Sam’s Sustainability Solutions – Installment #3
This is the third in an occasional series of sustainability tips from our Chief Sustainability Officer, Sam Holloschutz. The first article can be found here and the second 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:
- Donate old towels and blankets to animal shelters to avoid the landfill. Most shelters are always in need of donations so why not put your old items to good use? Find your nearest shelter here. There are many other ways to get more life out of towels and blankets, so please share your tips in the comments below.
- Switch your home or apartment’s electricity to a provider that uses renewable energy. Pennsylvanians are no longer forced to use Peco as their energy provider and can visit this web site to view their options and choose clean energy. It’s very easy to use and you can sort your options by price, renewable energy, name, etc. Prepare to be amazed at how many options offer cheaper rates than Peco. You can easily view which providers offer a fixed rate for a given term, have variable pricing, and whether they have early cancellation fees or not. And you can see which companies generate electricity from renewable energy AND offer a lower rate than Peco. As of this writing (5/30/17), there are 9 green plans that offer a cheaper rate than Peco. Plans with fixed rates can have terms ranging from 3-24 months, so it’s easy to switch your provider every so often to make sure you’re getting the best rate. Signing up for a new provider is very simple and shouldn’t take more than two minutes online. There is no service interruption and Peco will still handle any issues that may arise (power outages). Go green and save some green!
- Air dry your laundry. The US Department of Energy estimates a clothes dryer accounts for 6-10% of your annual energy use, contributing 2,400 pounds of carbon emissions. Furthermore, the average American family spends $100 a year in drying costs. The benefits to air drying go beyond environmental and monetary. The sun serves as a natural disinfectant, as UV rays react with oxygen dissolved in the water to produce reactive forms of oxygen that kill the microorganisms. UV from the sun also interferes with the reproduction cycle of bacteria by damaging their DNA. Drying machines shorten the lifespan of clothing by over-drying your items and thinning them out. Where do you think the lint in your lint trap comes from? That’s your clothing wearing away. Dryers also ruin elasticity. Air drying eliminates wrinkles and thus, the need to create emissions and increase your energy bill from the use of an iron. Drying clothing indoors helps to add moisture to the air. Lastly, as I mentioned in my first tips post, dryers run the risk of causing fires. In fact, FEMA has reported that 2,900 house fires per year are caused by these machines.
- Shade your home’s air conditioning unit. I talked about the benefits of trees in my second tips post, and I’ll take shading a step further here. Placing the unit in the shade will allow it to cool your home easier while running more efficiently because it does not have to work as hard at cooling the air around it, which is brought into the home. The unit will run up to 10% more efficiently if properly shaded.
- Empty out your vehicle. Don’t use your car as a storage unit and you will save gas, money and emissions. 100 pounds of materials can reduce the gas mileage by 3-5%.