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Free to Be Green

Green living isn't just the future; it's happening now. We all have a responsibility to help save our environment - It Starts With YOU!

What is Free To Be Green?
Free To Be Green is a public service program, whose primary purpose is to inform and educate the public about important conservation and ecological issues facing Rhode Island today.

You've probably noticed that green is everywhere these days in the news, politics, fashion, and even technology. You can hardly escape it. That's all great as far as we're concerned, but with a million messages and ideas coming at us from all sides, it can be easy to get a little green "fatigue" and, tune out the green messages.

The truth is that everything we do every day has an impact on the planet good or bad. The good news is that as an individual you have the power to control most of your choices and, therefore, the impact you create: from where you live to what you buy, eat, and use to light your home to where and how you vacation, to how you shop or vote, you can have global impact.

Here are Ten Tips to Get Started Today!

1. Real food is fuel for the body and the planet.
Eat seasonal, local, organic foods. You can enjoy fresher, tastier foods and improve your personal health. Buying local helps support the local economy and reduces the greenhouse gas emissions required to get food from its origin to your plate. Buying fresh food means reducing packaging and energy used for processing.

2. Clean, renewable power is already available to everyone.
We use electricity to power our lights, computers, and televisions, but what happens before you flip the switch? More than half America's comes from coal-burning power plants, which also happen to be the country's largest source of air pollution. By signing up for a renewable energy program through your local utility, generating your own power, or purchasing renewable energy credits, you contribute to our collective capacity for generating more clean power from wind, solar, and other sources and you help reduce demand for energy from more polluting sources.

3. More Efficient transportation means less global warming.
Anytime you choose to walk, ride a bike, or take public transportation, you reduce the carbon dioxide and particulate emissions created by driving a gas- or diesel-powered car. You'll help slow global warming and help stave off our date with peak oil. Choosing greener options - such as a train over air travel - for long-distance trips can immensely reduce your carbon footprint.

4. Nature Recycles Everything. So Should People.
Reducing the amount of stuff we consume is the first step (and the first word in reduce-reuse-recycle), finding constructive uses for "waste" materials is the second. Why? Nothing is ever really thrown "away" it all has to go somewhere. By recycling and reusing, we reduce the amount of waste that sits in landfills (where even biodegradable products often can't break due to lack or oxygen and sunlight). Recycling materials also saves energy compared to using virgin materials to create new products. Some materials, like aluminum and glass, can even be recycled without being "downcycled," or turned into a product of lesser quality.

5. Water is not a renewable resource.
Clean water is perhaps the planet's most precious resource, and, with the increasing effects of global climate change, for many regions across the globe, our ability to have enough high-quality H20 on hand could likely to change in the near future. Being water conscious helps reduce strain on municipal treatment systems and ensures there's enough to go around. By shifting away from bottled water, we can reduce global greenhouse gas emissions (from shipping), the energy required to produce (petroleum-derived) plastic, and the volume of waste trucked to our landfills (from empty bottles).

6. Fuel When It's Cool
Cut down on gas emissions, which fill the air we breathe with ozone (smog) and contribute to global warming, simply by avoiding buying gas during the heat of the day, since heat increases evaporation. Know that gasoline smell when you drive into a station? That's the smell of gas emissions escaping from your tank, the other cars' tanks and the pumps as everyone fills up. So breathe easier: fill up either early in the morning or late in the evening when the temperature is cooler.

7. Rediscover Your Local Library
Many of us are filling our homes with books and other materials that we never, or rarely use, instead, check materials out of your neighborhood library, or relax inside the quiet halls and browse on site. Paper is one of the biggest materials by volume in landfills, and its environmental footprint is enormous, from cutting down trees to heavy use of water, toxic chemicals and energy during processing. Paper fibers can only be recycled a few times before they break down, and the process requires energy. CDs and other media are made of nonrenewable petroleum products and are very difficult to recycle. Libraries can also be great sources of social interaction and learning. They are typically close to home, encouraging walking, biking or perhaps even public transit.

8. Turn Off Those Lights
It sounds almost too simple, but don't forget that you can save a lot of energy, and therefore money, by making sure to turn off the lights when you leave a room. Lighting is responsible for about 11 percent of a home's energy bills, and those continue to march up across most of the country, at a time when home prices are falling and job growth is soft. It's true that a compact fluorescent bulb uses about 75 percent less electricity than an incandescent, but the most energy-saving bulb of all is one that's turned off. So get in the habit of flipping those switches when you leave a room.

9. Buzzworthy Plants That Attract Bees
It isn't difficult to make your yard, garden or even patio space a haven for beneficial bees. You'll be helping these important insects, as well as bringing more nature to your backdoor. The greater the plant diversity, the more bees you will attract and support. Here are a few tried-and-true bee attractors: Trees: Willows, Poplar, Fruit Trees. Shrubs: Honeysuckle, Blueberry. Herbs: Sage, Thyme, Mints. Garden Plants: Starwberries, Wild Garlic, Peppers. Always try to choose as many native plants as possible, and consult with nursery staff or other experts to find vegetation that will thrive in your specific conditions.

10. Drive Green
Keep your tires properly inflated. Tires should be inflated to the pressure recommended for your vehicle; this information is often printed inside the door frame or in your owner's manual. For every 3 pounds below recommended pressure, fuel economy goes down by about 1 percent. Tires can lose about 1 pound of pressure in a month, so check the air pressure regularly and always before going on a long trip or carrying heavy loads. Underinflated tires can also detract from handling, safety, and how long the tires will last.

 
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