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Going Green One Step at a Time

We’ve read and heard slogans about how saving the environment can also save the planet. But how do we attain such a seemingly ambitious goal? The answer is by breaking it down into simple earth-friendly changes we can easily incorporate into our daily routine. Here are some practical steps in going green.

Kick the plastic habit.
Sudden floods have long been the bane of metro living, especially during the rainy season. And it doesn’t take a tropical cyclone to cause water level to rise; just a bout of afternoon thunderstorms is enough to cause massive floods and heavy traffic all over the city.

According to the EcoWaste Coalition, a non-government waste and pollution watchdog, waste is one of the major causes of flooding as these clog drainage systems. Metro Manila’s daily waste weighs in at an alarming 8,601 tons per day and is estimated to rise to 9,060 tons per day in 2015.

That is why the group supports the implementation of Republic Act 9003, an act providing for an ecological solid waste management program. The coalition’s major projects include Balik Bayong, which encourages consumers to carry their purchases in a bayong or a reusable bag instead of plastic, which add to the problem of non-biodegradable waste. In fact, EcoWaste has been actively pushing for the banning of plastic bags with the help of local government units. Cities like Muntinlupa, Las Piñas and Quezon City have banned the use of plastic bag, especially in wet markets.

Eat sustainable food.
Greenpeace, another environmental group that aims to change attitudes and behavior of people on protecting and conserving the environment, says that eating fruits and vegetables is more eco-friendly than eating meat. According to a 2006 report from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, the livestock industry produces more greenhouse gas emissions than all the forms of transport in the planet combined. Moreover, forests are being destroyed to make room for pastures to feed these animals, killing off thousands of trees that mitigate floods and global warming.

If you want to take eating green a step further, Greenpeace suggests growing your own produce in your backyard to ensure that your veggies, fruits and herbs are pesticide-free.

Cook with minimum energy.
Eco-friendly cooking begins with the right equipment. Greenpeace suggests that before buying large appliances, you should check and compare their energy ratings to know how many kilowatt-hours of energy they use up per month.

Compared to metal pans, glass dishes heat up more quickly, using less time and energy for cooking. Also remember that the bottom of your pan or pot should be the same size as the burner to use the minimum amount of energy.

Before cooking, thaw frozen foods first. And when boiling water, put a lid on the pan to make it heat up faster. Turn down the heat after water boils. Lightly boiling water is the same temperature as water in a rolling boil.

Store food smart.
Greenpeace says no to plastic and suggests using reusable glass containers for storing food in the refrigerator. Speaking of refrigerators, do you know that they use more energy than any other appliance in your home? Here are a few tips to minimize their energy consumption:

• The fridge’s temperature should be kept at 38 to 42°F (3 to 5°C), the freezer at 0 to 5°F (-17 to -15°C).
• Do not open your refrigerator door repeatedly. Before opening it, first decide on which item to get to avoid energy wastage.
• Don’t place your fridge in a warm spot, such as near the heater or in direct sunlight.
• For its efficient operation, clean the condenser coils at the back or bottom of your fridge at least once a year.
• Keep the door gasket clean to make sure that dried food and residue won’t damage its seal.
• Remarkably, energy consumption by the most efficient refrigerator models is largely unrelated to their size. The most efficient 14 cu. ft. fridge on the market today only consumes 106kWh/y. These efficient refrigerators are about 5 to 15% more expensive to buy, but will save you loads of money and energy.

Make the most of your bathroom time.
Each time we use the bathroom, it’s inevitable to use water. To make sure we don’t waste our most valuable resource, Greenpeace dishes out some ways on how we can be eco-warriors even during bathroom time:

• Use a pail for flushing or install dual-flush toilets to minimize the amount of water used. Use your wastebasket for miscellaneous bathroom wastes. Flushing garbage wastes water and can cause treatment problems.
• Mend any dripping taps or leaking pipes immediately. Don’t leave the tap running while brushing your teeth or shaving.
• A shower (about 10 minutes) uses 2/3 of the amount of water as a bath.
• Install water-saving devices for your taps and showers. Energy saving shower heads can save up to 20% of hot water usage and cut down your electricity bills. A faucet aerator will reduce the flow without reducing the water pressure.

By making these steps part of your daily habits, you’re well on your way to saving the planet—a task that doesn’t need superheroes to achieve, but small, individual acts that will make a difference in the long run.

Sources: ECOWASTE COALITION | Greenpeace Philippines | Greenpeace USA