If I'm ever at a self serve drink station I tend to skip the straw and lid if I don't need it. It's a small thing but why not. I saw an article listing 5 easy plastic things we can probably all give up, and some that will take more effort.
1. Plastic cutlery (there are compact travel options)
2. Plastic straws (you can buy stainless steel ones apparently)
3. Plastic shopping bags
4. Switch to a bamboo toothbrush (check amazon)
5. Bottled water
6. Buy toilet paper wrapped in paper instead of plastic (might be hard to find)
7. Take-out containers
8. Disposable plastic cups and paper cups lined with plastic (most coffee cups)
Here's a link to the article with some compelling reasons and a video with Jeff Bridges!
I've been thinking about getting a 'smart' thermostat since the first time I heard they existed. The appeal to me is the ease of turning down the termostat when leaving for the day. I have no faith in the thermostat to learn my routines but I'm ok with doing it manually via my smartphone. The big question is, 'do you really save energy or is it somewhat evened out by the recoery time?'
The consensus is (based on the laws of thermodynamics) you'll save energy for every minute your thermostat is set back, not much but some. So I've only had it a week or so and I'm trying to set it back any chance I get, but the recovery time is significant, and the savings in the best case scenario are not that significant if I'm only doing a one degree set back here and there.
Overall I like the termostat (Ecobee 3, in Ontario Canada there is a $100 rebate available to most people, link, Google your area you might have a rebate too).
In all my hours of looking into this I came across two interesting things.
1) When you drop the temp your humidity goes up (condensation), so you can be introducing moiture into your house (risk of mold) if you do a huge setback while on vacation. Most people don't seem too worried about the mold and I haven't heard any horror stories, but it's something I hadn't thought of.
2) I came across a great slide show that compares the impact of different energy saving activities. Things like setting back your thermostat, insulating your attic, all the way down to keeping your fridge full (even with water jugs when low on food) so it's not cooling so much air. I like to do as many as I can but I don't stress about it if I don't have time to do some of the lower impact ones like keeping the fridge full of water jugs, especially now that I see how little of an impact it has.
Click here for the slides
Here's a link to the site I found it on
p.s. I came across one more interesting thing, studies showed that most people didn't use the features of their programable thermostat when those became popular because they were too complicated to set. Hopefully the default settings of these new smart thermostats do a bit better of a job and make a bit of an impact. I found the Ecobee to have many more settings and features than I thought it would, but the final state of it is not far off the default settings, 1 degree setback for when I'm sleeping or when it notices no one is home.
Tonight I was at Ripley's Aquarium and thought I'd share a few quick notes on things you can do to help the oceans.
1. If you buy fish products look for sustainable products. They recommend looking for the OceanWise logo (oceanwise.ca), and ask restaurants you go to if their fish are from sustainable resources.
2. Commercial fishing often make use of large nets which catch more than what and they toss these fish back but they don't usually survive. This is called the bycatch. One of the worst items that produce the most bycatch is shrimp. One item with a lower bycatch is mussels, maybe switch to mussels rather than a shrimp ring for your next party.
3. Eatting less meat in general helps too, so first start by only ordering or buying what you know you'll eat, and then look for some vegetarian alternatives once in a while. Even reducing your red meat intake helps the oceans because factory farms create a lot of air pollution which impact the oceans. The book I'm reading right now (Happy Money) suggests making things a treat by doing them less often in order to get more enjoyment out of them!
4. Be aware of what's in the cleaning products you use. Firstly watch out for microbeads if they aren't yet banned in your area, and secondly try cleaning products from company's like Method which are committed to making the cleanest cleaning products around. I just read 'The Method method' and they say if you only try one of their products try the 8x concentrate laundry detergent. I just got it and I didn't think I'd like the pump, but I love it :)
5. Aside from those things, anything you can do to reduce air pollution (which is good for humans) is also good for the oceans. I'll have more posts about that later.
See my Get 2 Free Audio Books blog post to see how you can get those two books free!
The goal of this site is to be a resource of 'things you can do'. Not just any 'things' but if you have a goal or a cause you're concerned about you can look here for a list of things you can do.
To be the most useful I need you to send in what it is you're interested in. Either put it in the comments or send it in via the home page. Until some suggestions come in I'll help people out with their goals on Kiva.org. Today I lent $25 to a group of seamstresses in Paraguay. Kiva is amazing, you're not donating money you're just lending it to someone that really needs a small loan and they'll pay you back, then you can lend it out again. If you ever need the money back you can withdraw the money from your account once it's paid back.
Some things will be easy, some things will be counter intuitive, some things will take some dedication. Lending money on Kiva is pretty easy, if you're looking for a way to help someone trying to better their lives through hard work. But I've got one that is even easier.
Try using only one paper towel to dry your hands, that is, next time you need to use a paper towel. The trick is shake off the excess water first and fold the paper towel in half. It's amazing, you think it's not going to work, but then it does, and it really gets your hands drier than you're probably used to. Here's a video demo.
So you don't have to read through the entire blog and all of the comments to find things I'll try to use tags for these posts and I'll make pages to summarize everything. You can think of the blog as a 'what's new' section.
Eventually I hope this turns into a wiki of what you can do but for now just send me ideas you have or guest posts and I'll put them up for you.