Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Time to step it up...

Canada geese near pondTonight's the night. Yes, the President is finally giving a speech outlining what his Administration plans to do regarding the Gulf oil spill cleanup, as well his plans for an energy policy.

It's about time. However, the President, and the government in general, can only do so much. We as individual citizens have to get serious about reducing energy consumption and resource waste. It's ridiculous for Limberger to attempt to blame the spill on "environmentalists," as the need to drill deep comes not from BP's caring about anyone's opinion, but rather the need to go (as all oil companies do) where the oil is.

What can I do, you say, to cut down the use of petroleum? Any number of things, which may be easier to implement in your life than you might imagine.

If you must drive a car, don't be a leadfoot. Seriously, again according to tests done by Edmonds, easing up on the accelerator alone can cause you to save, at minimum, 20 percent gas (and lives), no matter where you drive. For city drivers, there's still significant savings in easing up, as you're not stomping down on the brakes so often (or so hard); being easier on the brakes also saves petroleum, and reduces wear and tear on your vehicle (which is also composed of petroleum, in large measure). Please, drive the speed limit. (On the highway, drive 55). It's not a communist plot--the federal speed limit was passed, in fact, during the original oil crisis of the 1970s, to save gas. Oh, and you're not saving that much time when you speed, weaving in and out of lanes, etc., particularly when you're not driving on the highway.

We've all heard the saying, "reduce, reuse, recycle," which has always struck me as an updated version of the old saying, "waste not, want not."

To reduce means to look at whether we need to buy something in the first place, whether we'll actually use what we buy. We also need to look at product packaging, as some packaging is excessive, and other packaging is easily reusable. For instance, I've kept certain candy and cosmetic tins, glass jars, and the like and reused them, to use for office products (e.g., pen and pencil holders) and other uses. Sometimes that's the reason I've bought certain mints, because I could see that I'd be able to reuse them (in addition to the delicious candy, of course).

Look at what you use most often--can you use less of it? Be it paper, laundry detergent, or something else, chances are you use way more of it than you need. For instance, with laundry detergent, for one load, you don't need to use the entire scoop, only up to the first fill line. You might find that using this reduced amount not only saves money, but gets your clothes cleaner. I have found this to be the case when doing laundry, particularly for my dark clothes.

Perhaps the last part, to recycle, is not done as often as possible is that often, municipalities make it as difficult as possible to do so. Thankfully, in my part of Prince George's County, officials have made it easy to recycle, ever since single-stream recycling has been implemented (as I mentioned in an earlier post, of Jan. 7, 2009). If you live in PG and don't have single-stream recycling yet, it will be coming to your neighborhood sometime this year. If you don't live in Prince George's County and don't have single stream recycling, contact your local public works and ask why it hasn't implemented single-stream recycling; perhaps contact P.G. County yourself and ask how it came to be put in place. Remember, plastic is made from petroleum, so when it's recycled to make new products, less petroleum overall is used in the process.

Of course, it makes sense to complete the circle, and purchase recycled goods, when you need to buy things. It's almost too easy to buy 100% recycled paper for writing or printing/copying, and the quality is the same. Actually, someone mentioned to me that the 100% recycled copy paper by Staples is better in quality than the 30% recycled version, that it was more trouble free with office equipment. If you think you can't swing the price of the recycled product, and you have a Staples rewards card, bring in your used inkjet cartridge or toner cartridge for recycling next time you go shopping there, and soon enough, you'll be getting coupons for $3, $5, $6, or more off your next purchase. Easy. Without a button.

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