Did you know that indoor pollution can be as bad as, or even worse than outdoor pollution? When our houses are sealed up for the winter, the lack of ventilation keeps the air inside, along with all the pollutants. You are probably familiar with how colds and flu spread in the winter from being in enclosed environments, but take a moment now and think of all the different things in your house that might pollute your air too. Things like your gas stove, your wood stove/fireplace, household cleaners like scented detergents or bleach, your carpet, mattress or sofa, building products and paint, and even old places of water damage, can all be affecting your air quality in your house. When the house is sealed up and fresh air doesn’t have a chance to circulate, the particles from these items build up and can affect your health. Just because you can’t see it like a dusty shelf, the air you are breathing can still be dirty and unhealthy.
So how can you remedy this? Open windows on those warmer days and let the air circulate through the house. Use the range hood vent when you are cooking at the stove. Have your fireplace or furnace regularly serviced so you know it is working properly. Try air purifiers. Use low VOC paint. Use dehumidifiers in damp basements. Use a vacuum with a HEPA filter. Smoke outside. Houseplants help clean the air, so make sure they are well cared for.
Healthy Air at Home
Indoor Air Quality Stats
Improve Your Indoor Air Quality
10 Tips for Indoor Air Quality with a great graphic
There are other simple changes you can be made to green up your indoors and cut energy costs (January 10 is National Cut Your Energy Costs Day) and other household costs. Small changes can make a big impact!
-Replace drafty or unsealed windows.
– Ask your utility company about getting a home audit to see where energy might be leaking.
– Program a thermostat to your schedule to minimize heating your home when you aren’t home.
– Use power strips to make it easy to turn power off to numerous items at once.
– Use a hot water heater blanket to insulate your water heater.
– Run dishwasher and washing machine only when full.
– Turn the faucet off when you are brushing your teeth, shaving, etc. You can save gallons of water!
– Turn lights off when you leave a room.
– Set your computers to hibernate mode when not in use, or get in the habit of shutting them down nightly.
– LED bulbs save energy, so next time you need to replace a bulb, switch to LED. They last longer too.
– Bring reusable bags to the grocery store. It’ll help contain the plastic bag clutter in your house and it helps save the planet from pollution and saves birds and other wildlife too!
– Buy reusable plastic, glass or stainless steel containers and bring water from home. Stop buying bottled water (it’s usually tap water anyway!). If you do buy bottled water make sure to recycle the bottle!
– Use nontoxic cleaners for cleaning, laundry, body care etc. If it has a strong smell, or a warning label, it’s toxic! It is easy to find earth safe, nontoxic cleaners in your local supermarket, or just use plain old baking soda and vinegar.
Stop the Junk!
Yes you can stop the junk mail and protect the environment (and your sanity)!
41pounds.org stops your junk mail and catalogs — protecting the environment. Junk mail wastes an incredible amount of natural resources and contributes to global warming. Our service covers your entire household for five years, saving…
Time — No credit card offers to shred or unwanted catalogs.
Trees — Keep 100+ million trees in forests, cooling the planet.
Water — Protect 28 billion gallons of clean water.
Climate — Junk mail produces more C02 than 9 million cars.
Planet — We donate to your favorite charity when you sign up.
Junk Mail Impact
Below we have provided some important facts that not only verify the need to stop junk mail, but also reveal staggering truths about the impact of consumption and waste on the environment.
Stop Junk Mail — a Personal Nuisance & Environmental Hazard
• Keep trees in the forest. More than 100 million trees are destroyed each year to produce junk mail. 42% of timber harvested nationwide becomes pulpwood for paper.
• Reduce global warming. The world’s temperate forests absorb 2 billion tons of carbon annually. Creating and shipping junk mail produces more greenhouse gas emissions than 9 million cars.
• Save water. About 28 billion gallons of water are wasted to produce and recycle junk each year.
• Save time. You waste about 70 hours a year dealing with junk mail.
Your Mailbox Today• The pulp and paper industry is the single largest consumer of water used in industrial activities in developed countries, and it’s the third-largest industrial greenhouse gas emitter (after the chemical and steel industries).
• The average adult receives 41 pounds of junk mail each year. 44% goes to the landfill unopened.
• On average, we receive 16 pieces of junk mail a week, compared to only 1.5 personal letters.
• The majority of household waste consists of junk mail.
• 40% of the solid mass that makes up our landfills is paper and paperboard waste.
• Junk mail inks have high concentrations of heavy metals, making the paper difficult to recycle.
• $320 million of local taxes are used to dispose of junk mail each year.
• California’s state and local governments spend $500,000 a year collecting and disposing of AOL’s direct mail disks alone.
• Transporting junk mail costs $550 million a year.
• Lists of names and addresses used in bulk mailings reside in mass data-collection networks. Your name is typically worth 3 to 20 cents each time it is sold.
Your Mailbox Tomorrow• 41pounds.org eliminates 80-95% of junk mailings for you by contacting dozens of direct marketers on your behalf.
• By reducing your junk mail for 5 years, you’ll conserve 1.7 trees and 700 gallons of water, and prevent global warming emissions — and you’ll gain about 350 hours of free time!
• By stopping credit card offers and other junk mail, you’ll help protect your identity from theft and fraud.
Check them out today! 41pounds.org
So, when was the last time you thought about recycling?
Is it an automatic behavior, or do you not think about it at all?
Less than 2% of American household waste is recycled, and Americans generate about 4.4 pounds of trash per day and up to 1 million pounds per person every year! And a LOT of that could have been recycled. The obvious things are most often recycled….your soda can, your juice bottle, the Sunday newspaper. But what about plastic take out containers? Plastic shopping bags? That aluminum foil you wrapped your sandwich in? The extra paper you didn’t mean to print at work, or the ink cartridge from your printer or copier? But what about those containers that salads come in? And for that matter, what about the leftover salad itself? ALL of this is recyclable! And it’s super easy, it just requires a slight shift in thinking.
Why recycle? Conservation of natural resources is paramount. Recycling 1 ton of paper saves 17 trees, 7000 gallons of water, 3 cubic yards of landfill space, 2 barrels of oil and 4100 kilowatt hours of electricity, which is enough energy to power the average home for 5 months (source: http://www.readyrecycles.com/recyclingfacts.htm). That’s a lot of resources!
I want to be recycled!
It’s pretty easy to recycle too. Most communities have some sort of recycling program, from curbside pickup to an easy drop off location. Recycling generates money for communities, whereas they have to pay for the trash disposal. Those materials are given a new life too, which saves trees and other resources and cuts down on pollution.
Benefits of recycling
Where to recycle
Ok, so beyond your community recycling program, what else can you do to help?
Maximize your efforts. Think about all the things in your household and daily life that can be recycled or repurposed. Bet you didn’t think about that cardboard tube your toilet paper came rolled on, did you? It can be recycled, or made into some fantastic craft projects (look at pinterest.com and search toilet paper roll craft ideas). This goes for paper towel tubes too, but using reusable cloth towels is an even greener solution.
Upcycling is a trendy new concept in recycling too. Think about it with the approaching holidays and be green with your gift giving, or just give new life to old objects!
Next time you are at the supermarket, drop off your plastic market bags. Most stores have collection bins right inside the front door for them to be recycled. Better yet, stop using those bags altogether and bring reusable cloth bags for your next supermarket shopping trip. 12 million barrels of oil a year are used in the production of 100 billion plastic shopping bags…..
Plastic Bag Stats
While at the supermarket, examine your options for less packaging. Some manufactures are using saving money by using minimal packaging for their products. This cuts down on waste from the start.
Stop the junk mail! Each person gets an average of 560 pieces of unwanted mail a year. Those 62 billion pieces of unsolicited mail will require 100 million trees for the paper alone, AND end up in the trash. Recycle that junk mail, and stop it from the start by visiting sites such as OptOut and DMA Choice to stop the mail before it starts.
And don’t toss those electronics into the garbage! E-waste is particularly toxic to the environment and to living beings too. The lead in electronics alone can cause damage to the central nervous system and your kidneys. And being in a landfill doesn’t mean it’s safe from leeching into ground water, or if it’s incinerated it becomes airborne. Electronics contain large amounts of precious metals. Recycling the electronics means saving and reusing those precious metals. Only 12.5% of e-waste is currently recycled….this is an easy thing to fix! Look and listen for electronic waste recycling events in your community. Many media outlets and businesses host them. And next time you buy a new cell phone, turn the old one in so it’s not taking up space in a drawer or encouraging you to dump it in the trash.
Facts about E-Waste
You can compost too. That’s recycling, right? Take those food scraps (not oil or meat) and turn them into ‘black gold’. Composting is a little more challenging during a Colorado winter, but it doesn’t mean it’s not possible. Come spring all those food scraps are reusable in your garden, where they will nourish the next crop that will become your salad! There are numerous kinds of composting. You can have a pile outside, or you can use worms in a contained environment indoors to take care of those scraps.
So, what will you recycle next???