- I live inside the Lakeland city limits, where recycling is almost too easy. Here's what goes in my recycling bin each week: glass (clear and colored), steel cans, plastic bottles with a #1 or #2 on them, newspaper, office paper, empty cereal boxes, magazines, basically any fiber that I can tear. I also learned this morning that the 40-pound bags my chicken feed comes in can go in the recycling bins because there's no plastic lining inside them.
- I recycle the aluminum on my own because the recycling center is nearby and I get cash for it!
- I have a compost bin. All of my non-meat food scraps go in there, as well as shredded paper, leaves and grass clippings, tea bags, coffee grounds and paper towels. Placing these items in a compost bin instead of the garbage greatly reduces the amount of trash I dispose of every week.
- I recently attended a Florida Yards & Neighborhoods rain barrel workshop and purchased two rain barrels. Now I can collect up to 110 gallons of water when it rains and use that to wash my car, water my plants, hose off garden tools, and rinse off my dirty feet before I go inside.
- I use cloth napkins with meals to cut down on my use of paper towels and napkins.
- I cut up old socks and use them as dish rags.
- Old T-shirts go into the rag bucket in the workshop.
- I hold a little contest with myself every year to see how long I can go without turning on the air in the spring, and how long I can go without turning on the heat in the winter. I open all my windows and as the sun crosses the sky, I close the windows and curtains where the sun will beat in and heat up the house, and vice versa in the fall/winter.
- I turn off ceiling fans when I'm not in the room. Fans cool people, not rooms.
- I ride my bicycle to run errands as often as I can, so I don't have to use my car. The less I use it, the less harmful stuff I'm putting into the air, and the farther I can stretch my diesel. At $4.11 per gallon, I'm doing this to save money as much as to do right by the environment.
- Ziploc bags that I've used and rinsed out are donated to the SPCA, where they can use them to bag dog food and dog treats for foster parents.
- Old cell phones, rechargeable batteries and used ink jet cartridges are donated to Keep Polk County Beautiful for recycling. The cell phones and ink cartridges actually generate a bit of income for the organization.
- I use canvas or other reusable bags for shopping, rather than plastic bags.
- If I buy just a couple of items from a store, I tell the clerk I don't need a bag.
- I recycle egg cartons, styrofoam food trays and plastic bags at Publix. This includes the plastic bags The Ledger is delivered in, as well as bread bags, fruit bags, empty cereal bags, etc.
- I've replaced about half the light bulbs in my home with Energy Star bulbs that last longer and use less electricity. I'm working on replacing all of them.
- I buy some groceries in bulk, and I try not to purchase items that contain excessive packaging. Some food packaging that is particularly irksome to me and I avoid at all costs are the little individual pudding, fruit and jello cups, Lunchables, and anything packaged in microwavable/discardable containers, like chili, soup, mashed potatoes, etc.
- I recycle Christmas cards by cutting out the pictures and making new cards with them.
- I make my own glass and all-purpose cleaners using more Earth-friendly incredients, such as vinegar, baking soda and ammonia.
- When the weather is nice, I hang my clothes on the line to dry, instead of throwing them in the dryer.
Other tips I've learned about that I'm considering implementing:
- Place a brick or a half-gallon jug of water in your toilet's tank. This will reduce the amount of water used by the toilet.
- When taking a shower, turn off the water while shaving, soaping up or shampooing hair.
Now it's your turn. What are some things you do to be kinder to the environment? Let's share, and maybe we'll all pick up a few new tips.
Happy Earth Day!