How would you like to take some concrete steps to help our planet and work with your neighbors to make an even bigger difference? Here’s your chance. Join the York Energy Efficiency Committee YORK GREEN HOMES campaign.
Talk to your family members, decide on any eight or more of the 17 green actions listed below, and commit to carrying them out in your home. Read the related article in the York Weekly, Simple steps to going green in York, written by Ron McAllister.
Steps to making your home GREEN:
1. Recycle. York has curbside pickup. Bins are available at Town Hall for $7.50. Questions? http://www.yorkmaine.org/Departments/PublicWorks/tabid/44/Default.aspx
2. Use energy efficient light bulbs. Compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) cut CO2 and your electric light bill by 75%. They also last 5 – 7 years. Place them in the lights you use most often. Available through Efficiencymaine.org or at local hardware stores for a few dollars each.
3. Stop buying bottled water. Not only is bottled water more expensive than gasoline, it is no healthier than tap water — and ends up producing hundreds of millions of plastic bottles every year that are not recycled. Filter pitchers are a fine alternative and much cheaper.
4. Bring tote bags for groceries. Many communities in the US are banning plastic grocery bags because of the damage they create to the environment. Get ahead of the curve and save money by bringing your cloth bags with you to the grocery.
5. Reduce kitchen paper products. Most homes could save several trees and $300-$500 a year by cutting the paper napkin, paper towel, paper plate and cup habit. Cloth napkins, knit dishcloths, real plates and cups can be reused indefinitely – and are more elegant too.
6. Cook healthy meals and eat them together at least twice a week. Too much fast food, junk food, and frozen meals are costing families a fortune and creating major health problems in Maine. Teach your children the art of cooking simple healthy meals that taste better and improve both health and budget. Find ways to strengthen family ties by sharing meals at the table as often as possible. Eating together brings a family closer!
7. Shop locally for food and other necessities. Most food in supermarkets has been transported about 2,000 miles from farm to table, wasting fuel, increasing climate change, and causing produce to be less fresh and tasty. Many locally grown meats, poultry, eggs, vegetables, fruits, and flowers are available through much of the year. Support local farmers and merchants so they can continue to support you. Visit our Farmer’s Markets, join a CSA and buy locally whenever you can.
8. Grow some of your own food. There’s no greater thrill for kids of any age than participating in the mystery of seeds, soil, water, and sun transforming into delicious healthy food. If you don’t have a backyard or container garden yet, your family is missing a lot. Start small and expand gradually. Soon you’ll be freezing and canning your own treasures for delicious meals in the cold of winter. Visit http://www.extension.umaine.edu/gardening.htm for great information.
9. Compost food and plant waste. Uncooked food and yard waste (fruit peels, veggie peels and stalks, salads, coffee grounds, tea bags, egg shells, grass clippings, dead leaves) contain rich nutrients that can be reused as fertilizer for next year’s garden instead of wasting them in expensive landfill space or discharging them via garbage disposals into the water supply. Visit http://www.extension.umaine.edu for information.
10. Use natural cleaning products. You’ll be amazed how well simple natural products such as vinegar, baking soda, and lemon juice can clean many surfaces in your home – without any of the dangerous toxins in expensive commercial household cleaning products. Google natural home cleaning products.
11. Limit lawn fertilizers and weed killers. Chemical lawn fertilizers and herbicides create havoc when rain washes them into the streams that feed our water supply. Join the trend toward ecologically friendly yard care by finding alternatives to deadly toxins. Visit http://www.extension.umaine.edu for more information.
12. Plant native plants and trees. Plants and trees that started out in our region long ago will usually do better than landscaping materials imported from other regions. Native plants and trees respond better to our climate, need less water and fertilizer, and are usually hardier too. Visit http://www.extension.umaine.edu/gardennews.
13. Put rain barrels under your drainpipes to conserve water and reduce storm water damage. Water and sewer bills are climbing higher. Heavy rains wash soil and toxins into our water supply. Rainwater preserved in barrels is a free way of supplementing watering for flowers and vegetables in your yard. Watch for York’s annual Rain Barrel Sale on YorkGoesGreen.org.
14. Unplug electric appliances when not in use. Experts say that 10% of your electric bill is wasted by appliances like TVs, computers, microwaves, coffee pots when they are not even on. An easy way to save electric energy is to plug these appliances into electric power strips and turn that power strip off when you’re not using them.
15. Reduce heat and air conditioning. Simply reducing winter heat or raising summer air temperature in your home by 2 degrees can save 5 to 10% on your energy bill and help reduce the global climate change caused by wasting the energy generated by fossil fuels. A programmable thermostat can be a great investment too.
16. Give your car a day off. Creative families are cutting pollution and saving money by choosing a day each week when they don’t drive their cars. This practice can carve out precious family time for fun, chores, conversations, physically healthy activities, and more.
17. You name it! Choose another green practice your family will do in your home and tell us about it. Maybe we’ll be able to pass your idea on to others too!