It <i>Is</i> Easy Being Green!

Our modern leaders have spoken often about the importance of being good stewards of the resources the Lord has provided for us (see D&C 59: 18, 20, for example). We are taught about being modest and prudent, and surely that includes not just areas such as money management and physical appearance, but also the way we treat what the earth provides for us. President Spencer W. Kimball once said, "We recommend to all people that there be no undue pollution, that the land be taken care of and kept clean to be productive and to be beautiful" (Ensign, May 1975). It was an important charge then, and surely even more important now. All we need to do is turn on the nightly news to be reminded that we live on a planet whose balance of give and take is out of whack, in that we humans are doing far too much of the taking and far too little of the giving. It takes a conscious effort to keep our world "clean, productive, and beautiful," but it doesn't have to be difficult. Here are a few simple tips you and your family can use to make your patch of land a bit greener and leave you feeling a bit more responsible about your impact on the environment. h2. Going Green Can Save You Some Green Perhaps not every family is environmentally conscious yet, but far more of us are money conscious. Luckily, there are many instances where the two mindsets are complimentary. These ideas will help your family save not only a few watts (or gas gallons, or trees, etc.), but a few dollars while you're at it. h3. In the Car * Ease off the pedal. Sudden acceleration, braking, and speeding wastes gas, lowering your gas mileage by approximately 33 percent. * Fill up the tank in the morning or evening. When it's cool outside you will reduce gas evaporation from the tank. * Less junk in the trunk. An extra 100 pounds of cargo can decrease fuel efficiency by two percent. * Idle cars are just as bad as idle hands. Idling gets zero miles per gallon, so if you are idling for more than 30 seconds or so, restarting your engine will actually burn less gas than running the engine while parked (think: picking kids up from school, waiting at the airport, traffic jam, etc.). Want to read about one mom who decided to make an impact when it came to moms idling while picking up kids from school? Go to enginesoffblogspot.com. * Use your cruise control on the highway. * Moderation in all things--including with the AC and heat. Gas usage increases between five and 25 percent when these are turned on (though be sure your windows are up when on the highway, so as to decrease drag). * Replace your air filter when needed. * Make sure your tires are properly inflated. * You get a gold star! Losing the car all together and opting instead for the commuter train, carpooling, or even walking or biking to where you need to be are the best options by far. h3. At Home *Turn it off.* Lighting is responsible for about eleven percent of your energy bill, and while a compact fluorescent bulb uses about seventy-five percent less energy than an incandescent, it still doesn't save as much as a bulb that's simply off. However, it's not just the light that needs to be turned off more often. Your computer (including connected printers and scanners), the DVD player, the answering machine, your cell phone, an other electronics continue to suck power even when turned off or not in use, if they're still plugged in. One solution (apart from manually unplugging items) is to use a power strips. Some of them allow you to connect appliances together, so, for example, when you turn on (or off) your computer, the scanner and printer will follow suit, but other electronics (like a lamp) can remain on. Visit bitsltd.net for more information. Of course, appliances aren't the only things to turn off. Be conscious of when you may be mindlessly running water, such as when you're brushing your teeth, shaving, washing your hands, rinsing vegetables, or waiting for water to warm. Save a few gallons by keeping a pitcher of water in the fridge, turning off the tap while brushing or shaving, or scraping your dishes well so that they don't need a rinse. *Shoot for the stars.* If you're in the market for a new appliance like a washer or fridge (or even a light bulb for that matter), look for one with an energy star label. Some of these will be more costly initially than less-efficient appliances, but over the years you'll see the savings begin to add up in your electric bill. For example, front-loading washers use up to 60 percent less water than regular washing machines. *Cold is cool.* Most of the energy used in running your washing machine isn't going toward operating the motor, but heating the water! An astounding 85 to 90 percent of the energy used by washing machines goes toward heating the water. Not only could you save energy, but you could also save about 60 to 70 dollars a year by washing in cold water. Companies like Tide and Purex produce detergents specifically for cold water. *Recycle.* Newspapers, junk mail, magazines, phone books, glass, aluminum cans, and plastic grocery bags can all be recycled. Look around and you may find a recycling bin near a school or shopping center. Or visit earth911.org to locate your nearest recycling center. *Plant a garden.* There are so many advantages: Your family will be able to enjoy delicious, fresh food; you'll be able to incorporate another activity into your family fun; and you will control what goes into their mouths. You'll have a means of cutting out some or all of the harmful pesticides you may be getting at the grocery store, and you'll save money at the same time. Collect your peelings, cores, and scraps into a compost pile and just incorporate it right back into the soil! No room for a garden plot? Even a pot or two on your porch with a tomato or cucumber plant will make an impact. *Shop at the farmer's market.* Typical grocery store produce travels nearly 1,500 miles before it reaches your plate, meaning lots of gas emissions for food that is less fresh than what you'll find at your local produce stand. To find local farmers visit localharvest.org. *Change the packaging.* Pack school lunch items in reusable containers. An average-sized elementary school generates more than 18,000 pounds of lunch waste in a year. *Put on a sweater.* Lowering your water heater temperature and setting your thermostat no higher than 70 degrees in the winter and no lower than 78 degrees in the summer will make an impact. Additionally, you could opt to invest in a programmable thermostat, which will allow you to lower the temperature (or increase it in warm months) when everyone is at work or the kids are at school. *Kick the plastic habit.* Get used to reaching for a glass when at home, instead of a water bottle out of the fridge, and tote along a reusable container when away from home. If your water bottle use is based more on a desire for cleaner water than it is on convenience, then simply investing in a tap-mounted purifier will be a solid investment that will cut out your bottle bill as well as all the plastic in the trash (and later in the landfills).
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