It’s called eco-guilt.
I’m guessing by now we’re all doing pretty well at living green — recycling cans and newsprint, upgrading to energy-efficient appliances and taking shorter showers. But, let’s face it, there’s probably more you should be doing. But what?
We combed the Interwebs – prevention.com, naturallivingideas.com, thisoldhouse.com, etc. – for suggestions. Plus, we asked our favorite experts here for their cleverest ways of going green:
Keep your freezer full. According to the Natural Resource Defense Council, it takes a lot more energy to cool an empty space, so stock up. “If you’re going to buy in bulk, put the purchase date on the packages with a felt-tip marker and put it on the calendar when you intend to eat it,” says Evan Fujimoto of Graham Builders.
Skip the sink. As the main dish washer (separate words) in our home, this tip is my favorite. Dishwashers (one word) use half the energy, one-sixth the water and less soap than handwashing dishes (I’m posting this above our sink). Just make sure the dishwasher is full when you run it for maximum savings. “Using the air-dry setting, purchasing Energy Star models and scraping plates instead of rinsing the dishes will increase the savings even more,” says Brenton Liu of Design Trends Construction. For all the latest and greatest in energy-efficient appliances, see page 30.
Refrain from using your garbage disposal. “Instead, consider using a food strainer for the drain,” says Fujimoto. “If you constantly grind up greasy foods, it’ll be just a matter of time before you’re calling a plumber.”
Plug into solar. New financing programs and government incentives now make solar energy cheaper than buying it from the utility. “Everyone can afford to go solar,” says Eric Carlson of RevoluSun. “It’s just about getting your finances in order. Purchasing power from the utility is never going to cost less than solar and you will spend more money waiting than you’ll benefit in equipment price decreases.”
Go old school with popcorn. My 12-year-old is the Perfect Popcorn Maker. He uses an old-fashioned popper with just a thin layer of oil and butter. Delicious every time. Plus, it turns out microwave popcorn bags may be lined with toxins, which is bad for the air — and you.
So, challenge yourself to live a littler greener in 2017.
Tom Kunz, Editor