Could Your Water Leaks Fill A Swimming Pool?

The surprising answer is, “Yes.” According to the Enviromental Protection Agency (E.P.A.) easy-to-fix water leaks in an average household can waste, 10,000 gallons of water a year, enough to fill up a swimming pool. To help homeowners become more aware of leaks and get them fixed the E.P.A. has designated March 15-21 as Fix A Leak Week.

Nationwide it is estimated that greater than 1 trillion gallons of water are wasted from homes each year due to easy to fix water leaks. This may seem hard to believe but little drips add up.

Take this into consideration:

  • A faucet leaking 10 drops per hour can waste more than 500 gallons per year
  • A constantly running toilet can waste more than 200 gallons per day.

Check the E.PA. site for more information on detecting and fixing water leaks and the Fix A Leak Week Program.

If you are looking to make a big impact with a little effort then participating in Fix A Leak Week is for you. If a week is too long then just “Fix A Leek on Thursdays” and stop your running water.

video from Loudoun Water

What Does Earth Day 2008 Mean To You

April 22nd, Earth Day 2008 is quickly approaching. It is hard to believe that Earth Day is turning 38 years-old. I remember hearing about Earth Day as a kid and having my own short-sided impressions of it. I imagined people all across the United States chaining themselves to trees and not showering. Well, as a kid you’re allowed to be stupid.

April 22, 1970 marked the first Earth Day. Approximately 20 million people celebrated that first event. A year to the date later William D. Ruckelshaus, the first EPA Agency Administrator, delivered a speech at the Ohio State University. In this speech he reflected back on what the first Earth Day meant:

“Last year some said there would never be another Earth Day. They saw concern for our environment as a fad, and claimed that the instant enthusiasm of an activist generation would soon flow elsewhere. I believe they were wrong. But why this second Earth Day? Is this second day of commitment only a repetition of what we have said and attempted before? I think not. I believe there are fundamental distinctions between our celebration of the earth a year ago and our commitment to its preservation now.”

Earth Day Wasn’t a Fad

In 1970, President Richard Nixon started by creating the EPA to protect the environment and public health. The 70’s began to see changes:

  • Amendments to the Clean Air Act
  • Restrictions on lead-based paint
  • The ban of DDT, a cancer-causing pesticide
  • The beginning of phasing out leaded gasoline
  • Passing of the Safe Drinking Water Act
  • Passing of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act

In the 1980s:

  • The Superfund was created to clean up hazardous waste sites
  • Acid Rain began to grab peoples attention
  • The public got the right to know when toxic chemical were released
  • Homeowners were encouraged to test for radon gas
  • The banning of dumping sewage sludge and industrial waste into the ocean

Unfortunately, the 1980s ended with the Exxon Valdez oil spill. However, the 1990s jumped right back to it with:

  • More Clean Air Act Ammendments
  • The Pollution Prevention Act
  • The National Enviromental Education Act
  • The EnergyStar Program
  • The Food Quality Protection Act
  • The Clean Water Action Plan

Now in the 2000s we have seen additional steps to make cleaner school buses, restore forests, provide cleaner air and the recent announcement of the WaterSense Program.

What Does Earth Day Mean to You?

What does Earth Day 2008 mean to you? Do you still hold those stupid delusions I did as a kid? Are you an Earth Day participant? Do you make sure you take special steps to do an eco-friendly thing or two on Earth Day? There are all sorts of ideas out there.

How about this Earth Day Idea?

How about taking time on Earth Day 2008 to educate yourself on the impact you can make as an individual. Take a little time to learn what you can change and sustain on a daily basis to become more eco-friendly. Then commit yourself to accomplishing the things that you learn. There are hundreds of “individual” green decisions a day that can can be made. They just have to be made one by one and individual by individual.

Thirty-Seven years ago, William D. Ruckelshaus was right on the money when he concluded his speech that day with the following lines:

“Achieving the goal of a clean and healthy environment must be done by us all by every American. We can reach that goal in this decade. And in reaching it we can trigger a chain reaction of confidence and hope that will help us to achieve all of our great goals for the seventies. Behind the issue of environmental protection we can unite every American, with no man as an adversary and no man as an antagonist. If every one of us will adopt the simple truth that “I can save the earth,” we will realize how much we can achieve together.”

So go out there and be that individual that says,

“I can save the earth”

or at least save it On Thursdays.

Recycling and eCycling

Recycling is Not New.

We have known for years about the value of recycling. As a kid I would save aluminum cans to make a few extra dollars. Now this didn’t exactly make my parents happy as I would accumulate bag after bag of old stale smelling beer and pop cans but it wasn’t a bad little job for a 10-year-old.

But We Do Recycle.

Many households participate in recycling to some extent. They place their papers, cans and bottles is whichever container they have and place them at the curb. However, what about recycling our electronics?


Unused and outdated electronic products lead to what is called “e-waste” or electronic waste. These products can amount to 70% of the heavy metals present in landfills and up to 40% of the lead. The problem with reducing e-waste and other materials is the individual effort needed to recycle them. For example, it is easier to throw out your styrofoam “packing peanuts” from your latest shipping arrival than it is to recycle them. Although, every UPS Store will accept these items and locations can be found via the Plastic Loose Fill Council (PLFC). The problem is then setting these materials aside until your next errand run.

Can’t It Be Easier?

It is easier, BrandsMart USA just announced a new program called CExchange. You determine the value of your old electronics on their website, print out a prepaid shipping label and mail them in. BrandsMart USA, verifies your products and then sends you a gift card to one of their stores. Wow, now that’s easy.

Are There Other Options?

Sure. Check out the EPA eCycling Home Page. There you will find a list of organizations and options for eCycling. There are links for finding green electronics, for finding local electronic recycling programs, and there are options to donate your equipment to help non-profit organizations and schools.

Well, if you haven’t guessed it

we are now to our next Eco Rule:

Eco Rule #2 = Recycle

or at least recycle on Thursdays.

The Difference With One Light

Earth Hour 2008 came and went last Saturday. I still haven’t seen any reports about the reduction of energy usage from the event but I look forward to reading about it. After Earth Hour I began thinking more about my own electric usage. I decided to go to Florida Power & Light (FPL) to see what I could find. There I was able to look at reports of my past electric usage, tips for reducing energy consumption, they reviewed their Sunshine Energy Program and provided a link to their Online Energy Store.

At FPL’s Online Energy Store, hosted by Energy Federation Incorporated, I first spotted some data on the advantages on low-mercury compact fluorescent light bulbs. How much difference can one light bulb make? Can we start with baby steps and change one bulb at a time. Is it any use?

Below is a composite picture of the Chicago Skyline before and during Earth Hour 2008. You have to look closely to see a difference but there are differences.

Baby steps

photo by jatherton

Perhaps it is a little easier to notice the differences in this time lapse movie.

video from jough

How Much Electricity Do I Use?

First it helps to get an idea of how they measure your electric usage and that is by kilowatt-hour (kWh). A kilowatt-hour is equal to 1000 watts being used for 1 hour. In comparison, a 100-watt light bulb uses 100 watts per hour or 0.1 kilowatts per hour. Based on nearly 4 years of data I am averaging the use of 23.56 kWh per day. I tend to use more in the summer because of the increased usage of the air-conditioner. During the summer also appears to be the time the utility companies increase the price of each kWh.

How Much Electricity Does The Average Household Use?

Next I went to the Energy Information Administration and checked out Energy Basics 101. Their latest yearly report was for 2006. There were 121,471,071 residential electric customers in the U.S. and they used 1,351,520,036 megawatt hours (a megawatt hour is 1000 kWh or 1,000,000 watt hours). Thus, the rough average electric usage for each residential customer is 11.13 megawatt hours per year or 30.48 kWh/day. So my usage of 23.56 kWh/day is about 78% of the average residential usage.

How Much Difference With One Light?

Let’s assume you leave a lamp with a 100-watt bulb burning in the other room each evening. For 5 hours that bulb consumes 100-watts/hr times 5 hours or 500-watt hours (which is 0.5 kWh). Now if we just turned that one light off we would save 0.5 kWh per day. In my case my usage would drop from 23.56 kWh/day to 23.06 kWh/day. That is equal to a 2.1% reduction in my electricity use.

Who Cares About My 2.1% Reduction in Electricity Use?

Well, at 0.5 kWh/day that is a 182.5 kWh reduction per year. With the 2006 average retail price of 10.4 cents/kWh that equates to a savings of $18.98/year. OK, so to the individual an extra $19 isn’t going to mean a lot but keeping in mind to turn that extra light off isn’t all that hard to do either. Now, if each household turned that same light off it would equate to saving nearly 61 million kWh/year.

According to the E.P.A. Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator

For the individual, this means 182.5 kWh saved = 0.15 Tons of CO2 avoided, which is equal to:

  • Consuming 15.9 gallons of gasoline, or
  • Consuming 0.33 Barrels of crude oil, or
  • The CO2 absorbed by 3.6 tree seedlings grown for 10 years.

For all of the households, this means 61 million kWh saved = 52,277 Tons of CO2 avoided, which is equal to:

  • Taking 8,686 cars off of the road for a year, or
  • Powering 4,186 homes for a year, or
  • The CO2 absorbed by 1,216,023 tree seedlings grown for 10 years, or
  • The CO2 absorbed by 10,778 acres of pine forest

No matter if you look at the big picture or the little picture the simple task of turning the lamp off in the other room does make a difference. If all else fails, at least turn it of on Thursdays.

Earth Hour

Earth Hour 2008 is 48 hours away. On March 29th at 8pm (your local time), you are encouraged to turn off all of your lights and non-essential energy usage.

Earth Hour was started with an unprecendented event in Sydney, Australia on March 31st, 2007. On that day over 2.2 million people and 2100 businesses decided to turn off their lights for 1 hour. During this hour they realized an amazing 10.2% energy reduction for the city of Sydney.

This year the event turns global. Cities from all over the world and the U.S. are participating:

video source

So what are you going to do while your lights are off for one hour of one day? Well, it may be a little to late to organize a human pedal-powered rock show as they are doing in Tel Aviv. But you could start planning one for next year. The Daily Green offers some excellent ideas for activities during this hour.

Join the over 250 million individuals and businesses already signed up to participate in Earth Hour 2008 and switch your lights off for an hour.

What can I do after Earth Hour is over?

Earth Hour is an effective way for individuals to come together to make a large impact but can we sustain the event as individuals? Could you have an Earth Hour once a month? How about once a week? How about 5 days a week? Could turning the lights off for 1 hour each day during the week be a good way to help get the kids into bed? Could it be a good way to reduce distractions and increase communications with other members of your household? Maybe daily is too difficult. How about a once a month Earth Night? On a wekend night you could take the kids and camp out in the back yard.

The choices of what you do to reduce your energy consuption are yours. However, choose to do something. If all else fails, try following Eco Rule #1.

World Water Day 2008

 March 22nd has been adopted as World Water Day by the United Nations General Assembly. This observance stemmed from the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED).

This year’s theme for World Water Day is Sanitation, which coincides with the UN General Assembly’s Resolution as 2008 being the International Year of Sanitation (IYS). So what can we do for World Water Day? Stop using so much bottled water.

In 2007, 8.82 billion gallons of bottled water were sold in the U.S.; creating an $11.7 billion industry. Fortunately, in the U.S. we already have safe tap water to drink so why are we wasting our resources and money for bottled water?

The Santa Clara Valley Water District has some incredible information in a video about the resources we use to get our bottled water:, has an excellent article about World Water Day and the planed activities of some Canadian university students.

Some tips for everyday use


at least for being

Green on Thursdays:

  • Reduce your use of bottled water. Drink tap water.

  • Reuse the empty bottles. Sure, you might like to take a bottle of water to the gym but why not refill the bottle with tap water, place it in the fridge to chill, and take it with you for your next workout.

  • Recycle the empty bottles. If you can’t seem to break your habit of purchasing the bottled water then at least make sure the empties are placed in your recycling bin.

Introduction to Eco Rules

I didn’t really plan on starting my posts today but since today is Thursday I can’t find a more perfect day to launch this site. I hope everyone can get something out of this site or at least get as much enjoyment reading it as I am going to get writing the posts.

Green Living  has been defined as a lifestyle intended to ensure that one’s impact on the enviroment is as minimal (or as positive) as possible.

What this site will focus on is the “as possible” aspect. As individuals we are each going to have our own tolerances and thresholds to what is possible. While some may chose to buy all local produce, never travel further than they can walk, use cloth diapers for their children and maintain a vegan diet, this is not going to be possible for everyone. Others may choose to add renewable energy sources to their homes while other are not going to be able to afford those improvements. However, it should be everyone’s responsibility to start taking steps to become more enviromentally friendly, even if it is baby steps. Every step in the direction of lessening our enviromental impact is a step in the right direction. While our individual steps may seem small the impact will be collectively large as more and more people join the Green Movement. When we start making these steps we need to be sure that the actions we are going to take are sustainable during our everyday lives. We need to sustain our green steps; adding them and linking them together.

This site will help serve as a beginning or basic green living guide for those interested in learning to go green. We will feature:

  • Green Living Ideas
  • Green Living Products
  • and Green Living Rules otherwise know as the Eco Rules.

Without further introductions we will introduce our first Eco Rule:

Eco Rule #1 = TURN IT OFF

I really don’t think this first rule needs a lot of explanation. Perhaps the biggest ongoing theme in reducing our impact on our planet is to reduce our energy needs. We will go into further details later but if you’re not using something turn it off. Taking little actions like turning off the closet light, turning off the sink when you’re brushing your teeth and turning off the A/C or heat on nice days will make a difference.