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Frugal Living Tip - 11 Ways to Be an Earth-Friendly Couple

Here is an article I ran across and thought it was good information. My comments showing my hubby and I’s status on these 11 things are in red. Have you done any of these things to shrink your carbon foot-print? If so, tell me about them.

11 Ways to Be an Earth-Friendly Couple
By Alonna Friedman
Here are a few new weekend projects for you as a duo: Embark on some (or even just one) of these simple Earth-saving strategies -- you can both feel that you're helping those future generations your parents and in-laws keep talking about!
The goal here is to limit carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, which are the big offenders in the global-warming crisis.

Strategy 1:
Change your light bulbs. We're sure you've heard this before -- and we know it's tempting to buy the four-pack of bulbs for $2 -- but compact fluorescent bulbs use two-thirds less energy and last 10 times longer than standard incandescent bulbs.

The payoff:
If Americans replaced just one bulb in their home, it would save enough energy to light 2.5 million homes in one year and prevent an amount of greenhouse gases equivalent to the emissions of 800,000 cars.

Hubby and I have done this in the three lamps that are used the most. Need to find and buy bulbs for four ceiling fans.

Strategy 2:
Bring your own mug to Starbucks. You'll get a 10-cent discount, and it's one less paper cup to end up in a landfill. While you're there, pick up some free bags of spent coffee grounds to use as "green" fertilizer in your garden.

The payoff:
The store won't create more waste when they throw away a cup, and you can start growing carbon dioxide-eating plants au naturale.

Hubby and I do not visit these type of specialty stores but once or twice a year. No help here from us.

Strategy 3:
Save water. Run the dishwasher only when it's full, and don't pre-rinse dishes (a waste of time, water, and energy). But the real water drain is the shower -- take shorter ones (and take them together!).

The payoff:
By skipping pre-rinse, you'll save 200 pounds of carbon dioxide from being released and $40 a year. And by taking shorter showers, you'll conserve 350 pounds of CO2 and keep about $100 in your pocket each year.
Look into low-flow shower heads. They still have great pressure but conserve gallons of water from each shower.

I try not to pre-rinse dishes, but living in a rural area with crappy water pressure for the dishwasher, they don’t always come clean. The dishwasher is always ran full. I also have quit doing small loads of laundry. The washer is now full anytime it’s ran. We do have a valve on shower head, so it can be shut off while shampooing, shaving, or soaping to save water.

Strategy 4:
Turn off your computer. When in standby mode, your PC is still using energy. In fact, 75 percent of electricity used in your home comes from electronics that are turned off. Stop this phantom electro rush by plugging your computer into a power strip and shutting down completely at the end of the day. Also, remove your iPod, digital camera, and phone chargers from outlets when not in use.

The payoff:
Turning off a 75-watt monitor for 40 hours a week might only save $4.38 a month, but it reduces CO2 (greenhouse gas emissions) by 750 pounds, burning 450 fewer pounds of coal each year!

We have two laptops and one desk computer. They are always off unless they are being used. :)

Strategy 5:
Cancel catalogs. Many of us have a steady flow of unwanted and unsolicited junk mail, catalogs, and magazines. Let's say everyone in New York City received 10 a month: That would make 240,248 tons of paper waste! Call 888-5-OPTOUT or get off the lists at NewDream.org. Make sure to recycle what you do receive. Find out where to recycle in your area at Earth911.org.

The payoff:
Less energy is spent on creating paper (which kills trees we need) and less trash is created when we can reuse products. The immediate return? Less clutter at home!

Our Pledge for 2008: We will recycle junk mail, magazines and newspapers. 2007 Pledge: We no longer will buy & use paper plates, plastic cups or paper napkins.

Strategy 6:
Reuse plastic bags. Instead of chucking 100 billion plastic sacks a year (wow!), try and get a second, third, or tenth use out of them. Tote your lunch to work or your groceries home, or at least use them as garbage bags. Better yet, next time you shop, try a reusable bag. Learn how at ReusableBags.com.

The payoff:
You're reducing pollution. The amount of oil it would take to make just 14 plastic bags would run your car for one mile.

Our Pledge for 2008: 4 re-usable shopping bags have been purchased and will be deligently used. 2007 Pledge: Re-use all plastic shopping bags for trash can liners.

Strategy 7:
Green your car. The next time you're in the market for a new car, check out an eco option like a hybrid model -- whatever you do, don't get an SUV. In the meantime, take care of your current ride with regular tune-ups and properly inflated tires.

The payoff:
Driving a 13-mile-per-gallon SUV wastes more energy in one year than if you left your refrigerator door open for six years! Getting regular tune-ups, performing maintenance, and having clean air filters will help you burn less gas and therefore pollute the air less. And properly inflated tires could save around 2 billion gallons of gas each year.

Not feasible at this time.

Strategy 8:
Use recycled paper...in the bathroom. Most of the TP we use is made from virgin trees found in forests previously untouched by humans. Seeing as trees absorb carbon dioxide, we'd get better use from them living than we would as a roll in the powder room.

The payoff:
If every household in America replaced one roll of toilet paper with a recycled post-consumer waste roll, 424,000 trees would still be standing. Look for eco paper towels and napkins too. If every household used recycled napkins, we would spare one million trees.
That’s a lot of saved trees! Hopefully more TP companies will start using recycled materials for their products.

Our Pledge for 2008: Will look into the brands further for more information and try to purchase greener products.

Strategy 9:
Buy energy-efficient appliances. The old fridge conked out. Great! Replace it with an Energy Star appliance (EnergyStar.gov) and you'll use at least 15 percent less energy and water in your home. It might be a little pricier to buy, but you'll be saving money on your utility bills and helping the environment.

The payoff:
If we all installed one Energy Star appliance, it would be like planting 1.7 million acres of new trees.

I thought ALL appliances made in the last ten years were energy star? I guess I took this for granted, but all our appliances are energy star.

Strategy 10:
Plant a tree. Adding green to your garden is aesthetically -- and earth -- pleasing.

The payoff:
Just one tree (native to your region) will help make cleaner air and save the environment from 5,000 pounds of hot carbon dioxide each year.

Pledge for 2008: Plant 12 trees on our property. 2007 Pledge: Plant twelve trees. We actually planted around 48 trees, but only about 12-15 survived the winter.

Strategy 11:
Give and voice your support. Contribute or volunteer with the green organization of your choice. And tell a friend to do the same. Some we like: OnePercentForThePlanet.org, SaveOurEnvironment.org, SierraClub.org, and ConservationFund.org. Sign the "Emissions Petition" at EnvironmentalDefense.org, and send the message to your local government representatives that you want to undo global warming.

The payoff:
Together time. Oh, and feeling like you're doing something about this Earth-destroying epidemic.

Will check into these organizations. No 2008 Pledge will be made at this time.


  1. If you are into finding a truly greener car try www.whatgreencar.com.

  2. Strategy 1: Change your light bulbs. Almost all of our light bulbs throughout the house are compact fluorescent.

    Strategy 2: Bring your own mug to Starbucks. We don't shop at the gourmet coffee places, either, but we often use refillable cups when we buy drinks at convenience stores. Or we take our own drinks from home.

    Strategy 3: Save water. We do well in some ways, horribly in others. I don't pre-rinse dishes, but I do scrape them before loading them into the dishwasher. Only full loads of dishes, and even minimal water when hand washing them. We have a front-load HE washing machine and only run full loads. If there is water left in a drinking glass, we pour it on a houseplant. But...I'm absolutely guilty of taking long hot baths. We are considering buying a hot tub because it would probably save us money...LOL!

    Strategy 4: Turn off your computer. Admittedly, our computer is on 24/7. It's used frequently through out the day and evening, and even sometimes at night if either of us has trouble sleeping. We probably won't change this habit. But there are other things we could unplug, like the phone chargers, the TV when not being used, etc., that would save money.

    Strategy 5: Cancel catalogs.
    We've opted out of junk mail, so get very few catalogs that we don't actually request. Not only does it save trees, but it reduces the urge to buy things we don't need.

    Also, we don't use paper plates, paper napkins and few paper towels. I reuse printer paper when it's not crucial that I have a new clean sheet for what I'm printing.

    Strategy 6: Reuse plastic bags. Like you, I'm using the canvas shopping bags more and more often, for things other than shopping (the are great for hauling home library books or garage sale finds). All of the plastic bags that come into the house get reused somehow, even if it's just as packing material in an eBay shipment.

    Strategy 7: Green your car. I already posted that it is more financially responsible for us to keep our current vehicle and keep it running properly for as long as we can. But when it does come time for a replacement, we'll be looking into hybrids or alternative fuel vehicles.

    Strategy 8: Use recycled paper...in the bathroom. To be honest, I don't know what percentage, if any, of post-consumer material is in our brand of bath tissue.

    Strategy 9: Buy energy-efficient appliances. Anything we've bought since we've been married (8 years) has been an Energy Star appliance: washer, dryer, chest freezer. However, we have two refrigerators (both needed) and they are both more than 10 years old. We have been considering keeping the better of the two for our overflow fridge, and getting a new ES model for inside the house. Whenever we have to replace our furnace or AC, it will be an efficiency appliance, too.

    Strategy 10: Plant a tree. We ordered 10 free trees from the Arbor Day Foundation last fall. They arrived too late to plant, so we heeled them in and the seem to have survived. Must be planted SOON!

    Strategy 11: Give and voice your support. I'm not a campaigner for any cause, but I might consider making a small donation at some point.

  3. annie, We do the same with printer paper too! :) I also forgot to mention I dont let the water run while brushing my teeth either. Out of all the trees hubby planted half of them were from the arbor day foundation also. Not all of them made it through the winter. We had to heel them into the garden last year for spring planting last year. I thought they were going to make it but this winter was too much for them. I'm thinking it might have actually been due to rodents, just not sure what happend there.

  4. This is a really great post!

    1- Light bulbs: The majority of the light bulbs in our home are CF, we have a couple of LED lamps, and the rest are halogen. We use the halogen in the fixtures were we want more light than the CF provide.

    3- I didn't even know people -did- pre-rinse... I suspect I've always been blessed to have a really good dishwasher where it wasn't needed. I always joke with my husband that we're conserving water when we shower together, but I think we waste more than when we take solo showers *L* We do have a low flow showerhead.

    4- Most things are removed from outlets, but one computer is on most of the time. We did change our server to a hard drive only that plugs into the router. That's saved a lot on energy!

    5- I don't get any catalogs but I do get sale ads. I'm having this dilemma about continuing that because it generates so much garbage. I should look into seeing if I can get the grocery ads by e-mail. The good side is we do have paper recycling pickup in the building so I don't feel quite as guilty!

    6- One thing that helps me with this is that grocery bags cost €0.20 each. That adds up fast, so I try to keep one on my bike all the time. I've found several patterns for bags that I plan to make this year as well.

    7- We try to cycle and take public transport when we can, this also helps since gas is over 8 USD per gallon *cringes*

    8- Not sure what our TP is. Printer paper is always partially recycled and then tossed in the recycle bin when we're done.

    9- With the exception of our washer and dryer, all the other appliances we have are new within the past 2-3 years. I usually only use the dryer for towels and undies. The rest goes on the drying rack.

    2, 10, 11 aren't anything I'm currently doing. It's hard to plant a tree when you live in an apartment ;)

  5. Great post, Lisa! I hope it inspires others to reduce their impact on the earth.

  6. 1. Light bulbs: I've got some CFL Tried replacing most of the bulbs with these. My mom doesn't like how they take time to come on fully, so they are in my room, hall and basement. I need to buy more.

    2. Coffee mugs. I don't drink coffee, but have a reuable water bottle.

    3. Saving water. I could do better on this. I like long showers. I do turn water off when brushing teeth. I have multiple water levels settings on my washer so I can use mini, or small if needed.

    4. Turn off appliance: I turned the computer off when it will be more than 5-10 minutes. I really should start unplugging it. The TV and VCR I can't unplug. The VCR is programed to record daily and the TV would have to be reprogramed each time which would be a royal pain. I do keep the stereo unplugged when not in use. I could do the same to the DVD player.

    5. Catalogs. I don't get many catalogs. I have canceled magazines that I can now read at the library

    6.Plastic bags are almost always reused at my house. Most are used for trash bags in bathroom and bedrooms. (Buying tiny little trash bags is just silly!) Others are used to hold things waiting to be recycled. I should take the ones with holes back to Wal-Mart to be recycled though.

    7. Green your car. I guess my car is recycled! It's a 1985 Chevy Celebrity that's been in the family since December 1996. It's only been driven 55,000 since then. Oh, and I just bought a new air filter for it yesterday!

    8. Recycled TP.....hmmm, my mom would say that you could recycle all the catalogs into TP like they did when she was growing up! Will have to look into conventional TP that's recycled.

    9. Energy Star appliances: The washer, dryer, stove and fridge are all energy star. The washer and dryer are not HE, but are much newer/better than what they replaced. The water heater that was bought 3 years ago, I'll have to check but I think it's ES too.

    10. Plant a tree. We've tried! First one my daddy planted many years ago had to be cut down because it was going to get into the power lines. The three dogwoods we planted died!

    Good job, Lisa! You really made me think.