EcoMall


THE WAY YOU SHOP
CAN HELP THE EARTH

Precycle: Buy recycled paper for office use, toilet paper, paper towel, napkins, etc. and look for tree-free paper alternatives like Kenaf, banana paper and hemp (did you know the original draft of the constitution was written on hemp paper?) Save paper, save trees. Most of the original forests in this country have already been cut down. Trees clean the air, and keep the climate in balance. Other tips: use both sides of a piece of paper, recycle and look for products in recycled packaging. Also stop your junk mail, which has an environmental savings of up to 75% reduction in paper waste. Write to the Direct Marketing Association, Mail Preference Service, 11 W 42nd Street, P.O. Box 3861, New York, NY 10163-3861

Water Conservation: Always make sure to turn off taps tightly, and fix water leaks right away: A dripping faucet can waste up to 1,000 gallons of water a year. Try to take shorter showers, and don't run water continuously - turn off the faucet while brushing your teeth, shaving and washing dishes (A running faucet puts 3-5 gallons of water down the drain every minute it's on). Wash only full loads of laundry in your washing machine. Buy a water flow attachment for your sink faucets and shower heads to reduce wastage.

Eco Travel: Car pool, take mass transit, bike or walk to your destination.The growing number of cars on the road poses an enormous threat to the environment. The burning of 200 million gallons of gas results in the emission of about 4 billion pounds of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere - and that's just one dayıs worth. Try to plan ahead and accomplish everything in one trip. Support alternative fuel vehicles and electric transportation, which are much less polluting.

Energy Efficient Home: Making sure your home is well insulated is one of the best ways to save energy (and money). Check for cracks or leaks near windows, doors and ceilings. Become energy aware: Turn down thermostats and turn off lights, stereo, computers, air conditioner, TV, when not in use. When your next bulb goes out, replace it with a compact fluorescent light bulb. It will last 9 to 13 times longer, and over its lifetime, use 1/4 of the energy of an incandescent bulb and can cut $30 off your electric bill.

Green shopping: Avoid single serving products and buy in bulk which uses less packaging and saves money. Try as a rule to avoid over- packaged products, as well as disposable (i.e. use replaceable razors) , which produce unnecessary garbage. When you're in the supermarket, ask for a paper bag rather than plastic, which takes longer to break down in a landfill. Better yet, bring reusable bags to grocery stores, (e.g. back pack, cloth, canvas or rope mesh bag). Buy recycled products and look for and demand biodegradable, low phosphate soaps and detergents. (And use less - according to Consumer Reports Magazine, manufacturers recommend more detergent than necessary). Don't buy products in aerosol cans which are both toxic and polluting. Buy organic produce, which is free of pesticides which are bad for health and poison the environment.

Recycling: In the U.S., we throw away 2.5 million plastic bottles every hour - and only a small percentage are recycled. Recycle everything, set up a mini recycling corner in your house where you separate your garbage - papers, plastics, tins, glass. Turn garbage into money. You can also turn in many recyclable products for some nice extra cash. And be practical and creative in discovering further uses for things rather than just throwing them away.

Vegetarianism: Cut down on meat consumption or consider becoming a vegetarian. Apart from the crucial considerations of health and respect for animal life, meat eating is both inefficient and wasteful. 16 pounds of grain and 2500 gallons of water must be fed to livestock to produce just one pound of meat on the table. In contrast, the land is capable of supplying food for nearly fourteen times as many people when it is used to grow food for people rather than crops to feed livestock. Not only does less meat demand and the use of land to grow food crops conserve our natural resources, but can help solve the growing world hunger crisis. (In addition, 220 million acres of land in the US have been deforested for livestock production).

Household tips: Reduce indoor air pollution: use non hazardous cleaners, solvents and paints. Create your own homemade house cleaning products: mix 10 ml (2 tsp vinegar) and 1 liter (5 cups) of water as a non toxic eco-friendly glass cleaner, and mix baking soda and water to clean bathrooms, kitchens and ovens. Buy lots of plants. Not only do plants convert carbon dioxide into oxygen and clean your air, but they beautify your surroundings and reinforce your connection with nature, even in an urban setting.

Written by Marianne Schnall. Marianne Schnall is a co-founder of the EcoMall, a free-lance writer and founder of the women's site Feminist.com.

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