Don’t throw those used and unwanted items away, recycle! Whether you’re interested in conservation or not, recycling makes sense. Recycling saves energy over manufacturing with raw materials. For example, manufacturing with recycled aluminum cans uses 95% less energy than manufacturing with virgin materials, which reduces greenhouse gas emissions and our dependence on fossil fuels. Recycling also saves natural resources, protects wildlife habitats, and reduces the exploitation of virgin materials–fewer trees will be cut and fewer minerals pulled destructively from the soil.
Additional Resources on Recycling:
- The World’s Shortest Comprehensive Recycling Guide is for recycling household items.
- Review How to Recycle Anything to guide you through sorting recyclables.
- National Recycling Coalition offers suggestions on how to start recycling in your community.
- Recycling Resources and Links contains an exhaustive list of online recycling resources.
2) Join a Carpool
Carpooling is when two or more people sharing the ride, usually taking turns driving their own vehicles. There are many reasons one should carpool, not the least of which being the savings in gas, time, and parking. Carpooling also serves the environment because it reduces auto emissions pollution and an individual’s carbon footprint. There are many other advantages of carpooling, including:
- Reduces stress while commuting
- Increases free time for riders
- Reduces traffic congestion
- Reduces energy consumption
Additional Resources on Carpooling:
- RideSearch.com offers a Carpool/Rideshare Savings Calculator.
- Check out these 10 Tips for Successful Carpooling.
- Find out How to Start a Carpool.
- Find a carpool at CarpoolConnect.com.
Wikipedia defines “compost” as being “composed of organic materials derived from plant and animal matter that has been decomposed largely through aerobic decomposition.” Composting is the natural process of decomposing organic materials.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, yard trimmings and food residuals together constitute 26% of the U.S. municipal solid waste stream. That large amount of waste, which primarily goes into landfills, could be put into composting instead, thereby reducing the amount of garbage generated.
Composting is cheap and extremely easy to do and it offers many benefits, including:
- Improved soil structure, texture and aeration
- Increased water-holding capacity of the soil
- Improved soil fertility
- Healthy root development
Additional Resources on Composting:
- HowToCompost.org is a comprehensive guide with articles and links.
- Check out these Composting Demonstration Sites and What Not to Compost.
- Ready to begin? Review How to Compost and How to Build Compost Bin.
According to the American Petroleum Institute, more than 50% of all motorists change their oil themselves and they generate about 150 million gallons of used motor oil each year. That is a quarter of all used motor oil that could be recycled.
Recycling motor oil plays an important role in saving the environment because it can be used for other purposes. Motor oil can be made into lubricating oil cheaper than refining petroleum for the same non-related automobile uses. After filtering and removing water and minerals from motor oil, the end product can be used as effective oil for industrial burners. Recycled motor oil can be used as an additive and once the used oil is utilized in this process, it does not require additional recycling or disposal.
Additional Resources on Motor Oil Disposal:
- Check out More on Recycling Motor Oil.
- The American Petroleum Institute has a Used Motor Oil Collection and Recycling guide.
- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency posts the Used Oil Management Program.
- CalRecycle offers many resources on their Recycling/Disposing of Used Oil page.
5) Build a Rain Barrel
Rain barrels are a way of storing rain water from your roof that would otherwise be lost to runoff and diverted to storm drains and streams. This runoff can be used for later distribution to gardens, lawns, and other uses around the home. The following list contains a few reasons to use rain barrels.
- Rain barrels conserve water and help lower costs (a rain barrel can save approximately 1300 gallons of water during peak summer months).
- Rain barrels reduce water pollution by reducing storm water runoff, which can contain pollutants like sediment, oil, grease, bacteria, pesticides, and fertilizers.
- Rain barrels are inexpensive and easy to build and install.
Additional Resources on Rain Barrels:
- Understand rain barrel basics at the Simple Rain Barrel Design Considerations page.
- Information on how to use rain barrels for rain water harvesting is on this Rain Barrel Guide.
- Two designs are posted at Rain Barrels and Cisterns.
- HGTV offers a step-by-step guide to building a rain barrel at Use a Rain Barrel to Conserve Water and the DIY Network posts How to Build a Rainbarrel Platform.