– Lifestyle – Pine Bluff Commercial
• With the holiday season around the corner, many of us will be out looking for the perfect gift or shopping online to save time. The good news is that online shopping does have a smaller carbon footprint than driving to a store. But shipping can negate those environmental savings. First, avoid the fastest shipping option; overnight shipping results in much higher greenhouse gas emissions than ground shipping. And don’t buy things with an “if I don’t like it, I’ll just return it” mindset. Buying carefully and responsibly, making sure that what you order is what you really need, can have a big impact.
• We have all heard that reducing our meat intake can have a profound impact on greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, according to Conservation International, our global food system contributes nearly 1/4 of those emissions. While a vegetarian diet is the greenest, it’s not the only choice. To reduce global warming, keep these numbers in mind: A 6-oz serving of beef equates to 330 grams of CO2. Compare that to chicken (50 grams), fish (40 grams) and vegetables, which come in at just 14 grams. Switching from beef to chicken or fish is one easy way to help reduce emissions.
• Moving from one home to another — packing, purging and unloading — can generate a lot of waste. One simple way to green your move is to invest in reusable (and rentable) storage containers that you can fill up, move and return to the moving company. Also, instead of using copious amounts of plastic cushioning material, gather all of your kitchen and bath towels and blankets and use them to wrap fragile items. And recycle everything you can: Rinse out old bottles in the fridge, tear down cardboard boxes and donate unwanted clothes and housewares to charity.
• While buying lightly used items from a thrift store or online is a smart way to save money and reduce waste, there are some things you should never buy used. Avoid used cribs, especially those made before June 2011. Safety standards changed significantly after June 2011, including new regulations on things like the height of the crib, the slat width and even how the mattress fits. These standards were changed to make cribs safer for the baby. When in doubt, don’t buy it. And don’t donate a crib if you know it predates those changes.
• If you want total assurance that the vintage blanket, T-shirt or fabric you bought is really sanitary, skip washing it and put it straight into the dryer. Mist your thrift store finds with a little water, then run everything on high heat for 30 minutes. This will destroy any bedbugs and bacteria, and it will help deodorize the items, too. If they are machine washable, wash them in warm water with detergent and dry with high heat. If the items came boxed or bagged, be sure to toss those packaging materials into the trash right away.
• Another reason to eat fresh fruit whenever possible: The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) actually allows mold in frozen and canned fruit. The FDA calls the accepted levels “food defects” that are allowed in the processing of fruit because they believe these pose no health hazards to humans. This includes up to 60% mold count on canned or frozen berries, 45% mold count on frozen whole or sliced strawberries and 20% mold in canned pineapple. By eating in-season and fresh, you can know exactly what you’re eating and whether it’s 100% mold-free or not.
• If you have screens for your windows and think it’s time to take them down in preparation for the winter months, you might want to keep them up a little longer. One of the easiest ways to prevent insects from coming into your home as they seek warmer places to avoid the cold outside is by leaving window screens in place a little longer. A screen on your window provides an extra barrier that can keep pests outdoors. After the first few frosts, you can take out the screens and store them until the warmer months.
Danny Seo is an environmental lifestyle expert. His creative ideas have made him America’s leading authority on modern, eco-friendly living.