Although many people are aware that conservation benefits humans just as it benefits the planet, sometimes families stop short, thinking conservation is too big to tackle on a household scale, and kids think, “I’m too little. What can one person do?”
National Green Week helps focus people’s interest in saving energy with challenges, certificates, and awards and kicks off the year’s environmental awareness which culminates on Earth Day, April 22nd.
Conservation on an individual, family, or local level can have a big impact. Here are ten ideas for schools, groups, and families to save money, save the planet, and maybe even get healthy, too!
Plants not only produce life-sustaining oxygen for the planet, many also filter the air. Since indoor air quality can be many times more polluted than outside air, it’s important in homes and schools to consider improving it. Adopting a plant for a classroom or home is a popular way to keep health-friendly and eco-friendly practices in the forefront of family members’ or classmates’ minds, while helping to improve the indoor air quality (IAQ).
[Indoor Air Quality Tools for Schools Action Kit info]
[National Education Association Health Information Network – Indoor Air Quality Statistics]
Even something as simple as making all the various trips for haircuts, groceries, and school supplies into one big trip, instead, helps to save fuel and family time. It goes without saying that this kind of restriction on car use also helps family members to become more organized and learn to not wait until the last minute to schedule a trip to the office supply store for poster board for that school project that’s been pending for two months.
There are also always opportunities for carpooling, especially to-and-from school, school events and group meetings, work, and religious meetings. Posting notices in a school or church email or on a community, work, or college bulletin board is a great way to connect with people for carpooling. Another idea to try is online at erideshare.com or carpoolworld.com.
[Carpool FAQs and Safety]
Placing a second kitchen garbage can in a pantry next to the regular garbage is an easy way to get family members to recycle more. Removing recyclables from trash cans reduces reliance on the City’s landfills – a smart, healthy choice from every angle.
A quick phone call to Virginia Beach Waste Management at 385-4650 can answer questions about curbside recycling and, when a family is ready and recycling more, a free, second recycling container can be delivered for household use.
[Virginia Beach Curbside Recycling Program]
Reduce junk mail
Yes, junk mail can be recycled, but why not save valuable family time by not having to sort through it at all? Filling out a Direct Marketing Association DMAchoice Mailing Preferences Form eliminates junk mail delivered from all the participating companies, about 75% of all junk mail. When a family receives unwanted or duplicate catalogs and flyers from other retail companies where they may have shopped in the past, a quick phone call to the 800# or a visit to the retail website allows a family to elect out of such solicitation.
Lunch with reusable containers
Lunching with reusable containers, like a lunchbox, stainless steel water bottle, or sandwich container, is earth- and wallet-friendly for everyone. Locally, the students at King’s Grant Elementary had a chance to earn Caught Being Green tickets when they lunched with reusable containers. These tickets went into a monthly drawing for a prize.
[VPCPS Environmental Programs and Contacts by School]
Use power strips for “vampire appliances”
Families who think they’re saving being energy-conscious simply by turning off the television or DVD player when they’re finished watching might be surprised to learn they’re still spending money on electricity. While those vampire appliances appear off, they are actually waiting in stand-by mode, running clocks and timers or remote sensors, for instance.
Plugging all household computers and peripherals (such as monitors, modems, routers, and printers) and electronic items (like televisions, DVD or Blu-ray players, game consoles, etc.) into a power strip allows a family to turn off the power completely, at the end of every day. This eliminates the electricity bleed for stand-by power, which costs consumers billions of dollars, each year.
[Vampire Appliances Suck Electricity Even When Switched Off]
Plant a garden
Gardens do not have to be large to bring immeasurable benefits to their owners. Planting any kind of garden, whether it be a vegetable, herb, flower, or windowsill garden is not only good for the environment and family budget, but also for bringing a family together, teaching children and students in a fun way about math, science, literature, culture and other, worthy, pursuits – and it’s also good for health.
[Create a NWF Certified Backyard or Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat]
Turn off the water
Families waste hundreds of gallons of water per day by not turning off the water while brushing their teeth and by taking long showers. An easy choice for National Green Week is to be more water conscious and start turning off the water while brushing teeth or take shorter showers. It saves money, too, and might even cut down on sibling squabbles over using up all the hot water or taking too long in the bathroom!
[How to Save Water Brushing Teeth]
[Shorter Showers Save Water]
Portable fans and ceiling fans cost pennies to operate, as opposed to energy hogs, like central heating and air conditioning. If insulation and energy-efficient windows and doors just aren’t in the budget, wise use of fans with a corresponding change in the thermostat can make a serious contribution to the family savings account.
[How Ceiling Fans Save Energy]
[Tips to Save on Cooling Costs]
Replace light bulbs
General-purpose light bulbs will be required to be 30% more energy efficient than current incandescent bulbs by the end of 2014, providing incentive for replacement of incandescents. However, families would be smart to replace their energy-eating light bulbs with more cost-effective ones, like LEDs or Compact Fluorescent Lighs (CFLs), as soon as possible.
Locally, Virginia Beach’s Green Run Highschool’s theatre replaced its traditional lighting fixtures with LED fixtures, potentially saving up to nearly $13,000 per year. An added bonus of replacing incandescents is that LEDs and CFLs need to be replaced much less frequently.
[Cost and Information Comparison of Light Bulbs]
[Go Green Hampton Roads.com]
How to Get Removed From Commercial Email Lists
National Do Not Call Registry
VBCPS Sustainability Program: Tim Cole @ 757.263.1090 or [email protected]