Heed the outdoors! You can save energy on both heating and cooling by taking advantage of the weather outside. This is especially the case in the fall and spring when temperatures are milder. When humidity is low the temperature is nicer outside than inside, open your windows and screen doors to let those breezes in. This also helps refresh the stale air inside your house. Remember to turn off the AC or heater while the windows are open.
Laundry strips that fit in a cardboard envelope rank high among laundry detergents for performance.
Laundry strips are an eco-friendly alternative to plastic bottles of liquid laundry detergent. They are packaged in a small, cardboard envelope, taking up little space and eliminating the plastic waste of a bottle. They are also easy to use: just tear a sheet at the perforation and add to your laundry as usual. But, do they get laundry clean? According to Jonathan Chan on www.reviewed.com, Tru Earth strips performed very well in their stain- removal tests. He describes these strips as being "ideal for sensitive skin, they are dye-, phosphate-, and chlorine-free. They’re also vegan and cruelty free. They have a little fragrance in a fresh linen scent. Because they are low-sudsing, these laundry strips work in standard and high-efficiency washing machines. You can rest assured they’ll dissolve completely in cold water."* Overall, Chan recommends laundry strips as "providing good cleaning power and being environmentally sound."*
Photo credit: Susan O'Donnell
Dig up your driveway
There are some good reasons that you might consider digging up some or all of your driveway to restore permeable surfaces and vegetation. Elizabeth Waddington outlines some of these reasons on www.treehugger.com. She points out that "when rain falls onto driveways and other areas of hard paving, it cannot soak into the ground. Instead it creates runoff, which collects harmful toxins and pollutants from the surface along the way, rather than being filtered and cleaned by plants and soil."*
If your driveway is old and due for resurfacing, consider replacing the entire driveway with permeable material. Another alternative is to just have a strip down the center that can be planted with low-growing vegetation and leaves the harder surface on the side for the car wheels. Waddington also points out that driveways are often constructed more wide than needed, so reclaiming area on the sides helps reduce the overall impermeable surface.
We reap multiple environmental benefits from reclaiming the area covered by driveway. Waddington points out that "we bring back biodiversity, keep things cooler, and aid people and the other creatures with whom we share our space. Your frontage will look much better, and the space you reclaim can be used for plants which bring a huge range of local and broader environmental benefits."*
Photo by Brian Robinson, Flickr
Tennis balls are made from plastic--when they are beyond repair, get a tax deduction and ship them for free to recycleballs.org
Old tennis balls can be recycled at Recycleballs.org, which offers free shipping. Jessian Choy describes the reasons to recycle tennis balls on www.sierraclub.org:
"Tennis ball fuzz is made from plastic like PET (polyethylene terephthalate), which gets worn away and becomes microfibers that turn into dust we breathe in."*
RecycleBalls grinds the rubber, which is then used as a construction material for tennis courts, playground turf, stucco, and equestrian turf and keeps tennis balls out of landfills.
Photo by Old Photo Profile, Flickr
You are more likely to find a bargain buying an older electric vehicle, made more attractive by the new EV tax credits
Buying an electric vehicle is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint by decreasing burning of fossil fuels. Just as for gas-powered cars, there are some advantages to buying a used EV. David Kuchta describes these advantages on TreeHugger.com. You may be able to save money on the purchase of used EV because, "given the quick pace of advances in battery technology, EVs depreciate faster than gasoline cars, so you are more likely to find a bargain."* As more charging stations are installed, the need for a longer battery range is reduced. Kuchta points out that "while older electric vehicles have less range than newer models, advances in vehicle range have leveled off in recent years; manufacturers realize that few people need vehicles with ranges over 200 or more miles."* In general, the cost of running and maintaining an EV, new or used, is lower than that for gas-powered cars, and the overall price can be further reduced by taking advantage of federal tax breaks.
Photo by Robert Couse-Baker, Flickr