-product of recycling paper. Thanks to their perfect rolling and agglomeration, they have managed to make old newspapers and sawdust, chips and shavings, look (it even has veins) and are used as if they were wood, so much so that this material has great hardness, can be sanded and even paint.

#5. Photovoltaic Backpack

That’s one genuinely eco-friendly invention developed by the VoltaicSystems. It is made of a material that is the product of the recycling of various types of bottles, so it is ecological, waterproof, strong and lightweight at the same time. On the outside, it has a series of photovoltaic panels that charge internal storage batteries, to which 11 different types of connectors are attached. Not only can the camera, the camcorder, the tablets or the mobile be carried inside but we can load them as we go hiking, go to work or simply leave the backpack in the sun.

#6. From Bag to Oil

In Japan, the Blest Corporation has invented a device capable of converting plastic bags into the oil. With an approximate cost of about 9,000 euros for each machine, for every two kilos of bags (approximately) and consuming just 1 KW, it can distill one liter of oil, ideal to be used as fuel. Although the idea is to have it produced at an industrial level, if the domestic ones were to be put on the market, they would be the best solution for several of the pollution sources.

#7. Coffee Ink

3D printers are a true marvel that seemed like science fiction until a couple of years ago, but they have not solved everything. Billions of documents need to be printed every minute worldwide, and inks and toners are toxic and polluting. An ingenious designer from Korea came up with recycling coffee waste and turning it into ink, with the consequent ecological savings that this represents.

#8. Bamboo Computers

Plastic is a dangerous component (due to the long times it requires its complete destruction), but it is necessary for now. In contrast, bamboo is a very fast-growing tree that can be used to make thin, biodegradable sheets that could replace plastic. In fact, in China, there are already recyclable laptops, PCs, and Tablets, made with this material.

#9. Recyclable USB memory

All the components of this ecological, sustainable, useful, and supportive product are recycled and recyclable; its storage capacity reaches 8 Gb. For each sold, its creators contribute a percentage, which is allocated to the planting of trees in different parts of the world.

#10. GreeneratorGreen Generator

Although this invention is still in its « infancy, » if it can be produced on a large scale, it would be a domestic solution for consumption, saving a lot of money and pollution. The idea is that the Greenerator generates the energy necessary to operate all the elements that require it (lights, refrigerator, TV, PC, washing machine, etc.) using only the sun and wind as a source. Its creator, Jonathan Globerson, estimates that if his invention works as he believes, it should only be consumed from external sources, 6% of what is needed per household today.

Sustainable Fashion – How to Look Fabulous While Green

When talking about sustainability, the majority of us focus on things like renewable energy sources, going vegan, travelling less or by less polluting methods. But how many of us stop to think whether the clothes we wear are sustainable?

It’s no secret that fashion is a multi-billion industry that produces a vast amount of waste. Have a look through your closet. How many of the outfits that are hanging in there have you worn more than twice in the last fortnight? How many outfits have you bought in the last month that you won’t wear more than a handful of times before either relegating it to the back of the closet or to the donation pile, if not outright to the bin? Then look at your shoe rack and do the same thing.

If we consider sustainability to rest on a balance of the 3P’s (People, Planet, Profit), how does the current ‘Fast Fashion’ trend measure up, and what can we do to improve our habits. After all, humans are vain creatures that want to look good too.

Let’s start with the first P, People

We all know that the manufacturing industry relies on people. And we also know that many factories cut corners to be able to meet high targets and cut costs. These cost cutting measures are usually at the workers’ detriment, such as unregulated health, safety and wage standards. We’ve all heard the horror stories, and as consumers, we need to feel compelled to do something about it.

The only way consumers can make a real impact is by voting with our wallets. Make it a point to always check if your product comes from a company with a history of running sweatshops in third-world countries. As much as possible, avoid this brands and opt for companies with a reputation for fair trade. At least that way, you’re sending a message that sustainable practices matter to you.

Planet

It’s a sad fact that over 40% of the clothes in our closets don’t get worn on a regular basis. After being confined to the back of the closet for the longest time, most of these get discarded to landfills across the globe, which leads to an increase in toxins being released into the atmosphere.

When considering a fashion sustainability initiative that will have a positive impact on the planet, it is important to discuss two major points. Firstly, the materials used. There are a greater number of designers that are taking the laudable step to turn to eco-friendly materials like hemp, organic cotton and recycled polyester, which we, as consumers, should privilege over more traditional materials.

The second point is disposal. As previously mentioned, the vast majority of us wear an outfit a couple of times before getting rid of it. If we are unwilling to change these habits, then we need to take care to not throw clothes away to be disposed in landfills. Instead, why not donate them, or send them off for recycling. There are plenty of online applications that can help with this, as well as the traditional means like your local consignment/thrift store.

Profit

As with all businesses, fashion retailers want to turn a profit. Since sustainable initiatives are seen to cut into their bottom line, many clothes manufacturers and retailers are reluctant to support these initiatives. It is our duty as consumers to convince these manufacturers of the benefits of sustainable fashion.

One of the ways to do this is to support ethical fashion choices. Demand minimal packaging with your purchases. Encourage them to be transparent about their business practices and pricing models. For retailers, opt for social media marketing over the traditional billboard and newspaper media. Use recycled material for packaging. Recycle unused inventory rather than discarding it.

Hopefully this article can help spark a conversation that can lead to a change in fashion habits. Join the conversation in the comments below and let us know your views.

6 Habits to Adopt for a More Sustainable Life

Our daily life choices affect the environment, the climate, and other species. From what we choose to consume to our family size, we can do a lot to « choose nature » and help decrease our footprint’s negative impacts and leave room for a more sustainable life.

1) Think Twice Before You Shop

« Reduce, reuse, recycle » may sound archaic, but it’s just as relevant today as it was when the term was coined. Each product we purchase has an enviromental footprint, from the materials we use to make it to the pollution released when the packaging goes to landfill. So before you buy, ask yourself if the product is necessary. If it is, consider buying a used product rather than a new one, and aim for minimal packaging and transportation.

2) Go Plastic Free

Billions of pounds of plastics are now found in the swirling convergences that make up about 40% of the world’s ocean surfaces. Annually, thousands of seabirds, sea turtles, seals, and other marine mammals are killed after being entangled in plastic. You can begin reducing your plastic waste by following these simple steps: use reusable bags when shopping, avoid single-use water bottles, bags, and straws, and avoid products made or packaged in plastic as much as possible (for example, choose unpackaged products at the grocery store, shop locally, reduce online shopping).

3) Grow Your Own Products

By growing your own fruits and vegetables, you can ensure that no pesticides or other harmful substances that contribute to water and air pollution are utilized. This will also cut down on the quantity of fossil fuels used to move products to supermarkets.

4) Don’t Waste Water

Avoid drinking bottled water. Bottled water companies try to sell tap water, even if it usually be free. Many city water products have won quality and taste tests compared to branded water. The extraction of water and the manufacturing of all these plastic bottles is a known detriment to communities and wildlife. Conserving water is also vital, primarily because our growing population is placing an increasing demands on the country’s water sources, and we are experiencing more droughts than ever before. You can save water by taking shorter showers, repairing leaky toilets, and choosing low-flow, water-efficient appliances. You can also consider xeriscaping your yard, a landscaping technique that uses native plants adapted to drought conditions, require less water and maintenance over time, and provide habitat and food for birds and bees.

5) Choose to Have a Small Family

Now is the time to talk about the rapid increase in the human population, the species extinction crisis, and the type of future we need for wildlife, the planet, and ourselves. With more than 7.5 billion people globally, and more every day, our need for food, water, land, and fossil fuels drives other species to extinction. Thus, having fewer children would be a wise choice. We can achieve an environmentally sustainable population in a way that promotes human rights; reduce poverty and overpopulation; raise our standard of living; and allow plants, animals, and the protected to thrive.

6) Drive Less

By altering your driving habits, you have the power to lower your carbon footprint. Walk, bike, carpool or use public transit whenever possible. Combine classes to make fewer trips. Participate in car-free days or organize car-free days in your neighbourhood. Keeping your car in good condition through regular tune-ups and tire inflation is also crucial. Regular tune-ups can improve your fuel efficiency by 4-40%, and if people keep their tires inflated, fuel consumption can be reduced by 2% across a country.

By following these simple habits, you can make a big difference!

What Are the Key Principles of Sustainable Development?

Everybody talks about sustainable development, but nobody says exactly what it means. The term sustainability is broadly used to indicate programs, initiatives and actions aimed at the preservation of a particular resource. However, it actually refers to four distinct areas: human, social, economic and environmental – known as the four pillars of sustainability.

Human Sustainability

Human sustainability aims to maintain and improve the human capital in society. Investments in the health and education systems, access to services, nutrition, knowledge and skills are all programs under the umbrella of human sustainability. Natural resources and spaces available are limited and there is a need to balance continual growth with improvements to health and achieving economic wellbeing for everyone. In the context of business, an organisation will view itself as a member of society and promote business values that respect human capital. Human sustainability focuses on the importance of anyone directly or indirectly involved in the making of products, or provision of services or broader stakeholders (the human capital of the organisation). Communities around the globe may be positively or negatively affected by business activities or impacted through methods used to source raw materials. Human sustainability encompasses the development of skills and human capacity to support the functions and sustainability of the organisation and to promote the wellbeing of communities and society.

Social Sustainability

Social sustainability aims to preserve social capital by investing and creating services that constitute the framework of our society. The concept accommodates a larger view of the world in relation to communities, cultures and globalisation. It means to preserve future generations and to acknowledge that what we do can have an impact on others and on the world. Social sustainability focuses on maintaining and improving social quality with concepts such as cohesion, reciprocity and honesty and the importance of relationships amongst people. It can be encouraged and supported by laws, information and shared ideas of equality and rights. Social sustainability incorporates the idea of sustainable development as defined by the United Nations sustainable development goals. The principle of sustainable development addresses social and economic improvement that protects the environment and supports equality, and therefore the economy and society and the ecological system are mutually dependent.

Economic Sustainability

Economic sustainability aims to maintain the capital intact. If social sustainability focuses on improving social equality, economic sustainability aims to improve the standard of living. In the context of business, it refers to the efficient use of assets to maintain company profitability over time.

Critics of this model acknowledge that a great gap in modern accounting practices is not to include the cost of damage to the earth in market prices. A more recent approach to economics acknowledges the limited incorporation of the ecological and social components in this model. New economics is inclusive of natural capital (ecological systems) and social capital (relationships amongst people) and challenges the mantra of capital that continual growth is good and bigger is better, if it risks causing harm to the ecological and human system.

Environmental Sustainability

Environmental sustainability aims to improve human welfare through the protection of natural capital (e.g. land, air, water, minerals etc.). Initiatives and programs are defined environmentally sustainable when they ensure that the needs of the population are met without the risk of compromising the needs of future generations. Environmental sustainability places emphasis on how business can achieve positive economic outcomes without doing any harm, in the short- or long-term, to the environment. An environmentally sustainable business seeks to integrate all four sustainability pillars, and to reach this aim each one needs to be treated equally.

The principle of the four pillars of sustainability states that for complete sustainability problems to be solved in relation to all four pillars of sustainability and then need be maintained. Although in some cases these may overlap, it is important to identify the specific type of green business to focus on, as the four types present unique characteristics. Businesses need to make a strategic decision about it to effectively incorporate the chosen approach into their policies and procedures.

Tips in Green Living

Moving towards an environmentally friendly lifestyle can help improve your health and your life in general, and it is also a major asset for the world around you. Eliminating unnecessary chemicals, unhealthy foods, earth-unfriendly practices and bad habits can add up to make you healthier, while at the same time boosting the environment and the ecosystem. Wherever you are in the world, the following 8 tips are all achievable. Some of them are even great fun! Treat yourself, as we all fight for a greener future.

1. Get a high efficiency shower-head A high efficiency shower-head can save up to 3,000 gallons of water per person per year. You will also save $50 in energy costs and 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per person per year. Shower-heads are specially designed to conserve resources while providing a luxurious shower. Accessories for sinks and aerators also save large amounts of water and are very inexpensive.

2. Recycle water in your bathroom Use devices that allow you to reuse water from the sink to flush your toilet. You can also keep a bucket near the shower or bathtub and fill it with cold water from the sink before the hot water kicks in. Then take the bucket outside and use it to water your plants.

3. Compost Use a compost bin to turn your food and lawn waste into a rich mulch. It’s a great way to reduce your waste production, and next year you’ll have a rich compost ready to be planted in the spring.

4. Buy green power from your utility Most utilities charge less than $5 per month extra. Not only will your energy come from a renewable source, but you will use your spending control to show utility executives and government officials that we need more investment in renewable energy projects.

5. Improving the efficiency of your tankless and solar water heaters is all well and good, but simple modifications to your existing installation can reduce your energy bills and carbon emissions by 25% or more. Reduce the temperature of your water heater to 120 degrees, wrap it in an insulating water heater blanket and insulate the first 3 to 6 feet of hot and cold water piping. These inexpensive changes should take less than an hour.

6. Use high-efficiency outdoor lighting A typical 100-watt spotlight, if used six hours a day, can use up to $40 worth of electricity over a year and produce more than 400 pounds of carbon dioxide, depending on where you live. To get started, replace these projectors with compact fluorescent versions, which are just as bright and consume a quarter of the energy. Next, replace the low-energy halogen landscape bulbs with LED versions. They reduce energy consumption by more than 80% and can last for ten years or more. Finally, install motion detectors on non-essential lights. The new versions screw directly into the socket of your existing luminary.

7. 7. Replace heavy-duty indoor lights with compact fluorescent or LEDs With high-quality light, sizes to fit almost any luminary and dimmable versions, compact fluorescent have it all. They are more expensive than standard light bulbs, but between the energy savings and their much longer service life, they pay for themselves in less than two years. And think about LED bulbs for non-dimmable circuits (especially for vacation lighting). They are real energy wasters and will last as long as you live in your home.

8. Load the washing machines Make sure to run the dishwasher and washing machines only when they are full. Clothes washers consume a lot of energy and water, so be sure to do full loads (or adjust the water setting) whenever possible. And most of us use much more water (and soap) than we need to wash dishes by hand, especially when compared to high-efficiency Energy Star dishwashers. So save your time, water and energy by putting these dishes directly in the dishwasher after a meal.