Environmentally friendly stuff

Many people assume that they can't do anything to help the environment, that nothing they do will make a difference. However, there are several simple ways in which you can become environmentally friendly, and it doesn't take a lot of time or money. Here are some suggestions:

Use alternative transportation as much as possible. A very large percentage of traffic (and air pollution) is from commuters and their vehicles. Try to use public transportation for long commutes; walk or ride your bicycle for shorter distances. If you drive, don't speed and always make sure your tires are properly inflated. (This will increase your gas mileage-very important for today's driver.)

Recycle, recycle, and recycle. Reduce yard and kitchen waste by composting. Once again, we return to Grandma's time and want to keep a plastic bucket under the sink for coffee grounds, egg shells, and vegetable /citrus rinds. (No animal scraps or fat.) If you forget to request paper bags at the grocery store, remember to reuse your plastic bags. Large grocery stores often have recycling bins for the overflow of plastic bags, so you can take those back to the store with every trip. Another idea is to donate them to your local food bank.

Watch your water usage. Don't leave water running when it doesn't need to be on. Take short showers with low water flow and take baths only rarely. Don't turn on the dishwasher if it isn't full. Low flush toilets are available at home improvement centers and are environmentally friendly. Even if your water is not metered, overusing it is wasting it for others and may cause your water to have to me monitored some day.

Don't smoke. It's bad for you and it's bad for the people around you. Cigarette smoke releases carbon monoxide-the same stuff that comes out of your car's tailpipe- and has been proven to cause cancer to the smoker and to others through second hand smoke. However, I am all for freedoms of choice, so if you must smoke, please do it inside your own home and away from children.

In winter, lower your thermostat. In summer, raise it. It saves energy and releases less pollution. This means to set it to turn on automatically during lower temperatures in the winter, and higher temps during the summer. If you can, turn it off completely during the summer months-that's even more environmentally friendly.

Dispose of old batteries, paint, motor oil, and antifreeze at a toxic disposal site. These should NOT be kept around the house. Some cities allow for this kind of recycling to be available through curb pick up-call you sanitation department to find out if it is available where you live.

Take action for the environment. Write to local politicians about sprawling and other issues that are affecting your environment. Lobby, participate in walks and protests. You can also participate by planting trees. Find out through the local co op about envirmentally friendly plans for your town, and get involved! It's good for the environment, the landscape, and you.