Green Tips Blog

Green Tips Blog

This summer we will be using this page to feature a weekly tip on how to become more 'green' right at home! Every Wednesday from Memorial Day until Labor Day, we will post simple and cheap ways to change things around home to lower your environmental footprint and save money! The tips will span ideas for gardening, conserving water, and even 'green' camping or grilling. Make sure to check back every Wednesday starting May 28th for Fresh Green Ideas!

The old adage that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure really holds true at thrift stores. Often times, a quick trip to a thrift store can result in some great finds. It may even yield a new favorite outfit or the perfect nightstand you’ve been trying to find for months. Many people have taken to shopping at thrift or consignment stores to save money during the recession and fortunately, the trend has stayed strong as the economy has recovered a bit. Shopping at thrift stores helps to keep money within the local economy and often times the profits from thrift stores benefit the community in some way. 

While it does save a significant amount of money, thrifting also has some environmental benefits. 

  1. The most obvious environmental benefit of thrifting is that it reuses and extends the life of objects. Anything bought at a thrift store will stay out of a landfill for longer, while also lowering the manufacturing demand for a new version of the object. 
  2. Approximately 98% of all clothing purchased in the U.S. comes from abroad and therefore, have generally travelled thousands of miles to get to department stores. By the time you purchase them, they have already used a fair amount of energy, coal, and natural gas to get to you. 
  3. Thrift stores usually only get donations from its surrounding community, which those objects have a very small carbon footprint. Plus, most new products also require packaging, tags, tissue, and stickers. Thrift stores tend to cut out that need for packaging and only use hangers and reused tags. 
  4. Because everything seen at thrift stores has already been used by at least one other person, the quality of those objects is likely to be higher. The higher quality means that the things that you buy second-hand will last even longer and stay out of a landfill. 

Thrifting can be a little nerve-wracking and overwhelming to first timers. These tips will make your first trip less daunting and will help you find something fun and unique to be your personal treasure. 

  • Go Often. You may not always find something you like while shopping at a thrift store, but the merchandise changes frequently as more donations come in. Therefore, it’s good to go frequently. 
  • Don’t Be Afraid To Dig. Some of the best things at thrift stores can get hidden behind stacks of clothes or ugly satchels. 
  • Check Every Section. Things sometime get mixed up between sections so it’s always good to check all of them. Plus sometimes you might find something great that may technically be considered a part of the opposite gender’s section. 
  • Keep An Open Mind. You may not find the perfect outfit that you went to the thrift store for, but you could find a new kitchen table to replace the one that’s falling apart at your house. 
  • Think Outside The Box. Most things found while thrifting are relatively cheap and therefore, experimenting and altering them isn’t quite as risky. Feel free to cut up that crazy pair of trousers into cute shorts. Or, paint that lamp a sparkly silver color to cover up the tarnished spots. 
  • Don’t Only Look At The Clothes. The clothes are often the most fun to dig through, but there’s a lot of other good stuff in the store. You can find new (to you) dishware, furniture, CDs, books, lamps, electronics, etc. And it’ll be a heck of a lot cheaper than what you’d find at Target. 
  • But Don’t Become A Hoarder. With the variety of things you can find at thrift stores and the very low price, it’s easy to justify most purchases. However, before you buy it, think about whether or not you really need it or how often you’ll actually use it. 
  • Be Patient. You’re not going to find a treasure with every single trip. However, don’t let that discourage you or prevent you from thrifting again. The next time you go, there’ll be lots of new things to dig through, and chances are you’ll eventually find what you’re looking for. 
  • Find Out When They Get New Stuff. Thrift stores usually have a day when most of their merchandise hits the floor. Try to find out when that is and be the first to look through all the new items. It’s also good to find out when they’re likely to have sales. 

 

Keeping your house at a comfortable temperature during the frigid winters and steamy summers can amount to a large energy bill. Fortunately, there are a number of ways to improve your home’s energy efficiency in ways other than installing new ‘Energy Star’ appliances. Of course, updating your air conditioning and heating to Energy Star – rated appliances can greatly improve efficiency, but it can also be quite expensive. The list below compiles energy saving tips that won’t break the bank. 

Summer Tips: 

  • Block the sun. Cover your windows with shades, blinds, and drapes to keep the sun from overheating your home. You can also use awnings, trees, and shrubs outside to block the sun. 
  • Install ceiling fans. Ceiling fans use the same amount of electricity as a standard light bulb and will make you feel 3-4 degrees cooler. 
  • Use a programmable thermostat. A programmable thermostat allows you to adjust the temperature during the day when your family isn’t home. 
  • Use lighter colors when decorating. Painting your walls lighter colors or choosing curtains that are lighter in color can help reflect the sunlight and heat rather than absorb it. 
  • Repair any possible leaks. Air could be leaking out from ducts, fireplaces, doors, or windows. Try to find and fix any leaks that may be costing you extra money. 
  • Close unused air vents. If you are using central AC, close the air vents in the rooms that you aren’t using so you aren’t paying to cool unused rooms. 

Winter Tips: 

  • Cover bare floors. Using carpeting or rugs on bare floors will add heat retention and comfort. 
  • Raise the temperature slowly. Quickly raising the temperature will cause the heat strip to be activated, which requires a large amount of energy. 
  • Keep the thermostat close to the outside temperature. The cost of keeping your house at 70° when it’s 30° outside is a lot higher than when it’s 50°. 
  • Let the sun help you warm up your house. Leave all of your blind and shades open during the day to allow the sun naturally warm up the house. 
  • Limit the use of space heaters. The small heaters can require a large amount of electricity to run, which can get expensive. Use only for occasional spot heating. 
  • Don’t block air vents. Make sure that air vents aren’t covered by furniture or drapes. When the vents are covered, they have to work extra hard to warm the area. 
  • Change the filters. The filters of both your heater and your air conditioner should be changed regularly to keep the machines working efficiently. 
  • Turn your thermostat down. It’s best to keep the temperature at 68-70° during the day and 65-68° during the night. 
  • Keep the thermostat at 60° while on vacation. If you are taking a vacation during the winter months, it’s better to keep the thermostat at 60° rather than turn it off all together. 
  • Cover your windows in the winter. Cover your windows with plastic insulation film to help retain most of the heat in your house. 

Other Energy Saving Tips: 

  • Replace standard bulbs with CFLs. Compact fluorescent light bulbs are more energy-efficient than regular light bulbs and they give off the same amount of light. 
  • Use motion detecting lights. Motion detecting lights are especially good for outside lighting. They’re convenient and efficient. 
  • Or use timers on inside lights. Timers will ensure that lights are turned off during the day or at night. 
  • Keep your freezer full. A full freezer uses less energy than an empty one. If you don’t have enough food to fill it, use gallon-sized containers filled with water. 
  • Wash and dry several loads at once. Doing multiple loads in succession will require less energy since the dryer won’t have completely cooled down between loads. 
  • Keep the oven door closed while cooking. The temperature of the oven can drop as many as 25 degrees each time you open the oven door. And it can make the AC work harder during the summer months. 
  • Vent your dryer to the outside. This will prevent the vent from warming up areas of the house and therefore, will make it easier for the AC to keep up. 
  • Turn off your water heater while gone. If you are going to be gone for a few days, it’s best to turn the water heater off. It only takes most heaters an hour to reheat the water. 
  • Reduce your water heater temperature. Keeping the temperature at 120° instead of 140° will save energy and still keep the water warm enough for showers and dishes. 
  • Use a power strip for electronics. Using a power strips makes it easy to turn off multiple electronics at once and make sure to avoid energy vampires. 
  • Unplug battery chargers. Once the battery is fully charged or when the charger is not it use, make sure to unplug it, since most will continue to draw power. 

 

Each year, Americans throw away 25,000,000,000 Styrofoam cups and those cups will still be sitting in landfills 500 years from now. 

  • In the United States, more than 200 million tons of garbage are created each year. 
  • Nearly 900,000,000 trees are cut down each year to provide raw materials for paper and pulp mills in the U.S. 
  • 28 billion bottles and jars are thrown away by Americans every year. 
  • Each year, enough plastic is produced within the United States to shrink wrap the state of Texas. 
  • The production of plastic bottles for household products requires more than 2 billion pounds of high density polyethylene, which is equivalent to the weight of 90,000 Honda Civics. 
  • Americans use 100 million tin and steel cans every day and we throw enough aluminum away each month to rebuild our entire commercial air fleet.

Read more: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, & Compost!