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Be Green and Save Green this Holiday Season

blog Samantha Nevels

Samantha Nevels, CEA

By: Samantha Nevels

In a recent study, the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA)® found that 60 percent of consumers are concerned about their energy bill. The first step in cutting your bill is understanding your energy use. CEA has made this easy through an interactive consumer electronics energy calculator available at GreenerGadgets.org. In just a few easy steps, the calculator will estimate the amount of energy used by your consumer electronics devices based on what electronics you use and how often you use them. The calculator determines your energy cost per month and per year, and compares your energy use to that of the average U.S. household. It also provides some easy tips to save energy!

Here are some tips on how to be green during the holidays: 

  • Look for the ENERGY STAR: Electronics are a popular gift and now you can give a great present that also gives back.  Look for the ENERGY STAR  when shopping for electronics. The trusted blue label indicates energy efficient products that will save you money on your energy bill and help protect the planet.
  • Recycle your old Electronics: Whether you get or give electronics this holiday season, be sure to recycle the old one, allowing the valuable materials inside to be used again in new products and to save natural resources. Find an electronics recycling site near you at GreenerGadgets.org.
  • Read the Fine Print: Check your owners’ manuals to make sure you are taking full advantage of any energy conservation capabilities that your electronics may have.
  • Plug and Unplug: Plug electronic devices like televisions, game consoles, set-top boxes, and even your holiday lights into eco-friendly power strips. Also, unplug those holiday lights during the day!

With these quick and easy tips you’ll be on your way to having more money in your pocket and contributing to a better, more sustainable world. Visit GreenerGadgets.org to learn more about how you can live green, buy green and recycle responsibly.

Samantha Nevels is the coordinator of Policy Communication for the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA).  CEA is a consumer electronics authority on market research and forecasts, consumer surveys, legislative and regulatory news, engineering standards, training resources and more.  CEA works closely with EPA through the ENERGY STAR program, to promote greater adoption of ENERGY STAR certified consumer electronics.

 

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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This Holiday Season, it Pays to be Power-Wise

Holiday Gift

By Samantha Nevels, CEA

Looking for new ways to save money on your energy bill? You’re not alone. A consumer survey conducted by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) ® found that 60 percent of consumers are concerned about their electricity bills. The good news is that consumer electronics products account for only 12 to 15 percent of an average home’s energy use.  Nevertheless, every little bit of unused energy saves you money and reduces energy demand.

The first step in cutting energy costs is understanding your energy usage. CEA has made this easy through a new, interactive Consumer Electronics Energy Calculator available at GreenerGadgets.org. With a few simple steps, this calculator will estimate the amount of energy used by your consumer electronics devices. All you have to do is select which electronics devices you own and estimate how many hours per day you use them. The calculator will then determine your energy cost per month and per year, and compare your energy use to that of the average U.S. household.

Below are a few quick and easy tips that will make a difference this holiday season:

  • Give the gift that gives back. Electronics are a popular gift for the holidays, and now you can give a great gift that also gives back.  Look for the ENERGY STAR if you are purchasing electronics this holiday season. EPA’s ENERGY STAR program recognizes energy efficient products that will save you money on your electricity bill and help protect the climate.  You can find more information on ENERGY STAR certified products at www.energystar.gov.

 

  • New electronics gift? Recycle the old one. Whether you get or give an electronics gift, be sure to reuse or recycle the old one, enabling the valuable materials to be used again in new products while helping to save natural resources. Check out EPA’s e-Cycling guidance for more information. CEA also offers a  recycling site locator at GreenerGadgets.org.

 

  • Pay attention to the plug. Plug electronic devices, such as televisions, DVD players, game consoles and audio systems, into eco-friendly power strips, or unplug devices altogether when they are not in use.
  • Read the fine print. Check your electronics owners’ manuals to make sure you are taking full advantage of any energy-conservation capabilities that your devices may have.

 

With these quick and easy tips you’ll be on your way to having more money in your pocket and contributing to a better, more sustainable environment.

About the Author: Samantha Nevels is the coordinator of Policy Communications for the Consumer Electronics Association.

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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Reach for the Blue label on Black Friday

Una Song

By: Una Song

Every family has their own ways of celebrating the holidays, and my family is no different. At our Thanksgiving dinner, we will have all the usual fixings: turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie.  But being Korean, we’ll also have kimchi (pickled cabbage), jap chae (a noodle dish with vegetables and beef), and mandoo (Korean version of wontons).

Another Thanksgiving tradition of mine is seeing an action movie with my cousins after dinner and then shopping on the Friday after Thanksgiving. When I was younger, we would go to the department stores and look for the best deals on sweaters, ties and scarves. Now I find myself increasingly spending more time looking for electronics.  I am not alone.  According to the Consumer Electronics Association’s Holiday Gift Guide, technology gifts like tablet computers, smartphones, digital TVs and cameras, and video game systems once again top many wish lists.

Those who want to do good by the environment can choose electronics that use less energy by looking for EPA’s blue ENERGY STAR label as they do their holiday shopping.  The ENERGY STAR label helps consumers easily identify products that are energy efficient, and it can be found on over 65 product categories, including TVs, computers, printers and other electronics.

Hot products like soundbars and speaker systems for MP3 players are great gift ideas and they are covered by the ENERGY STAR program.  Products that have earned the ENERGY STAR provide the same functionality as standard models, but use less energy because they are more efficient in all usage modes:  sleep, idle, and on.  If every TV, DVD player, and home theatre system purchased in the U.S. this year were ENERGY STAR qualified, we would save more than $260 million and prevent more than 3 billion pounds of greenhouse gas emissions per year, equivalent to the annual emissions of more than 300,000 cars.

So when you start making your shopping list this year, look for the ENERGY STAR logo and do something good for the environment this holiday season.

Una Song works for EPA’s ENERGY STAR program and is focused on marketing ENERGY STAR consumer electronics.  She looks forward to the Thanksgiving food coma every year.

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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“Fashion Show! It’s what I do…”

By Lorna Rosenberg

It’s what I do with friends and family when I come back from shopping at my favorite consignment stores with bags of fashion potential. The things I love most about consignment shopping are that it fits my style, my budget and my environmental ethic — keeping great clothes out of landfills, supporting local economies, and reducing the need for mass producing even more clothes, shoes and accessories.

I like keeping my wardrobe up to date with outfits that are new to me. I find department stores dizzying with too many choices that don’t interest me. Clothing in a consignment shop has already been selected twice, once by the original buyer and next by the shop owner, so I find the choices are better. Because the prices are much less than a retail store, I have been known to take fashion risks, like the lime-green leopard jacket that I couldn’t resist or the “flapper” sequined cocktail dress that has now been demoted to Halloween-wear. Depending on the shop, I have been known to clinch famous designers, like Betsy Johnson, Halston and Escada for a fraction of the original prices.

Consignment shops tend to have one-of-a-kind and size (unless they are re-selling stock from a closed boutique) so there is a great opportunity to mix and match for your own body type, for what looks best on you. With rare exception, I only make purchases that are in perfect condition, don’t need major alteration, and that complete an outfit. My latest cost-saving strategy is to start my shopping in the $10 and $20 rack and build my outfit from there. Environmentally, consignment shopping helps me hang onto some of my existing favorites by purchasing a new accessory or complementary item to update my look for the next season.

So now that you know how to spruce-up your fall wardrobe in a cost effective, eco-friendly way, get out there and do some shopping.

About the author: Lorna Rosenberg is the Green and Healthy Schools Coordinator in Region 3. She is grateful to have been located in Center City Philadelphia with EPA for 28 years which has contributed immensely to her clothes consigning acumen, office couture and the local economy.

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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Back to School Going Green!

Well it is back to school shopping time so let’s talk about saving some green (a.k.a. cash) and going green with the 3-Rs—Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.  Reusing school supplies from last year will reduce the amount of items you need to purchase and decrease your environmental impact.  Look around the house, in your book bag, and under the car seats for pencils, pens, and partly used spiral notebooks.

After you have gathered up last year’s left over school supplies it is now time to go shopping!  Use your environmental consumer super power to purchase recycled versions of items you still need.   There are lots of choices to “make a statement” with your green school supplies purchases.  Purchase brands with the highest percentage of post-consumer recycled content.  Become an instant Eco Fashionista!  Recycled purses and bags made from juice boxes, seatbelts, magazines, newspapers, and more.  My favorite is recycled paper with flower seeds imbedded in it for those special notes.   I also stop in at my local zoo’s gift shop to get a Poo Paper fix.   It is paper made from elephant (or other animals) manure; no it doesn’t smell, but it does make a great conversation starter.

Make textbook covers from recycled paper grocery sacks, crayons and markers or an old T-shirt. 

Retro is in!  Stop by your local gently used store to buy a new look and donate stuff from your closet that no longer fits your style or your body.  Purchasing gently used clothing is a huge way to decrease your ecological footprint.

If you take snacks or your lunch to school, remember to purchase regular- sized bags and then put what you need for the day into a reusable container.  With snack-sized bags you pay more for smaller portions AND the extra packaging creates more waste

If you drive, start a carpool!  It will not only save some cash but you and your friends can get a head start on “whatz up!” gossip before arriving at school.

Denise Scribner has been teaching about environmental issues for over 35 years.   For her innovative approaches to teaching to help her students become environmentally aware citizens, she won the 2012 Presidential Innovation Award for Environmental Educators. Her high school was also one of the first 78 schools across the USA to be named a Green Ribbon School in 2012.

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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College Students – It’s Time for Back to School Shopping!

By Vanja Basaric

College Students- It’s Time for Back to School Shopping! Find Ways to Save Money AND help Protect the Environment!

With summer nearing its end, college students like me start thinking about supplies we need when going back to school. When I think of back to school shopping as a kid, I think about how excited I used to get when teachers sent out school supply checklists. I would eagerly run up to my mom telling her we had to go to the store THAT DAY, or all of the good supplies would be taken. I remember running through the store picking out the newest Backstreet Boys folders and gel pens so I could impress friends with my brand new supplies. But as much as I enjoyed back to school shopping, the older I got, the more I realized how pricey it can be.

For college students, back to school purchasing is more about housing, textbooks, and computers. As a graduate student, my back to school shopping this year means upgrading my computer, purchasing a mini-fridge to keep my snacks fresh, and ordering endless amounts of textbooks. Clearly, these needs require quite a hefty budget, but there are many ways that I have found throughout the years to keep costs down.

I’m also passionate about finding ways to help protect the environment when making my back to school purchases. For instance, I always make sure to buy appliances and products with the ENERGY STAR label .  Having my own apartment means paying for utilities, and this makes me even more energy and cost cautious. What impresses me about ENERGY STAR products is that they offer savings on energy bills without sacrificing performance or features. ENERGY STAR provides a list of products for your dorm room or apartment.

Other ways I save money on back to school shopping include buying electronic versions of my textbooks. Rather than spending a fortune on hard copies of the text, I just download the electronic version and easily access it on school computers. I’m amazed at how much money I’ve saved over the years by not buying name brand pens and notebooks and shopping at discount stores. Yes, this means giving up my beloved gel pens, but it also means saving money.

So whether you are going back to your dorm or finally moving off campus into your new place, remember these back to school shopping tips and save money while being mindful of our beautiful environment!

About the author: Vanja Basaric is a graduate student at James Madison University working towards a Master of Public Administration. She is currently a summer intern in the Office of Public Engagement.

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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Super Power

reusable shopping bagI love to shop! But did you know that shopping feeds my super power?   No joke and you have this super power too.  How do you activate your hidden super power?  By the choices you make when shopping.

Teen consumers are an important part of the U.S. economy.  You purchase things based on current trends that later filter into the mainstream. So like me, you have the power to influence manufacturers to make their products greener and to influence how other consumers (a.k.a. your friends) shop.

How?  Here are some ways I fuel my environmental super power.  I purchase items that use less or no polystyrene or plastic packaging for their product.  Did you know that since 1990 several major fast food restaurants have stopped using Styrofoam food containers all because of super powered people like me?!  I even bring my own reusable plastic container when I eat out to take home any leftovers.   I also purchase CDs and video games packaged in recycled paper jackets rather than plastic jewel cases.  POW!  Another super power blow to plastics. I make the choice to use cloth bags to carry my “treasures” home rather than using plastic sacks that end up in our oceans or landfills. BAM!  Finally, retro is in so when I need a new look I go to my local second-hand store to purchase gently used clothing and other items for my home or yard. Reusable power assemble!

Everybody gets thirsty when they are shopping.  Make the choice to select a beverage from a vending machine packaged in aluminum cans rather than in plastic.  Recycling aluminum cans saves 95% of the energy used to make aluminum cans from virgin ore.

Seriously, the choices you make in purchasing products are a never-ending series of votes for or against the environment.  Super power consumers like you can make or break a product.  Yeah, I hear you, buying free trade items or stuff in recyclable containers might cost a little bit more, but the “pay it now or pay later“ premise comes into play. So do the right thing, buy the product not the packaging.

What have you purchased lately that was packaged “greener”?  Share your thoughts.

Denise Scribner has been teaching about environmental issues for over 35 years.   For her innovative approaches to teaching to help her students become environmentally aware citizens, she won the 2012 Presidential Innovation Award for Environmental Educators. Her high school was also one of the first 78 schools across the USA to be named a Green Ribbon School in 2012.

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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Canvas Bags Go Mainstream

About the author: Jeff Maurer manages Web content and does communications work for the Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response. He has been with EPA since 2005

We had a question of the week a little while ago about what type of bags people use at the grocery store. There were a lot of interesting answers, and a lot of creative ideas about how to reuse plastic grocery bags (dog owners, for obvious reasons, seem to be enthusiastic re-users of plastic bags). Our intern counted up the comments responding to the grocery bag question of the week, and posted the final numbers in a followup. Now, I realize that readers of this blog aren’t a random sample of the population, but I think we can still conclude: canvas grocery bags have gone mainstream.

This is great news. We’ve recommended reusable grocery bags on our list of environmental shopping tips for years. I started using canvas bags a couple years ago, and they’re becoming ever more common at my grocery store. For those of you who haven’t yet made the switch, let me share a few things about canvas bags that you might want to know:

Canvas bags hold a lot of stuff. As many of the commenters in the Q&A noted, canvas bags are sturdier than paper bags and hold more than plastic. As a member of a warehouse shopping club, this is a priority for me: a 10-pound tub of gummi bears will decimate your average paper or plastic bag. My canvas bags have a long strap that you can throw over your shoulder, and I’ve also got an insulated one that helps keep cold things cold.

The people working at the store are used to canvas bags. There was a time, long ago, when presenting a bagger with your own bag would unleash utter confusion. When you did manage to explain what you were doing and why, you were viewed as some sort of fringe naturalist, the type of person who lives in a cabin with no plumbing and makes their own clothes out of hemp. Those days are over; plop your canvas bags next to the register nowadays, and everyone knows what to do. Also – and this is in response to something my wife once wondered out loud – it is okay to use bags bearing a certain store’s logo at another store. The 16-year-old kid bagging groceries isn’t getting paid enough to bag groceries AND be the brand identity police.

Canvas bags save money. More and more places are charging a small fee for plastic bags. A couple of stores do it, and a few cities are considering it as well. All of Ireland does it. The charge isn’t much, but neither is a canvas bag: I bought mine for a dollar each. Considering that I’ll probably use them for several decades, it won’t take me long to recoup that investment.

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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