Earth Day marks its 40th anniversary on Thursday. Here are some tips from epa.gov/earthday on how to go green and preserve the planet's resources. Times staff writer
Reduce your carbon footprint. Leaving your car at home twice a week can cut greenhouse gas emissions by 1,600 pounds a year. Save your errands and shopping so you can do them in fewer trips. If you commute to work, ask your boss if you can work from home at least some days. You'll reduce air pollution and traffic congestion and save money.
eCycle it. Take your old computer, DVD player or other electronics to an electronics recycling center. Reusing and recycling materials like copper, gold and others saves natural resources and reduces mining and processing. It also helps avoid land, air and water pollution by capturing and reusing hazardous substances such as lead or chromium.
Make your home energy-efficient. When you do home maintenance, also do a home energy audit to find out how you can save money by making your home more energy-efficiency. And if every American home replaced one conventional lightbulb with a compact fluorescent lightbulb, we would save enough energy to light more than 3 million homes a year.
Run a full load. Run your dishwasher only when it's full. Don't prerinse dishes; tests show it doesn't improve dishwasher cleaning, and you'll save as much as 20 gallons of water per load. When you buy a new dishwasher, look at water-efficient models, which use only about 4 gallons per wash.
Shower power. A full bathtub requires about 70 gallons of water, but taking a five-minute shower uses only 10 to 25 gallons. Put a little timer or clock near your shower so you can see how fast you are. Save even more water, and money on your water bill, by installing a water-efficient showerhead.
Fix that leak. Leaky faucets can waste thousands of gallons of water each year. Repair or replace old or damaged fixtures. If you're not sure you have a leak, check the water meter before and after a two-hour period when no water is being used. If the meter doesn't read exactly the same, you probably have a leak.
Wait for the storm to pass. Don't fertilize before a rainstorm. Your fertilizer can just wash off your lawn and down the storm drain. Fertilizer runoff can pollute rivers, lakes and bays, and cause problems in recreational areas or fishing grounds.
Compost it. Compost helps improve soil so it holds more water and plants grow better. Allow grass clippings to stay on the lawn instead of bagging them. The cut grass will decompose and return to the soil naturally. Food scraps and kitchen waste also make good compost, and you save money on fertilizers or other additives.
For more green ideas, go to epa.gov/earthday.