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Living Green Regardless: Caring for the Environment in Challenging Circumstances

Even negative situations can serve as spurs for greater commitment to green living. Why not use the suggestions listed below as starting points, if you are not already applying them.

Use less electricity. Also encourage your family and friends to do the same. Many little savings add up to a lot so that there may be less power cuts. There are many ways to save electricity. Here are a few:

  • Switch off any lights that you do not need.
  • Use compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) instead of the standard incandescent bulbs.
  • Switch off and unplug all appliances that are not being used. This is important for small ones such as your mobile phone charger, as well as bigger ones such as your computer and its monitor. According to Friends of the Earth, 85% of the energy used by a DVD player is wasted when it is on standby.
  • Wash clothes in cold water, except for the greasiest stains.
  • Hang up your laundry outside to dry rather than using a spin-dryer.
  • Match the size of your saucepan to the burner or element when you are cooking on the stovetop.
  • Include more fresh uncooked food in your diet. A salad is a simple but nutritious electricity-saving meal.
  • Use hand appliances such as whisks, graters and grinders wherever possible.
  • Take good care of your electrical appliances so that they operate efficiently. For example: clean the refrigerator’s ventilation grille. Have appliances serviced thoroughly – especially if there are funny noises coming from them.
  • When buying appliances such as refrigerators and washing machines, invest in energy-efficient models. Many of these may cost more initially, but they will save money in the long run.

Go solar. Although installing a solar energy system in your home may require a bit of investment initially, there will be a good return ultimately because sunlight is freely available in most places. Solar heating can provide energy for cooking and hot water for showers and laundry. Solar lighting is also available. Consider your needs and options carefully before choosing the most efficient and cost-effective technology for each application.

Get used to eating less red meat. Ruminating animals, such as cattle, release significant amounts of methane into the atmosphere. This is one of the four main gases that must be in delicate balance in order to minimize the greenhouse effect that is responsible for global warming. In addition, large amounts of cholesterol and saturated fats that come from the excessive consumption of meat are a threat to human health.

Grow your own vegetables, organically. Put your food scraps in a separate bin and make compost out of them to use in the garden. It is organic material that is better for the environment than chemical fertilizers. You could even consider (space and by-laws permitting) raising your own chickens. The manure they produce is good for the garden. Otherwise buy bone-meal and other organic fertilizers.

Walk or cycle more often. Share lifts or use public transport. Wherever possible, leave the car at home. The exercise will be good for you and you will do your bit to reduce carbon monoxide emissions from motor vehicles.

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