April 22 is Earth Day, and over the next few weeks Patch will be providing you with tips and suggestions on how you can live your life greener -- many of them without drastically changing your lifestyle.
The impact you and your family’s lifestyle have on the earth is called your called carbon footprint. More specifically, it is the amount of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, emitted into the atmosphere as a result of what you do.
1. Plan out your errands.
Every Sunday, take the time to sit down and plan out your errands for the week. Whenever possible and time permitting, try to consolidate your trips so you use less gas. Break up your errands by geographical area.
Also, park in a centrally located place. For example, if both Target and Dominicks are on your list, park in the middle of the two so you don't have to move your car. The extra walking will do you some good, and with gas prices going higher and higher, it will be better for your wallet as well.
2. Make your home more energy efficient.
There are many things you can do -- use rechargeable batteries in TV remotes, game controllers and flashlights. Switch to florescent light bulbs, which use about 75 percent less energy than normal bulbs. They are more expensive than traditional bulbs, but you will earn that money back and then some over their lifetime.
In the winter, seal your windows to keep out unwanted drafts. In the summer, keep the curtains closed or your shades lowered during peak sun hours to keep your house cooler and give the air conditioner a break.
3. Hold on to your car a little longer.
While hybrid and electric vehicles are becoming more popular, there's no need to trade in your car just yet. If your car is still in good working condition, properly maintain it and keep it awhile longer. Manufacturing electric and hybrid cars leave behind a large carbon footprint, so don't go green with your vehicle until you have to.
4. Bye-bye bottled water.
Say goodbye to bottled water and switch to a reusable canteen style water bottles. Invest in a simple home water filtration system like a Brita pitcher and use that to refill your bottle.
5. Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.
It's simple, it's easy and it saves you money on garbage stickers. Recycle junk mail, newspapers and anything else with that friendly little recycling logo on it. If you bought a new TV, computer or other electronics or appliances, try giving them away through websites like craigslist.org orfreecycle.org. People may be interested in buying them for parts or fixing them on their own. When grocery shopping, bring your own reusable bags with you and say to no to the paper and the plastic.
Coming next week: Surprising things you can recycle