11 Ways to Use Less in 2011


Much of the electricity in the U.S. comes from coal. Using less energy, means less pollution.

Think about everything that you use in one day – your morning shower, the coffeemaker, the work commute, your annual report, the short drive to lunch, watching television, doing laundry. It all adds up. Now think about how much time, money and resources you'd save if you just used a little bit less during your day.

Here are some things to consider using less of in the coming year.

1. Use Less Coal
Utilities buy more than 90 percent of U.S. coal, a non-renewable resource. So in the winter, think about turning your thermostat down a few degrees; this will save you money and help reduce coal use.

2. Use Less Energy
Energy consumption is at the forefront of many environmental discussions these days. While you may think cutting your energy use won’t make that big of difference, by using cold water to wash your clothes, you can save 90 percent of the washing machine’s power utilization. That’s a lot of energy for a simple step.

3. Use Fewer Virgin Materials
Each American uses about 47,000 pounds of newly mined materials each year, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Mining can have large negative impacts on the environment. Try using products that are made from recycled content to cut down on your use of virgin materials.

4. Use Less Water
Many experts agree the world is in the midst of a water crisis. Do your part by trying to reduce the amount of water you use. By shortening your shower  one mere minute, you can save 150 gallons of water per month.

5. Use Less Paper
You've probably seen the icon at the bottom of emails telling you to think before you print. Well, it's good advice. If you do have to print, set your printer to print on both sides and definitely recycle it when you can. Reusing 2,000 pounds of paper can save 7,000 gallons of water and 380 gallons of oil, according to EPA.

6. Use Less Packaging
Packaging can create a tremendous amount of trash. Try buying from bulk bins where there’s less packaging required, and you can take only what you need.

7. Use Fewer Hazardous Materials
When it comes to using hazardous items, like paint, cleaning chemicals or pesticides, the best thing to do is always read labels; they will tell you exactly how much of a chemical to use. Many times there are cleaner, less toxic alternatives to hazardous materials so try using natural pesticides and making your own cleaning products.

8. Use Less Gas
According to EPA, the U.S. uses one million gallons of oil every two minutes. So, slow down! Traveling at 55 mph can give you up to 21 percent better mileage than speeding to 65 mph.

Another fun tip: When the temperature is cooler, gas is denser so buy gas early in the morning or late at night to get more gas for your money.

9. Use Less Tech
This may be hard for some of you to hear, but electronics can be extremely harmful to the environment. They drain electricity, use non-renewable metals and contain toxic chemicals. By using fewer electronics and properly disposing the ones you have used, you can help create a healthier environment.

10. Create Less Trash
According to a University of Utah study, the average American will throw away 90,000 pounds of trash in his or her lifetime. To reduce the amount of trash you generate, use ceramic plates instead of paper ones; it’s also important to note that although paper plates are made from paper, which is renewable and recyclable, many are coated with plastic, which can make it difficult to recycle and degrade in landfills. Also try cloth napkins and towels instead of paper ones.

11. Use Fewer Disposables
Using less disposables goes hand-in-hand with creating less trash. Try using canvas shopping bags instead of plastic bags and earth-friendly plastics that biodegrade or are made from recycled content.

Related Articles
The Value of E-cycling in the New Year
6 Green Resolutions You Can Actually Keep
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  • Rayman

    Somehow the “use less” movement is in need of renewal. Seems like our society and economy is highly dependent on more, more, more. After all, CEOs get fired if company forecasts of increased profits are not met, regardless of market conditions. This is driven by Wall Street, you know, those people making billions of dollars in profits while we have to pay more and more for their products. All my efforts to reduce, reuse and recycle are being attacked by ads, products from China and all sorts of electronic gadgets for children. So far my grand kids have tossed out more electronic toys that I have purchased in my entire life!! Amazing. So, I still shall do my life style with the parameters. In a fixed income these efforts are paying off in keeping costs down. (email from my 5 year old PC). I do not have a smart phone, hardly use a cell phone, use the Internet to receive and pay bills (sorry postal people) and drive a 10 year 4 cylinder manual transmission car. Still looking for ways not to spend money I DO NOT HAVE TO.. Good luck.

  • http://www.eco-homestore.com EcoHomeStore

    I wholeheartedly agree with the use of less disposables. Over the holidays I used the tree-free sugarcane plates & bowls from Eco Products. Since I have a compost bin, that’s where the plates ended up. They were great. They hold up just as well if not better than most paper plates. They are like a woven material. Even the cutlery, which is made of plant starch is better than most plastic cutlery.

    Full disclosure: We do sell them on our website (www.eco-homestore.com) but personally, I am never going to buy another paper or plastic plate again.

  • http://www.pvpower.com LeeATPVPower

    I just made a switch to a Toyota Prius in late 2010. Unfortunately, the cold weather seems to reduce the gas mileage a bit but I was as high as 39 MPG before the temp dropped. I’m hoping for somewhere in the 40s this summer.