How You Can Help Earth
BOSTON — ANOTHER workday dawns in the United States. Your alarm clock gently jolts you into semiconsciousness at 6:30 a.m. You turn off your electric blanket, notch up the thermostat and switch on the television. After a long toothbrushing ritual, you step into a shower and for the next 12 minutes wake up to a heavy stream of hot water.
You get dressed, eat a quick breakfast, and about five minutes before you're ready to drive yourself to work you go outside and start your car. You then return to the house, put on your lightweight raincoat, turn off the TV, and head back outside to your rapidly idling car. Then it's off to work where you drink coffee from a a foam-cup.
The workday has begun - and according to environmental and energy experts, so has another day of habits that harm the Earth.
Now let's begin the day in an environmentally responsible way. When your rechargeable battery-powered alarm clock rings, you throw off your wool blankets or down comforter. Instead of turning up the thermostat, you leave it at its 60-degree nighttime setting and turn on the ceiling electric heater in your bathroom.
As you brush your teeth, you are careful to not let the water continuously run, even though a low-flow aerator attached to the faucet reduces water use by 50 percent. During your five-minute shower, the low-flow shower head reduces water flow by 50 percent or more.
Once you're out of the shower you turn on the television and the space heater in your bedroom as you get dressed. Before putting on your hat, gloves, and heavy overcoat you make sure the TV and all lights and room heaters are turned off.
You go outside, get into your car, let the engine idle for no more than 15 seconds, then drive slowly for the next few minutes as the car warms up en route to picking up two carpoolers. Once at work you take out your ceramic mug, get some coffee, and begin to work.
There you have it - a few steps we all can take that will help restore and save our environment. But let's not stop there. Environmental experts say the planet's health is at a turning point, and that the next 10 to 20 years likely will be crucial. A turnaround requires that people of all ages change their lifestyles.
The following are simple measures these experts recommend to help save our global environment:
Buy food in bulk when possible.
Shop at ``farmers' markets.''
Avoid disposable foam products - from cups for beverages to boxes for eggs.
Avoid aerosol sprays (bug sprays, room fresheners, deodorants, paints, etc.). These can release hydrocarbons into the air.
Use paper, not plastic bags. Better still, use cloth tote or net bags.
Don't buy ivory. Don't buy tortoise shell, coral, reptile skins, big-cat pelts, or other products from endangered animals.
Choose clothes that don't need to be dry cleaned. The dry-cleaning process uses toxic solvents.
Buy natural-fiber fabrics. Permanent-press clothes and no-iron bed linens often are treated with formaldehyde resin that can cause toxic fumes.
Avoid pet flea collars. Manufacturing and disposing of these products can threaten the environment and, medical authorities say, can create health risks to humans and pets. Instead, Use citrus-oil sprays.
If you have a baby, use cloth diapers rather than disposable ones.
When shopping for a car or major appliances, look for energy-efficient models.
Shop by phone or mail - not car - when possible.
Make sure your car's tires are properly inflated, balanced, and (every 6,000 to 8,000 miles) rotated.
Keep your freezer between 0 and 5 degrees, and your refrigerator between 38 and 42 degrees.
Keep your car tuned up to get better gas mileage.
Turn your water heater down to 130 degrees. Insulate it with a pre-fab ``blanket.''
Use convection and microwave ovens and pressure cookers.
Run dishwashers only when full.
Ask your local utility to perform an ``energy audit'' of your home.
Drive less. This decreases air pollution and saves energy.
Switch from incandescent to fluorescent or compact fluorescent light bulbs. These burn 10 times longer and use one-fourth the energy.
In winter, turn down the thermostat by two degrees to conserve energy. In summer, use fans and set air conditioners two degrees higher.
Use rechargable batteries - they outlast disposable batteries and reduce waste.
Use public transportation.
Place a plastic bottle in your toilet tank to reduce the amount of water used, or replace it with an ``ultra low-flush toilet.''
Grow drought-resistant plants in your garden. Low-water plants include jasmine, bougainvillea, wisteria, sweet alyssum, and daffodils.
Set your lawn-mower blade 2 to 3 inches high, and either let the grass clippings lie or put them in a compost pile.
Use latex instead of oil-based paint.
Compost your garbage.
If you must water your lawn, do it in the morning to minimize evaporation.
When washing your car, use a hose with a shut-off nozzle to save water.
Wash clothes in cold water, and hang them up to dry when possible.
Wipe up spills with a sponge or rag instead of paper towels.
Recycle newspapers, glass, aluminum, etc. - both at work and at home.
Buy reusable rather than disposable items - use one good quality, long-lasting pen or razor rather than a dozen throw-away items.
Buy biodegradable, no- or low-phosphate cleaning products. Eat organic foods produced without pesticides.
Reduce the junk mail you get by writing to: Mail Preference Service, Direct Marketing Association, 6 E. 43rd St., New York, NY 10017.