Ways You Can Help to Keep Delaware’s Environment Healthy: Part One

CONSERVING ENERGY AND NATURAL RESOURCES 

We all know the obvious ways that we can help the environment by changing our habits. And these days, with energy prices increasing dramatically, we all want to save ourselves money while we are at it. 

But it’s often the little changes that can really make a difference and add up over time. 

In an Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) course about our state’s natural resources, Joe Sebastiani of Delaware Nature Society leads group discussions and presentations once a week. Iin a recent class which happened to coincide with Earth Day, the focus was both local and global. 

Break out groups of about four or five discussed ways that we as individuals contribute to conservation, then presented our tips to the class. The obvious ones topped the list, but there were plenty of interesting “tricks” that came to light. Here are just a few discussed. 

PLASTIC REDUCTION 

  • Always bring reusable bags to the grocery (and any other) store, and if forgotten, ask for recyclable paper bags. 
  • Use recyclable bamboo toothbrushes 
  • Use shampoo bars instead of bottled 
  • No disposable razors 
  • Glass jars instead of plastic bags for pantry storage and leftovers 
  • Use wax paper or reusable beeswax wraps instead of foil and plastic wrap 
  • Bring your own insulated coffee container or water bottle with you 
  • Purchase food products that are in recyclable paper containers 
  • Bring your own “Bento Box” to the restaurant instead of using the restaurant’s plastic or Styrofoam to go containers 
  • Make your own daily household cleaner in a reusable spray container: 1 p vinegar to 3 p water plus drop of bleach (optional) 
  • Or, try powdered cleaners diluted in a recyclable spray bottle 

WATER  

  • Use low flow showers and shorten length of shower 
  • Set up a rain barrel in your yard and use water for plants and cleaning your car or pet (also helps to control flood flow!) 
  • Low flow toilets 
  • High Efficiency washing machines (HE) 
  • Convert to tankless water heaters (water heated on demand only) 
  • Check plumbing fixtures regularly to find any leaks 
  • Use dishwasher instead of hand washing when possible (uses significantly less!) 
  • Use ecocycle setting on dishwasher 

ENERGY 

  • Unplug electronic devices when not in use or when traveling 
  • Clean refrigerator coils and dryer vents regularly 
  • Consolidate shopping trips 
  • Use rags instead of paper towels 
  • Walk or bike wherever possible 
  • Adjust thermostats in the evening and when traveling 
  • Avoid idling in car and avoid quick acceleration or braking 
  • A/C on highways actually saves on gas instead of open windows and reduces drag 
  • Reduce cargo, use cruise control and keep tires inflated 
  • Use solar panels, outdoor lighting 
  • Install geothermal heating/cooling 
  • Plant shade trees in strategic places for summer cooling 

LAUNDRY 

  • Use biodegradable detergent pods instead of plastic or boxed powder 
  • Use wool dryer balls instead of fabric softener sheets 
  • Do laundry at night when demand on the grid is lower 
  • Line dry or use clothesline when possible 

Some of these suggestions involve significant construction costs (solar panels or geothermal), but most are simple. Give it a try! 

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