Restroom Rehab

Mary Wallace of People Towels with paper towel waste.   
The average person uses 2,400 – 3,000 paper towels at work, in a given year  
(Image: People Towels)

When you go to a public restroom, does it ever bother you when paper towels are tossed on the floor?  Or, when someone leaves the water running?  Or, even worse, doesn’t flush?  Does it bother you that the business is using paper towels to begin with?

Do you do anything about it?

When I find paper towels on the floor of a restroom, I pick them up and put them in the trash can/rubbish bin…before I wash my hands.  Then, after I wash my hands, I use my paper towel to wipe down the counter and then throw my paper towel in the trash can/rubbish bin.  I did this once at a restaurant in Australia when we were living there.  I think I embarrassed my girlfriend, but I probably spent thirty seconds picking up what must have been 20+ towels off the floor and putting them where they belonged.  I said to her “I always try to leave a space better than I found it.”

If the water is left running, I turn off the tap.  Clean water is a precious resource that most of us take for granted.  In many countries, people have to walk miles to retrieve clean drinking water. Appreciating how fortunate we are by not wasting our natural resources will make them last longer.

When the toilet hasn’t been flushed, I use my foot to flush it.  If too much waste builds up in a toilet, it causes clogging issues and then businesses have to call in professional plumbers who may have to use harsh chemicals to clear the clog.

This attitude could propagate out to other areas of our lives.  For instance, pretty much every day, I pick up litter on the way to drop off my daughter at school.  Doing this makes the walk more pleasant because “it doesn’t belong” there…it belongs in a trash can/rubbish bin/recycle bin.

SustainableThree Ways You Can Make a Difference:

  1.  If you visit a restroom with paper towels, take the time to put ones thrown on the floor into the receptacle.
  2. Wipe down counters, turn off running faucets, flush toilets.
  3. Even better, if the business uses paper towels, make a request to their owner/manager that they install sensor dryers that automatically release air if you put your hands in front of the sensor, but doesn’t waste energy at other times.

“Although contradictory claims abound on this topic, a 2007 life cycle analysis by the Climate Conservancy found that using a hand dryer produces fewer climate-changing greenhouse gases than using paper towels.”  ~”Cloth vs. paper vs. dryers: How to be clean and green when you wipe your hands”  (By, Tom Watson, Pacific NW Magazine, The Seattle Times

BONUS: Tweet this!  https://twitter.com/SustainThree/status/702576748907528192

There are other options to using paper towels or air dryers.  Here are a few:

People Towels

http://www.peopletowels.com

Here’s a great little article:

http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/paper-towel-alt-25875

More details on the topic:

http://www.seattletimes.com/pacific-nw-magazine/cloth-vs-paper-vs-dryers-how-to-be-clean-and-green-when-you-wipe-your-hands/

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Light up Your Winter…for Less Money

Light up Your Winter…for Less Money

In the Northern Hemisphere, it is Winter.  Longer nights shadow the shorter days and fewer people walk their dogs on the streets or go for a jog.  It feels quieter, somehow…less hectic.

Many people struggle with the greyer, colder days…and settle in for a hibernation of sorts.

To combat the Seasonal Affective Disorder…or just feel more light and warmth during the colder months, an energy audit is oh-so-helpful.

Here are some tips we gained when an audit was completed on our house:

*Switch all lightbulbs to LEDs

Although there is some cost involved, the savings is well worth the initial investment and longer-lasting bulbs.  That means lower energy bills, brighter lighting and having to change your bulbs less often.

Costco has them at an all-time low price right now, but you can also purchase them at just about any store.  You can sometimes get freebies from your energy company as well.

You can start here.

*Get Draft Dodgers

By “Draft Dodgers”, I don’t mean the people who avoided going to war, but the draft blockers that are placed at the base of doors to ward off cold drafts from outside.

You can start here to find one that works for you.

*Get Insulated!

By adding insulation to your attic and/or walls, you can increase your home’s “tightness”.  Contractors blow additional insulation into your attic and/or walls to bring the insulation level up to, or above, code.  It’s like putting a giant down comforter on your home.

Here might be a great place to start looking into this option.

*Make sure windows and doors are not leaky

Weather stripping and making sure all doors and windows are closed securely can reduce drafts and heat leaks.

Here is a start.

*Use your fireplace, if you’ve got it.  Energy-efficient, natural gas powered fireplaces make it so that you can keep your entire home at a cooler temperature.  Family members gravitate to the room with the fireplace and the burning fire makes the home feel more welcoming and snuggly.

There are more steps you can take.  Start here to find out how to schedule an energy audit.

*Finally, get outside!  Even if it is cold out, a brisk walk can really energize you.  If it is sunny, the light and Vitamin D will do you good.  And your dog, if you have one, will really appreciate it!

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Taking a Hard Look at My Carbon Footprint

I’m sitting at my desk for the first time all summer. This is the first time I’ve had to really contemplate my impact. This past summer, I did a lot of traveling…to New York City, Paris, Pennsylvania road trip and San Diego. Realizing that no matter how much recycling, composting and conservation I do at home, one trip in an airplane pretty much negates all my efforts. So, I set out to off-set my carbon impact by doing a bit of research.

I quickly found www.carbonfootprint.com and used their calculator to determine my carbon footprint just from flights and the road trip.

Denver –> New York –> Paris (Return) (Plane)

2.58 metric tons of CO2

Denver –> Northeast Corner of Pennsylvania (Return) (Hybrid SUV Automobile)
1.30 metric tons of CO2

Denver –> New York (Return) (Plane)
.82 metric tons of CO2

Denver –> San Diego (Return) (Plane)
.43 metric tons of CO2

Total: 5.13 metric tons of CO2

For a little as $58.92 I can off-set my usage. Wow. There’s one way to get the “should” off my back!

Other options include:

http://carbonfund.org/individuals

http://www.nature.org/greenliving/carboncalculator/

25+ Ways to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

among others…. Google has a wealth of resources on reducing your carbon footprint and off-setting your carbon contribution.

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