Your to-do list
It’s all about local, local, local. Supporting local businesses and products reduces the effects of shipping on the earth. Even the few of these ideas that don’t involve locally-made products, we think, are worth doing.
There’s no fuss when you take TheBus. Parking, filling up, maintaining and paying off a car can add up to more than $500 a month. Calculate your exact expenses on TheBus’s website. Just $50 gets you a pass to anywhere on the island. It also makes our air and crowded highways a bit more breathable.
With Google’s new maps of bike routes in every city, being a cyclist is easier than ever. You’ll get fit, save money and be green all at once. If you can’t quite make it up that hill, buy an E-bike. The electricity will run you about $5 a month and you won’t break a sweat tackling Tantalus.
If your commute requires driving, grab a few friends or coworkers to carpool. Users of Vanpool and Cool Pool get the added bonuses of meeting new people and using the Zipper lane.
The Earth can’t keep going and going and going if you don’t dispose of your batteries properly. The Rechargable Battery Recycling Corporation collects rechargeable, non-alkaline batteries of all sizes at Home Depot, Best Buy, or Radio Shack. Better yet, donate them at an Aloha ‘Aina Earth Day event. Safely deposit alkaline, non-rechargeable ones in your regular waste pile.
Remodeling or rebuilding? Reuse Hawaii can help deconstruct your home and get your old sink, door, windows and more to people in the community who need them. You may even get a tax deduction out of the deal.
Volatile Organic Compounds are fun for no one. Like lead-based paints of the past, they can harm your body and the environment. Aim for paints with no or low VOC levels, such as Prada Member or Belspar.
Clean green with earth-friendly products. The Environmental Protection Agency recently gave a Design for the Environment award to the Martha Stewart Clean line, available only at The Home Depot or on Amazon.
Dumping any amount of liquid paint in the garbage is poisonous to Mother Earth, not to mention illegal. Pour unused paint into a plastic bag with absorbent materials like rags, sawdust, and shredded paper. Once it’s been absorbed, seal the bag and deposit it in the trash bin. Paint thinner, rust removers, turpentine and other toxic household materials require special handling. Call to make a date with the City to drop off these items.
Buy a Kill-A-Watt to find out “Watts” wasting energy in your home. Plug in any appliance to this gadget to display its voltage, line frequency, and power factor. You’ll be shocked by how much electricity your over-the-hill TV consumes.
Replace incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescents (CFL) and save on electricity and replacement costs. CFLs last more than five times longer than their prehistoric counterparts. Shed some light on the subject and tell your loved ones to switch over too.
Chill out by installing solar-powered attic venting fans. The one-time cost and installation fee will slice energy bills and environmental effects for years to come. Tax credits for doing so can also circulate some cash back to you.
Phantom appliances–chargers, coffee makers, laptops–are scary. They suck up energy even when “off.” Plug them into a power strip and switch it off until needed, or unplug them individually.
Replace electricity guzzlers with Energy Star appliances. They cut 30 percent off costs and can qualify you for tax credits.
Sun worshipping isn’t just for the beach. Install solar tubing and skylights around your home to give your electric lights a break.
Paint it white: painting your roof a light color sends sunshine back into space, reducing the heat your house soaks up and thus your air conditioning bills. Global warming is also reduced through this simple technique. Just remember the low or no VOC paint rule. To learn how to safely paint your type of roof, visit [Homerenovations.about.com].
Get worms. Composting veggie waste with a worm bin is easy and significantly reduces food waste entering wastestream. Vermicomposting transforms garbage into nutrient-rich, organic soil perfect for gardens, lawns and crops.
Protect Mother Nature from itself. Spray your garden with organic solutions to rid your garden of pests. Water with a bit of orange oil degreaser messes with ants, water and boric acid chokes roaches, soapy water sucks the life out of aphids, and pheromone traps zap fruit flies.
Don’t have a green thumb? Hire a gardening service such as Foodscapes to turn your lawn into a garden so you can veg out while they get the process started.
Anyone with a lanai can grow some grub. Basil, tomatoes, alfalfa and clover sprouts can make great lanai crops. Those with a bit more room and gumption can try a citrus tree on their porch.
REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE
Don’t be trashy. Donate your used books, magazines, CDs and DVDs instead of throwing them out. Several libraries across the state make great homes for these awesome items.
Landfills are never in style. Find and donate twice-but-nice clothing at thrift and consignment stores instead of letting them rot. Have fun exploring Goodwill, Savers, Moiliili Community Center, Stylus Honolulu, Pzazz, Kaimuki Bargain House, Central Union Church Thrift, Catherine’s Closet, Christy’s, Mission Outlet, the Salvation Army and the Assistance League of Hawaii’s thrift stores.
Get your fix. With a little imagination and help, your possessions can avoid the landfill. Clothes, purses, shoes, surfboards and even luggage can be repaired at shops around town.
FOOD & DRINK
Take back the tap. Quit buying plastic bottles of water and carry your own reusable one.
Brew your own. Learn how in a UH Leisure program, then pick up supplies at Homebrew in Paradise. Don’t rely on beer shipped to the island–make your own paradise. Then join HOPS, a local brewing club.
There are smaller fish in the sea. Eat them. They take less time to grow, have fewer accumulated toxins and still tons of omega-3 fatty acids. The Monterey Aquarium suggests avoiding Chilean sea bass, marlin, Atlantic farmed salmon, imported shrimp and red snappers. Eating Dungeness crab, Alaska wild salmon, clams, mussels, bay scallops, mahi mahi, Pacific halibut and anchovies does less damage to the environment.
The beef’s right here. Production and transportation of local, grass-fed beef is much easier on the earth. Find it at Whole Foods, Kokua Market and ‘Aala Meat Market.
Party on with fresh, locally brewed beer from Big Aloha Brewery. Think big and get a keg.
Stick with Styrophobia, an alternative to Styrofoam. Ask for it when you go out, and support places that regularly use it, like Olive Tree and Kokua Market.