Living Green Tips -“Green Bites”

Check out these tips that may be very helpful to contribute towards a more sustainable world.

  • When cleaning out your office, keep in mind that Island Recycling accepts Televisions/Monitors/Computer towers (“cpu’s”) and Lap-top computers free of charge as a part of the E-Cycle Washington Program. Do your part for your environment and save money by keeping reusable and recyclable items out of the landfills.
  • Use non-toxic cleaning solutions whenever possible. Non-toxic cleaners are available at almost all of Whidbey’s grocery stores. You can also search online for easy ways to make your own non-toxic cleaners.
  • Reducing fax-related paper waste by using a fax-modem and by using a fax cover sheet only when necessary. Fax-modems allow documents to be sent directly from a computer, without requiring a printed hard copy.

Make sure your faucet has an aerator. Aerators reduce water flow by 25% while producing a water stream that is every bit as good for washing dishes, hand, or fruits and vegetablesScreensavers

  • rs generally do not save energy. In fact, certain graphics-intensive screen savers can cause the computer to burn twice as much energy, and may actually prevent a computer from entering sleep mode.
  • Plants can serve as natural air filters. They improve indoor air quality by removing pollutants such as formaldehyde (which is found in carpeting, upholstery, particle board and electronics). Some plants that work well in an office environment include: Boston Fern, Dracaena, English Ivy, Peace Lilly, Philodendron, Snake Plants and Spider Plants.
  • Turn off your engine when you stop for a minute or two. It is a myth that it’s more fuel efficient to leave your engine running for a few minutes rather than turn it off and restart it.

  • Nickle-metal hydride (Ni-MH) batteries and Lithium Ion (Li-Ion) rechargeable batteries are the most highly recommended, longest lasting batteries you can buy.
  • Don’t just throw it away! Unwanted household and office items- furniture, books, appliances, office supplies, electronics and more can be donated to help your local environment and the local community.  Donations made to local second-hand stores support local non-profits in your community and help the environment by reducing waste. Donations are tax-deductibleDonate to a local thrift store:
    o    Oak Harbor:   My Father’s House,  The Feather Duster,  Island Thrift,  Oak Harbor Thrift Store,  The Raven’s Nest Second Hand Treasure,  Rings and Things
    o   Coupeville:  New Beginnings
    o   Freeland:  Community Thrift,  WAIF Thrift Store,  The RE Store
    o   Langley:  Thrift & Consignments,  Island County Seniors Thrift Store,   Good Cheer Thrift Shop
    o   Clinton: Good Cheer Two Thrift StoreThe ARC of Washington (household items)
    http://arcwa.org/aboutus/donate_to_the_arc
    List items online:
    Drewslist  http://www.tidallife.com/water-people-dont-just-get-on-drewslist-get-to-know-drew/
  • To save you colored printer ink when printing a black and white document, go to “Printer Properties”. Click the “Color” tab. Check the box for” Print in Grayscale” and then click the box for “Black Print Cartridge Only”.
  • Did You Know? It is estimated that the amount of energy used to pump, process, transport and refrigerate plastic bottled water is over 50 MILLION BARRELS of oil annually.
  • The Environmental Working Group has put together a “Shoppers Guide to Pesticides in Produce”. View the list summary, including the “Clean 15″ and the “Dirty Dozen” on their website: http://www.getgreenliving.com/is-buying-organic-worth-the-price/ or  http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/summary/.
  • Avoid traveling during peak periods. Congestion has a noticeable effect on your fuel consumption and carbon footprint. When stuck in traffic, the fuel consumption of your vehicle can double the rate it gets at a steady cruising speed. Think about investing in a GPS that can alert you to traffic hot spots and suggest ways to avoid them.
  •  LED bulbs last up to 25 years, use up to 80 percent less energy, are dimmable and produce the same quality and brightness of light that customers are used to getting from old incandescent bulbs.PSE’s LED bulb tips can be viewed at Flickr.com/PugetSoundEnergy in the PSE’s LED Bulb Tips album. To learn more about LED bulbs and available PSE rebates, visit PSE.com/LEDs or call a PSE Energy Advisor at 1-800-562-1482, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  •  If you have a manual thermostat or no thermostat at all, one way to save energy and money this fall and winter is to install a programmable thermostat. When installed and used with the four pre-programmed temperature settings for weekend and weekdays, you can save about $100 each year while staying comfortable.
  • In the colder months when the windows are closed, indoor air quality becomes more of an issue. Make it a policy to buy furniture, carpeting, and paint that are free of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and won’t off-gas toxic chemicals.
  • Did You Know: Energy efficiency is the cheapest, cleanest, and fastest energy source. Click here to learn more about the Community Energy Challenge.
  • Salts commonly used to de-ice sidewalks can be very harmful to plant and animal life. Look for safer de-icers made from calcium magnesium acetate, potassium chloride, or calcium chloride.
  • Consider shopping online, if you really can’t find everything on your list locally. To have 10 pounds of packages shipped by overnight air uses 40 percent less fuel than driving yourself round-trip to the mall, according to the Center for Energy and Climate Solutions
  • Did You Know: Household waste increases 25% each year between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day?
  • Reduce the size of your trash receptacles inside your business (and your home). It will result in people “thinking twice” before throwing things away! (Dena Royal, Crafters Co-op, where EVERY day is Earth Day!)
  • Adjusting the thermostat by just two degrees is the equivalent of losing 2,000 pounds of carbon emissions annually and almost $100 in energy costs.
  • Did you know: You can recycle your old ink cartridges at Boomerang in Clinton. All brands are accepted.
  • Check the ducts. To ensure that as much warm air as possible is delivered through your central system, check the ductwork and wrap any leaks with duct mastic. Distribution losses (what’s lost while air is transported from your furnace through ductwork to the vents) often amounts to 30%. So, sealing ductwork could increase efficiency and the warm air you receive considerably … keeping you warmer and making your furnace work less.
  • If you have a wood-burning fireplace, save your ashes in a tin instead of throwing them away. Cold wood ashes can be mixed in your compost heap to create a valuable soil amendment that provides nutrients to your garden.
  • DID YOU KNOW: You can buy Green Power from PSE! It is an easy, voluntary way for you to buy renewable energy for your home. You decide how much Green Power you would like to purchase, starting with a minimum $4 more per month, or you can choose to go 100% GreenPower, whatever works best for you. For more information, go to PSE.com/GreenPower or call
  • Request e-bills and e-statements to reduce the paper mail in your box, save trees, and never worry about lost mail.
  • Did You Know: You could qualify for up to $1,500 in free LED lighting through the Community Energy Challenge? For more information, contact Cathy d’Almeida at
  • Spread the word! Include a bit about the Whidbey Green Seal in your next email or newsletter. Encourage patronage of WGS businesses, and invite others to apply for their own WGS!
  • Did you know?
    Although CFL’s are more energy efficient than incandescents, each bulb contains about 5mg of mercury. The best way to reduce mercury contamination from CFLs is to recycle them properly. There are many convenient places to recycle your CFL (and incandescent) light bulbs on Whidbey! Save yourself a trip to the recycling center and just bring your light bulbs along next time you are headed to:
    The PSE Community Office in Oak Harbor or Freeland;
    Langley City Hall;
    Coupeville Town Hall;
    Oak Harbor Library;
    Freeland Library;
    and Home Depot in Oak Harbor.
  • Think twice about printing a piece of paper.  Sometimes nothing replaces being able to look at and mark up a document, but often we’re keeping a copy for reference.  You can often save your own time by not printing. A piece of paper has to be created, then used for printing, retrieved and filed for later use.  Quite a few steps, and often those papers end up on piles on a desk.   If you can save a document as a Word or a PDF file, you may be able to find it much easier using the search function of your computer.  In addition, you don’t have to set up or physically store paper files, allowing you to reduce clutter in your office.  Give it a try.  Some word processing programs have a print to PDF function, so try it at home if this function isn’t available at work.
  • Reduce your carbon footprint! Leaving your car at home twice a week can cut greenhouse gas emissions by 1,600 pounds per year.
  • Did you know: For every trash can of waste you put outside for the trash collector, about 70 trash cans of waste are used in order to create that trash! To reduce the amount of waste you produce, buy products in returnable and recyclable containers and recycle as much as you can.
  • Consider retiring older appliances early and replacing with Energy Star labeled products.
  • Don’t heat your freezer. Site heat-producing appliances away from refrigeration equipment. (It is not uncommon to see grilling or frying equipment next to coolers and freezers.)
  • Did You Know: Buying food from nearby family farms provides you with fresher, tastier, and often more nourishing food? It also helps support the economy of our local rural communities.
  • Did you know: Most paper plates and napkins are compostable? If there’s anything worse than plastic plates, it just might be their styrofoam counterparts. One of the easiest things you can do to go green is to reach for biodegradable plates, cups and cutlery when you’re shopping for your soiree this summer.
  • Beautiful summertime, means more tourists, which means more traffic. Avoid the rush. Take the bus, bike, or walk to work! Encourage your employees to sign up at Rideshareonline.com to record your trips and measure your savings!
  • Residential irrigation and other outdoor uses can account for up to 40% of water consumption. For more efficient watering practices, consider collecting rainwater and use native plants and drought-tolerant plants in your landscaping.
  • Improve fuel efficiency by keeping your tires properly inflated and keeping up on regular tune-ups.
  • Avoid over-drying your laundry. If your dryer has a moisture sensor or auto shut-off feather, use it. Weather permitting, skip the dryer all together and hang your laundry to dry.
  • What Goes on the Ground Goes in the Sound (or comes out your faucet. Visit http://www.whidbeycd.org/alternative-stormwater-management-lid.html for more information on LID and on responsible yard care.
  • Looking for a drought tolerant lawn for Whidbey’s acidic, low fertility soils? Try one of these (and don’t forget to add a light layer of compost to conserve moisture):
    Turf type Tall Fescue blends,
    Creeping Red Fescue,
    Chewing Fescue,
    Creeping or Colonial Bentgrasses,
    Tufted Hairgrass,
    Redtop.