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Easy being green: Little changes can make a big difference

Times Staff Writer

Environmental problems can't be reversed in a day. But a step each day can make a difference. Author Jodi Helmer shares her eco-friendly tips in The Green Year: 365 Small Things You Can Do To Make a Big Difference (Alpha Books, $14.95). Here's a sampling.

Change the margins on your Word documents. The default margins on the documents you print are 1.25 inches on all sides. Simply changing the margins to 0.75 inches will reduce the amount of paper you use by almost 5 percent. It might not seem like a lot, but if everyone in the United States made the change, we would save $400 million and a forest the size of Rhode Island.

Trade your plastic water bottle for a stainless steel version. Stainless steel water bottles look trendy, but more important, they are free of bisphenol A (BPA), a toxic substance used to make clear and shatterproof plastic. BPA has been linked to cancer, interferes with fertility and could contribute to childhood behavioral problems like hyperactivity.

Park your car in the shade. Gas evaporates from your fuel tank more quickly when you park in the sun. Parking in the shade lowers the temperature in your gas tank by up to 7 degrees, significantly reducing fuel evaporation.

Move your refrigerator. Leaving space between your refrigerator and the wall increases air circulation around the condenser coils, allowing the fridge to operate more efficiently. If you have a freezer, be sure to move it away from the wall as well.

Request an electronic tax refund. You could let the IRS mail you a check, or you can have your refund deposited directly into your account. Every year, the IRS has to print and mail 54 million tax refunds to individual taxpayers across the United States.

Create electronic to-do lists. Instead of scribbling your grocery list on a piece of paper (or printing it off of the computer), e-mail it to your mobile device. You'll save a lot of paper and it'll never get lost at the bottom of your purse.

Ask about flex time at work. Working four 10-hour days will cut fuel consumption on your commutes by 20 percent.

Wrap presents in gift bags. Once you tear the wrapping paper off of a holiday gift it ends up in the recycle bin, but gift bags can be used over and over again.

Easy being green: Little changes can make a big difference 02/14/09 [Last modified: Saturday, February 14, 2009 3:31am]
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