Collecting rainwater is an easy way to help the environment and recycle your resources. Not only does this practice can help conserve water, but it can also save you money.
Conserving water is a goal we all should have. We know not to run our faucets for extended periods of time and to take shorter showers. But making an effort to collect and reuse rain water is an even bigger step towards environmentally sound practices.
When you capture rain water, the intent is not to drink it. Rather, you will keep on using your tap water for drinking, washing dishes, showering, and other daily activities. However, the rainwater you collect can be used for lots of other stuff. You can use it to water your plants and lawn. You can wash your car with it and fill the kiddie pool. And the best part is you won’t be using water that’s running on a meter and costing you and the city money.
There are also some indirect benefits to collecting rain water. For instance, you’ll be helping to reduce flood risk later on. If everyone captured rain water, there would be less flooding of rivers and downstream areas.
One way to capture rain water is by using stones or other ground cover that the rain can get through. Rain can’t penetrate concrete, so the water is wasted when it hits it. Rain can be used on driveways and gardens that have space for air in the material. This can be slabs of slate or gravel. While you probably can’t go breaking up the concrete around your house, you can put down mulch or stepping stones in areas that aren’t covered in concrete. This will also help cool your house. Concrete and asphalt take in the sun’s heat and absorb it. The more broken up and natural spaces you have around your home, the less air conditioning you’ll need.
However, the most common way of collecting rain water is with a rain barrel. You can set up a few barrels to collect the rain that runs off roofs or that falls directly into the bucket. Put a barrel under a downspout to harvest the water off your rooftop. If you want something a little more complicated and efficient, you could even design a cistern system that will pump the collected water to the areas of the lawn where it’s needed.
You will want to cover your collecting barrels when not in use, for several reasons. First, you want critters to stay out, and second, you want the water to remain as close to the way it was when it fell from the sky. You’ll probably need a filter or some type of net to keep out any leaves or debris that find their way in during collection. Also, the water will evaporate eventually if left uncovered.
So, is it really worth it to go to all the trouble to collect rain water? Well, it is if you think 24,000 gallons of water is substantial. That’s about how much you could collect in a year if you have an average rainfall in your area of about 20 inches each year. If you live in an even rainier climate, expect to collect more.
With all this in mind, don’t expect to collect every drop of rain that falls. You can only do so much, but every barrel does add up. If you want to be part of the solution and not part of the problem, set up a rain capturing barrel as soon as you can to start conserving water and saving money.
There are many companies who can help you grade your landscape for the best water capturing. There are also companies that will come out to install a cistern for you if you’re really serious about your collection efforts, but most people can easily configure their house’s downspouts to collect water into a rain barrel.
Online sources abound for rain barrels for the purpose of collecting rain drops. You don’t have to start from scratch. Many companies offer do-it-yourself rain barrel kits that are easy to set up.
Once you have set your system up, you’ll want to keep a close eye on it. Never let children play around or in it. Standing water can also attract bugs that you don’t want around, so be sure to keep your barrel covered with some type of screening. Empty your water at least every ten days, as that’s how long it takes mosquitoes to breed. The last thing you want is a barrel of mosquitoes.
If you don’t opt for a rain barrel, use a food safe container and not an old garbage pail for collecting your water. If you wouldn’t eat out of it, don’t use it collect the rain.
Some common sense and planning can yield rich harvests of rain that will benefit many a drought impacted area and its plant life.
Recycling is a national phenomenon that has a number of benefits. Not only does it help keep the environment clean and safe for generations to come, it also boosts the economy and keeps down the costs of creating new materials. Though recycling does require a bit of extra effort to get started, once you are in the practice of it, it hardly registers as extra effort at all.
There are several things you can do to start recycling. Try taking one step at a time, so it doesn’t feel overwhelming. The first step – reuse your plastic bags you get from grocery shopping. Instead of spending extra money to buy trash bags or kitty litter liners or new lunch bags, simply reuse clean plastic bags. Have a little box that you keep under the sink or have in a place that is handy to reach. Depending on your preferred style, you can either neatly fold the bags up, or stash them without regard to their presentation. Because they are plastic bags, it won’t matter how they look when they’re used.
Whenever you are ready to pack a lunch, grab one of these plastic bags. Need something to carry library books back in? Double-bag the book and then reuse the bags again. Need something to put trash in? You have free bags ready to be used. Don’t forget the plastic bags when it comes to packing, especially if you plan to mail something fragile. Layered, plastic bags work really well for cushioning breakable items.
The next step to take, once you’ve gotten used to reusing plastic bags, is to set aside a plastic bag to put the recyclable of your choice in. Find a spot that is easy to access but out of your way. Decide which item of recyclables you most often use. Do you have a number of aluminum cans that make their way into the trash? Do you often use plastic bottles? Give them a rinse, pop off the lid for a separate bag, then toss the recyclable items in the bag. Later, once the bag is full, you can put it out with the recyclables if your city offers that service, or deliver them to the corresponding center.
Continue to do this, and once you are comfortable with that step, add another plastic bag next to the first one and put a different type of recyclable into it. The key to making recycling worth the effort is to not try doing everything at once. Get into the routine of starting with little things, then gradually add other recyclables to the list as you become familiar with the process. This keeps it from become overwhelming and running the risk of being forgotten.
Many people wonder about the cost of recycling. In the long run, however, it is well worth both the effort and the costs. Yes, factories do use energy and pollutants occur during the recycling process. However, this is much less than if they were harvesting all new materials and had to completely start the process over every time they needed new materials. Plus, recyclables left in landfills don’t help boost the economy, whereas when recyclables are turned into new products, the processing cost is reduced and helps a company profit more. In turn, they can either lower the cost of the product, or stimulate their growth, which could result in more paid workers. The cost of recycling turns out to be negligible when compared to the good effects it can have on the economy.
In some cases, recycling companies will pay you for returning aluminum cans to them. In others, you can find uncommon recycling items that some corporations will pay you for. For example, save your printer’s ink cartridges. Places like Office Depot offer cash back rewards that can be spent later on ink and other office supplies. This sort of extra cash influx can be a useful boost when you realize you need to buy more printer paper.
Another potential income of money comes from compost. Gardeners are often looking for fresh, rich, fertile soil. If you recycle your food waste and items that are biodegradable, whether it is in the yard or in a worm bin, you may soon find that you have fresh compost to offer for sale – useful for a little extra cash.
Over all, recycling is worth the extra effort and the costs. Take it one step at a time, and you should soon have a basic process down that will help you build a little extra income, while boosting the economy and keeping the environment clean and friendly.
For just a few dollars, you can purchase a small device that will help save the environment in a big way. It’s a water-saving hose nozzle that can be purchased at any hardware or large discount store. This small nozzle has a big impact because it helps conserve water every time you use your hose. If you don’t already have one of these, you might want to look into getting one.
Every time you water your lawn or wash your car with a free flowing hose nozzle, you’re wasting gallons of precious water. In fact, you can waste upwards of 12 gallons of water each minute this way. If you live in a drought prone area where there are regulations on water use, you’ll definitely need to equip your hose with a self-closing nozzle.
A water-saving hose nozzle is designed to decrease water pressure and flow. You select how you want the water to come out of the hose, and when. Most nozzles have options ranging from a mist to a hard spray. You’ll waste less water because the flow is directed exactly where you need it, when you need it.
You want to look for a spray head that has seven spray options. This will give you the most choice in how you want to use your water. You will also want to find one that is heavy duty and has a metal body so that it won’t crack or break if dropped or stepped on. Also test out the feel of the handle. If you’ll be using it often, you’ll want one with a cushioned grip.
Other things to look for in a self-closing nozzle are rust-proof fittings and an instant on/off switch. A reliable manufacturer should offer you a long warranty. Five years of use or more should be covered.
While you are shopping for your low flow hose nozzle, why not pick up a low flow shower head at the same time? Instead of letting your shower water run free and empty down the drain, use a flow-regulated nozzle that will only pour a few gallons through every minute. You can even stop the flow entirely while you suds up and not have to remix the temperature. Just flip the switch back on and you’re back to your warm shower.
Today’s water saving shower heads come with many comfort features. You can find elegant nozzles that have massage settings from light mist to high pounding pressure. You’ll save around 40% more water than without one. That comes out to about 7,000 gallons each year! It’s worth twenty dollars to save that huge quantity of water.
Opt for a rainfall shower head and you’ll feel like you just stepped into a tropical rain forest. You don’t have to feel deprived just because you’re trying to save money and water. These luxury shower heads have a wide body and regulate the flow no matter what your water pressure is like. And you don’t even need any tools to install them.
There are so many ways inside and outside of the home for saving water and money. Look for water conservation kits. These kits include everything necessary to fit your bathroom with money saving devices. Most include a toilet tank regulator, shower head, and faucet aerator.
Kids can get in on the action as well. There are some fun products that children will love to use. If you’ve got a teen or tween who is notorious for taking long showers, hand them a shower coach devise. It functions like an hourglass, but it’s designed for the shower. Kids can turn it when they start their shower, and then know that their shower is over when the last of the sand hits bottom.
Small changes can lead to large savings. Replacing a toilet that constantly runs with a low flow toilet will save you gallons of water each day, and over the course of a year you could save upwards of 16,500 gallons.
You can also do only full loads of laundry on wash day instead of several smaller loads that waste water. Also, always be sure to match the water level knob to the level of clothing in the washer’s basin to save even more water.
Fix all leaks when you notice them. Water your yard in the morning when it’s coolest out to avoid water evaporation. Capture water that runs while you are waiting for the shower temperature to adjust. Use it to water plants. These are all great water-saving choices that will add up over time.
Teach children early that water is not an endless supply, and that they do need to use it sparingly. If each person took water conservation seriously in their home, the planet would have thousands upon thousands of extra water to use for drinking, watering plants, and many other activities. Today’s the day to get into the habit of saving water in any and every way you can.
There is much controversy surrounding vegetarianism, and many claims that vegetarianism is good for the planet may seem a little less than accurate. However, there are a few reasons that vegetarianism is good for the planet, if done correctly.
One case that can be made for vegetarianism is the amount of grain calories and water it takes to produce a pound of beef. The numbers are fairly high, showing that eating grains and plant-based products have a more efficient yield than using livestock. Perhaps more alarmingly, due to the number of companies looking to produce beef cheaply, they outsource to countries in Central America – where rainforest is burned and cleared away to make room for cattle ranches. Due to overgrazing, cattle can do a number on grazing land and the land quickly becomes infertile and unusable. Here, a vegetarian diet could be good for the planet if it prevented the deforestation of the planet. The rainforest is one of the primary places that oxygen is released back into the air, so it is an important part of the ecology.
In order to help out, though, you wouldn’t necessarily have to give up meat. Look into local farms that produce organic beef and avoid companies that outsource their beef production. This step alone could help out in reducing the amount of rainforest being cleared away, especially if many people stop buying from the companies in question.
Another way vegetarianism can be good for the planet is in regards to fish. Though there are good fishing companies who take care not to disturb the environment more than necessary, some companies still use methods of fishing that cull more than the intended species, harm wildlife, or accidently let invasive, farm-grown fish back into the wildlife. Again, questions have been raised regarding the amount of fish it takes to produce more popular fish consumed by the American market.
One of the biggest reasons vegetarianism could be good for the planet comes from the number of vegetarians who strive for food that is organic or processed very little. Together, the benefits are two-fold. Organic foods come from using natural pesticides or remedies that don’t harm the environment. Because many of the factory farms use pesticides that have chemicals in them, these chemicals can run off into nearby streams during a heavy downpour, and have the potential to damage the fish population and wildlife around the stream. Avoiding using pesticides on your garden, along with buying organic, not only supports your local market, but helps keep the environment pristine and clean as well.
Processed food requires a number of chemicals and additives whose effects on humans are little known, and also requires equipment using up precious energy and creating pollutants that go into the environment. Because organic foods tend to have little processing involved, fewer emissions are created, and they are typically healthier and more productive. With this in mind, consider that many vegetarians have gone to the vegetarian diet due to health considerations, and thus vegetarianism tends to be more oriented toward healthy, unprocessed, and organic foods.
However, vegetarianism does not always help the planet. There are many processed fake meat foods that create the same emissions that other factories do, and if the plants are not grown without pesticides or with too many antibiotics, a vegetarian diet will do little good to improve your health and make the planet a better place. Before deciding to go on a vegetarian diet, you should talk to your doctor to make sure that you are taking the right steps towards getting all the necessary nutrients your body needs. Your doctor may also be able to recommend meal plans that will help you start out on the new diet.
If you are considering becoming a vegetarian, look around for local health food stores that may offer alternative diets and ingredients not regularly available in the grocery store but commonly called for in the vegetarian’s cook book. Also check with your local farmer’s market of small town delis to see where they get organic foods. Be sure that the production actually is organic, as some supplies that are considered organic also have a number of processed chemicals in them. With a little bit of searching you should be able to find the necessary ingredients to start a vegetarian lifestyle.
It does take a bit of research to be sure that everything is correctly in place, but with a little bit of work, your choice of vegetarianism may be able to help out the planet and its environment, along with improving your health.
Everyone loves to get new things once in a while. The latest DVD or Xbox game is really a treat. Even visiting the home store is a really tempting trip. Who wouldn’t like a brand new lawn mower? It’s only natural that in a money-driven culture, people want to have the latest products that hit the shelves. But think about this….you could be saving thousands upon thousands of dollars and doing the environment a favor by borrowing the items you want and need instead of buying them new.
Sure, there are some things you can’t borrow. For some items it’s necessary to buy new. But for everything else, consider bartering or borrowing from friends and neighbors. Here are a few items that can easily be borrowed or traded:
- Video Games: Kids’ interests change all the time. One day Scooby Doo is the greatest dog ever and the next day he’s forgotten. Instead of buying the newest video game titles when they hit the market (for an outrageously high price), swap with a friend’s kids. Your child may want Kirby’s Epic Yarn for Wii and your neighbor’s son may want Toy Story 3. Swap games for a week or two. When the kids tire of playing them, return them and swap for another game. You might even make a fun party of it. Invite some of the neighbors over and have everyone bring a few games they want to swap. Label each one with your name in permanent marker so that they can be returned to the rightful owner. Label the box and the game so there’s no question of who the owner is. You’ll save hundreds of dollars over the years by not racing out to buy the new games, and you’ll also be reducing waste and materials usage.
- Lawn Equipment: Instead of investing thousands in a ride-on mower, can you borrow an older model from a neighbor, family member, or friend? If you have a small yard, you may find that you only need it every once in a while and not for that long. You may even be able to find that someone is willing to donate a mower that’s barely used to you in return for something you have. Or you can barter; if they let you borrow the mower, you’ll cut their grass too so they don’t have to. Or perhaps you might borrow some other lawn tools, like a weed whacker or a chain saw, in exchange for your teen babysitting your neighbor’s kids. It doesn’t hurt to ask. And you’ve kept a few thousand dollars in the bank by not buying equipment new every time you need it.
- Kid’s Toys: Kids outgrow their toys so fast that it makes sense to borrow and trade with the neighbors or your playgroup. Ask around to see if other moms are willing to trade toddler toys for an infant bouncy seat. Or see if they have older kids’ toys that you can borrow while you lend them soccer or hockey equipment. It’s a good idea to ask because people’s garages are packed full with items they are not using at the moment and may have even forgotten they had. Organize a swap day similar to a garage sale.
- Ask people to come and bring things they want to swap for ones you have. Everyone should label their items and put them out on view. Everyone can take the amount of items they need as long as they have brought items for swapping. One good way to do it is to print out some rules. Type them on your computer and include terms like, “When you’re done with the item, please return it to the owner,” or “Donate your item to charity when you’re done with it.” See what everyone agrees to. Most people are happy to see their unused items go to a good home and don’t want the clutter back in their home. You may start an annual swap day as a tradition in your neighborhood
- Handbags: Ladies who love handbags know how expensive they can be. Instead of feeling deprived because you’re on a budget, borrow handbags from your mom, sisters, and friends. Have a swap session where you all bring the handbags you’re not using and then swap them out for a new-to-you bag. It doesn’t have to be brand new to be exciting. Just being new-to-you makes it fun. And everyone else will feel like they got a new addition to their wardrobe too. If you and your friends have a lot of designer bags that are more upscale, be sure you’re writing down who took each bag. Reconvene monthly to swap back or pick new ones. Be sure that you give a list of who has each bag to all participants. On the off chance someone left a credit card or important paper in one of her bags, she will know where to go to get it back.
- Dressy Clothes: Most people wear their fanciest clothes once in a year, like on New Year’s Eve, for example. There isn’t much call in everyday life for a sequin ball gown. If you find yourself in need of fancy attire and have nothing in your closet, try a consignment or resale shop. You can often rent or borrow a gown for the night and return it when you are done. Many bridal shops also rent out gowns for one time use. If men can rent tuxedos, why can’t women rent dresses?
Borrowing or swapping items is a great way to get the things you need without having to spend a lot of money, and it can be a lot of fun too. It’s also a great eco-friendly practice because you’re reducing the demand for items, and thereby reducing packaging materials, shipping emissions, and waste of unwanted items.