Reduce Your Waste!
We love recycling  but we're even bigger fans of not creating waste in the first place.  Here are a few tips to lower your waste plus lower your water and electric bills too.  
Please remember that these tips are just the tip of the iceberg.  There are plenty of websites and books devoted solely to these issues, so check out our links and resources page and do a little exploring on your own.
Practice Precycling!
Did you know that packaging represents 30% of the nation's garbage and 13% of the cost of an item?  Precycling is the practice of reducing waste by encouraging the purchase of items that produce less waste in the first place.  It focuses on the first two of the three R's - "reduce" and "reuse."  This means that the consumer is paying more attention to packaging, is purchasing reusable items and is only buying what is necessary.  Those who precycle think about the use or disposal of the item itself, as well as the packaging.
Precycling has environmental benefits, such as conservation of energy, landfill space, and natural resources, as well as economical benefits, such as reduced waste hauling and disposal costs. It can also save you time and money! 
If you want to precycle, remember these things when making purchasing decisions: Don't buy what you don't need.  Reduce what you do need.  Reuse whenever possible.  Recycle what can't be reused.  You don't have to recycle what you precycle.
Here are some quick tips to think about when precycling:
   1.  Bring reusable cloth bags to the store with you.
   2.  Buy in bulk!  If you buy large sizes and quantities, there's often a lot less packaging.  
   3.  Buy products with the least amount of packaging, or, preferably, products with no packaging at all.


   4.  Buy products packaged in recycled packaging.  If you have to use a container, it might as well be environmentally friendly.
   5.  Don't buy disposable items (plates, cups, pens, diapers, batteries etc.)
   6.  Use cloth towels and napkins.  Break the paper towel habit!
   7.  Don't purchase styrofoam.  It contains polystyrene, which is the most difficult material to break down in our landfill and is often considered a hazardous waste.
   8.  Buy items packaged in cardboard, aluminum, steel, glass and plastic containers (especially if they are marked 1 and 2.)  These containers are recycled easily.
Reduce Your Water Use
It's very easy to take clean water for granted - it's pumped directly into our homes, clean and insanely cheap.  Water isn't free though - there are parts of the world, and even some regions in the US,  that do not have readily available, clean drinking water.  It takes time, energy and chemicals to clean water, so if you are looking to lower your environmental impact, as well as your utility bills, reducing your water use is the way to go.  
The average America uses 60 gallons of water per day.  Three quarters of this is used in the bathroom.
   1.  "If it's yellow, let it mellow..."  Has it ever occurred to you that the water in our toilets is the same water that we drink?  By opting not to flush each time, you could save 2 to 7 gallons of water per flush, depending on your model of toilet.
   2.  Installing a water-saving showerhead can save up to 40 gallons of water every 10 minutes.  If you take a daily 10-minute shower, that adds up to 14,000 gallons per year.
   3.  A shower uses far less water than a bath.  Prove this to yourself the next time you shower by putting the stopper in the tub; you'll see that the amount of water collected is much less than what you would need for a bath.
   4.  Fix those leaks!  One leaky faucet can waste up to 4,000 gallons of water per month; a leaky toilet can waste more than 50 gallons per day!  
   5.  If a home renovation is in the cards, splurge on low-flow and water-efficient appliances that will save you money in the long-run. A front-loading washing machine, for example, uses 40-60% less water than top-loading machines. 
   6.  Install aerators on your sink faucets.  These inexpensive add-ons, which can generally be found at your local hardware store, provide the same amount of water pressure using a lot less water.
   7.  Don't use your sinks and drains as trash cans, and dispose of oil and other toxic materials properly. Just one gallon of oil improperly disposed of can contaminate one million gallons of fresh water.
Turn off the lights!
If you're looking to reduce your electricity usage, there are a host of small things you can do that will make a big impact.
Reduce your electricity by:
   1.  Turning off the lights when they are not needed.  Just because there is a light in the room you are in does not mean it needs to be turned on.  Natural light from windows can go a long way.
   2.  Compact fluorescent lights use a quarter of the electricity of an old fashioned incandescent bulb and lasts five times longer.  LED lightbulbs are even better, saving 80-90% of the electricity used by incandescent bulbs, although they are considerably more expensive up-front.


    3.  Dress for the weather.  In the summer, wear lighter clothes around the house, and in the winter, wear sweaters.  The strange truth is that many households heat their homes in the winter to a temperature that is far warmer than what they would allow in the summer.
   4.  60% of the electricity used in the United States is used to heat and cool buildings.  Check your insulation.  It's a big project to insulate walls, but sometimes insulating the ceiling can be a relatively quick project that pays for itself.  More insulation results in a steady temperature year-round.
   5.  Use caulk and weather stripping to seal leaks around windows, doors and floor trim.  Plugging air-leaks can be an extremely cost-effective move when trying to cut down on your electricity use.
   6.  When it's time to buy new appliances, check for the Energy Star label.  Then, you can be assured that you are receiving an energy efficient appliance.
   7.  Wrap your water heater in an insulating jacket, which costs just $10 to $20. It can save you a lot of money!