My biology teacher told our class one day that huge ecological disasters, for example, the Exxon Valdez, is dwarfed in comparison to the amount of pollution we cause DAILY!
I'll be showing you a couple things I do in my life to help provide some relief to mother nature.
Step 1: Lighting/Cooling/Electrical consumption at home
Here are a few helpful hints on how to consume less electricity, so that local power plant has less energy to produce, which in turn lowers the amount of fuel they have to burn, lowering the CO2 output.
The first thing you can do, but will probably be the most expensive investment, but will pay for itself in the long run is....
These light bulbs consume a fraction of what old light bulbs use, and provide more light as well.
You can purchase them at any home improvement store, such as Lowe's, Home Depot, and Wal-Mart.
You can save money by purchasing the packs that have a couple bulbs in it.
Each bulb you change can save about 30 USD yearly in your electricity bill. If you change 10 bulbs in your house thats already 300+ a year in savings, which brings your monthly bill down about 25 dollars. NEAT!
Another thing you can do to save electricity is... OPEN A WINDOW! Let some of that free sunlight light up your home! There is a downside to this though... sunlight = heat = increase in cooling costs. But like always there is a way around this.
If you have windows facing north or south, you can open those up, and there wont be as much direct sunlight, which wont cause too much heat. In the morning you can crack the shades a bit on east facing windows, then open them up at noon, that way there is never that full intense light coming in. Play around with this.
Basically close the windows where the sun hits directly, and open them up as the sun moves throughout the sky.
A word on cooling. The air conditioner in a home is probably the largest expense in your electric bill monthly. Set the A/C at a bearable temperature during the day, and raise the temperature a little at night since its obviously not as hot outside.
You can also turn off the A/C and open up your windows; let some fresh air into your home!
Insulation is extremely important in effective cooling your home. Try and prevent as much of the cooled air in your house escapes, caulk up windows or put weather stripping on your doors.
I live in a very old house with a flat roof and no insulation in the roof, and now during summer it gets extremely hot. What I did to help with some of the heat was buy a couple of those windshield shades for your car, and put them up on my windows to reflect some of the heat. IT WORKS!
When leaving your house, try to keep the doors open for as little as possible, keep the cool air inside.
Turn off that computer when you're not using it! A computer tower running 24/7 costs about 10 dollars monthly. Turning it off, or putting it on power save mode will save you a couple bucks a month, it will also reduce some of that heat being produced in your home :)
Disconnect appliances when your not using them, although you may like to think that the display on your DVD player on standby inst consuming much... it adds up!
Water heater is another biggie on the list. During hot summer months, turn down the temperature, and when the cooler seasons come in turn it up again!
WARNING IF YOU DO NOT HAVE ELECTRICAL KNOWLEDGE DO NOT ATTEMPT THIS, YOU COULD KILL YOURSELF, CALL A CERTIFIED ELECTRICIAN TO DO THIS FOR YOU
Keep the fridge and freezer doors open for as little as possible, alot of energy goes into cooling these things.
Step 2: Don't pour your money down the drain!
Here are somethings I do to help save water and lower those bills!
When brushing your teeth, turn off that water when your not using it! I like to really brush for 2-3 minutes, if I were to leave the water on during this time, I am easily dumping 3+ gallons down the drain.
I love taking long showers, if you do too, buy yourself a water and energy saving shower head. these things make your showering experience efficient by restricting the amount of water used to about 2.5 gallons per minute.
When doing my dishes, I rinse down the dirty dishes and place them outside the sink, then I start soaping them up and start stacking them inside the sink again, with the water OFF. When I am either done with them all, or the sink fills up, I turn the water back on and rinse and put them to dry. Some of us leave the water running the whole time, that is money you are pouring down the drain!
Laundry is a big thing too, I wait till I know that I will fill up the whole washer with dirty clothes, bringing down the amount of loads that I will ultimately have to do.
Drying your clothes. If you have a yard, put up a clothes line! Let the wind and sun dry the clothes for you. a dryer sucks up a bunch of electricity.
These things add up, and in short time you will notice you will start saving money, helping out the environment and feeling good about yourself at the same time!
Step 3: Reuse Reduce Recycle!
Got plastic soda/water bottles?
Put them back to use! Refill with your favorite drink and save money too!
NOTE: Crash2108 mentioned not to do this, step. I looked up some information and it may be harmful to do this, chemicals may leach into you water if repeatedly washed with detergents and in hot water. Instead of using these purchase a small thermos or a bottle designed to be reused and washed.
I buy the big bottles of Gatorade and refill my bottles with it, saving me cash and reducing the amount of plastic used too.
When buying groceries if you don't have a reusable grocery bag, you can reuse the plastic bags. I use them as mini trash bags, and for the bathroom trash basket.
Buy yourself 2 liter bottles of soda, and refill those water bottles too! They are cheaper than cans, and
REDUCE the amount of garbage thrown out.
Recycling is something great to do, we throw out a bunch of materials daily that can be recycled.
For example junk mail is a bunch of waster paper. We all get, so why don't we all recycle it! Imagine the amount of paper you and your neighbor hood can save if we recycle JUST the junk mail.
Recycle used plastic/glass bottles and paper.
Call your local municipal solid waste department and ask them for recycling bins.
Step 4: Compost! Plant a Tree!
You can build your self a worm composting bin, and reduce the amount of trash being put out to the landfill.
Worms will eat food scraps, paper, coffee grounds with filter, eggshells, and veggies, and convert them into high grade fertilizer.
When mowing your lawn, if you you pick up the clippings and throw them out, DON'T!
Leave the clippings right there to decompose which will give you a healthier looking lawn, and reduce the amount of garbage you put out!
Collect leaves that fall and put them around the trunks of trees, this mulch will help feed your trees too!
Plant a tree, make a garden! Give back to the environment by planting trees to help reduce the CO2 in the air! You will also save some cash on groceries if you provide yourself with a little homegrown food.
Step 5: Join a local Free-Cycle group!
DON'T! One persons trash can be another's treasure!
A free cycle group is an online mailing list where people post items they no longer want, and are willing to give it for free instead adding more to local landfills. You can also ask for something in specific, perhaps someone out there has it just for you.
I've got 3 computers, fish, rabbits, aquariums, an air HOCKEY TABLE, and other goodies from doing this. I've seen people giving away boats and cars on here too. GREAT STUFF!
Join your local free cycle group, if there isn't one... MAKE ONE!
Step 6: Car Pool Party!
Ask co-workers that live nearby if they would like to carpool to work!
Or when going out with friends, try to go together in one car, or in as few cars as possible.
Also if you live close by to the grocery store, or your job, invest in a bike and make yourself a neat bicycle trailer.
Step 7: Make things!
Use that instructables spirit you all have and share with the rest of this great community!