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Let’s Build a Sustainable South Jersey: Ten Simple Things You Can Do TODAY!


Margaret Meade tells us that if each person would take care of their own square foot of the world, we would all be better off in so many ways.

Change your old incandescent bulbs to energy efficient CFL bulbs. These bulbs are cleaner to manufacture and reduce your energy use by 75%. CFL bulbs are now available in a variety of types, from soft light to those you can use with dimmers. Due to the small amount of mercury contained in these bulbs, please dispose properly. Home Depot offers safe disposal seven days a week.

Stop using plastic bags. These bags are not biodegradable, are made from petroleum and often end up polluting our land and oceans. Invest in some good quality reusable bags. Most grocery stores offer discounts for using these bags. Carry a small one in your car or purse for trips to CVS or Target.

Stop using plastic water bottles. As with plastic bags, these bottles are not biodegradable and are made from petroleum. Valuable resources are used to manufacture, transport and even to recycle them. Did you know that health guidelines for tap water are more stringent than those for bottled water? Invest in a BPH free reusable plastic or a metal water bottle and kick the bottled water habit. You’ll save some cash in the process!

Turn the key and be IDLE FREE! If you are going to be stopped in your car for more than 30 seconds, turn it OFF! Contrary to popular belief, you do not need to warm up your engine and turning your car off and back on does not use more gas than keeping it on. You will cut down on dangerous pollution, decrease carbon emissions and save some money at the pump.

Install a programmable thermostat. Save money and natural resources by setting it to a lower temperature while you are away during the day and at bedtime. Before assuming you will be cold, test it out! Put on a sweater, reduce the heat for a week and see how you feel.

Pack a waste free lunch. Reuse containers and reduce trash. Did you know that the average kid’s lunch generates almost 70 lbs. of waste per year? Buy in bulk, not in single serving packs, buy juice in large bottles and don’t buy plastic sandwich bags, paper napkins and paper lunch bags. Put food in reusable containers, pack cloth napkins and put the whole lunch in a long-lasting reusable bag.

Eat one less red meat meal per week. Did you know that the meat industry produces a huge amount of greenhouse gases, both methane from the cows digestive system and CO2 from the energy required to grow and transport their feed? Eating lower on the food chain can decrease your carbon footprint dramatically.

Bring your own cup to Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts. You’ll save paper, reduce chlorine used to bleach cups and decrease your contribution to landfills. Many coffee shops will give you a discount for bringing your own cup! Better yet, forgo the chains and visit your local, independent coffee house.  Independent businesses keep more $$ in the community and give us creative, unique places to enjoy in our towns.

Use paper products made from recycled paper. If every household replaced just one roll of virgin paper towels with 100% recycled paper towels, we could save 1/4 million trees, 4 million cubic feet of landfill space, 500 million gallons of water and prevent 90,000 lbs of pollution. You can find recycled paper towels, napkins and toilet paper at your neighborhood grocery stores. Better yet, do without paper towels and use dish towels instead!

Reduce, Reuse and Recycle! This one covers it all. Buy less and think about what you are going to do with it when you are done using it. Recycling is great, but did you know that for every one can of trash or recycling we put out by the curb, that over 70 cans of waste were produced in the manufacturing and transportation process for all the stuff we buy?

Sustainable Cherry Hill is a non-profit 501c3 organization with a mission of bringing people together to build a sustainable South Jersey. For more information, contact Lori Braunstein, Executive Director of  Sustainable Cherry Hill at 609.238.3449 or visit www.sustainablecherryhill.org.

As seen in: Burlington County Woman (Spring 2012)

 

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