The BL Go Green! series is wrapping up, and by now you’re probably a whiz on going green. But you’re just one person — does it really matter what you do? Put your Go Green! know-how to the test and see how your everyday decisions can add up.
You need a lunch for school. You …
A. Plan on grabbing take-out at the burger place down the street.
B. Pack a lunch with reusable containers and a thermal bag.
Why add more trash to the planet? Packing your own food is usually healthier and cheaper, too.
Don’t forget your cell phone and iPod. You …
A. Take your electronics and leave the chargers plugged in.
B. Take your electronics and unplug the chargers.
Pull the plug on energy vampires. Chargers use — and waste — electricity and money even when they aren’t on. Either unplug them or put everything on a power strip and then switch it off. If everybody in the United States did this, $3 billion in energy costs could be saved every year.
Time to head to school. You …
A. Get Mom or Dad to drive you, solo.
B. Walk, bike or ride the bus.
Every car that’s off the road saves an average of 31.7 pounds of carbon emissions per day, or 5.8 tons a year.
At soccer practice, you need to be sure to drink up. You …
A. Buy bottled water and then toss the bottle.
B. Drink water from a reusable bottle.
Every hour, about 2.5 million water bottles are thrown away. That’s a lot of trash.
After practice, you go grocery shopping with your parents. You …
A. Tell the clerk you want paper or plastic.
B. Use the cloth bags you brought from home.
Reusable bags cut down on the need for manufacturing plastic and paper ones (which sucks up energy and materials). The Environmental Protection Agency says as many as 1 trillion plastic bags are consumed worldwide every year.
Apples are on the grocery list. You …
A. Buy whatever’s at the supermarket.
B. Buy apples and other produce at the local farmers’ market.
Check the labels: Those apples might have been flown in from 3,000 miles away. Local foods don’t leave that huge carbon footprint — and they’re probably tastier, too.
You’re in charge of making the salad for dinner. You …
A. Toss the veggie scraps in the garbage.
B. Toss the veggie scraps in the compost pail.
Why add to the landfill? Composting is an easy way to put life back into the soil. Check out http://www.boyslife.org for an easy-to-make compost bin.
Soccer practice left you smelling not so great. You …
A. Fill up the bathtub and take a bath.
B. Take a short shower.
A four-minute shower uses about 20 gallons of water (with a low-flow shower head, only 10 gallons), while an average bath takes 40.
You’re finally up and at ’em, so you …
A. Throw on a cotton T-shirt.
B. Throw on a certified organic cotton T-shirt.
Cotton is a natural fabric, but growing it the nonorganic way uses serious amounts of pesticides and chemical fertilizers. Just one pair of jeans requires two-thirds of a pound of chemicals; a T-shirt, another one-third pound. Organically grown cotton doesn’t use any.
It’s your turn to mow the lawn. You …
A. Fire up that gas-powered mower.
B. Use a reel (push) mower.
One traditional gas-powered lawn mower running for an hour puts out as much air pollution as eight new cars driven 55 miles in an hour. That push mower is also much quieter and a great way to build biceps.
Your best bud wants to pick up a few things. You …
A. Hit the mall to see what’s new and hot.
B. Hit the thrift stores to see what’s old and cool.
It takes energy and resources to make new stuff, so give used things a chance. You can find unusual, interesting stuff, plus you’ll save money.
How about a snack? You …
A. Turn on the oven to warm up that leftover pizza.
B. Heat up your snack in the microwave (or eat it cold).
A microwave oven uses 85 percent less energy than a regular one (a toaster oven uses about 30 percent less).
You’ve finished that research paper for science class. You start to print, but the ink cartridge runs out. You …
A. Toss it.
B. Save it for recycling.
It takes three quarts of oil to make just one new cartridge. Plus, some stores not only recycle cartridges but also give you a few bucks toward a new one.
You reward your hard work with a few games on the computer. Afterward, you …
A. Let it go to a screensaver.
B. Set it to go into sleep or hibernate mode and later turn it off.
Ditch the screensaver: It uses about as much power as actual processing. At bedtime, or when the computer’s not in use, turn it off completely.
Just as it’s time for lights out, a light goes out. You …
A. Replace the bulb with a regular incandescent.
B. Replace the bulb with a compact fluorescent lightbulb (CFL).
A CFL uses only a quarter of the electricity that a regular bulb does, adding up to huge carbon savings and lower power bills.
SO HOW DID YOU DO?
Picking all A’s means it’s time to make some changes. Choosing a mix of A’s and B’s means you’re learning. But picking all B’s means you’re going easy on the environment and making a difference. Keep up the good work!