Thursday, January 12, 2012

Be An Environmental Steward - 10 Small Ways

By Lynn Morris, Director of Communications for ASID
Entirely Design, Allied Member ASID

As we all know, being environmentally conscious is a MUST not a trend. With dwindling resources, overburdened landfills, a growing population, and energy and toxicity concerns, it's imperative that everyone do their part to help. Here are 10 simple ways for each one of us to be environmental stewards this year:

1) Shop locally. Food ingredients will be fresher and material costs often lower when fuel costs to transport products long distances are eliminated. There are some fabulous San Diego area Farmers Markets. They are competitive in cost to large supermarket chains and the produce quality is far better. Check out this link for one near you:

2) Turn off lights when you leave a room. Children are easy to teach but we often miss the opportunity. Closets are an oft-forgotten room. If remembering is a challenge, an easy solution is to install an occupancy or vacancy sensor in place of a switch. You can do it yourself by purchasing at a hardware store and the $20-40 cost pays for itself in just a few months.

3) Ride a bike. When you can, take a bike to run errands. An added benefit is the exercise you get and the fitness you attain. Instead of a drive to the park or beach, take a bike ride and a fun tour of your local area.

4) Share rides. Is there someone you and your family can carpool with? Can you take trips to showrooms with a colleague? It's not hard to find someone to shop with!

5) Turn down the thermostat. Rather than heat your home to a toasty 72 degrees in the winter, put on a sweater and turn it down to a cozy 68 degrees. Save even more - up to 15% of your bill - by turning it down another 5-10 degrees while you sleep. An automatic thermostat can be programmed so you don't have to adjust it manually. You can acclimate yourself to a lower temperature by lowering your thermostat one degree per day. When you come in from the cold, 68 will be toasty and warm.

6) Maintain your tire pressure. Keeping the correct tire inflation pressure helps optimize tire performance and fuel economy. Correct tire inflation pressure allows you to experience tire comfort, durability and performance designed to match the needs of your vehicle(s). You can get your air tested for free at most tire centers; I use Discount Tire and they’re friendly and fast!

7) Recycle more. Don't empty your car into the garbage can in a parking lot. Take those bottles and bags to a grocery store for recycling if you don't have community centers or home pick-up. More importantly, consider everything you purchase and how it's packaged, opting to recycle packages you must buy, and change products whose packaging is excessive.

8) Insulate your home. Whether you are trying to keep your home cool or warm, ensuring a good seal around windows and doors is key. Check air flow from receptacles and switches as well; there are inexpensive gaskets at hardware stores that fix them quickly. Be sure your dryer vents, chimneys, and other access points are also insulated. How about a blanket on your hot water heater and hot water pipes? It will keep the water hot longer, and save money on re-heating.

9) Use energy efficient bulbs. Compact fluorescent bulbs save over 50% of the energy used by incandescent bulbs. With better lighting, dimmability, recycling ability (Home Depot), and energy savings, what's not to love? SDG&E offers instant rebates to purchase at Dixieline so the cost per bulb is about $0.50. With nearly three times the life of incandescent bulbs, that's more than double the savings.

10) Compost. Whether you have a large yard or a small one, placing yard waste into a compost bin is easy and the space required for a small bin is about 24” in diameter. The resulting mixture will provide fabulous fertilizer for your pots and garden; mine does! There are many companies that sell compost bins, or you can make your own. Indoor composting is now easy, small scale and attractive. Check out the available products on-line when you Google “kitchen composting”. While not advocating a specific product, has a variety of kitchen composting pots that are very nice and competitively priced.

Lynn Morris is the principal designer for A Touch of Tradition Home & Garden Shop, a full service design studio & furnishings, lighting & accessory shop.   From fabrics, window coverings, ready-made and custom furnishings, to fabulous lighting and accessories, TOT-HOME offers something for every style of decor.  Lynn creates stylish interiors with enduring appeal and loves to incorporate classic, sustainable and luxurious details. Please visit her at: