Protecting the Environment or being “Green” has become a hot topic over the last 10 years. Environmental changes, rise in air pollutants, deforestation have recent generations much more aware of our impact on the planet. Some scientists believe that changes in our environment are triggered by climate change, which is defined as a long-term change in the earth’s climate, especially a change due to an increase in the average atmospheric temperature.

While there are differing opinions on what is causing earth’s climate to change, the fact remains that humans have a tremendous effect on the health of this planet and we must all do our part to keep her safe and beautiful for generations to come. The good news is that helping the environment or being “green” is easy. By simply limiting the amount of time you or your family spend driving a car, recycling household waste, reducing the amount of electricity you consume and limiting the amount of water used, you can have a positive impact on the environment.

One of the easiest changes we can each make is to limit the amount of energy we consume. Your home’s energy is generated by one or more natural resources or fossil fuels including: coal, natural gas, water, wind power or solar power. While wind and solar power are in infinite supply, coal and natural gas are not. Nuclear energy also provides electric power to homes across the US. You can save electricity at home by eliminating what is called “phantom loads” which refers to energy that an appliance or device consumes when it’s not actually turned on. According to the US Department of energy, 75% of the electricity used in homes is consumed while products are turned off. This could include your cell phone charger, computers and televisions. To save this energy, plug the device into a power strip or simply unplug the device when it’s not in use.

You can also save electricity by shortening your shower because heating that water takes a lot of electricity. This will reduce your energy consumption and also help save valuable fresh water. If you took the clean water quiz, you know how valuable water is to those in developing countries. Did you know that by turning off your tap while brushing your teeth or shaving can save more than 200 gallons of water a month? Just like coal and natural gas, our clean water supply is not an endless resource.

Recycling household and school trash is another easy way to lessen your negative impact on the environment. With advances in recycling technology, we can recycle many everyday items like newspaper, plastic bags, printer paper, cardboard boxes, old appliances, batteries and of course glass and aluminum. Today, the average family uses 90 pounds of steel cans a year, and if all those cans were recycled, we could save 65 pounds of coal which can be used for electricity. According to DoSomething.org, recycling one aluminum can saves enough energy to listen to a full album on your iPod, while recycling 100 cans could light your bedroom for two whole weeks. So not only does recycling reduce the amount of waste in landfills, but it also helps save energy.

DoSomething.org shares these compelling statistics about waste in America:

  • The average person generates over 4 pounds of trash every day.
  • In 2009, Americans produced enough trash to circle the Earth 24 times.
  • Over 75% of waste is recyclable, but we only recycle about 30% of it.
  • Americans throw away 2.5 million plastic bottles every HOUR.
  • In 2009, Americans threw away almost 9 million tons of glass. That could fill enough tractor trailers to stretch from NYC to LA and back.

You can make a difference. Glass can be recycled an infinite number of times and never wear out while recycling a three-foot stack of newspaper can save a tree, and recycling one ton of cardboard cans save 46 gallons of oil. By recycling, reducing and reusing items we can turn the tide of waste and energy consumption in this country.

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