Add it up: What living green saved us in 2007

Putting effort into conserving makes a BIG difference. Here’s how things added up for our family of three from our biggest ways of living green in 2007:

  1. Hung laundry out to dry, spring through fall (October/November). In seven months, about 140 loads of laundry (conservatively) saved $69 and 630,000 watts of electricity.
  2. Composted all vegetable waste. Two to three half-gallon(ish) bins move out of our kitchen every week, turning about 130 pounds of stink-producing waste into fertilizer.
  3. Brought my own shopping bags to all the stores where I shopped. At a per-month average savings of 43.6 plastic bags, I refused approximately 523 bags in one year.
  4. Switched just about all our light bulbs to CFLs — 23 light bulbs. If we save an average of 46 watts per hour (replacing a 60-watt bulb with a 14-watt bulb), and use the average bulb just 1 hour per day, we’ll save 386,170 watts and $41 in a year.
  5. Lowered the thermostat at night (to 55 degrees, then a compromise at 58 degrees). Our gas company claims lowering the thermostat by one degree saves 1% on your bill, which would come to 2% off our bill (our new “low” is 2 degrees lower than previously), or $2.40 a month. I don’t know if that’s correct, but our last 2007 gas bill was 8% lower than our last 2006 gas bill.
  6. Donated 26 bags of goods (375 pounds) to charity for re-use, Freecycled 184 pounds and sold 150 pounds (last half of 2007 only) — 709 pounds of items that might go into the landfill from some homes.
  7. Recycled our paper, plastic, glass and cardboard in city bins — a total of about 21 large carts full, or at least 315 pounds (15 pounds per full cart).
  8. Switched to natural cleaning products – especially baking soda.
  9. Saved water by flushing less and catching “warm-up” water to re-use for watering plants, cooking pasta, the dog’s bowl, etc.
  10. Recycled plastic bags we do receive.
  11. Recycled shipping materials (packing peanuts, etc.) by taking them to our local shipping store for re-use (two huge garbage bags full).

You don’t have to get all obsessive with a spreadsheet like I do. But this week, take a look at your own house and think about how the little things add up.

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