BY TERRI BENNETT
Lots of us so-called "greenies" have a few skeletons in the closet. I'm not talking about things that would have the police racing to our door, I'm talking about things that would make a few environmentalists shake their heads with disappointment. I'm exposing a few of these secrets (and sharing one of my own!) in the hopes that we can all do a bit better. Do Your Part and reveal your eco-secrets and then pledge to tread a little lighter on our planet.
Are you a recycler only when it's convenient?
Lots of us are rightfully proud of our recycling records. We know which yogurt containers, cereal boxes, magazines, and more can go right into the recycling bin. However, does everything that could be recycled from our homes end up in the recycling bin? Probably not. That's because items from rooms farthest away from our recycling bin usually get trashed. Think about those shampoo bottles, shaving cream containers, and all that packaging material from personal care products. So what's the solution? Placing small containers in the bathroom to collect these recyclable items. That way, the only time you have to go all the way to the big recycling bin is when the little one is full.
Are high-tech gadgets your weakness?
Okay, okay – I admit it. I am a gadget junkie. I can't seem to help myself from getting the latest phone, tablet, or laptop despite the fact that my older one works perfectly well. So what happens when millions of people around the world do the same thing? It's what we're seeing right now – the huge rise in the amount of e-waste. Electronic waste is downright dangerous because of the toxic components in most of them that can seep into our environment when they are dumped in a landfill. The best bet is to use our gadgets for a whole lot longer. It saves money and resources. Once you do upgrade, be responsible with your old device. To find out information on responsible e-waste recyclers that may even pay for your gadget, go to DoYourPart.com/Columns.
Are you still buying bottled water?
A lot of money and a whole lot of plastic are wasted from those "convenient" bottles of water. They're everywhere – in school lunches, outdoor events, work meetings, and ultimately in the trash or recycling bin. The thing is, there are very few times when they are a necessity. So what can you do? Invest in a few reusable water bottles for every member of the family. If you're worried about what's in the tap water you're using, get a water filter. You'll be surprised at the money you'll save when you break the bottled water habit.
Are you a purchaser of paper towels?
Do you have paper towels stashed around your house? Are you like so many others and addicted to these one-use items? Take it from me – you can live without them. The benefits are big. For one, you'll be saving money. And, you'll be saving a whole lot of energy and generating less pollution. A more economical solution is to keep dishcloths, rags, and other towels in a convenient kitchen drawer. It's much more cost-effective and resource-effective to launder them than it is to throw away a paper towel after every use.
(Terri Bennett is a veteran TV meteorologist, syndicated columnist, and host of DoYourPart.com where you can find everyday green living ideas that are better for you and the planet. Send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.)