Thursday, March 25, 2010

Toilet flushing is responsible for about 30 percent of all water used by the average American household, which means that almost 44,000 gallons of quality water is flushed away per family every year.

Upgrading to a high-efficiency toilet would be ideal, but since you & I live in the real world, there are some simple things you can do to improve your current model.
I've used something called a tank bag to reduce the amount of water my toilet uses per flush. It's basically a plastic bag that you fill with water and hook to the side of the tank. You could also submerge a filled water bottle - but add some rocks or sand for extra weight, and place them carefully!

Don't use a brick - this will degrade over time and can harm the toilet.

A leaky toilet can waste up to 200 gallons per day! To see if your toilet is leaking, drop some food coloring in the tank & wait 15 min. If the color shows up in the bowl, you've got a leak. There are some things you can do to fix it, but you might need to call a plumber.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Eco Tip #3! Recycled Paper Products

Conventional paper products use massive quantities of trees! Here's the facts on replacing virgin fiber products with recycled:

Toilet Paper
If every household in the United States replaced just one roll of virgin fiber toilet paper (500 sheets) with 100% recycled ones, we could save 423,900 trees.

Facial Tissue
If every household in the United States replaced just one box of virgin fiber facial tissues (175 sheets) with 100% recycled ones, we could save 163,000 trees.

Paper Towels
If every household in the United States replaced just one roll of virgin fiber paper towels (70 sheets) with 100% recycled ones, we could save 544,000 trees.

If every household in the United States replaced just one package of virgin fiber napkins (250 count) with 100% recycled ones, we could save 1 million trees.

Of course, cloth hankerchiefs, rags, sponges, and cloth napkins are even better than recycled paper - but there are some messes you just don't ever want to think about washing off a rag. (I'm sure other pet owners know what I mean.)

Easy to find brands (using at least 60% PCW (post-consumer waste) and processed chlorine-free(PCF)): Whole Foods 365, Trader Joe's, CVS Earth Essentials, & Seventh Generation.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Eco tip of the week - Biodegradable soaps

Start replacing conventional soaps & detergents with plant-based, biodegradable ones. Biodegradable products of any kind will break down into elements found in nature within a reasonable amount of time. 'Conventional' products are made with petroleum and chemicals that will take years to break down, and also contaminate our water supply.

Fortunately, biodegradable soaps are easy to find these days at just about any grocery store. You do need to look a little more closely - and be sure to read the labels. If a product claiming to be biodegradable doesn't have an ingredient list, it almost certainly includes unpronouncable chemicals.
EXTRA CREDIT: look for products that use recycled plastic for their containers - especially those that are using some Post-Consumer-Waste (PCW).

Some easy to find biodegradable products include: Method, Mrs. Meyer's, Ecover, and Seventh Generation. Trader Joe's also has biodegradable cleaning products.

It's easy being green, baby!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Eco tip of the week

I'm trying to start a new weekly feature here - one simple thing that one person can do to make their home (and planet) a better place to live.

Up first, my most recent eco-upgrade - a smart power strip! Like a regular power strip, you can plug multiple electronic devices into the strip, and it protects from power surges. Unlike a regular strip, it can block energy drain from devices that aren't on. It also automatically shuts down connected devices.

So, you plug your main device into the 'control' outlet (for me, this is the tv). The DVD player, speakers, & gaming system get plugged into the 'automatically switched' outlets. The DVR goes into a 'constant hot' outlet. When the tv gets turned off, everything except the DVR automatically gets shut down too.

This is great because, according to the National Resource Defense Council, TV's, stereos, etc, all drain as much power as a continuously burning 60-watt bulb - even when turned off!

I got my Smart Strip from They run between $25 -$40 dollars.