Eight ways to live a greener life

Apr 20, 2016, 09:23 AM by Ken Steblein, UTMB recycling coordinator

Editor's Note: While the print edition of this issue was at press, Ken Steblein passed away on April 14, 2016. Ken's passion for the environment and all things "green" was an inspiration to all. He will be deeply missed by his UTMB family.

Earth Day 2016 is April 22. Lessen your impact on the environment with these RecyclingTipseight tips.

1. Skip the bottled water. More than 17million barrels of oil are required to produce enough plastic water bottles to meet America’s annual demand for bottled water. In addition, less than 20 percent of the bottles are recycled. Sure, water is good for you, so keep drinking it—from the tap, that is. Use a water filter to purify tap water and bring a reusable water bottle with you when traveling or at work.

2. Go paperless. Pay bills online or set up automatic online bill pay with your bank.Besides saving trees, you won’t need to worry about late fees or buying stamps. Get off junk mail lists while you’re at it by canceling weekly shopping fliers and catalogs.

3. Eliminate “phantom” energy use. Shut down and unplug idle electronics. Your computer might be asleep, but if there’s alight on, it’s still using energy. By using a surge protector, one click can turn off all electronics at once.

4. Don’t let your car idle. Letting your engine idle for more than 10 seconds is worse than just shutting it off and restarting—it uses more gas and lets off more harmful pollution. Look for opportunities to stop an idling engine. Park your car and walk in for fast food instead of going through the drive-thru.

5. Change a light bulb. Installing a compact fluorescent bulb is one of the quickest, easiest ways to save energy—and money. They consume about 75 percent less electricity and last up to 10 times longer than incandescent bulbs.

6. Adjust your thermostat. For every degree you set back your thermostat (warmer in the summer and cooler in the winter), you can save about 3 percent on your energy bill.

7. Plant a tree. It seems simple, but just one tree can offset more than a ton of carbon over its lifetime. If planted around homes or buildings, it also will provide shade on a sunny day and may reduce the use of energy for air conditioning.

8. Start grasscycling. Reduce the amount of yard trimmings disposed of in landfills by leaving the grass clippings on the lawn when you mow your yard. Grass clippings add valuable nutrients and organic matter to the soil and produce healthy, green lawns. Bonus:It takes less time and energy than bagging and dragging the grass to the curb.