The Power of One
By making simple changes to the actions we take, each one of us can help turn the tide of climate change and protect Earth’s magnificent natural resources for generations to come. Here are a few things you can do to help.
Plug into power strips Everything you plug into an outlet consumes energy—even if it is not in use. Reduce your carbon footprint and electric bill by plugging appliances and electronics into a power strip. Simply switch off the strip to shut down multiple items when not in use. When buying new equipment, look for the Energy Star® label and save even more.
Switch to Renewable Energy Shifting from fossil fuels to renewable energy, such as solar, hydro, wind and biomass, is one of the most effective ways to reduce both CO2 emissions and air-borne pollutants. Switching to green power is easy: determine your annual kilowatt usage from your electric bill then visit EnergizeCT.com to learn about programs, rebates, financing and smart energy solutions that will work for you.
Tune-up Your Furnace Home heating consumes up to 50% residential energy usage, and an inefficient system can waste just as much. Schedule cleaning and servicing based on a combustion efficiency test. Schedule an annual tune-up before winter’s chilly winds put your furnace to the test.
Reduce Food Waste Fifty million Americans go hungry every day. And yet we waste about 40% of the food we produce. Here’s what you can do to help reduce food waste.
- Buy only what you need: plan ahead, make a shopping list and avoid sales that encourage you to buy more than you’ll eat.
- Eat what you buy: keep your fridge and pantry tidy so you know what’s there. Move older foods to the front so that you’ll eat them first
- Don’t over-prepare: leftovers are great, but only if you eat them.
- Keep food fresh longer by storing it properly.
- Compost inedible food and contact Community Plates to donate surplus produce from your garden to a local food pantry or shelter.
Eat Meat-Free Meals Diets based predominantly on plant foods not only promote good health and reduce risk of disease, they have less impact on the environment and are easier on our piggy banks. Commit to eating at least one or two vegetarian meals a week; you’ll find delicious recipes both online and in the many vegetarian cookbooks now available. Purchase local, organic produce and dairy products or grow your own. Either way, you’ll reduce the energy needed to transport produce.
B.Y.O.B. Stylish, light-weight reusable bags are widely available, so there’s no reason not to bring your own. Leave them by the garage door or on the passenger seat of your car to help remind you to bring them with you when you shop. Purchase good quality cloth bags that can be washed; they’ll stay clean and last longer—and help reduce the more than 500 billion plastic bags that pollute our oceans and food chain.
Improve Fuel Economy For most vehicles, 55 mph is the most fuel-efficient highway speed and will save you up to 20-30% in fuel costs compared to driving at 75 mph—it’s also safer. Keeping tires inflated to the manufacturer’s recommended level will improve fuel economy by up to 3.3%, and avoiding quick acceleration and heavy breaking can improve it by 33% on the highway.
Drive Wisely Around Town When driving locally, decelerate steadily to save gas, and turn off your engine if you stop for more than 10 seconds. An idling vehicle emits 20 times more pollution than one traveling at 30 mph and uses more fuel than turning off and restarting the engine.
Walk More Plan your errands so that you can get them done in one trip rather than multiple shorter outings. Park in the lot where you will be doing the most shopping and walk to and from other stores. Walk or bike to town with a backpack or bike bag, if possible.
Check Your Insulation Insulation in attics, roofs, exterior walls and floors reduces energy use and makes your home more comfortable. Recycled cotton or cellulose insulation contain up to 80% recycled materials—50% more than traditional fiberglass insulation—reducing our reliance on virgin raw materials and minimizing landfill deposits.
Seal Doors & Windows There are many great products on the market today, so if you’re shopping for new doors or windows, look for models with a low U-Factor—the measurement of the window or door’s heat flow. On average, U-Factor values range from 0.25 to 1.25. And don’t forget to seal air leaks around existing windows and doors with caulk.
Minimize Waste When remodeling, renovating or enlarging your home, take advantage of local salvage companies to remove reusable construction waste. And be sure to ask your contractor about recycling options.
Waste & Recycling
Take Advantage of Hazardous Waste Day Did you know that nail polish, certain arts and crafts supplies, even your child’s chemistry kit contain hazardous materials? Clear out your bathroom cabinets, toy shelves, basement and garage, and take advantage of Wilton’s Annual Hazardous Waste Day on Saturday, October 25h. Bring these materials to Miller/Driscoll School, 214 Wolfpit Road, between 9:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. to safely dispose of your household and automotive hazardous waste free of charge.
Reach for Reusable One microfiber cloth does the work of 60 rolls of paper towels before needing to be replaced. Absorbent and strong, these work horses soak up serious spills, wipe down counters, de-streak mirrors and are gentle enough to use on nearly all surfaces, including eyeglasses.
Print Responsibly The next time you’re about to print an e-mail or something from the web, consider using the back side of a used piece of paper destined for the recycling bin. The “notes” feature on your cell phone is an even better alternative for recording shopping lists, driving directions, party-invitation information—just about anything that you’d print or jot down on paper.
Leave Some Leaves Autumn leaves are an essential part of the ecosystem, even after they’ve fallen. When used for mulch, they help deliver nutrients to the soil during barren winter months. Place shredded leaves around the base of shrubbery and trees to insulate and nourish root systems. Decomposing leaves also provide food to soil insects, such as earthworms. Animals preparing their winter nests for hibernation often collect leaves to use as insulation, so leave a few behind when raking.
Create a Tree-Free Home These small changes can make a big impact: Replace paper napkins with cloth ones; purchase bleach-free toilet paper made from at least 80% post-consumer waste content; reuse wrapping paper and the front of gift cards (as postcards); read books, magazines and newspapers at the library or online; leave messages for family members on a chalk or white board.
Plant a Tree Plant a deciduous (leafy) tree on the south side of your home. It will provide cooling shade in the hot summer months, and let in warm sunlight once it looses its leaves in the fall. Trees help clean the air, produce oxygen and reduce carbon dioxide.