By Catherine Wallace
“It’s not easy being green,” the sage Kermit the Frog once sang. The groundswell of Eco-awareness has led people to attempt to be more “green,”an idea that has permeated our awareness surrounding everything from light bulbs and cars to the way we recycle and reuse products. However, there are many avenues of our lives where it’s easy to make an eco-mistake.
Beware of energy vampires! Many appliances and electrical devices leech power even when they are turned off. Appliances like DVD players, portable stereos and amplifiers can consume as much as 15 to 30 watts worth of power even when off, according the Consumer Energy Center. The solution is simple: unplug them. You’re not only saving energy, you could be saving yourself a lot of money every year.
Despite your mother telling you otherwise, it’s not always best to turn off the lights. All light bulbs have what is known as a “nominal operating life” which is primarily affected by how many times they are turned on or off. For incandescent or halogen bulbs, turning them off is always the best way to conserve the bulb and thus the energy used to produce it, but CFLs are different. As they are already very energy efficient, one has to compare the value of the electricity saved by turning off the light to the resource cost of replacing the bulb from repeated on/off switches. Here’s a good rule of thumb from Energy.gov: If you are leaving a room lit by a CFL for more than 15 minutes, turn the light off.
While you might be feeling good about your carbon footprint after switching all your bulbs to energy-saving CFLs, be careful about dealing with them once they burn out. According to the Mother Nature Network, CFLs contain a small amount of mercury that makes them toxic. They shouldn’t be disposed of in your regular trash, and should instead by disposed of through a “take-back” plan through retailers such as IKEA and Home Depot.
Are you “riding green?” Maintaining your car is one of the quickest ways to shrink your environmental impact. Don’t use cheap or substandard knock-off products to repair your car, even if they are less expensive. If you have a Chevrolet, use Chevrolet OEM parts instead of a third party item that could be less reliable. Consume fewer resources and save money on car payments and insurance by maximizing your vehicle’s life just by taking good care of it, notes BeCarCareAware.com.
Composting is a great way to save money and create sustainable plant food for your garden, but there are some mistakes that are easy to avoid. According to Easy Composting, you should never add meat or meat byproducts to your compost bin, such as meat, bones, or fat drippings. Not only can they attract a pungent brand of micro-organism to your compost heap, they can attract rats, which can require seriously Eco-unfriendly solutions to eliminate. Worse than that, most compost-aiding worms won’t touch the stuff. Who knew they could be so picky?
Catherine is a writer who lives with her family on a farm in Nebraska