Environmental tips

Check In to Check Out our Tips on Foursquare

By Jessica Orquina

Do you check in everywhere you go? Are you the mayor of your favorite coffee shop, café, or park? Then you’ll want to check this out. I’m excited to announce that EPA has joined Foursquare! Here is the link to our page:

http://foursquare.com/epagov

On Foursquare, we’re leaving tips about the environment across the country and around the world. Check in at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) here in Washington, DC and learn about the history of our agency. Travel to Mount Hood National Forest and get our tip about how you can participate in the State of the Environment Photo Project.

So far, we’ve left tips at about 100 locations. We’ll continue to add tips and share environmental information with you at places on throughout the country. Let us know which tips you find useful!

We’re also going to create lists of places you may want to visit. To start, we created a list of locations where Documerica photographs were taken. Documerica was a project EPA embarked on from 1972 to 1977 to document environmental conditions and concerns in the United States. Soon, we’ll be adding lists of estuaries, urban waters projects, and more.

Where would you like us to leave tips? Share your ideas in the comments below. And like us on Foursquare today!

Like us on foursquare


About the author: Jessica Orquina works in the Office of External Affairs and Environmental Education as the social media lead for the agency. Prior to joining EPA, she served as a public affairs specialist at another federal agency and is a former military and commercial airline pilot. She lives, works, and writes in Washington, DC.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Looking For Ideas On How To Celebrate Earth Day?

By Shanshan Lin

Looking for ways to demonstrate your commitment to protecting the environment this Earth Day? There are plenty of ways you can help save energy, reduce the pollution in our air, and protect our climate for decades to come. Here are some of my favorite tips that my EPA colleagues recommend for making a difference at home, school, or work.

  • Change a Light! The average home has approximately 30 light fixtures. By replacing your home’s five most frequently used light fixtures or the bulbs in them with models that have earned the ENERGY STAR, you can save $70 each year. If every American home did this, we would save $8 billion each year in energy costs and prevent greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to those from about 10 million cars!
  • Reduce your carbon footprint! Leaving your car at home twice a week can cut greenhouse gas emissions by 1,600 pounds per year. Save up errands and shopping trips so you need to drive fewer times. If you commute to work, ask if you can work from home at least some days, and you’ll reduce air pollution and traffic congestion – and save money.
  • It’s electric! You can check how much of your electricity comes from clean, renewable sources, such as wind or solar. Green power produces less carbon emissions, reduces air pollution, and helps protect against future costs or scarcity of fossil fuels. If green power is a consumer option, check price differences from suppliers before you buy.
  • Breathe easy! On unhealthy air pollution “action alert” days, wait to mow your lawn until it’s cooler in the evening or early the next morning. You help reduce air pollution for everyone near you if you run gas-powered equipment, like lawn mowers, when it’s cooler. You also protect your health by avoiding ground-level ozone during the warmest part of the day. Check your air quality now.

You can find more suggestions at Environmental Tips, but don’t limit yourself to these suggestions. If you have a unique way to celebrate Earth Day, share your tip with us!

About the author: Shanshan Lin is an intern for EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation communications team. She is also a graduate student at George Washington University.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Saving the Environment, Part 2

About the author: Brenda Reyes Tomassini joined EPA in 2002. She is a public affairs specialist in the San Juan, Puerto Rico office and also handles community relations for the Caribbean Environmental Protection Division.

In my previous post, I provided tips that everyone can incorporate into their daily routines. Today you will find the last 26 for a total of 52 changes you can make during 2009 to protect the environment and reduce your carbon footprint.

When Traveling:
27.  Take it on the road – even when traveling, don’t leave the sink running unnecessarily and turn off the lights when you leave your hotel room.
28. Fly direct – it saves fuel and reduces your carbon footprint.
29. Pick a destination where you can walk, bike or use public transportation.
30. Choose a destination with activities related to environmental protection or enjoying nature.

At Work:
31. If you need to attend an off-site meeting, consider videoconferencing.
32. Bring your own reusable cup to your local coffee shop.
33. Think before your print. Go paperless when you can.

At Home:
34. A WaterSense labeled bathroom sink faucet or aerator will help you reduce water use and save money.
35. Don’t let your car idle while waiting. Turn off the engine after 30 seconds.
36. Check the air in your car’s tires to improve your gas mileage.
37. Consider walking, biking, public transportation or carpooling. Combine multiple errands when driving.
38. Consider natural pesticides. For example. boiling hot water with phosphate-free detergent can eliminate an infestation of mole crickets.
39. Choose natural and machine washable fabrics when purchasing clothes.
40. If clothes must be dry-cleaned, try hanging them to air out after each use to extend time between cleaning.
41. Use rechargeable batteries and recycle them properly
42. When purchasing gifts, consider environmentally friendly alternatives such as movie-tickets, memberships or donations to a favorite charity.
43. In the summertime, save on electricity by closing blinds early in the day to keep the hot sun out.
44. Don’t throw prescriptions down the drain. For guidance, visit the Proper Disposal of Prescription Drugs site.
45. Avoid toys for outside play that require a constant flow of water.
46. Wash your car with a bucket, instead of the hose, or use a commercial car wash that recycles water.
47. Detect and repair all water leaks around the house and garden.
48. Wash full loads of laundry and use the appropriate water level.
49. Repair and caulk windows during winter months.
50. Repurpose old things or refurbish worn/slightly damaged but favorite items.

In the classroom:
51. For “back to school,” swap books and uniforms with other parents
52. If you are a teacher, take the lesson outside the classroom. Let students experience nature.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Protegiendo el Medioambiente, parte 2

Sobre la autor: Brenda Reyes Tomassini se unió a la EPA en el 2002. Labora como especialista de relaciones públicas en la oficina de EPA en San Juan, Puerto Rico donde también maneja asuntos comunitarios para la División de Protección Ambiental del Caribe.

En mi pasado blog, detallé 26 cambios que cualquier persona puede hacer en su rutina diaria para proteger el medioambiente y reducir su huella de carbon.  Adjunto incluyo los 26 restantes para un total de 52 cambios, uno por cada semana del año.

Al viajar:
27. No deje el agua corriendo y evite el encendido innecesario de luces cuando se hospede en un hotel.
28. Vuele directo-ahorra combustible y reduce su huella de carbono.
29. Escoja un destino donde pueda caminar, usar bicicleta o transportación pública.
30. Escoja un destino dónde pueda realizar actividades enfocadas a la protección ambiental o ecoturismo.

En el trabajo:
31. Si necesita asistir a una reunión fuera de su lugar de trabajo considere realizarla a través de videoconferencia.
32. Lleve su propia taza reusable al lugar dónde compra el café
33. Piense si es necesario imprimir documentos.  Trate de evitar el uso de papel.

En casa:
34. Una llave de baño con el sello de Watersense o un aireador puede ayudarle a reducir su consumo de agua y ahorrarle dinero.
35. Evite el encendido innecesario. Apague el motor de su auto si va a estar parado por más de 30 segundos.
36. Verifique el aire de las gomas de su auto.  La presión correcta le ayuda a gastar menos gasolina.
37. Considere caminar, tomar transportación pública, montar en bicicleta o compartir el viaje en auto cuando pueda.  También puede combinar sus diligencias en un solo viaje.
38. Utilice plaguicidas naturales.  En nuestra casa eliminamos una plaga en el césped vertiendo agua caliente con detergente libre de fosfato.
39. Al comprar ropa escoja aquellas piezas hechas de fibras naturales y que puedan ser lavadas a máquina.
40. Si tiene que enviar ropa a la tintorería extienda el tiempo entre visitas colgando la ropa para airearla.
41. Use baterías recargables y recicle las que no lo son.
42. Cuando compre regalos considere alternativas amigables para el medioambiente como boletos para el cine, membresías o donar a una entidad benéfica.
43. Ahorre electricidad en el verano cerrando las cortinas temprano en la tarde para refrescar la casa.
44. No tire medicamentos por el inodoro
45. Evite juegos que requieran un constante flujo de agua.
46. Lave su auto con un cubo, en vez de la manguera o en un lavado de autos comercial que recicle agua.
47. Detecte y repare cualquier fuga de agua en la casa y el jardín.
48. Lave tandas llenas de ropa y utilice el nivel apropiado de agua.
49. Repare y selle las ventanas en invierno
50. Busque un nuevo uso o arregle sus artículos favoritos.

En la escuela:
51. Para el regreso a clases intercambie libros y uniformes con otros padres.
52. Si es maestro lleve a sus estudiantes fuera del salón de clases y convierta la lección en una “verde”.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Saving the Environment, One Week at a Time

About the author: Brenda Reyes Tomassini joined EPA in 2002. She is a public affairs specialist in the San Juan, Puerto Rico office and also handles community relations for the Caribbean Environmental Protection Division.

A reporter recently approached me with the task of helping her with a “green” Christmas gift guide. I told her I was giving all of my friends reusable bags as presents in order for them to refrain from using plastic bags. This got me thinking of a list of habit-changing tips everyone can use. With the recent start of a new year,  what better resolution than 52 ideas that everyone can incorporate into their daily routine, one to be done every week, to turn a regular individual into an environmentally conscious citizen by the end of 2009. Here are the first 26.

  1. Reduce the amount of waste created by unnecessary packaging by buying in bulk whenever possible.
  2. Reuse everything you can. Donate what you don’t use to be reused. I have a hand-me down circle of friends for children’s clothing. I also like buying at second-hand shops for rarely used items like winter coats. (Remember, in Puerto Rico it’s “summer” all year round).
  3. Recycle. Check your town or municipality’s requirements. If they don’t have a recycling program available bring all your recyclables to the nearest drop-off center.
  4. Opt for items made from recycled materials when making a purchase.
  5. Borrow large items and tools.
  6. Become a smart consumer. Research before buying to consider the most environmentally friendly option.
  7. Use reusable bags.
  8. Shop for durability from clothes to large items.
  9. Try to eat more at home or brown bag whenever you can. Eating out generates more waste from unnecessary packaging.
  10. Employ natural ingredients for cleaning the house like vinegar and baking soda. I like plant-based cleaning products too.
  11. Buy phosphate free laundry and dishwashing liquids. Phosphates promote algae growth that damages aquatic ecosystems.
  12. Plant native plants in your backyard. Exotic species need more care.
  13. Compost food waste and leaves for a soil rich of nutrients. This is a great project to do with the kids!
  14. Change your lights to CFL. They use75% less energy and last 10 times longer.
  15. If replacing an appliance, look for the Energy Star logo.
  16. The house needs paint? Pick low Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) or no VOC paints.
  17. Install an Energy Star programmable thermostat.
  18. Plug electronics into power strips and turn off when not in use.
  19. Keep your fridge clean, this saves electricity.
  20. Install and use a clothesline.
  21. Choose local or organic fruit and vegetables. Non-local means gallons of fuels burned.E
  22. Even better grow your own! I have a banana tree in my backyard as well as navel oranges.
  23. Hosting a dinner or birthday party? Use real china and cutlery to avoid sending large amounts of waste into the landfill.
  24. Share your green habits with your relatives and children. They will be inspired to make a change too!
  25. Take your kids on long walks or bike rides. Let them explore the biodiversity around them. My kids love kite flying in El Morro and bike riding in Luis Muñoz Rivera Park in San Juan.
  26. Participate in a beach cleanup or the International Coastal Cleanup

The following 26 tips next week—stay tuned!

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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A salvaguardar el medioambiente, una semana a la vez.

Sobre la autor: Brenda Reyes Tomassini se unió a la EPA en el 2002. Labora como especialista de relaciones públicas en la oficina de EPA en San Juan, Puerto Rico donde también maneja asuntos comunitarios para la División de Protección Ambiental del Caribe.

Recientemente se me acercó una reportera para que le ayudase a preparar una lista de regalos verde para Navidad. Le comenté que yo regalaría bolsos reusables a todas mis amigas para que no utilicen plásticas cuando van de compras. Esto me hizo pensar en una lista de hábitos que las personas puedan incorporar, una semana a la vez, para convertirse en un ciudadano consciente del medioambiente. Ésta es una excelente resolución para el nuevo año. He aquí las primeras 26.

  1. Reduzca los desperdicios que genera escogiendo artículos que no posean exceso de empaque o prefiera productos al por mayor.
  2. Reutilice todo lo que pueda. Done lo que no pueda reusar. Pertenezco a un círculo de madres que intercambiamos la ropa de nuestros hijos. Compro en tiendas de segunda mano la ropa que rara vez utilizamos como abrigos de invierno o disfraces.
  3. Recicle. Verifique los requisitos de su localidad. Si no hay programa disponible, llévelos al depósito más cercano.
  4. Compre artículos confeccionados de material reciclado.
  5. Pida prestados o preste artículos y herramientas poco utilizados.
  6. Conviértase en un consumidor inteligente. Considere la opción de menor impacto ambiental.
  7. Utilice bolsas reusables.
  8. Compre artículos duraderos desde ropa hasta enseres.
  9. Trate de comer en casa o llevar almuerzo a la oficina. Comer en restaurantes de comida rápida genera mucha basura y empaques innecesarios
  10. Al limpiar utilice ingredientes naturales como vinagre, soda de hornear o los hechos con extractos de plantas.
  11. Adquiera detergente que sean libre de fosfatos para proteger eco-sistemas acuáticos.
  12. Siembre plantas nativas, las exóticas requieren mayores cuidados.
  13. Convierta las peladuras de vegetales en composta. ¡Éste es un excelente proyecto para hacer con los niños!
  14. Cambie sus bombillas regulares por compactas fluorescentes of CFL’s. Utilizan 75% menos energía y duran 10 veces más.
  15. Si va a reemplazar enseres eléctricos, busque el sello Energy Star
  16. Al pintar la casa, escoja las que posean menos compuestos orgánicos volátiles (VOC’s)
  17. Instale un termostato programable Energy Star.
  18. Enchufe todos los electrónicos en un enchufe múltiple y desconéctelos cuando no estén en uso.
  19. Mantenga su nevera limpia para ahorrar electricidad.
  20. Instale y utilice un cordel de ropa.
  21. Escoja vegetales y frutos locales u orgánicos para minimizar la quema de combustibles en el transporte.
  22. ¡Cultive sus propias viandas y vegetales!
  23. ¿Celebra una fiesta de cumpleaños o cena? Utilice su vajilla de loza y cubiertos para no generar basura.
  24. Comparta sus hábitos con sus familiares e hijos. ¡Los inspirará a hacer un cambio!
  25. Lleve a sus niños en paseos que los pongan en contacto con la naturaleza, aprenderán a apreciarla. A mis hijos les encanta volar chiringas/cometas en El Morro y correr bicicleta en el Parque Luis Muñoz Rivera en San Juan.
  26. Participe de una limpieza de playa o de la Limpieza Internacional de Costas 

La semana entrante compartiré con ustedes los próximos 26 consejos.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.