Think Green: Reduce Waste, Recycle, Conserve and Feel Good About Yourself

Over the past couple years I have become increasingly more aware of environmental issues such as global warming, pollution and energy conservation. I believe global warming is a real issue and that humans contribute significantly to the problem. I also think that there are many natural occurrences that contribute to global warming, and that global warming itself may very well be a natural occurrence or cycle. However, there’s no reason why we, as intelligent human beings, should not recognize the issue and take actions to reduce the human factor of global warming. We have technologies available today, and continue to develop new technologies which can enable us to create an environment which is cleaner and more efficient. While scientists and engineers continue to research and develop technologies for renewable energy, alternative fuels, and reduce the dependency on oil, we as individuals need to do our part by becoming more aware of how our daily activities and decisions can affect our environment.

I recently picked up David Bach’s new book Go Green, Live Rich: 50 Simple Ways to Save the Earth and Get Rich Trying. In his books he list “50 Simple Ways to Save the Earth”. Most of the items he list are very simple. In fact, I was glad to see that I had already implemented many of the items he listed on my own. Here’s are a few things I’ve done:

  1. Switched to Compact Fluorescent Bulbs (CFL) – I changed most the bulbs in the house to CFL’s, except the two decorative lamps which have exposed bulbs and are rarely turned on and the dimmable chandelier because the dimmable CFL’s are really expensive. WalMart or Costco are great places to pick these up cheap. Reduce energy consumption and save a little money on your electric bill while doing it.
  2. Went paperless – I signed up to receive all bank statements and billing notices electronically and pay my bills online. This significantly reduced the amount of paper coming in my mail box, reduced clutter around the house, and I save money on stamps.
  3. Reduced Incoming Junk Mail – I opted out of receiving junk mail by calling 888-5OptOut. I also went to and opted out from receiving firm credit offers for five years. I couldn’t believe how many credit card offers I’d been receiving! Reduced junk mail equals less waste.
  4. Recycle – We recycle all our glass, plastic and aluminum. I am still guilty of buying bottled water, but we are considering switching to a water filtration system.
  5. Bring Our Own Bags – We purchased some reusable grocery bags from Safeway and keep them in the car. Have you ever noticed how inefficiently the baggers pack groceries at the stores? One bag, two items, it’s ridiculous. If you give them three or four reusable bags they somehow find a way to get all that stuff in those three or four bags.
  6. Buy Recycled Products – We buy recycled paper products such as paper towels, napkins and toilet paper.
  7. Conserve water – I fixed the leaky faucets in the house and try not to leave the water running while I brush my teeth or shave. I also take short showers and have installed a low-flow shower head.
  8. Turn Off the Lights – I make a real effort to turn off lights when I leave a room.
  9. Locate E-Waste Recycling Center – Being a computer guy I find myself with old computers, monitors, hard drives, cell phones and other outdated electronic devices containing led and other toxic materials that need to be disposed of properly. Here are a couple of web sites I’ve found to locate e-waste recycling centers in my area:
    2. Contra Costa County Waste Reduction & Recycling
  10. Energy Star – All the appliances in the house are Energy Star compliant and we have a high-efficiency washer which uses significantly less water and energy than a traditional washer. When you need to replace an appliance make sure it’s Energy Star rated.
  11. Conservative with the A/C – We have an air-conditioner, it’s a luxury, and I treat it that way. Our two story unit is usually hot upstairs and stays fairly cool downstairs which means I can wait till after peak hours to turn on the A/C and cool down the upstairs before going to bed. The downstairs can be cooled fairly easy just by opening the windows.
  12. Telecommute – I try to work from home at least one day per week, if not two. Being a Software Engineer this is feasible in my line of work, but not an option for many. No commute, no lost time and no cost.
  13. Ride BART – When I do go into the office, I ride Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART). However, I am guilty of driving my gas-guzzling SUV five or six miles to the BART station. Utilize public transportation when you can.

I just listed over a dozen things that have had little or no inconvenience in my life but do have a positive impact on the environment. These are all simple actions everyone can participate in with minimal extra work, and require only a decision to start.  Take some time to educate yourself on the topics and decide what you can change in your household and daily activities to help make a difference.