5 Ways to Go Green Now

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There are many ways environmentally-concerned consumers can responsibly contribute to their community conservation efforts. Five methods are listed below.

1) Recycle

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.

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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

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3) Compost

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

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4) Dispose Used Motor Oil Properly

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.

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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:

About Melanie Byas