Being Green in Winter? Yes You Can! (Jan. 2016)

WinterWiseOwl_EnglishDark Sky at Night
Artificial night lighting doesn’t just spoil star shows; it can confuse nocturnal animals and waste energy. The International Dark-Sky Association offers these tips for reducing light pollution around your home:

  • Choose the lowest possible wattage. A 40-watt incandescent bulb (or a nine- to 13-watt compact fluorescent lamp) is sufficient for most outdoor uses.
  • Add shielding that points the light downward for any source brighter than a 100-watt incandescent.
  • For security applications, use motion-sensor lights; they save energy and also draw attention to intruders.

Winter Weatherproofing
For an average home in a cold climate, reducing home energy usage by just 15 percent saves the equivalent of 500 pounds of coal a year. Even if your home is insulated, small cracks can add up to big losses. The following projects are not high-tech or expensive but can provide significant savings:

  • Hold a lit incense stick near doors and windows to find leaks, then caulk them.
  • Add a storm door.
  • Install weather stripping around doors and windows.
  • Seal patio doors with rubber compression strips and door insulator kits.
  • Seal entry points for TV, phone and water lines with expanding foam insulation.

This Grass Is Greener
The next time you’re shopping for products made from wood or plastic, consider bamboo instead. The fastest-growing woody plant on the planet, bamboo is not just for pandas and Asian cuisine anymore. First came bamboo flooring and furniture; now the versatile grass is turning up in clothing, computer monitors, surfboards, skis, and even biodegradable plates and utensils. As a construction material, bamboo is light and can be harvested without killing the plant. Most bamboo today comes from Chinese plantations, but scientists are experimenting with growing it commercially in the U.S. and Canada.

Smarter Seafood
Alaska salmon or Atlantic salmon? Skipjack tuna or bluefin tuna? Some seafood choices are more ocean-friendly than others, based on factors such as whether a species is abundant and whether it is fished or farmed in ways that harm other marine life. Check out tips from on how to eat fish responsibly.

Make the Call
Donating your old cell phone to a school, church or community group might seem like a winning deal all around: you unload a piece of junk, the charity raises funds and a landfill is spared. Right? Maybe not. Many charities get paid to collect phones for middlemen who refurbish them for developing countries that lack modern landfills or recycling facilities, so the refried phones will end up trashing the earth anyway. To make sure your old phone doesn’t end up as e-waste, return it to a retailer or manufacturer or donate it to a program with a no-landfill policy. And the next time you’re in the market for a phone, consider buying a “just like new” model.

Think Inside the Box
Annual carbon dioxide emissions that could be avoided if 97 percent of wine made to be consumed within a year was sold in boxes instead of bottles: about two million tons. Better yet- make your own wine and reuse your bottles!!!

Annual carbon dioxide emissions of 400,000 cars: about two million tons. (That’s right: the average passenger car emits about five tons of CO2 annually.)


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