Science Information

Energy Aware and Waste Wise


Constantly bombarded with negative information about the environment, finances and natural resources? Feeling overwhelmed? Each and every one of us can do something to help our world - starting right where we are, right now. Though not everyone can afford to donate cash or time to a cause, there are endless tactics that will decrease an individual's contribution to the landfill and their resource consumption.

Mirrors, placed strategically in a room can be used to make use of natural lighting more efficiently, and reduce energy use as well. When placed near indoor plants, mirrors act like a second window creating better growing conditions while giving the illusion of increased space and greenery to the ambiance of a room.

When loading the clothes dryer, fluff the wet and tangled laundry before tossing into the machine. This allows for immediate and more efficient use of dryer energy. Very hot settings (which can actually shrink clothing) can thus be avoided.

Typically, the heated air from a clothes dryer is pumped outside and wasted. Consider purchasing a dryer vent converter - available at most hardware stores. These are little boxes that divert the heated air from the dryer into the house during the cold and dry winter months - making better use of your energy dollar while saving a little on heating costs. Be warned that this air is moist, and this may not be appropriate in all situations. Homes with dry static air or wood heat would benefit from the moisture, but buildings that already have a moisture problem (evident by mould and mildew or sweating and frosted windows) will only have their issues compounded by doing this.

Instead of buying disposable dryer sheets for static control, consider using a liquid fabric softener with a reused rag or sock. Pour a Tablespoon of the liquid on the rag, roll it up and squeeze (to soak up all the softener) and toss in the dryer. Wash the rag periodically by throwing it in with a normal load. Just imagine the number of dryer sheets, the packaging they came in, along with the costs, energy and resources to produce them that can be avoided by this one simple act.

There are many other little things we can do around our home, to save money and reduce waste. Instead of purchasing a plastic drip tray for potted plants, reuse plastic lids from peanut butter or mayonnaise. Often, just the right size of lid can be found for each potted plant, and most of these are dishwasher safe. Foil food trays also serve this purpose.

Plastic containers that fresh herbs are sold in make useful storage packages in the kitchen. Dried herbs and vegetables store well in these containers as long as the seal is airtight. We once bought some very nice fresh ginger in Vancouver's Chinatown and could not use it all in one recipe. Dave placed the peeled and sliced root in the herb containers covering it with red wine vinegar. Stored in the refrigerator it kept for months this way and made it easy to add fresh tasting ginger to any dish.

These are just a few ideas to demonstrate how easy it is to make a difference while saving some money. Imagine how many other small things you can do around the home or office. Once the ideas have begun to flow, they will cause a ripple effect cascading into other aspects of your life. Then, hopefully, you will think twice before throwing anything into the trash.

-- Written by Dave and Lillian Brummet based on the concept of their book, Trash Talk. The book offers useful solutions for the individual to reduce waste and better manage resources. A guide for anyone concerned about their impact on the environment. (http://www.sunshinecable.com/~drumit)


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