Archive for the ‘Green Tip’ Category

How to Recycle Your Computer.

Earth Day was last month and I focused my blog posts on eco-friendly topics that relate to real estate. Well, I forgot one: How to recycle your computer.

For some, upgrading to a new computer literally means dumping the old one in the garbage bin. What they and we all need to know is that you can actually recycle your old computers and prevent more things from being added to the local landfill. How about that?! Read on for more information.

The options for recycling an old computer, that still works, are different from those for recycling an out-of-date or broken computer.

Organizations such as churches and other nonprofit entities can offer a tax deduction for the donation of your working computer. Your local grade, middle or high school is another avenue to consider.

If your old computer is essentially worthless, then contact a  recycler who can and does comply with the EPA regulations for disposing of the  harmful properties that make up your laptop or desktop . Before dropping your computer off, be sure to do your due diligence and ask questions about their recycling process, and if your not comfortable with their answers, look for another recycler. Many companies that sell computers also have ‘take back’ programs that can be used.

In addition to the above, be sure to clean all of your personal information from your computer’s  hard drive before donating it or giving it to the recycler

Here are some resources for you to use when researching how to recycle your computer:

  1. 1. ReComp Recycling:
  2. 2.
  3. 3.
  4. 4.
  5. 5. Computer Recycling Team Inc.:
  6. 6. All Green Electronics Recycling: 1-800-780-0347

Please share your thoughts by leaving a comment or call me at my office: 760-934-5088.

For information on Mammoth Lakes real estate, please log onto my real estate website at



Although we, in Mammoth Lakes, have had a big Winter, water is still a concern.

Water is a finite resource that’s both essential to our survival and in short supply. In the United States, water shortages are already an issue for the Western United States, but as the population continues to grow, other areas will be affected as well. According to the EPA, every American uses an average of 100 gallons a day – enough to fill 1,600 drinking glasses – so there’s plenty of room for improvement! The EPA created its WaterSense program, which labels products and services that meet water efficiency criteria and perform well, to make conservation easier. The program is in its infancy, but will certify showerheads, urinals, and other equipment in the future. Saving water will also make you money. The EPA reports the average household spends as much as $500 a year on its water and sewer bill, which, by just making simple changes, could be reduced by an average of $170.

Here are some examples:

Don’t let water run when brushing your teeth, washing your face, or shaving. The EPA estimates that you can save 8 gallons of water a day or 240 a month by turning off your tap while you brush your teeth in the morning and evening.

Take shorter showers. Don’t fill the tub up all the way when taking baths, and immediately stopper the drain. You can adjust the temperature as you fill the tub. According to the EPA, a five minute shower uses 10 to 25 gallons of water and it takes 70 gallons to fill a tub.

Don’t let the tap water run to get cold drinking water. Store it in the refrigerator.

When washing dishes by hand, fill the sink with soapy water instead of letting the tap water run.

Run dishwashers and washing machines only when full. Remember to adjust load sizes when you’re washing clothes.

Fix leaks and drips. Leaky faucets dripping one drip per second can waste more than 3,000 gallons of water each year, and a leaky toilet can waste about 200 gallons of water every day, according to the EPA.

Buy low-flow shower heads and faucets. See Consumer Reports for performance ratings. You don’t have to replace entire fixtures. For faucets, you can screw in a aerator. For showers, you’ll need to replace the showerhead. Look for the WaterSense label on faucets and aerators.

Wash your car by hand with a bucket of water.

Sweep your sidewalk and driveway instead of hosing it down.

Don’t pour unused water down the sink; use it to water plants or your garden, or give clean, unused water to pets.

Install low flow toilets, especially if your toilet was made before 1992. The average American home uses more water for flushing the toilet than showering and could save more than 16,500 gallons of water every year by replacing a traditional toilet with a WaterSense model. Look for the WaterSense label as a guarantee that you’re purchasing a high-performing, water-efficient modal. See Consumer Reports for performance ratings. Recycle your old toilet.

Don’t let water run when taking showers. Get wet, turn off the water while you’re soaping up,and  then turn the water on to rinse off.

References/ Resources:

EPA WaterSense Program, You’ll find basic information on water conservation strategies, water-saving product information, and a quiz to determine how much you know about water efficiency.

H2OUSE:Water Saver Home,, developed by the California Urban Water Conservation Council. This site offers a virtual tour to show you water-saving opportunities in every area of your home.

Please share your thoughts by leaving a comment or call me at 760-934-5088 to talk.

For information on Mammoth Lakes real estate, please log on to my real estate website at

Indoor Air Quality

All of us face a variety of risks to our health as we go about our day-to-day lives. Driving in cars, flying in planes, engaging in recreational activities, and being exposed to environmental pollutants all pose varying degrees of risk. Some risks are simply unavoidable. Some we choose to accept because to do otherwise would restrict our ability to lead our lives the way we want to. And some risks we might decide to avoid if we had the opportunity to make informed choices. Indoor air pollution is one risk that you can do something about. This is particularly important in areas like Mammoth Lakes, where I live, because windows are closed from November into April.

In the last several years, a growing body of scientific evidence has indicated that the air within homes and other buildings can be more seriously polluted than the outdoor air in even the largest and most industrialized cities. Other research indicates that people spend approximately 90 percent of their time indoors. Thus, for many people, the risks to health may be greater due to exposure to air pollution indoors than outdoors.

In addition, people who may be exposed to indoor air pollutants for the longest periods of time are often those most susceptible to the effects of indoor air pollution. Such groups include the young, the elderly, and the chronically ill, especially those suffering from respiratory or cardiovascular disease.

So, what causes indoor air problems? Indoor pollution sources that release gases or particles into the air are the primary cause of indoor air quality problems in homes. Inadequate ventilation can increase indoor pollutant levels by not bringing in enough outdoor air to dilute emissions from indoor sources and by not carrying indoor air pollutants out of the home. High temperature and humidity levels can also increase concentrations of some pollutants.

There are many sources of indoor air pollution in any home. These include combustion sources such as oil, gas, kerosene, coal, wood and tobacco products; building materials and furnishings as diverse as deteriorated asbestos-containing insulation, wet or damp carpet, and cabinetry or furniture made of certain pressed wood products; products for household cleaning and maintenance, personal care, or hobbies; central heating and cooling systems, humidification devices; and outdoor sources such as radon, pesticides and outdoor air pollution.

The relative importance of any single source depends on how much of a given pollutant it emits and how hazardous those emissions are. In some cases, factors such as how old the source is and whether it is properly maintained are significant. For example, an improperly adjusted gas stove can emit significantly more carbon monoxide than one that is properly adjusted.

Some sources, such as building materials, furnishings, and household products like air fresheners, release pollutants more or less continuously. Other sources, related to activities carried out in the home, release pollutants intermittently. These include smoking, the use of unvented or malfunctioning stoves, furnaces or space heaters, the use of solvents in cleaning and hobby activities, the use of paint strippers in redecorating activities, and the use of cleaning products and pesticides in house-keeping. High pollutant concentrations can remain in the air for long periods after some of these activities.

If too little outdoor air enters a home, pollutants can accumulate to levels that can pose health and comfort problems. Unless they are built with special mechanical means of ventilation, homes that are designed and constructed to minimize the amount of outdoor air that can “leak” into and out of the home may have higher pollutant levels than other homes. However, because some weather conditions can drastically reduce the amount of outdoor air that enters a home, pollutants can build up even in homes that are normally considered “leaky.”

Fortunately, there are steps that most people can take both to reduce the risk from existing sources and to prevent new problems from occurring.

Usually the most effective way to improve air quality is to eliminate individual sources of pollution or to reduce their emissions. Some source, like those that contain asbestos, can be sealed or enclosed; others, like gas stoves, can be adjusted to decrease the amount of emissions. In many cases, source control is also a more cost-efficient approach to protecting indoor air quality than increasing ventilation because increasing ventilation can increase energy costs.

During warm months, when energy costs run lower, you can increase the amount of outdoor air coming indoors. Most home heating and cooling systems, including forced air heating systems, do not mechanically bring fresh air into the house. Opening windows, and doors, operating window or attic fans, increases the outdoor ventilation rate. Local bathroom or kitchen fans that exhaust outdoors remove contaminants directly from the room where the fan is located and also increase the outdoor air ventilation rate.

Be sure to take as many of these steps as possible while you are involved in short-term activities that can generate high levels of pollutants like painting, paint stripping, heating with kerosene heaters, cooking or engaging in maintenance and hobbies such as welding, soldering or sanding.

Resources/ References:

“Basic Information About Indoor Air Quality”

United States Environmental Protection Agency

“Sources of Indoor Air Pollution – Improving Indoor Air Quality”

United States Environmental Protection Agency

“Indoor Air Quality in Large Buildings”

United States Environmental Protection Agency

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency


Please share your thoughts by leaving a comment.

For information on Mammoth Lakes real estate, please log onto my real estate website at

Solar Electricity

Solar electricity is something of a paradox: it is an expensive means by which we generate electricity, yet it is one of the most popular choices of the poorest people in the poorest nations, for example, villagers in remote villages of India.

The reason for this is simple: although solar electricity costs quite a lot, in rural areas and in less developed countries it’s cheaper to install electric panels than to string electric lines to villages hundreds of miles from central power plants.

Solar electricity is also much cheaper than conventional electricity in certain areas of the United States. For example, when building a new home more than a couple tenths of a mile away from a power line, it is often cheaper to install a solar system – especially if your home is energy efficient and the local utility won’t foot the bill for grid connection. Contact your local utility to determine their line extension policy and pricing. Some companies may not charge much to connect.

If you are building a home more than half a mile from a power line, it often makes more sense to install a solar electric system than to connect to grid power. Although some local utilities have generous line extension policies, many typically charge $50,000 or more to run a line to your home. That $50,000 investment to hook your home to the grid will buy you an enormous solar system. Moreover, the $50,000 or higher fee to connect to the grid doesn’t pay for any electricity.

It gets you utility poles, an electric line, a meter, and a connection to the grid. You’ll be charged for electricity on top of hookup fees. In contrast, a $25,000 – $50,000 solar electric system provides you a lifetime of electricity (although you will need to replace batteries every 7 to 15 years, depending on how you maintain them).

Solar electric systems make sense in states where utilities offer generous financial incentives to install them. In California, customers can receive rebates from various local and state agencies, totaling about half the cost of the system. Such generous incentives dramatically reduce the cost of solar electricity, driving it down to about 12 cents per kilowatt hour. Log onto to determine whether you are qualified to receive a rebate.

For financing a renewable energy system, log onto In the search bar type in financing a renewable energy system and two websites for solar financing will display: and

Solar electric systems fall into three main categories: grid-connected, grid-connected with battery backup and stand-alone.

In grid-connected systems, the house draws electricity from the grid when the household needs more electricity than it is producing, and feeds electricity into the grid when the system is producing more electricity than the house needs.

In a grid-connected with battery backup system, the solar array produces electricity that feeds live circuits in the house during the day. Excess electricity is shunted to the batteries. When the batteries are full, excess electricity is diverted onto the electrical grid.

In the stand- alone system, there must be batteries because there is no connection to the grid. It stands-alone! In addition to the batteries, there is usually a back-up generator. It can be run to charge the batteries when they run low. Some people also install wind turbines to serve as a second charging source.

Solar electrical systems are a great source of clean, reliable electricity and provide the owners with energy independence. No matter whether you live in a metropolitan area, small town or rural location, solar electricity can meet your needs and help replace waning supplies of oil and natural gas (EcoBroker 2007).

References/ Resources:

“ Active Solar Heating”

United States Department of Energy

Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy

The Homeowner’s Guide to Renewable Energy

Dan Chiras

Your Green Home

A Guide to Planning a Healthy, Environmentally Friendly New Home

Alex Wilson

American  Solar Energy Society ( ASES )

2400 Central Avenue, Unit G-1

Boulder, Co. 80301


Some local Eastern Sierra contacts are:

1. Sierra Solar: Jim Harper: 760-937-0307

2.Highpoint Solar: Scott Smith: 760-914-2555:

3.High Sierra Energy Foundation: Rick Phelps: 760-934-4650:

Please share your thoughts by leaving a comment or by calling me, toll-free, at 1-800-231-0622.

For information on Mammoth Lakes real estate, please log onto my real estate website at

Green Buildings and Green Technology

The green building market is competitive, and is growing rapidly throughout the United States. An increasing number of green homes are being marketed at prices which are comparable to the prices of less efficient homes.

The number of Energy Star Qualified Homes grew from only 55 in 1995 to more than 360,000 by the end of 2004.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star Qualified Homes is a national program that qualifies homes based on energy efficiency. The program provides a searchable database of home builders who build Energy Star qualified homes, lenders that offer Energy Star Mortgages, utilities that provide special incentives, and home energy raters.

The database is available at

Energy Star Qualified Homes are independently verified to be at least 30% more energy – efficient than homes built to the 1993 National Model Energy Code or 15% more efficient than state energy code, whichever is more rigorous. These savings are based on heating, cooling, and hot water energy use and are typically achieved through a combination of:

1. Building envelope upgrades

2. High performance windows

3. Controlled air filtration

4. Upgraded heating and air conditioning systems

5. Tight duct systems

6. Upgraded water – heating equipment

If a home is an Energy Star Qualified New Home, the Energy Star label should be prominently displayed in the circuit breaker box of the home. The builder may also have an Energy Star Certificate for the home. The Energy Star program has recently introduced an Indoor Air Quality package as a voluntary add – on tot the core specification of homes.

Built Green Colorado is another good example of a home certification program. In the Built Green program, builders register individual homes to receive the “ Built Green” certification indicating that the homes meet minimum requirements for energy efficiency performance.

Built Green Colorado provides a directory of industry leaders and participating builders, suppliers/ subcontractors, and industry advocates at

There are other programs that certify or rate new and/or existing homes as a function of their energy efficiency and “green” design features, as well.

For example, thee U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC’s ) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design ( LEED ) Green Building Rating System is a voluntary, consensus – based national standard for developing high – performance buildings. The USGBC posts a listing of registered projects that are using the LEED Rating System at

LEED was created to establish a common standard of measurement for “green buildings.” LEED standards are currently available or under development for:

1. New commercial construction and major renovation projects ( LEED – NC )

2. Existing building operations ( LEED – EB )

3. Commercial interiors projects ( LEED – CI )

4. Core and shell projects ( LEED – CS )

5. Homes ( LEED – H )

6. Neighborhood Development ( LEED – ND )

Homebuilders who adhere to green building programs suggest that homes built to such standards can typically cost more than a comparable home built to conventional standards. However, many aspects of home construction that incorporate energy – efficiency and the use of greener materials are more cost effective than conventional methods. Some builders are offering energy – efficiency packages as options.

Over time, homes with energy – efficient features end up costing less than comparably sized conventional homes because the homeowner spends less money on utility bills. Reduced maintenance and monthly utility costs can more than offset the cost of energy – efficient improvements.

References/ Resources:

“1995 – 2005: A Decade of Change in Home Building with Energy Star,” January 2005, accessed at

“Built Green Checklist”

Built Green Colorado

“What are Energy Star Qualified New Homes?”

Energy Star

“Will Your New Home Really Be Energy – Efficient?”

Energy Star

“Version 2.1 Registered Project Checklist”

LEED Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design

“ LEED Homes Update: January 2004”

LEED Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design

“ LEED Rating System for Homes”

LEED Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

U.S. Green Building Council

Energy & Environmental Building Association

Please share your thoughts by leaving a comment or calling me, toll-free, at 1-800-231-0622.

For information on Mammoth Lakes real estate, please log onto my real estate website at

Articulating the Value of Green Attributes

In my last post, I wrote about Green Misconceptions. In addition to addressing those issues, consumers must be able to understand how a green feature or environmental solution will benefit them. This understanding is a personal perspective based on their personal and family wants, needs and motivations.

Most people place a very high value on at least one (if not all) of the following areas: money, the environment, comfort and health. As a result, the best way to make green features appeal to most consumers is simply to describe the benefits, such as dollar savings, energy savings, comfort, and/or health-related benefits of green features.

There are other principles that are important, too. Which way is South? Where is the mass? Where is the shade? Where is the wind break? Where are the eaves? Potential buyers may or not be aware of these points and they can contribute to the appeal of your property.

Analyses from a 1999 article “ More Evidence of Rational Market Values for Home Energy Efficiency” from The Appraisal Journal indicated that home value increases by about $20 for every $1 reduction in annual utility bills. (1)

1. Rick Nevin, Christopher Bender, and Heather Gazan, “ More Evidence of Rational Market Values for Home Energy Efficiency, “  The Appraisal Journal, October 1999

Some good references/ resources:

U.S. Department of Energy

Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy

Consumer Reports’ Greener Choices

For more information on appliances, household energy and other related topics.

Green Building Success Stories

Please share your thoughts by leaving a comment or by calling me, toll-free, at 1-800-231-0622.

For information on Mammoth Lakes real estate, please log on to my real estate website at

Green Misconceptions

As a Realtor, I’ve seen my fair share of “green disinformation” in property detail reports. Example: “Eco-friendly home, with dual pane windows.” HUH?! So, I think it’s important that Realtors and Consumers be aware of Green Misconceptions when purchasing and/or selling real estate.

Here are a few tips that will point you in the right direction, and be sure you take advantage of all the great information, that’s out there, on “green” real estate to be sure you’re never caught on your heels.

“ Environmentally-friendly” – There is no government or official definition for this term.  “Environmentally-friendly” is a general term that manufacturers, advertisers and others have used  (without regulation or guidance ) to imply that a product or its packaging is in some way beneficial or harmless to the environment. Except for the manufacturer/ marketer of the product, no one verifies this claim. In contrast, the government has officially defined the term “organic.”

“ Sustainability” is another very commonly used term in the “green” industry. It is used to refer to the quality of a product or property, but the term is used very erratically by a wide range of enthusiastic and often well intentioned people. Sustainable development means “a development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” When one considers the “life-cycle” or what might be called “ cradle-to-grave”costs  benefits of  product development, it’s a reasonably complicated equation.

“ Greenwash” is defined as disinformation disseminated by an organization so as to present an environmentally responsible public image. The term is commonly used to describe the exaggeration or overstatement of the “green” or “environmentally-friendly” attributes of a product or service, often through marketing and advertising. Typically, greenwash includes general statements like “environmentally friendly,” environmentally-safe,” or “good for the environment.” Another example would be a home, for sale, described as solar when it merely has a good deal of natural light and windows.

Some good references/ resources:

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency provides links to access purchasing information for products and service categories such as buildings, carpets, cleaners, conferences, copiers, electronics and office supplies.

The Environmentally Preferable Products Database

A searchable products database

The Consumers Union’s Guide to Environmental Labels

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Federal Trade Commission

This site provides useful information on making environmental marketing claims in business.

Please share your thoughts by leaving a comment or by calling me, toll-free, at 1-800-231-0622.

For information on Mammoth Lakes real estate, please log onto my real estate website at

Organic Gardening

One of the most daunting tasks in organic gardening is figuring out how to begin. It seems like there is so much to learn, so much to know before you can start gardening. The truth is that the best way to learn how to garden is… to garden.  Just do it. Jump in there and get your hands dirty! It’s sort of like adopting a dog; you can read about it all you want, but you won’t really know what you’re doing until you’re committed.

As I see it, the basic idea of gardening is this: get some dirt, bury a seed, water it, give it light and wait. Organic gardening operates the same way; the difference is in the choice of products and processes you use. For those who dream of growing vegetables or flowers organically, but don’t know where to start, here are a few helpful tips to get you on your way:

Start with the Soil

The foundation of a good organic garden is literally the soil. The general idea behind this concept is that if you have healthy, nutrient-rich, living soil your plants will outgrow any pest or disease that comes its way. Good soil is comprised of ingredients like peat moss (or coir – pronounced coy-yer – a more sustainable option made from the outside fibers of a coconut shell), vermiculite or perlite, and compost. Other nutrient-building ingredients are spent coffee grounds, composted animal manures, worm castings, and wood ashes. All of these help achieve what we call “loam”, the ultimate soil texture every gardener seeks.

Compost is Your Friend

Whether you have clay or sandy soil, both types of soil can be improved by adding compost. Composting is also a great way of recycling your kitchen and yard waste into a usable resource for your garden. You don’t even need a bin, just a 3 x 3 foot area to pile up layers of browns (dried leaves, pine needles, straw, corn stalks, and other dried yard waste) and greens (grass clippings, kitchen scraps except for animal proteins, coffee grounds, weeds – before they bolt to seed – and other green material). Turn garbage into black gold, and close the loop on waste.

If you can’t or don’t want to compost at home, check with your local city Bureau of Sanitation to see if they offer free compost from city tree trimming projects and yard waste collection. Or, you can also buy it from your local nursery or garden center.

Use Organic Fertilizers

FYI – Miracle Gro is not organic. Synthetic fertilizers are processed using natural gas and petroleum and are therefore not sustainable. In addition to drawing upon this precious resource, they cause other problems down the line. When heavy quantities of nitrates are applied to soil, whatever isn’t absorbed by plant roots heads south to the water table. It infiltrates our waterways, causing larger than usual algae blooms, which rob the water of oxygen, therefore suffocating the aquatic life. It also contributes to acid rain.

Organic fertilizers have far less an environmental impact on the earth and yet still supply plants with the life-giving nutrients they need. To identify organic fertilizers, you should be able to pronounce the sources on the label (mostly animal by-products like bone and blood meals, kelp and fish meal, etc). It should say organic, and it’s worth investigating the company a little to make sure they are compliant with organic standards. There are plenty of trustworthy companies out there who provide organic gardeners with the supplies they need.

Grow from Good Seeds

If you really want to go full-speed organic, start with organic seeds. There are plenty of companies that offer untreated seeds and some that offer organic seeds, like Seeds of Change. Grow heirloom seeds as well to increase our planet’s bio-diversity. Hybrid seeds can offer strong varieties, but avoid them if you plan to collect seeds from your harvest, as hybrid seeds won’t produce the same results from year to year. If a seed catalog doesn’t specifically say that they don’t use genetically engineered seed, then there is a chance that they do use genetic engineering in their seed production. Use your best judgment about whether you want this in your garden or not.

Fight Pests with Nature

Organic pest control is a vast subject, but the idea is universal: Use pest controls that don’t cause more harm than good. Natural predators like lady bugs, lacewings, decollate snails and others will go after your aphids, snails and slugs. Marigolds will help keep pests away. Organic horticultural oils (like neem and canola based oils) can be sprayed to help prevent scale, white fly and some airborne fungi. The OMRI – Organic Materials Review Institute has a great site for information about organic pest control if you want to investigate further. Visit to get the low down (low impact 2008).

Remember, April 22nd is Earth Day and Mammoth Mountain has extended the ski season to July 4th!! So go take some runs, in the am, and do your gardening in the early afternoon.

References/ Resources:

Please share your thoughts by leaving a comment or calling me, toll-free, at 1-800-231-0622.

For information on Mammoth Lakes real estate, please log onto my real estate website at

Tips For Conserving Power At Home And At Work

In honor of Earth Day, April 22nd, I’ve dedicated this, and the following April posts, to “green” real estate topics.

Given the impact that real estate has on the environment, all homeowners should be aware of their local “green” resources and do as much, as possible, to reduce their daily foot-print on the environment.

As someone once pointed out, “ Hey, they aren’t making land anymore” so we need to be better stewards of our natural resources. Not just so we can enjoy a better life, but for the next generations!

Going “Green” is easy, it’s more important now than ever before, it’s fun (except for the Navy shower) and you will have a positive impact!

Here are some helpful tips for your home and office:

1. Use a power strip for your computer, monitor, fax, copier, TV, DVD player, iPod and cell-phone chargers, and switch it off when those devices aren’t in use. Most electronics draw power even when they’re off, including empty chargers in standby mode.

2. Change your light bulbs. Swap out incandescents with compact fluorescents (CFLs).

3. Turn off incandescent lights when leaving a room for even just a few minutes. If you use fluorescents, turn them off if you’re for 15 minutes.

4. Cancel catalogs and remove yourself from junk-mail lists.

5. Telecommute.

6. Use a laptop, not a desktop. Laptops use up to 80% less energy.

7. Pay bills online and save postage, too.

8. Tell cashiers not to print receipts you don’t need.

9. Use both sides of the page to print or copy.

10. Read the newspaper online to save paper, trees and carbon.

11. Skip the lighter fluid and start your charcoal with an electric igniter or chimney starter.

12. Eat one less serving of meat each week. Substitute a cheese-free alternative each week. Cheese, an animal product, has the same carbon cost as meat.

13. Ride your bike to work.

14. Use recycled paper (100% post-consumer) in your office.

15. Push an electric mower or even a reel mower- not a gas model.

16. Replace exterior lights around your home with solar-powered ones.

17. Rake leaves and shovel snow instead of firing up a leaf blower and snowblower.

18. Drink tap water instead of bottled, and you’ll also extend the life of your local landfill. Plastic bottles require energy to make, fill, and ship, and half-liter sizes generate emissions at twice the rate of gallon jugs. Faucet water needs energy only to pump.

19. Tote your groceries in reusable bags.

20. Plant an organic garden and grow your own vegetables.

21. Use a microwave, not a conventional oven, to heat small quantities of food.

22. Support local farmers by buying a community-supported agriculture ( CSA ) share. You’ll receive fresh produce every week, and reduce the carbon emissions generated by shipping it thousands of miles.

23. Compost food scraps and yard waste so you can skip synthetic garden fertilizers, which pollute water and are energy-intensive to produce.

24. Buy local and organic food direct from the farmer whenever possible, and keep dollars in your local economy. The biggest savings are realized in eliminating transportation.

25. Water plants with a can or drip-irrigation system instead off a sprinkler, and water only between 6 p.m. and 10 a.m., when less is lost to evaporation.

26. Reduce your energy usage 20% by downsizing when choosing your next home.

27. Use locally appropriate, locally fabricated materials when building or renovating, to avoid the carbon cost of transporting heavy supplies.

28. Collect rainwater from downspouts and use it to water your garden.

29. Say not to carpeting.

30. Buy green power, or ask your utility to offer it.

31. Buy energy-efficient appliances. Energy Star appliances use 10 to 50% less energy and water, and meet strict efficiency guidelines set by the EPA and U.S. Department of Energy. The appliance’s yellow EnergyGuide label cites its annual power consumption and operating cost, and compares with similar models.

32. Dry your dishes on a rack or use your dishwasher’s air-dry cycle.

33. Recycle paper, plastic, and metals.

34. Reuse jars, bags, and food containers.

35. Set your water heater at 120 degress Farenheit.

36. Adjust your thermostat down 2 degrees in the Winter and up 2 degrees in the Summer.

37. Upgrade your furnace to a more energy-efficient model.

38. Eliminate drafts by caulking and weather stripping, installing storm windows, upgrading insulation, and removing window AC units in the Winter.

39. Use passive solar to capture heat in your home and office: Open curtains during the day and close them at dusk, except in Summer, when you should close curtains during the hottest hours of the day. Besides carbon, you’ll save 25 to 75% on your heating and cooling bills.

40. Hang laundry to dry, eliminating one dryer cycle.

41. Clean AC filters or replace them.

42. Run ceiling fans instead of AC. In hot climates, this can easily save more than one ton of CO2.

43. Use cold water to wash and rinse clothes, not hot or warm.

44. Take a Navy shower (Oh yes I do!): turn off the water when you’re soaping up.

45. Shave in the sink, not the shower.

46. Don’t overfill your kid’s bathtub.

( Backpacker September 2007)


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“ Words that soak into your ears are whispered, not yelled”

–     Cowboy’s Guide to Life

Reduce, Re-Use, Recycle

Even though it’s snowing today in Mammoth, Spring is in the air. And each Spring I clean out all the stuff I’ve accumulated over the Winter months that I don’t need.

Stuff, garbage, junk, waste, call it what you want, is an unavoidable part of life. As it turns out, we humans create quite a bit of it – 4.6 pounds per person per day, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) – and there aren’t any ideal ways to dispose of it. Not only do landfills take up land that could otherwise be used, but they also can leach pollutants into groundwater and emit methane gas.

Some environmental advocates are calling on manufacturers to consider the entire life cycle of products from manufacture through disposal and to create products that don’t necessarily need to be dumped at the end of their lives, but instead can be composted or made into other products with a minimum of waste. Architect William McDonough is a pioneer in this movement and has coined the phrase “cradle to cradle” To learn more about McDonough’s efforts and programs visit

“Reduce, Reuse, Recycle,” also known as the “3Rs,” is the cornerstone of environmental philosophy for good reason. We’ve all heard it before, and because it’s so important, it needs to be repeated. Although we’ve all gotten better at recycling paper, cans and bottles there’s still room for improvement. There are plenty of ways to incorporate the principle of the 3Rs into our lives thanks to the Internet’s ability to put us in touch with a larger community and connection to endless “green” resources.

To start, before tossing something in the garbage, determine whether it might be useful to someone else, be suitable for recycling, or require special disposal. We often throw items such as batteries into the trash because we don’t know what else to do with them. However, batteries, motor oil, tires, printer cartridges, floppy discs, video tapes, CDs and cases, pharmaceuticals and other tricky items can be disposed of properly with only a small amount of research.

If you are trying to determine how to pass along or safely dispose of an item, the best place to start is Earth 911, Just type in your zip code for a listing of local resources. You can also call 1-800-CLEANUP. The National Recycling Coalition website,, has links to state government waste departments on its consumer page that will provide information on standard trash removal, recycling, and hazardous waste disposal in your area.

It’s a pretty simple concept, but it’s often the most overlooked of the 3Rs. If you buy less stuff, then you will have fewer things to dispose of. It will save you time, money, conserve natural resources, and reduce pollution, including greenhouse gases, which contribute to climate change. Consuming less is and important step in making a positive impact on the environment according to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

Here are some Internet resources to help you get out of the clutter and avoid buying more stuff: is a website where members post items they are willing to lend – everything from sports equipment to tools to books. offers additional tips on reducing.

Most of us have a lot more stuff than we could ever use. Since we live in such a consumer-oriented society, the possibilities for reducing are endless. Here are some more ways to get started:

Buy reusable products. Try to avoid disposable products such as cameras, batteries, razors, water bottles, eating utensils, food containers, and paper cups.

Cut down on the number of bags you take from stores. Bring your own canvas bag!

Reusing is preferable to recycling because the product doesn’t need to be reprocessed before it can be used again. There are many ways to reuse items. Here is a sampling of online resources to help you buy, sell and donate used items: is an international online community whose goal is to make the “entire world a library.” Members leave and look for registered books in public spaces and track their paths via the Web.

Craigslist,, is an online forum where you can post an item for sale or purchase in your region.

Dress for Success,, is a nonprofit that provides professional clothing to disadvantaged women who are looking to get back into the workforce. You can donate suits, blouses, blazers and professional shoes that are clean and in good condition.

Ebay,, is the world’s largest flea market where you can buy and sell just about any old item.

The Freecycle Network,, was started in Tucson, Arizona, in 2003 specifically to reduce the waste that was clogging the city’s landfills and now has chapters all over the country. You can list items for donation to other individuals on the website or look for free stuff.

The ReUse People,, collects and sells building products to keep them out of landfills.

Recycling whenever possible is a no-brainer! Recycling saves energy, water, and other natural resources, and reduces pollution, including the greenhouse gas emissions responsible for global climate change. Recycling keeps cans, paper, and bottles out of landfills, oceans, streams, lakes and meadows.

Recycling options vary depending upon where you live. Your best bet is to visit and enter your ZIP code to see what’s available in your area. Here is a sampling of some other interesting programs in which we can participate:

Nike’s Reuse-A-Shoe program,, accepts any brand of postconsumer (used) athletic shoes that don’t contain metal. The shoes are recycled and the recovered material is then used to make athletic surfaces such as soccer fields, tennis courts and playground matting.

Patagonia Common Threads program,, takes back and recycles fleece clothing, polyester long underwear, and other garments to make new items. The process saves around 70 percent of the energy and carbon dioxide emissions that would be used making clothing from virgin polyester.

Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corporation,, has 30,000 collection sites nationwide. Just enter your zip code to find a location where you  can drop off rechargeable batteries from a wide variety of products and cell phones.

Staples,, offers every-day in-store electronics and printer cartridge recycling.

The 3Rs don’t stop at home. Hospitals, schools, and the other institutions we visit generate vast amounts of waste. Here are some organizations that are tackling the issue:

Recyclemania,, is an annual recycling competition between colleges and universities that aims to reduce waste generated on campuses and raise awareness. Schools compete to see who can collect the most recyclables per capita, the least amount of trash per capita, or have the highest recycling rate over a 10-week period.

Healthcare Without Harm,, is an international coalition of organizations working to reduce pollution in the Healthcare Industry.

So, get active, get started and incorporate the 3Rs into your daily lives.

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