Tips for Living Green

Your Carbon Footprint Many of our daily activities - such as using electricity, driving a car, or disposing of waste - cause greenhouse gas emissions. Together these emissions make up a household's carbon footprint. Calculate your own carbon footprint, which estimates your footprint in three areas: home energy, transportation and waste. Everyone's carbon footprint is different depending on their location, habits, and personal choices.

Get a rain barrel. Barrels can be purchased at cost through the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District. Rainwater is a great way to water plants and vegetables.

Get a Water Bottle
Americans buy 28 billion single-serving plastic water bottles every year, and 80% of those end up in landfills according to the Container Recycling Institute. Meeting the nation's demand for bottled water requires more than 1.5 million barrels of oil annually, enough to fuel 100,000 cars for a year (as estimated by the Earth Policy Institute).

Unplug Electronics
Cell phone chargers, TVs, DVD players, stereos, microwaves and other electronics with transformers continue to draw power when plugged in, even when they're off or not charging anything. In the U.S., such "phantom electricity" emits about 12 million tons of carbon into the atmosphere a year, according to Conservation International.

Change Your Light Bulbs
If every home in the country replaced one light bulb with a LED or CFL bulb, it would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by the equivalent of ditching 800,000 cars and would save enough energy to light more than 2.5 million homes for a year, according to Energy Star, a joint program between the EPA and the U.S. Department of Energy.

Nix the Junk Mail
The Postal Service delivers 17.8 tons of bulk mail each year, 44% of which goes unopened, according to the EPA. Just 22% of bulk mail is recycled. To stop the flow of bulk mail you did not sign up for, visit Direct Mail to get put on the "do not mail" list.

Put Your Computer to Sleep
Screen savers don’t save electricity. Instead, set your computer to go into sleep mode when you aren’t actively using it. That can cut your power consumption by 5 times, cutting your electricity bills by more than 500 kilowatt hours per year.

Latex paint is non-toxic and can go in the regular trash, but only in the solid form. You can stir in kitty litter or commercial paint hardener and when the paint is solid, put at the street without the lids (best in box) so the hauler knows the paint is solid. If you don’t want to make a mess, you can take Latex paint to the Ace Hardware on Campbell and Wilke for a fee.

To recycle both latex and oil-based paint for a fee, contact Epaint Recycling Solutions at 847.666.8351.  Drop-off paint at Arlington Heights warehouse. Will pick up by appointment for amounts greater than 30 gallons. Accepts latex and oil-based house paint, primers, sealers, and clear coating from both residents and commercial generators. No aerosols, solvents, or products intended for non-architectural use. Also sells recycled paint.