Ask Eartha: Resolve to reduce your eco-footprint | SummitDaily.com

Ask Eartha: Resolve to reduce your eco-footprint

Dear Eartha,

Each New Year's Eve I make a resolution to improve my health or home. For 2015 I'd like to commit to helping the environment and my community. Could you give me some tips on how to do so?

— Matt H., Frisco

In practicing a more sustainable lifestyle, you can simultaneously improve your health, home and even your community. Unlike most ill-fated New Year's resolutions, making simple adjustments in your everyday life and committing to conserving resources can ensure success for a green 2015.

You can test your showerhead’s efficiency by allowing it to run for 20 seconds. If your shower fills a 1 gallon bucket within that time, you can upgrade to a WaterSense®-labeled showerhead. The switch can save 750 gallons of water in a month.

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Simply start with your holiday items. Recycle your celebratory champagne bottles at one of the five Summit County recycling drop-off centers. Remember to keep glass out of your curbside or single-stream recycling, per the new county guidelines. Your Christmas tree can be recycled in Silverthorne, Dillon, Frisco or Breckenridge. Just be sure to remove any lights or decorations in order for the tree to be accepted.

For more information regarding recycling programs visit HighCountryConservation.org or call their office (970) 668-5703.

SAVING WATER

Think about saving water. Start with timing your shower routine and decreasing the amount of time you use running water. It also helps to turn the faucets completely off while brushing your teeth, washing your face or doing dishes. Educate your children to do the same. You can test your showerhead's efficiency by allowing it to run for 20 seconds. If your shower fills a 1 gallon bucket within that time, you can upgrade to a WaterSense®-labeled showerhead. The switch can save 750 gallons of water in a month. Finally, taking a wrench to that dripping faucet can save 140 gallons of water per week.

The kitchen is another place where water use can be improved upon. By keeping cool water in your refrigerator, you cut back on the time it takes for running water to cool down before filling your drinking glass. As for the glass, using a dishwasher saves you time and conserves water. Better yet are Energy Star dishwashing appliances. They cut back on water and electric usage. WaterUseItWisely.com provides nearly 200 water-saving tips.

SAVING ENERGY

Saving energy really is as simple as the flip of a switch. Ensure all light switches are turned off when not in use. Appliances can all be plugged into a power strip which can be switched off when they are not being used. Summit County can be brutally cold in the winter months, but this does not mean you need to run your space heater 24/7. Put heating units onto a timer to save energy, all the while preventing the potential for a house fire.

The best way to ensure that your home isn't wasting heat and electricity is to conduct an energy audit. The High Country Conservation Center can provide you with the necessary coaching and qualified contractors to perform the audit. It will also be able to inform you of any rebate plans.

KEEP IT CLEAN

Chemicals found in household cleaners, such as acetone, camphor, benzaldehyde and diethylene glycol, expose you, your family, pets and guests to harmful gases. According to a study conducted by the American Lung Association, indoor air pollution on cleaning day can be hundreds, even 1,000 times worse than outside.

When shopping for cleaning products avoid the obvious hazardous chemicals, but also steer clear of unnecessary dyes and fragrances.

One of the best products available for purchase is Summit Soap Co.'s All Purpose Cleaner. Made from essential oils and recycled materials, the molecules in the All Purpose Cleaner bond to and remove grease and grime. Also available for purchase are Eartha's own homemade all-purpose cleaners, at Eartha's Green Store located in the High Country Conservation Center office. Included with your purchase is a recipe book for homemade green cleaning products. If you are feeling ambitious, try creating your own homemade cleaners from these recipes.

MotherEarthLiving.com has countless links to homemade cleaning product recipes. I am also a huge fan of Karyn Siegele-Maier's "The Naturally Clean Home." This book includes 150 easy, green cleaning recipes.

Have fun with developing your own tricks to be green in 2015. Carpool to work or walk to the grocery store. Avoid automatic doors and elevators, intended for those with disabilities, to continue saving on energy use. Most important, commend yourself for each and every little success. This will empower you to fulfill your New Year's resolution of sustainability.

Ask Eartha Steward is written by the staff at the High Country Conservation Center, a nonprofit dedicated to resource conservation. Submit questions to Eartha at eartha@highcountryconservation.org.