Thursday, September 22, 2011

"I'm just one person. What can I do to help the environment?" Part II

A few more of our daily favorites from eco-expert Danny Seo of "Do Just One Thing!"

Did you know that the average shower gel takes up to 200 to 300 years to biodegrade once the sudsy mess has gone down your shower's drain? Wash up in the shower with truly organic body washes, shampoos and soaps. "Natural" smelling soaps and cleansers are usually made with non-organic chemical formulations and synthetic fragrances. Fortunately, some truly green skin-care companies are offering products that work great and are affordably priced. 

In the market for new sneakers? Be sure to recycle your old ones. Bring any old pair of sneakers to any Niketown store; they'll be recycled as part of their reuse-a-shoe program that grinds them down to be used in playing fields and playgrounds. Learn more at

Because of the recent reports on the dangers of non-stick cooking pans, consider choosing a long-lasting alternative: cast iron. While the actual health risks associated with cooking with non-stick pans are still being debated, why take chances? Cast iron pans are easy to cook with, durable and can be used on the stove and inside the oven. Some cast iron pans even add iron to the food cooked in the pan. Flea markets and your mother's attic may turn up a treasure trove of vintage cast iron cookware.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and....Repair? This is the fourth "R" that many of us have long forgotten. When a TV, vacuum or kitchen appliance breaks, the normal reaction is to throw it away and buy a new one. But sometimes a simple repair will fix your broken appliance and make it almost as good as new. When something breaks, look in the phone book for local businesses that can repair it. Many chain stores also have repair centers to help you with everything from computers to lamps. Repairing will also save you money: On average, fixing a broken item costs significantly less than buying it brand new.

When buying office paper for your home or office printer, think 100% post-consumer recycled paper. It's easier than ever before to find recycled paper reams at major office supply stores. This paper is made from old paper that we've put out for recycling and recycled into new paper. And if you think recycled paper means it's dark and gray, think again: The new papers are treated to look almost just as white as virgin stock. the best part? Price. recycled paper is competitively priced and sometimes less than non-recycled.

Make a healthy treat that's good for you too. Popsicle molds are readily available in the kitchen supply section of most stores. Fill the molds with fresh juice or vitamin-fortified drinks; add liquid B-12 vitamin for an extra dose of energy. insert sticks and freeze. It's good for the environment since the popsicles aren't wrapped in plastic packaging and didn't have to be shipped frozen from the manufacturer to the store to the freezer. it's good for you because it's free of excess sugar and artificial color and flavorings.

While drinking tap water is the greenest, least wasteful alternative to bottled water, many people remain skeptical. And sometimes you have the right to be. To find out exactly what's in your tap water, request a free water report from your public utility. It'll list exactly what's in your water and outline the quality of your water. Call the EPA's Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 800.426.4791 to learn more.

Did you know that we're wasting 147 million gallons of gas because of improperly sealed gas caps? It is literally evaporating away. You can help put an end to this by making sure you seal your gas cap and hear a clicking sound at least three times. This will prevent gas from literally evaporating into thin air.

Use an old toothbrush to buff your scratchy CDs with toothpaste. Be sure to use creamy paste (not gel) and rub the scratches out by running the brush from the center out, not around the CD. Be sure to clean the CD well with warm water and dry witha lint-free dish towel. Works great on DVDs too.

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