There are many simple steps that each of us can take as individuals or families to reduce our impact upon the environment. If every Southfield resident followed each of the 12 suggestions below, we would be on our way to a cleaner, greener community and a healthier planet.
12 Way to Help the Environment
1. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Compost
Reusing packaging material saves more energy than recycling. By avoiding extra packaging, you save both energy and landfill space. Yard and kitchen waste (leaves/grass/vegetable scraps) are 30 percent of trash. Reduce this amount by composting. Recycling a stack of newspapers only four feet high will save a good-sized tree. Buy recycled products when and where possible. Also be sure to re-use plastic bags, or better yet... refuse them! Purchase and use a reusable shopping bag and you can eliminate thousands of needless plastic and paper bags. You can even buy one from the City’s Neighborhood & Information Center for just $3! For more information, call the Neighborhood Center at (248) 796-5140.
2. Replace Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs with LED Bulbs
In the past compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) were the best alternative to incandescent bulbs. Now, LEDs are the most energy efficient lighting option. Although LEDs typically cost more than CFLs, the average LED will last as long as 25,000 hours compared to an equivalent CFL that lasts only 8,000 hours. Residential LEDs, especially those certified by ENERGY STAR, use more than 75% less energy and last 25 times longer than incandescent light bulbs.
In addition, ENERGY STAR qualified LED bulbs:
- Use 70-90% less energy than incandescent bulbs.
- Last at least 15 times longer and saves about $55 in electricity over its lifetime.
- Produce 70-90% less heat.
Each switch you make helps clean the air today, curb global warming, and saves you money on your electricity bill. Visit ENERGY STAR for more information.
3. Commute Smarter: Bike, Use Public Transit, Carpool to Work, Drive Slower, Keep Your Tires Inflated
One-third of all traffic is commuters. Use alternative transportation when and where possible. If you must drive, go slower with proper tire inflation. It saves both fuel and tires, and lowers emissions. It also saves lives.
4. Conserve Energy: Lower Your Thermostat in the Winter, Raise it in the Summer
Saving energy at home is good for the environment and for your wallet. Start with caulking and weather-stripping on doorways and windows. Then adjust your thermostat and start saving. For each degree you lower your thermostat in the winter, you can cut your energy bills by three percent. Wearing a sweater in the winter and short sleeves in the summer also saves energy and reduces pollution. Finally, ask your utility company to do a free energy audit of your home to show you how to save even more money.
5. Support Clean, Renewable Energy
Renewable energy solutions, such as wind and solar power, can reduce our reliance on coal-burning power plants, the largest source of global warming pollution in the United States. Call your local utility and sign up for renewable energy. A few dollars a month can mean the difference between power made from dirty coal or power made from carbon-free wind turbines. Visit DTE MiGreenPower to learn more about what you can do to help.
6. Conserve Water
Install low-flow showerheads and faucets and you’ll use half the water without decreasing performance. Then turn your hot water heater down to 120°F and see hot-water costs go down by as much as 50 percent! Let your grass grow longer, and never water your lawn at midday. Also, plant native or drought-tolerant garden plants and landscaping.
7. Don’t Use Pesticides/Herbicides on Your Lawn
Along with nitrogen fertilizer runoff, these are major water pollutants.
8. Buy Local and Organic
Did you know the average American meal travels more than 1,500 miles from the farm to your plate? Think of all the energy wasted and pollution added to the atmosphere—not to mention all the pesticides and chemicals used to grow most produce! Visit the local Lathrup Village Farmers Market this summer to get your fruits and veggies. For more information, visit the Lathrup Village Farmers Market website or call Lathrup Village at (248) 557-2600 ext. 224.
9. Dispose of Old Paint, Chemicals, and Oil Properly
Don’t put batteries, antifreeze, paint, motor oil, or chemicals in the trash. Household Hazardous Waste Day is your annual opportunity to discard household hazardous waste materials at the Resource Recovery and Recycling Authority of Southwest Oakland County (RRRASOC) Recycling Center.
The next Household Hazardous Waste Day event will be held on Saturday, October 29 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the RRRASOC Center located at 20000 W. 8 Mile Road (please enter from Mapleridge, one block east of Evergreen Road). For more information, visit the Resource Recovery and Recycling Authority of Southwest Oakland County (RRRASOC) at www.rrrasoc.org or call (248) 208-2270.
10. Buy Energy-Efficient Electronics and Appliances
Replacing an old refrigerator or an air conditioner with an energy-efficient model will save you money on your electricity bill and cut global warming pollution. Look for the Energy Star label on new appliances or visit their website to find the most energy-efficient products.
11. Volunteer/Lobby for the Environment
Mount a local campaign against global warming. Work locally and globally to save natural places, reduce urban sprawl, lower pollution and prevent the destruction of wilderness areas for timber and oil. Educate your friends and neighbors about how they can cut global warming pollution.
12. Plant a Tree with a Child
Protecting forests is a big step on the road to curbing global warming. Trees "breathe in" carbon dioxide, but slash-and-burn farming practices, intensive livestock production, and logging have destroyed 90 percent of the native forests in the United States. And you can take action in your own backyard—planting shade trees around your house will absorb CO2, and slash your summer air-conditioning bills. Teaching our children to love and care for the planet is the most important thing we can do to insure the future of humankind.