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Helping the environment 
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I thought we should have a thread here to share some ideas on how we can take care of God's gift of nature (little personal ways, not like sweeping political changes). Things that we ourselves can do every day.

I admit I haven't thought much about it until now. But some things that I try to do:
- leave my car running if I'm only getting out for less than 2 minutes, it uses less gas to idle for a couple minutes than it does to start the engine again.
- save recyclables and take them all to a recycling center every couple of weeks (we've been slacking on this one due to some depression and anxiety just making it hard to get motivated to go anywhere sometimes)
- this one's a bit gross for some people, but often times if i walk past litter on the ground i'll pick it up and take it to a trash can, though i'm not sure how much good that actually does since in some places that just gets dumped into a landfill anyway
- when i feel cold, bundling up with blankets or jackets instead of turning the heat on
- I never drive anywhere that i can reasonably walk to in under 20 minutes or so during the day

So what are some things that you all do? Or what are some things you'd like to do in the future to help out the environment and maybe get our climate under control too?

Note: I do admit that the president's recent decision regarding the climate was the impetus behind these thoughts about the environment and this post, that's a discussion for serious discussion and a new thread

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Thu Jun 01, 2017 8:02 pm
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Koshka wrote:
- leave my car running if I'm only getting out for less than 2 minutes, it uses less gas to idle for a couple minutes than it does to start the engine again.
I actually did not know that! See, we're learning. :D

I also make sure to never drive somewhere I can reasonably walk.

A very easy one is keep the lights off if you're not in a room. Light switches are positioned at convenient places for a reason! Leave the room, lights off. Enter the room, lights back on! Unless it's daytime and there's a window, duh.

Optimize fuel mileage in your car! Try to keep your speed as constant as you can get it, without rapid acceleration and deceleration. This also conveniently saves you money.

Get CFL (compact fluorescent light) bulbs! Those are the twisty ones. They're more environmentally friendly and they last longer than traditional light bulbs. They're a little trickier to dispose of, but they also don't need disposing of as often as other bulbs.

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Fri Jun 02, 2017 12:04 am
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Koshka wrote:
- leave my car running if I'm only getting out for less than 2 minutes, it uses less gas to idle for a couple minutes than it does to start the engine again.

I don't think that's really true or at least it might be heavily dependent on how old your car is. The manual for mine explicitly says to turn off the engine if you expect to be idling for more than 30 seconds. (I even turn off the engine at some intersections where I know the lights pattern. If the engine is warm, it doesn't take more than a few revolutions to start anyway; don't do this on a cold engine.)

In addition to this:
- slow down as much as possible without braking, just take your foot off the accelerator. Any injection-based engine (anything from at least the last 10 years or so) will just start pumping air when you do that. (Carburetor-based engines don't. They always use some gas.) On a manual, shift down once your engine RPM gets too close to idle: when it turns too slowly, the engine is fueled again to prevent it from stalling. You can feel this happening when you slow down. Don't put the transmission in neutral or depress the clutch when slowing down this way. If you do that, the engine will start idling, which does take fuel.
- keep your engine well lubricated. Check your oil level regularly (I'd say once/4mo for new cars, once/mo for old ones) and top up if it's too low (never overfill). Badly lubricated engines are noisier, use more gas and run the risk of destroying themselves. Just the yearly maintenance is not enough as I found out last year -- two weeks before maintenance I suddenly got power drops around certain RPMs when accelerating, turns out I was running the engine nearly dry; I then remembered that after maintenance, the engine had been running much smoother and more silent for years...
- run the engine in its most efficient RPM region. For cars over here, that's usually 2.5k for gasoline, 2k for diesel. In the US that might very well be different (but then again, US cars are mostly automatics and you transmission will take care of that. In that case, don't accelerate too quickly; if you do that, the transmission will switch to a lower gear so you have more power for acceleration, but a lower gear also means a higher engine RPM.)

Koshka wrote:
- this one's a bit gross for some people, but often times if i walk past litter on the ground i'll pick it up and take it to a trash can, though i'm not sure how much good that actually does since in some places that just gets dumped into a landfill anyway

At least in a landfill it's centralized, should it eventually be cleaned up.

- Our house had a rainwater tank installed (which has been mandatory in Belgium for decades, it just wasn't mandatory to do anything with that water), so we installed a pump and use that water for the toilet and laundry, saving us about 50% of our water bill. The only filtration needed is a 25 um filter to remove solid contamination. (The water inlet is attached to a floating ball, so it's just below the surface; most contamination is either at the surface or at the bottom of the tank.) When the pool water gets too dirty (just a simple kid's pool, nothing with its own filtration or chlorine decontamination), I also just pump that water into the rainwater tank.
- When we redid the roof, we had solar heating panels installed that are used for water heating and are also linked to the house heating system. It currenly only saves a couple of percent on our heating bill, but that will probably improve when we get the walls insulated.

- Probably more, but my station is coming up (ah wait, another one... I take the train to work)

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Fri Jun 02, 2017 12:51 am
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Missed Sleets post in my hurry...

Sleet wrote:
I also make sure to never drive somewhere I can reasonably walk.


Agreed, although I have found that having kids substantially reduces the definition of 'reasonably'. I just don't have the time anymore to walk much more (except to the train station, but that's time I don't have to look out for a kid or get many other things done anyway.) I'm really hoping that by the time our current car gives up, we'll have saved enough (and prices have come down far enough) to switch to electric or plug-in hybrid, depending on the available all-electric ranges.

Sleet wrote:
Get CFL (compact fluorescent light) bulbs! Those are the twisty ones. They're more environmentally friendly and they last longer than traditional light bulbs. They're a little trickier to dispose of, but they also don't need disposing of as often as other bulbs.


I'd actually suggest LEDs instead nowadays. They're about just as expensive, consume even slightly less electricity, their light quality is generally better, they last even longer and they're less fragile. I even found a set of downlighters with color 927 at IKEA of all places! (The 27 in that number means 2700 K (warm white = same light color as an incandescent bulb) and the 9 means that it reproduces over 90% of all colors faithfully, which is a very high quality of white light.) The main problem you'll find, especially with cheap LEDs and CFLs, is that their power supply burns out long before their rated lifetime, especially when they're in a drafty environment.

For cars, it also helps a lot to check your tire pressure regularly. The prescribed pressure is the best trade-off between safety and fuel usage. Check it about once a month; your tire pressure becomes lower when it's cold in winter, enough to make a measurable difference.

Another thing that seems to be a particularly hot topic in France is to reduce foods with palm oil. The palm oil industry is one of the major causes of deforestation in tropical regions. Big offenders are bread spreads (chocolate/hazelnut spreads) and vegetable deep-frying oil. There is a label for responsibly-sourced palm oil (RSPO, any organic label is probably also okay), but do note there is a subtle difference between RSPO-certified (responsibly grown) and RSPO-supporting (part of the profits are invested in responsible palm oil growing.)

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Fri Jun 02, 2017 10:52 am
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Koshka wrote:
- when i feel cold, bundling up with blankets or jackets instead of turning the heat on

This is best. =3 Nice snuggly comforters are best.


Sat Jun 03, 2017 9:53 pm
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another one i just thought of the other day, which may sound a little silly, is if you're at a restaurant, particularly fast food, only take what napkins/paper towels you actually need - I usually just get 2 and go grab more if i happen to need them. I used to get kind of vexed at people in high school who would just empty out half of the napkin dispenser, use one or two, and throw the rest in the garbage.

Also, if we're going to be gone from the apartment for a long time, we turn the thermostat way up (or way down, in winter) so that the a/c or heat isn't running constantly. you could also turn it completely off, but that might make your apartment (or home) not feel very welcoming when you come back :p

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Wed Jun 07, 2017 10:05 am
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Not using paper towels for drying your hands after washing helps too!

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Wed Jun 07, 2017 5:12 pm
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We recycle everything we're allowed to.

I also don't drive anywhere I can walk. Honestly, driving anywhere less than 2 miles away seems absurd to me, unless you're on some kind of incredible time crunch? I also try not to drive anywhere that I can ride my bike instead. For me, biking distance is anywhere within 15 miles if I have decent energy (and time). Otherwise, anything within 7 miles. Since my work is 8 miles away, I try to ride my bike there twice a week (although I haven't been recently), and either drive or take the bus on the other days.

Actually, I only drive when my mom isn't using the car and I have a reason to need the car (need to get somewhere faster, need to haul a load of groceries, etc). Otherwise, if I'm not biking, I take public transit. Although I'm considering buying one of those tiny fully electric cars (if I get a raise and can afford the payment/insurance), since public transit in my city can be really frustrating at times.

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Fri Jun 16, 2017 9:05 pm
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