Earlier this week, we talked about some of the technologies and practices that Abt has implemented in our business for being green on a day-to-day basis. And while it might not be feasible for individual homeowners to cover their roof in solar panels, there are still plenty of tactics that each of us can practice to help ease our impact on the environment. We’ve all heard of the 3 R’s of being environmentally-friendly: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. These are some of the simplest ways we can work to better the environment, so here are some ways each of us can fit the 3 R’s into our daily lives.
Most of us live in cities with municipal recycling programs. We take our cans, plastic bottles and paper products and drop them in a bin at the end of our driveway every week, and they’re hauled away and recycled, which keeps about 89 million tons of waste out of landfills. But it’s not always as easy to recycle other, larger items—your TV, cell phones, old light bulbs—which can be toxic to the earth.
In 2010, around 2.4 million tons of electronic waste was disposed of, with only 27% of it being properly recycled. Products that end up in landfills will eventually release hazardous substances like mercury, lead, and PCBs into the ground, which can contaminate our crops and water sources. In an era when we’re all constantly upgrading our gadgets, it’s increasingly important that our old devices get recycled properly. Thankfully, there are centers across the country that make it easy to drop off your old e-waste for safe recycling. Can’t make it out to Abt to recycle your old appliances, electronics, or other devices? Visit RecycleNation to search for your nearest recycling facility. Their recycling finder is also a great way to discover all of the other items you can recycle, including things you may never have thought of.
Choose Energy Efficiency
While recycling usually gets the spotlight, reducing your impact is just as important. One simple way for the average person to do that is to choose products that meet certain standards for energy consumption. ENERGY STAR is a program established by the Environmental Protection Agency to help make it easier for consumers to choose energy-efficient appliances. Less energy used means less production needed at coal-fired power plants, which means less pollution. The added benefit of using ENERGY STAR products is that they’ll save you money on your monthly utility bills. See Abt’s entire selection of ENERGY STAR appliances and electronics.
Customers local to the Chicagoland area also have additional motivation to replace their clunky old, power-hungry fridge or other appliances, thanks to energy provider Commonwealth Edison. As part of their ongoing energy efficiency rebate program, ComEd rewards customers with a cash rebate when they recycle those appliances. ComEd will come to your house to pick up your ancient fridge for proper recycling, and give you $50 for it! The program is great for those of you who have an old fridge running in the garage, but haven’t gotten rid of it because you’re not sure exactly how to do it. This program keeps old fridges out of the trash, prevents them from needlessly wasting money by staying plugged in, and puts some cash in your pocket. All you have to do is schedule a pickup online or over the phone. Find out more about the ComEd Energy Efficiency Rebates.
Another great way to reduce your carbon footprint is by making smart choices for simple things like the lighting in your home. A skylight in the main room of your house can cut down on the amount of electrical lighting you need during the day. And the rest of your home lights can be upgraded to LED light bulbs, which require about 10% of the energy of an incandescent bulb while still creating the same amount of light. Couple them with smart systems like the Philips Hue, which let you adjust your lights from anywhere with an internet connection, and you can eliminate a significant chunk of your electricity usage. See our entire selection of smart, energy-efficient home lighting.
Finding a new home for old goods
Many of us probably have a closet filled with old gadgets that we haven’t used in a while, or an old projection TV in the basement, but we’re hesitant to simply recycle them because they still work well. That brings us to the idea of “reuse.” Just because you may no longer have a use for something, that doesn’t mean it’s objectively useless. While your smartphone or digital camera might be a generation old, it’s still plenty useful and will be valuable to someone else. This weekend, we’ll be hosting National Camera Exchange for our annual camera trade-in event, when they’ll be on-site offering cash for used camera gear. That old photo equipment you were about to toss might be worth a few bucks.
The odds are that most of us have stuff around the house that we don’t use, don’t need, and don’t even want, we just haven’t figured out how to get rid of it. Instead of just throwing it out, there’s a good chance that it can be donated to someone who may actually want or even need it. And while you may not be able to get cold hard cash for all of your used goods, you will get the peace-of-mind of knowing it didn’t end up in a landfill. A quick visit to Goodwill or The Salvation Army with a trunkload of old clothes or home goods is a great way for them to get reused.
These are just a few of the many ways we can all help protect the earth and preserve it for future generations. The little things can add up to have a large impact, so we encourage you to reduce, reuse and recycle whenever you can. We’re always looking for new ways to do those things, and we hope you will too. Happy Earth Day!