Green ideas from
- Never-ever buy another PET (polyethylene terephthalate) bottle. If you
have one, re-fill and use it for at least another year. Water at FDU's
Madison campus comes from the Morris County Aquifer (Rockaway River
Basin): excellent water - almost as good as NYC water. Especially don't
purchase PET bottles with PE (polyethylene) caps. PET is hard to re-cycle
(uses much water) and is less valuable when mixed with other plastics.
Also, buy milk in paper cartons without plastic (usually polystyrene)
closure; don't buy plastic (polyethylene) gallons or half-gallons.
- Recycled paper is less valuable when mixed with plastics (envelopes,
&c); bundle with cotton or hemp twine - not plastic bags. Use white
paper (no dyes), sort, keep clean. Recycling paper is a feel-good project
but not too useful. Fibers only hold up to a few cycles. Better to
print on both sides, with small margins and fonts, and then shred for
composting or burning - the CO2 produced is good for plants.
(CO2 does NOT cause global warming, climate change, or
- Recycle batteries. Universities, malls, municipal garages should (If
they don't, write letters.) provide re-cycling centers for batteries -
both re-chargeable and single use. In Madison, NJ, Whole Foods Market (222
Main St) accepts single-use batteries. Most service stations will accept
auto (lead-acid) batteries.
- Fluorescent lighting (compact fluorescent lamps, CFLs) is not very
useful. In residential use most folks turn off lights at night
anyway so not much energy is saved. Don't forget about several mg of
mercury in each bulb: recycle at Home Depot. The bulbs are expensive, not
very efficient, and don't last long when turned on and off several times
daily. Also, desk lamps with CFLs emit UV radiation - don't sit too
close. Use LED lighting when possible.
- Commercial lighting is many times more wasteful! Write to local
malls, business building managers, and companies with factory parking
lights to keep lights off overnight. Commercial buildings should not have
interior lights on all night: security guards should use reduced lighting
or rechargeable flashlights. Major intersections do not need daylight in
the middle of the night. Overpasses and abutments can be lined with
reflectors: write to your state representatives and transportation
- Use bikes. Some universities have good bike paths (U. of Illinois at
UC); most don't. Needed are paths, racks, and - most important - security
for parked/locked bikes.
- Never rake or blow leaves. Mow twice in late fall - mulching
attachments not needed - sharpen your mower blade. In the spring rake (or
blow) off debris and then mow. "Landscapers" (grass-cutting services) in
up-scale communities and university campuses will tell you about pH,
grubs, thatch, and nematodes: all suburban bugaboos, not problems. Also,
don't use broad-spectrum pesticides to kill anything; weed-killers
(herbicides, mostly degradable) are probably OK.
- Minimize air-conditioning. In summer keep buildings at 75 °F but
no lower than 12 degrees below outdoor temperature. Temperatures should
be set to match the function. For laboratories and other work places,
where workers are on their feet or dressed in suits, a lower temperature
(72) could be needed. In class-rooms and waiting rooms where people are
sitting the temperature should be higher.
- If you have an old car - keep it running as long as you can afford!
Junking an old car is a huge waste of resources - even if it's burning oil
or getting poor mileage. If it's driven less than about 10 kmi/yr - keep
it. If it's used for more miles then consider junking it or - better -
give it to someone who drives less. The steel, rubber, plastic, copper,
aluminum, and other minerals should not be thrown into a landfill! "Cash
for Clunkers" was a major environmental insult!
- Do you use propane in those small 14 ounce steel canisters that say
"Do not refill"? ... Refill them! You can get a coupler (Mac Coupler) for
$20 that allows you to re-fill a 14 oz propane canister from the large
20-pound canister used on your backyard propane grill. Thousands of the
small canisters end up in land-fills daily: stop that! ... save money
- Buy wooden cutting boards - not plastic. Plastic is made from oil;
wood is renewable. Also, there is reduced risk of bacterial contamination
with wood since it does not harbor bacterial colonies like plastic. Wood
is recommended by the U. S. Dept. of Agriculture for use in commercial
(and domestic) kitchens.
- Save topsoil! Put coffee grounds and vegetable cuttings on the lawn
and mow. Compost when possible. Don't use "biodegradable" plastic bags,
even though they are claimed to be made from corn starch; they are made
from a resin derived from agricultural waste, including corn stalks, and
will decompose only in a high-temperature commercial composting facility.
February 17, 2015
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