How Household Chemicals Can Affect Your Health

The following table spells out health problems that common household chemicals can cause. Household products are packed with potentially harmful substances, so this table can't cover them all. If you want to learn about a specific product or ingredient, check the Household Products Database from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services at http hpd.nlm.nih.gov. Search for a product by name to see possible health effects and safe handling instructions. Search for an ingredient to get a...

Disposing of Household Chemicals

By now, you're probably ready to gather up all your cleaning products and dump them in the trash. Not so fast While it's a good idea to remove harsh chemicals from your home, you need to dispose of them safely. The earth will thank you for it. To get rid of household chemicals, don't throw them in the trash, pour them down a drain, or burn them. If your community has a day designated for hazardous waste pickup, unload them then. If you're not sure how to dispose of hazardous waste where you...

Does recycling actually save energy

It obviously takes energy to recycle. The process involves sorting, processing, and transporting materials. So does recycling save more energy than it uses Consider these facts It takes 95 less energy to get aluminum from recycled cans than it does to process aluminum from bauxite. Recycling plastic bottles uses about 70-75 less energy than creating new ones from scratch. It takes about 60 less energy to recycle steel than to mine iron ore and produce new steel. Recycling paper uses about 40-45...

Appliances

Most appliances can be recycled for scrap metal. Here's how it works The appliance gets torn to pieces by a giant shredder, magnets pull out iron-based metal, and then other metals such as aluminum get separated out from the detritus. Many appliances contain some materials, such the plastic liner in a dishwasher, that can't be recycled, but the process significantly reduces what gets thrown out. Appliances containing Freon including refrigerators, freezers, and air conditioners require special...

Set up your system

The key to succeeding at recycling is to make it easy. If you're lucky enough to live in an area that offers single-stream recycling, you don't need to do any sorting at all. More waste-disposal companies are starting to offer this option, but in many places you still have to separate your recyclables by material. If you need to sort, create a series of different bins for the various materials to build sorting right in to your system. Put the bins where you have easy access to them but they're...

Should You Downsize

Just after World War II, as GIs returned home and began to raise families, the average American house was 900 square feet. By 1970, bell bottoms were in and the average square footage was 1,300. In 2004, that figure had nearly doubled to 2,330. And homes built in the second quarter of 2008 averaged a whopping 2,629 square feet (it's decreased slightly since then thanks to, um, some recent economic problems). The parents of the largest generation in U.S. history raised their families in houses...

Teens

When it comes to the environment, you might be able to learn a thing or two from your teenager. Today's teens are coming of age at a time when we understand more about the problem of diminishing resources, the effects of greenhouse gases, and the importance of taking care of the earth for future generations. They are a future generation, after all, and many of them worry about the planet they're inheriting. School and community programs that teach about the environment give teens info about...

The Meat Industrys Environmental Hoofprint

As you learned in the previous sections, industrialized farming raises concerns about health, humane treatment of animals, and farming communities. Another big concern for people who want to eat green is how the meat and dairy industries affect the environment. These farms pollute the air, water, and earth, and have a massive carbon footprint. Way back in 1997, a report by the U.S. Senate Agricultural Committee warned, The threat of pollution from intensive livestock and poultry farms is a...

Think Globally Buy Locally

Globalization has made people realize that the world is smaller than it seems. We know that our actions can have a big impact on the planet as a whole, and many are treading more lightly to lessen their impact buying green-living guides like this one, producing less waste, minimizing their carbon footprints. One way to keep the whole world in mind when you shop is to support local businesses. What exactly is a local business The American Independent Business Alliance (AMIBA) defines it as a...

Tips for Using Appliances More Efficiently

No matter how efficient your appliances are, there are lots of simple things you can do around the house to consume less energy (and save money on your electric bill). Here are some easy-to-implement ideas Wait for full loads. Don't run a half-empty washing machine or dishwasher. You'll get more bang for your energy buck by running them only when they're full. Wash in cold water. When possible, use cold water to wash clothes. It takes a lot of energy to heat water for a load of laundry about 90...

What Is Fair Trade

Fair trade helps support workers and sustainable practices in developing countries. Instead of buying massive quantities of cheaply produced items at rock-bottom prices, fair-trade importers pay attention to the lives and working conditions of the people who produce the goods they buy, process, and resell, and they typically buy relatively small quantities. For example, such an importer will do business with a farm or cooperative that uses sustainable practices and pays employees a living wage....

The Chemicals You Live With

Your home is your castle, your sanctuary, the place where you raise your family and relax at the end of the day. But rather than being a safe haven, many homes are a minefield of chemicals that can affect your health and harm the planet. In fact, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has called the typical American home the number one violator of chemical waste per capita because many of those chemicals get tossed in the trash or go swirling down the drain. Let's take a tour of a...

Recycling What Goes Around Comes Around

Recycling is a good idea that's been around for a while. Modern recycling was born in the environmental movement of the 1960s and '70s. To coincide with the very first Earth Day April 22, 1970 the Container Corporation of America, a major producer of recycled paperboard, sponsored a contest for art and design students to create a logo that symbolized the recycling process. UCLA student Gary Dean Anderson won with his triple-arrow design that has become one of the most recognized symbols on the...

Veggie Power

We're used to thinking that cars have to run on the liquefied remains of dinosaurs, but there are other, renewable fuel sources. Biodiesel, ethanol, and vegetable oil are all emerging as plant-based options that can reduce our dependence on oil to keep the world moving. The following sections have the details. Biodiesel is a clean-burning fuel made from things like vegetable oil (including used cooking oil, called WVO for waste vegetable oil), algae, and animal fat. Most biodiesel is made from...

Give Your Lawn a Drink

Many people water their lawn more often than they should, which wastes water and doesn't help the lawn. When you practice natural lawn care, you don't need to water as frequently because the well-aerated soil soaks up water and holds it like a sponge. The best time to water is in the morning. Watering in the evening can make your lawn vulnerable to fungus. Here are the two most important things to know about watering Water infrequently. Watering too often encourages thatch (page 33), while less...

R

Radon, testing and removing, 140-141 rainwater, collecting, 68 Rapanui Organic Clothing, 215 rating system, LEED, 118-120 ReadyMade magazine project archive, 96 rebates from utility companies, 144 rechargeable appliances, replacing, 61 recipes all-purpose cleaner, 19 fabric softener, 26 insecticidal soap, 197 laundry detergent, 25 toilet cleaners, 25 Reclaimed Lumber Company, 133 reconstituted siding, 137 recycling appliances, 114-115 appropriate items for, 103-104 cars, 115-116 cellphones,...

Going Green Transportation and Travel

Some people say that when you travel, it's not the destination that's important, but the journey. That's also a good way to think about the impact travel has on the environment. Getting from one place to another is one of the biggest and fastest growing sources of greenhouse-gas emissions. According to the U.S. EPA, transportation accounted for 29 of America's greenhouse-gas emissions in 2006, and that's just from cars, planes, and boats moving from place to place it doesn't include the energy...

Tires

Tires and landfills are a bad combination Tires are large and heavy, and their donut shape makes them take up a lot of room. They can also damage landfill liners, letting contaminant-filled leachate page 80 leak out. Burning tires isn't an option because that releases toxic chemicals including benzene and lead . According to the EPA, nearly 300 million tires are discarded in the U.S. each year that's just about one for every American. So what should you do when your tires wear out It's...

Disadvantages

There are some downsides to using biomass, including Air pollution. Biomass emits greenhouse gases when it's used to generate fuel. If the carbon isn't offset by replanting crops, biomass contributes to global warming. Direct burning of biomass also releases particulates, although these can be minimized with an emission control system. Energy use. It takes energy to plant, grow, harvest, and transport the crops used for biomass. Unless these activities are done responsibly, biomass can use up...