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Earth Day 2008 - The 3 R's

The 1st R is to Reduce. Reduce the Energy, Water, and Consumer Packaging that you use.

Conserving Energy
Perform a simple energy audit of your home. Ask your parents to let you look at the latest utility/energy bill and ask them to help you read it. Write down the total amount of energy used (kilowatt hours or kWh) on this bill, then think about what you currently do as a family to reduce energy in your home.
Next, see if the simple tips below help make the next full-month’s bill lower.* Because we get most of our energy from fossil fuels and not renewable energy, these energy reduction tips also help lower your carbon footprint.
Turn off any lights that are not in use (especially in a room you are not in).
If you leave a room, turn out the light.
Turn off/unplug any standby power items (especially your computer, television and stereo) when not in use (even standby power uses energy).
Other appliances, such as cell phone chargers, use energy when plugged in regardless of whether they are charging something.
Replace at least one standard light bulb with a compact fluorescent lightbulb (CFL). CFLs use 60 percent less energy than a regular bulb.
Keep the refrigerator door closed (Decide what to eat; decide before opening the door and shut it promptly after retrieving your items).
Keep the thermostat constant at 78 degrees or higher in summer and 68 degrees or lower in winter.
Wash your laundry in cold water.
*Many local utility/energy companies will perform a free, whole-house energy audit, and this may also be a fun project to do as a family to help see further ways you can further reduce energy waste from your home.

Water Savings

As with your family’s electric bill, you can check how many gallons of water you use and see if you can reduce this amount with these simple tips:
Take shorter showers (each minute uses approximately four gallons of water). Shorter showers also save energy because you heat less water.
Turn off the water when brushing your teeth or washing your hands (until ready to rinse). Again, this saves four gallons of water per minute.
Only run the clothes washer and dishwasher with full loads (saves up to .1,000 gallons a month).
Let your parents know about leaky faucets right away so it they can be repaired.
Fixing a leak can save up to 500 gallons a month.
Use a low-flow showerhead.

Consumer Packaging:
Consumer product packaging accounts for about 15 percent of what's discarded. When you purchase a frozen dinner, you are paying for not only the meal but for the outer paperboard box, the plastic or foil tray that holds the meal, and the covering over the food.
You pay again for packaging, directly or indirectly, when your garbage is picked up and disposed of in a landfill or incinerator. Some communities are moving toward "pay-as-you-throw" fees for every bag put out at the curb, so it makes sense to reduce household waste. Composting, recycling, and reusing items all help. And by shopping carefully you can reduce excess packaging that you would throw away.
When practical, buy in bulk. Large families or high product consumption levels support buying in bulk when practical. Products packaged in bulk produce less packaging waste. For example, 48 ounces of applesauce can be purchased in a large glass jar. Or, you can buy individual four-ounce containers packaged in plastic cups with foil lids that come in packages of six. You pay nearly twice the price for the same weight when you buy the individually wrapped product. However, a single person household may have less spoiled food when food purchases are in single-serve packages. Your needs and lifestyle dictate the choice -- your choice.
Choose reusable or recyclable packages. Be familiar with your community's recycling program, and pick products with containers that can be recycled. Let's consider coffee as an example. If you buy 13 ounces of coffee in a metal can, you can recycle the container and possibly the plastic lid. Or, you can buy about 7 ounces of coffee individually wrapped in a disposable coffee filter, which is then packed inside another container. Even if you include the cost of filters with the cost of coffee in the metal can, you are paying about 70 percent more for the single-serve coffee packages. Some may be willing to pay more for convenience or may prefer the product quality found in one package form over another. Again, your knowledgeable choice should guide your purchase decisions.
Avoid excessive packaging. You can pay up to 45 percent more when you buy a product, like fruit or vegetables, that has already been cut up, packaged on a plastic tray, and then shrink-wrapped. Buying the whole fruit or vegetable is cheaper, and you come home with less packaging to throw away.
Pay for the product, not the package. A conventional tube of toothpaste produces about 70 percent less waste by volume, and about 60 percent less waste by weight, than a pump-type toothpaste container. The cost is about the same for both products, but you get nearly 2 ounces more toothpaste in the conventional tube compared to the pump. In the case of the pump, you pay extra for a more attractive container and more convenient or cleaner dispensing of the product.
Instead of "paper or plastic," use a canvas shopping tote or string bag. Or, if you've been saving bags, bring your own to the store, including the small plastic ones you can use for loose produce. Don't forget to bring back extra paper and plastic bags to your supermarket. Many stores will recycle both the plastic and paper bags that are returned by customers. Or use the plastic and paper bags at home; don't just throw them away.

Planet Pals Activity
Earth Day Activity Book

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