Sam’s Sustainability Solutions – 5 Tips For Sustainable Living
This is the second in an occasional series of sustainability tips from our Chief Sustainability Officer, Sam Holloschutz. The first article can be found here. We hope you’ll be able to incorporate some or all of these tips for green living into your lifestyle:
These tips are designed to help you reduce your carbon footprint, save money, and improve your health. The beauty of sustainability is how these three pillars all connect. When you engage in an energy-saving technique, you’re helping the planet by lessening your use of fossil fuels (particularly if you live in Pennsylvania), saving money on your electric bill, and improving air quality by reducing your dependence on the grid. When you walk or bike instead of drive, you do not produce greenhouse gas emissions, save fuel costs, and improve your health by being more active. Going green is easy, and the following steps and subsequent blog posts will help you lead a more sustainable life:
- Buy used. Consumerism has an enormous impact on climate change. Before deciding you need to make a purchase, ask yourself “do I need it to be brand new or will I be happy if it’s used but in decent condition?” Look for your “new” used stuff on eBay, Craigslist, Freecycle, Nextdoor, garage sales, and consignment shops. Save yourself some money while helping others get rid of items they no longer want without sending them to the landfill. Conversely, purge your old stuff via these methods.
- Donate packing peanuts. Keep them out of the landfill by donating them to local packing, shipping, or moving companies/stores.
- Plant trees. The environmental benefits are obvious, but trees can also save you money. Lower your cooling costs by planting deciduous trees in front of windows that get lots of sun. Your bill may decrease by as much as 50% and you’ll gain some privacy in the process. Coniferous trees in front of your windows during the winter can also reduce heating costs, as they will block the wind. When it’s time to sell, trees will increase your property value by providing aesthetics. Philadelphians can get FREE street trees from TreePhilly. Through the program, I have obtained seven trees for my block. They will cut the sidewalk, plant the trees and allow you to pick the species. Here are 22 ways trees benefit us.
- Insulate your water heater. Chances are, your water heater is somewhat new and thus, energy efficient. With older models, you can feel the heat by pressing your hand to them. If that’s the case, cover it in a blanket to keep the heat in. Don’t forget the pipes leading into the unit. The same rule applies—if you can feel heat, insulate. Neoprene and polyethylene foam pipe sleeves can be found at any hardware store and shouldn’t cost more than a couple bucks. Measure your pipes’ diameters so you purchase the right size. Insulating the pipes will allow you to lower your water heater’s temperature while still achieving desired warmth. The unit will run more efficiently and cost less to function.
- Water your houseplants with free water. Let mother nature nourish your indoor flora. If you have the space, capture rain water with any type of container. Bonus points for using soda bottles (just cut off a piece below the neck for a wider area to catch more). You can also get a FREE rain barrel (installation too) from the wonderful Rain Check program provided by the Philadelphia Water Department. You will save money and help our local waterways by reducing the amount of water that is dumped into them during storms.