Phyllis Theermann

Consider a Few Easy Ways to “Green” the New Year!

1. Say good-bye to the second frig. Without the holiday guests around, do you really need that second refrigerator or freezer? According to the EPA, a refrigerator is likely to be the second largest consumer of electricity in your home. (The air conditioner is generally the top swallower of electricity.) If you must have a second refrigerator, make sure it is a recent model with an Energy Star rating. A 1986-era (18 c.f.) model uses 1400 kWh a year, whereas an Energy Star model uses only 350 kWh-a whopping 75 percent reduction in electricity use.

Try One Tip a Day and You Will be on Your Way to a More Sustainable 2012

2. Install a programmable thermostat. Next time you’re at the hardware store, pick up a programmable thermostat. Programming your thermostat makes it easy to keep the temperature low when you are asleep or away from home during the day. For every degree you lower the thermostat, your heating bill is likely to go down by 1-3 percent.

3. Turn off the video gaming system. Did your kids receive a new video game or video machine this year? As you can see from the chart below, a lot of electricity is wasted when the gaming system is left on after the players have finished the game. Post a reminder on the console that says “Turn Me Off!”

4. Recycle your old electronics. If you received a new electronic device for the holidays, it may be time to dispose of an older model. The Wellesley Recycling and Disposal Facility accepts all old electronics, including computers and cell phones. Some companies (such as Gazelle.com or NextWorth.com) will give you cash for old gadgets. Or you can donate your device to someone who needs it through Close-the-Gap.org or Digital-Links.org. Whatever you do, don’t throw your old electronics in the trash! Many devices contain mercury, lead, barium, chromium, and cadmium.

5. Cancel your catalogs. Your holiday shopping is done, so you may want to stem the tide of catalogs still coming to your mailbox. To stop unwanted mail, sign up for free at CatalogChoice.org. For a donation of $20, Catalog Choice can also help you remove your name from hard-to-find third party marketing lists (the lists that companies buy to find new customers). This service makes a great gift for an eco-minded friend. Give the gift of less in 2012!

The image left, photographic art of Chris Jordan, represents 9,960 mail order catalogs (equal to the average number of pieces of junk mail that are printed, shipped, delivered, and disposed of in the US every three seconds) in a way that might have a different effect than the raw numbers alone.  Click on the image to experience the image up close and learn more.