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Chicago Union Station Goes GreenGreen Tips Archive

Tip 1: Loving Lawn Care

If you think you must use heavy amounts of pesticides to grow a beautiful lawn, think again. EarthShare offers these tips on how to have a bright green, weed-free lawn:

  • Mow your lawn only as needed. If the grass has gotten too tall, don't mow it down all at one time. Mow gradually, cutting no more than an inch off with the first mowing. Allow the lawn to recover for a day or two, and then trim another inch. Continue cutting an inch at a time until you reach the desired height.

  • Water wisely. Don't water on a timer. Some grasses need more water than others, so figure out what kind of grass you have before you decide to water it frequently. When you do water, soak the grass through to the roots, not just the top of the blades.

  • Use slow-release, organic fertilizers. Most lawn and garden centers now offer several organic fertilizers along with the more standard varieties.
Tip 2: Bicycling to Work & the Store

AdultBicycling.com cites two different ways to reduce pollution caused by excessive use of cars - bicycling to work and the store:

  • Using a bike to commute to and from work reduces the amount of pollution and can be far less stressful than sitting in traffic for an hour or more each way and can save money.

  • If you are worried about traffic fumes from walking or biking, there may be no need. Cyclists and pedestrians actually absorb lower levels of pollutants from traffic fumes than car drivers.

  • Riding a bike to work and home is also a great way to get in a daily workout without having to hit the gym every day. Cycling everyday where the exercise leaves you breathing heavily but not being out of breath is an effective form of aerobic exercise. This is the type of exercise that is most effective at promoting good health. Cycling short distances everyday can reduce your risk of death by as much as 22 percent.

  • If you're not up to commuting to work every day by bike, consider commuting just one or two days a week by bike to start out with and working up to commuting everyday by bike. Or consider taking a bike to the train station or bus stop.
Tip 3: Bottled Water

Kick the bottled water habit. Bring in a mug or cup from home that you can refill either from the tap or from the water service in your office. Consider the following statistics:

  • America's appetite for bottled water gobbles up more than 47 million gallons of oil and produces one billion pounds of CO2 emissions each year.

  • Bottled water costs 240 to 10,000 times more than tap water, most of which goes for bottling, packaging, shipping, marketing, retailing and profit.

  • According to Readers Digest health (www.rd.com/health), over 25% of bottled water comes from municipal supplies.

  • Federal standards for tap water are actually higher than those for bottled water.

  • It can take up to 1,000 years for a plastic water bottle to biodegrade in a landfill.

  • Only about six percent of plastic is recycled. If you absolutely must drink bottled water, at least make sure to toss the empty bottle into a recycling container.
Tip 4: Carpooling

At a nationwide average drive-time of about 24.3 minutes, Americans now spend more than 100 hours a year commuting to work, according to the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey. In Chicago, the drive time is 33.2 minutes. Yes, that's more than the average two weeks of vacation time taken by many workers during a year!

If you drive to work, take a passenger. If each commuter took just one more person to work, the U.S. would save 600,000 gallons of gas every day and prevent the release of 12 million pounds of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

Find out if your employer also offers a qualified transportation benefit that can help you save money and energy.

Tip 5: Here comes the sun

Exposure to UV radiation has increased over the years due to the depletion of the ozone layer, a naturally occurring gas that filters the sun's UV radiation. Overexposure to UV rays can lead to skin cancer, cataracts and weakened immune systems.

To protect against sun-related damage, Earthshare (www.earthshare.org) offers these rules:

  • Wear those shades. Sunglasses that provide 99-100% of UVA and UVB protection greatly reduce sun exposure that can lead to cataracts and other eye damage. Be sure to check the label when buying sunglasses to make sure they have proper UV protection.

  • Lather on the sunscreen. Use a sunscreen with Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of at least 15. Apply it liberally and often to all exposed areas of your body, particularly your ears, face, back and neck. Reapply every 2 hours; even waterproof sunscreen can come off when you towel off sweat or water.

  • Listen to the weather reports. The daily UV Index, developed by the National Weather Service and the Environmental Protection Agency, provides a forecast of the expected risk of overexposure to the sun and indicates the degree of caution that you should take when working, playing or exercising outdoors.

  • Stay clear of the midday sun as much as possible. The sun's UV rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. If you're spending the day at the beach, take refuge under a beach umbrella during those hours when the sun's rays are most intense.

  • Dress Up. Wear light, long-sleeved shirts and ankle-length pants if you're going to be out in the sun for long periods of time and you'd rather not wear sunscreen. A wide brimmed hat will shade your face, neck, ears and eyes.
Tip 6: Keeping Cool

With the heat of summer now upon us, we should do everything we can to conserve energy as we keep cool. That means treating our air conditioners the same way we treat other energy-demanding appliances: by using them wisely and keeping them running efficiently. Air conditioning accounts for 14 percent of America's home electricity use, and most of that electricity comes from coal.

Here are some tips from EarthShare (www.earthshare.org) to help:

  • Invest in an energy-efficient air conditioner. If you're buying a new air conditioner, choose one for maximum energy efficiency. New air conditioners come labeled with an Energy Efficiency Rating (EER), a standard that lets you calculate how much electricity the air conditioner will consume. The higher the EER, the less it will cost you to operate the appliance to achieve the same level of cooling.

  • Avoid overcooling. Don't use or buy more cooling equipment capacity than you actually need. If you decide on central air conditioning, select the most energy-efficient unit that will cool the size space you have. Bigger is not better. A larger unit than you need will cost more to run and may not remove enough humidity from the air, the feature that some consumers like most about air conditioners.

  • Keep your cooling system well tuned. Have it professionally maintained, and ask how the energy efficiency of the system may be increased.

  • Install a whole-house ventilating fan. This can be put in your attic or in an upstairs window to cool the house, even if you have central air conditioning. According to Consumer Reports, a big fan working under the right conditions can cool and ventilate an entire house for about the energy cost of running an air conditioner in one room.

  • Set your thermostat as high as possible. 78 degrees F. is often recommended as a reasonably comfortable and energy-efficient indoor temperature.
Tip 7: Making fleas flee & ticks take off

Every spring and summer, fleas and ticks cause misery to people and animals. On pets, they can spread disease and parasitic infections. Bored with frolicking in fur, they may decide to feast on you. Ouch!

(NOT SO FUN) FACT: For every flea found on your pet, there may be as many as 100 more lurking nearby! How do you get rid of them - without harming your pet, your family or the planet? Here are some tips from EarthShare (www.earthshare.org):

  • Most commercial flea and tick sprays contain carbaryl, which works by attacking pests' nervous systems. But carbaryl also can harm developing fetuses in both animals and humans. Fortunately, there are less-toxic alternatives. For example, some pesticides contain pyrethrin, a natural ingredient made from chrysanthemums. It works just as well, though it still should be used with care.

  • Many pesticides don't affect insects' eggs and larvae, which represent 95% of the flea population. That may require a kind of pesticide called a "growth regulator." They keep eggs from becoming adults.

  • Another way to keep fleas off pets is to add garlic and brewer's yeast to pets' meals, which makes pets taste bad to bugs. Many such products are sold in pet supply stores. But pets may need to take these remedies for several weeks before they work.

  • Don't overlook the basics. Keep your pet clean. Use a fine-toothed flea comb on your pet to remove existing fleas. And don't forget to dust and vacuum regularly. Fleas simply hate clean homes
Tip 8: Now that's cookin'

What would summer be without barbecues, picnics, and spur-of-the-moment meals eaten outdoors? Take the "heat" out of summer cooking with these simple ideas from EarthShare (www.earthshare.org):

  • Take advantage of the summer's garden-fresh produce to whip up salads and other side dishes that require little or no cooking energy. Or, choose meals that don't need to be reheated to be enjoyed as leftovers.

  • If you barbecue frequently at home, consider replacing your charcoal grill with an electric one. Electric grills generate far fewer air pollutants than burning charcoal, or even propane gas. Also, when buying an outdoor grill, choose one that also has a burner feature. You'll be able to cook as well as grill outside, helping to keep your kitchen cool and minimize indoor air conditioning needs.

  • When hosting friends at your house, use reusable or biodegradable cups and encourage recycling of cans and bottles.

  • Encourage guests to bike or carpool to your home.

  • Fill up pitchers of water and other beverages instead of buying individual portions.

  • Buy organic and locally grown vegetables and meat as often as possible.

Tips if using a charcoal grill:

  • Apply the minimum amount of lighter fluid (which contributes to air pollution) to ignite the charcoal.

  • Use lump brands of charcoal made from invasive trees species or harvested from sustainably managed forests over briquettes, as these may contain coal dust or other additives as binders.

  • Use a chimney starter to eliminate use of lighter fluid altogether. These metal cylinders are filled with charcoal and lit on fire using the aid of scrap paper at the bottom. Once the entire column of charcoal is lit, dump the charcoal onto your grill for a more eco-friendly barbeque.
Tip 9: Respect the Great Outdoors

Each summer, families, friends and nature lovers embark on the quintessential, all-American vacation: camping. But as harmless as it sounds, camping can still have a noticeable environmental impact if it is done carelessly. When you set out to enjoy the great outdoors, EarthShare offers these guidelines to keep in mind:

  • Stay on the right paths. Get good, established trail maps from the visitors center before you embark on your trip.

  • Minimize your impact on your campsite. Select a site that has already been used to eliminate further expansion of the camp and leave the campsite in as natural a state as possible.

  • Follow the Golden Rule for camping and hiking. "Take nothing but pictures; leave nothing but footprints."

  • Wash yourself, your dishes and your clothes at least 100 feet away from rivers, streams, lakes or ponds. When using any soap to wash yourself or your dishes, use it well away from natural water sources and pour it into highly absorbent ground. That goes for tooth brushing, too.
Tip 10:
Taking a Closer Look at Sunscreen

While you can't dispute the importance of protecting your skin from UV damage by wearing sunscreen daily, a closer look indicates that some sunscreens could cause serious environmental damage and negatively impact your own health.

According to EarthShare you may be surprised to learn that many sunscreens still lack the UVA protection needed to fully protect you from the sun, and as many as 4 out of 5 sunscreens contain chemicals that may pose health risks.

Make sure your sunscreen is safe and effective:

  • First, make sure to always bring along other sun protection like sunglasses, hats and umbrellas when you know you're going to be outside during the midday hours.

  • Second, read about the potential risks of sunscreen (start with the guides below), and then use your consumer savvy and responsible purchasing power to find a sunscreen that protects your health and that of the environment. Look for sunscreens that are free of petrochemical active ingredients and nanoparticles. By all accounts, old fashioned zinc-oxide is as safe as ever!
Tip 11:
Water saving tips in the garden

Gardening can be a fulfilling activity to help you relax outdoors. But, if you aren't careful, an environmentally-friendly activity can quickly turn into a sink for precious natural water resources.

Millions of gallons of water are used in gardens and lawns each year —many of them wastefully. EarthShare has some ways to cut back on the amount of water you use in the garden:

  • Adjust your lawn mower to a higher setting. Longer grass retains water better.

  • Water in the early morning when temperatures are cooler to minimize evaporation.

  • Check your sprinkler system regularly and adjust sprinklers so only your lawn is watered and not the house, sidewalk or street.

  • Use a rain barrel to collect and use rainwater for watering your garden.

  • Direct downspouts or gutters toward shrubs or trees or into the rain barrel.

  • Install a drip irrigation system around your trees and shrubs to water more efficiently.
Tip 12: Tips to keep the air you breath fresh and clean

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the air within homes and other buildings can be more seriously polluted than the outdoor air. Research indicates that people spend approximately 90 percent of their time indoors. It's also true that, unlike so many other forms of pollution, indoor air pollution is relatively easy to correct.

Some common sources of indoor air pollution include new carpet; paint; mold and mildew build up, particularly in ventilation systems; tobacco smoke; restroom air fresheners; chemicals emitted by copying machines; and formaldehyde and other chemicals that can seep out of pressed-wood products like particleboard, plywood paneling, and fiber-board.

To keep your air as fresh as possible, consider these tips from EarthShare:

  • Use plants to clean the air. According to a two-year study by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), many indoor plants absorb air pollutants through their leaves and roots and convert them into breathable air. Within 24 hours, some plants can remove up to 87 percent of toxic indoor air. Depending on the species, one plant can provide effective cleaning for every 100 square feet of space.

  • Consider the alternatives. Many chemically-sensitive consumers opt for carpet made from wool or cotton rather than synthetic fibers; others choose cabinets made from solid wood and finished with water-based varnishes rather than those constructed from particleboard or fiberboard.

  • Keep it clean. Rather than use synthetic air fresheners to mask an unpleasant odor, find the source of the odor and clean it up. Then open the windows for fresh air, or use flowers or potpourri to add a more natural scent to your room. If necessary, install air filters and purifiers and other air cleaning devices.

  • Speak up. If you or others at your office are experiencing health or comfort problems that you suspect may be caused by indoor air pollution, discuss the issue with your supervisor. Talk with your own physician and report your problems to the company physician, nurse, or health officer so that they can make appropriate recommendations.
Tip 13: Cancel Phone Book Delivery

If you have not thumbed through a phone book in years, consider visiting www.yellowpagesgoesgreen.org to opt out of receiving a paper copy. Instead of using a paper copy, use www.whitepages.com to look up telephone numbers or www.yellowpages.com to look up businesses.

Environmental benefits:

  • 3.62 pounds is the average weight of each phone directory.
  • 24 fully developed trees are needed to make a ton of paper.
  • 380 gallons of oil are needed to produce a ton of paper.
  • Three cubic yards of waste is taken up by a ton of paper.
  • 7,000 gallons of water are needed to produce a ton of paper.
  • 40,000 kilowatts of energy are needed to produce a ton of paper.
  • 540 million phone directories are printed annually in the U.S.
Tip 14: Keep your car's tires properly inflated

Did you know that you can improve your gas mileage by around 3.3 percent just by keeping your tires inflated to the proper pressure? Under-inflated tires can lower gas mileage by .03 percent for every 1 psi drop in pressure of all four tires. Properly inflated tires are also safer and last longer, therefore contributing less waste to landfills.

Tip 15: Don't over-dry your laundry

An electric dryer operating an extra 15 minutes per load can cost you up to $34 a year in wasted energy; a gas dryer, $21 per year. If your dryer has a moisture sensor that turns the machine off automatically when clothes are dry, use it to help keep energy costs down.

Tip 16: Drive the speed limit

While each vehicle reaches its optimal fuel economy at a different speed (or range of speeds), gas mileage usually decreases rapidly at speeds above 60 mph. You can assume that each 5 mph you drive over 60 mph is like paying an additional 24¢ per gallon for gas.

Tip 17: Don't turn your heater on if you don't need it

As the weather begins to change in much of the country, make sure to dress appropriately for the weather. Adjust your layers before you adjust your thermostat or turn on a space heater. Always, turn off the space heater when you're not at home.

Also, never turn your thermostat way up or way down to speed up the heating or cooling process. This will force your unit to work harder, stay on longer and use more energy.

Tip 18: Insulate your home

Wall, ceiling, floor and attic insulation will keep warmth in during the winter and heat out during the summer.

Benefits:
• Improved comfort
• Better energy efficiency
• Healthier environment
• Lifetime of savings
• Lower energy bills

:: Green Tips Archive

Tip 19: Junk Mail

Remove your name from junk mailing lists and save the environment. Contact the Direct Marketing Association to be removed from many companies' mass marketing mailing lists for up to five years. To learn more, go here: www.dmachoice.org

Tip 20: Make your laundry green

If every U.S. household used the most efficient washers, they could save the equivalent of up to 40 million barrels of oil a year.

Laundry isn't everyone's favorite chore, but there's no reason to add injury to insult by polluting in the process. There are environmental considerations when washing your clothes, including the energy used to wash, dry and iron clothes, and the products used to make clothes come out whiter, brighter and smelling like a sunny day in May.

Tip 21: Recycle batteries at home and at the office

Take advantage of the battery recycling programs available in most Jones Lang LaSalle offices. Batteries contain harmful metals and chemicals such as nickel cadmium, alkaline, mercury, nickel metal hydride and lead acid, which can contaminate the environment if not properly disposed. When batteries containing cadmium wind up in landfills, they eventually dissolve and release a toxic substance that can seep into water supplies posing serious health hazards. Recycling batteries has become so important because it helps prevent pollution and saves resources.

Tip 22: Recycle newspapers

A year's worth of daily papers from a big city weighs nearly a half-ton. Every ton of paper that gets recycled saves the equivalent of 17 trees, saves enough energy to power an average home for six months, saves 7,000 gallons of water and keeps 60 pounds of pollutants out of the air

Tip 23: Subscribe to on-line publications

Instead of receiving a daily hard copy newspaper, subscribe to the online publication. It will save a tree and reduce recycling waste. Remember, your subscription is personal and shouldn't be forwarded to others.

Tip 24: Turn off your computer at night

Remember to turn off your computer and monitor screen when you leave the office at night. Computers account for roughly 42 percent of the electricity used in our offices. Although many people think that turning on your computer uses a lot of electricity, it’s really the same as letting it run for only 3 minutes. Computers have a long life and use 67 percent less energy if they are turned off overnight.

 
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