Green Tips

Here is a great guide to conserving water in the bathroom.

  • An estimated 500 billion to 1 trillion bags are consumed world-wide, annually. That is nearly 1 million bags every minute!
  • According to the Wall Street Journal, the U.S. goes through 100 billion plastic shopping bags annually, at an estimated cost to retailers of approximately $4 billion.
  • Plastic bags do not biodegrade (they are not broken down by bacteria). Instead, they photodegrade. As the materials are broken down by ultraviolet action, they absorb more toxins and make their way into waterways, soil, and can poison animals when digested.
  • In “good circumstances,” high-density polyethylene will take more than 20 years to degrade. In less ideal circumstances (landfills or as general refuse), a bag will take more than a 1000 years to degrade.
  • Small plastic bags make up 9 percent of the debris along our coasts. 10 percent of plastic produced every year will wind up in the ocean, where 70 percent settles on the bottom and will likely never degrade.
  • Plastic bags are a danger to water fowl, sea life. and other animals because the bags are sometimes mistaken for food and ingested. More than 1,000,000 sea animals die each year as a result of discarded plastic.
  • When one ton of plastic bags is recycled or reused, 11 barrels of oil is saved.
  • In 2007, San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors approved an ordinance to ban local retailers from providing plastic bags to customers. At the time, an estimated 180 million bags had been used each year in San Francisco.
  • It’s estimated that only 1 in 200 bags are recycled.
  • Ireland placed a “plastic tax” or a minor fee per bag used at check-out in 2001. After the tax was in force, a study conducted by the Irish Department of the Environment revealed that plastic bag usage had dropped almost 94%!
  • There is a swirl of plastic bags floating in the ocean that’s estimated to be the size of Texas.

Dickinson, I. (2011). Environmental impact of plastic bags.

Dickinson, I. (2011). Paper bags vs. plastic bags.

James, K. and Grant, T. (2005). LCA of degradable plastic bags. (PDF) Australian Life Cycle Assessment Conference. (2003). Facts about the plastic bag pandemic.

Great Resource for Consumers: Plastic Bag Recycling .Org

Applicance OFF ON
Cable TV box 29 Watts 29 Watts
Computer 18 Watts 148 Watts
DVD Player 11 Watts 18 Watts
Laptop 31 Watts 97 Watts
TV – 1998 – 23″ 11 Watts 88 Watts

Want to see how much energy your applicances are using? Kil-O-Watt Meters can be checked out from Fondulac Library for three weeks. All you need is a library card.

Save Our Environment, Save Your Dollars

(Presented by HOI Sierra Club)

For more helpful tips like these visit: Earth 911, Environmental Defense Fund, and Environmental Protection Agency — Global Warming

Some homes have so many holes, cracks and gaps, that when added up, they are just as bad as having a window open all the time.
You can pick up some caulk or spray foam sealant and seal the leaks yourself. It is important that you seal air leaks before you add insulation. Pay special attention to your attic and basement. In most homes these two spaces are where the vast majority of air leaks will occur.

Some of the key problem areas where leaks can occur are:

  • Around pipes that connect the house to the outside
  • Around light switches, cable, phone and power outlets
  • Around dryer vents
  • Attic doors or hatches
  • Gaps around chimneys or furnace flues
  • The tops of walls that open to the attic space
  • Openings that lead from the basement
  • Around lighting fixtures

About half of the air pollution comes from cars and trucks. Two important ways to reduce air pollution are to drive less – even a little less – and to drive smart. Take fewer trips in your car or truck to help cut air pollution. Adopting smart driving habits reduces your car’s emissions. Drive about 25 miles less per week and avoid emitting about 7,000 lbs. of CO2 per year.

Driving less doesn’t mean you have to stay home. Try combining driving with alternative transportation:

  • Carpool
  • Walk or ride a bicycle
  • Shop by phone or mail
  • Ride public transit
  • Accelerate gradually
  • Use cruise control on the highway
  • Obey the speed limit
  • Combine your errands into one trip
  • Keep your car tuned
  • Don’t top off at the gas pumps.
  • Replace your car’s air filter
  • Keep your tires properly inflated
  • Consider turning your engine off if you will be idling for longer than 10 seconds. Your engine will restart with the amount of gas it uses in 10 seconds. You will save the extra pollution you would generate while idling.

Many products you use in your home, in the yard, or at the office are made with smog-forming chemicals that escape into the air. Here are a few ways to put a lid on products that pollute:

  • Use water-based paints. Look for paints labeled “zero-VOC” (volatile organic compounds)
  • Paint with a brush, not a sprayer
  • Store solvents in air-tight containers
  • Use a push or electric lawn mower
  • Start your barbeque briquettes with an electric probe, or use a propane or natural gas barbeque

Saving energy helps reduce air pollution. Whenever you burn fossil fuel, you pollute the air. Use less gasoline, natural gas, and electricity (power plants burn fossil fuels to generate electricity):

  • Turn off the lights when you leave a room.
  • Replace energy hungry incandescent lights with fluorescent lighting. CFL’s use 75% less energy, last ten times longer than incandescent lights, and save the consumer about $25 over the lifetime of the bulb. EnergyStar Qualified light fixture bulbs last about seven years. These bulbs operate at cooler temperatures cutting cooling costs.
  • Install photo cells in your outdoor lighting.
  • Use a thermostat that automatically turns off the air conditioner or heater when you don’t need them.
  • Use a fan instead of air conditioning.
  • Use an EPA-approved wood burning stove or fireplace insert.
  • Heat small meals in a microwave oven.
  • Insulate your water heater.
  • Change the furnace filter frequently. The furnace will run more efficiently, and reduce odors, dust and allergens.
  • In the winter, turn your thermostats down to 68 degrees or below. Reduce the setting to 55 degrees before going to sleep or when leaving for the day. (For each 1 degree you turn down the thermostat in the winter, you’ll save up to 5% on energy costs). Turn off non-essential lights and appliances. The electricity generated by fossil fuels for a single home puts more carbon dioxide into the air than two average cars!
  • Avoid running large appliances such as washers, dryers, and electric ovens during peak energy demand hours from 5:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Use a crockpot or electric skillet to cook.
  • Close shades and blinds at night to reduce the amount of heat lost through windows. This also applies during the day for warm climates.
  • Dry your clothes on a clothesline.

It takes energy to make and sell the products we use. Here are ways to cut energy use, reduce air pollution, and save money.

  • Choose recycled products.
  • Choose products with recyclable packaging.
  • Reuse paper bags.
  • Recycle paper, plastics, and metals.
  • Print and photocopy on both sides of the paper.

A ton of recycled paper equals or saves 17 trees in paper production.

Production of recycled paper uses 80% less water, 65% less energy and produces 95% less air pollution than virgin paper production.
If offices throughout the country increased the rate of two-sided photocopying from the 1991 figure of 20% to 60%, they could save the equivalent of about 15 million trees.
from Choose to Reuse by Nikki & David Goldbeck, 1995

It takes 2 to 3.5 tons of trees to make one ton of paper. Pulp and paper is the 5th largest industrial consumer of energy in the world, using as much power to produce a ton of product as the iron and steel industry. In some countries, including the United States, paper accounts for nearly 40 percent of all municipal solid waste. Making paper uses more water per ton than any other product in the world.
Source: The Worldwatch Institute

Over a ton of resources is saved for every ton of glass recycled. A ton of glass produced from raw materials creates 384 pounds of mining waste. Using 50% recycled glass cuts the waste by 75%. Recycling one glass bottle saves enough energy to light a 100-watt bulb for four hours.

  • Purchase an EnergyStar dishwasher. On average it will save 860 gal of water per year, use 25% less energy and save on average $120 over its lifetime.
  • Scrape off, don’t rinse off, large food pieces and bones. Soaking or prewashing is generally only recommended in cases of burned-on or dried-on food.
  • Be sure your dishwasher is full, but not overloaded.
  • Don’t use the “rinse hold” function on your machine for just a few soiled dishes. It uses 3 to 7 gallons of hot water each time you use it.
  • Let your dishes air dry. If you don’t have an automatic air-dry switch, turn off the control knob after the final rinse and prop the door open a little of the dishes will dry faster.

Visit to check how much your present appliances are costing you

Purchase an EnergyStar refrigerator/freezer. It can save up to $60 in energy costs to you a year. Enough energy can be saved to light an average household for almost four months.

  • Look for a refrigerator with automatic moister control. Models with this feature have been engineered to prevent moisture accumulation on the cabinet exterior without the addition of a heater.
  • Don’t keep your refrigerator or freezer too cold.
  • Recommended temperatures are 37 to 40˚F for the fresh food compartment of the refrigerator and 5˚F for the freezer section. If you have a separate freezer for long-term storage, it should be kept at 0˚F.
  • To check the refrigerator temperature, place an appliance thermometer in a glass of water in the center of the refrigerator. Read it after 24 hours.
  • To check the freezer temperature, place a thermometer between frozen packages. Read it after 24 hours.
  • Regularly defrost manual-defrost refrigerators and freezers. Frost buildup increases the amount of energy needed to keep the motor running.
  • Don’t allow frost to build up more than one-quarter of an inch.
  • Make sure your refrigerator door seals are airtight. Test them by closing the door over a piece of paper or a dollar bill so that the paper or bill is half in and half out of the refrigerator. If you can pull the paper or bill out easily, the latch may need adjustment or the seal may need replacing.
  • Cover liquids and wrap foods stored in the refrigerator. Uncovered foods release moisture and make the compressor work harder.
  • Move your refrigerator away from the wall and vacuum the condenser coils once a year unless you have a no-clean condenser model.
  • Your refrigerator will run for shorter periods with clean coils.

Be sure to place the faucet lever on the kitchen sink in the cold position when using small amounts of water. Placing the lever in the hot position uses energy to heat the water even though it never reaches the faucet.

  • If you need to purchase a gas oven or range, look for one with an automatic, electric ignition system. An electric ignition saves gas because a pilot light is not burning continuously. In gas appliances, look for blue flames. Yellow flames indicate the gas is burning inefficiently and an adjustment may be needed. Consult your manufacturer or your local utility.
  • Keep range top burners and reflectors clean.
  • They will reflect the heat better, and you will save energy.
  • Use a covered kettle or pan to boil water. It is faster and it uses less energy.
  • Match the size of the pan to the size of the heating element.
  • If you cook with electricity, turn the stovetop burners off several minutes before the allotted cooking time. The heating element will stay hot long enough to finish the cooking without using more electricity. The same principle applies to oven cooking.
  • Use small electric pans or toaster ovens for small meals rather than your large stove or oven. A toaster oven uses a third to half as much energy as a full-sized oven.
  • Use pressure cookers and microwave ovens whenever it is convenient to do so. They can save energy by significantly reducing cooking time.

Purchase an EnergyStar washer. It will save on average 7,000 gallons of water per year. It will use 50% less energy and 40% less water and save you about $110.

  • Wash your clothes in cold water using cold-water detergents whenever possible.
  • Wash and dry full loads. If you are washing a small load, use the appropriate water-level setting.
  • Dry towels and heavier cottons in a separate load from lighter-weight clothes.
  • Clean the lint filter in the dryer after every load to improve air circulation.
  • Use the cool-down cycle to allow the clothes to finish drying with the residual heat in the dryer.
  • Periodically inspect your dyer vent to ensure it is not blocked. This will save energy and may prevent a fire. Manufacturers recommend using rigid venting materials, not plastic cents that may collapse and cause blockages.

Purchase earth-friendly and energy saving products here!

Forest Park Nature Center

Earth-friendly household cleaning products and recycled paper products


Earth-friendly household cleaning products and recycled paper products

Global Village

1308 N. Seiberling Ave., Peoria Heights

Fair trade items such as cocoa, tea, coffee, handmade items from natural fabrics, and other items made with natural ingredients


Recycled paper products, EnergyStar appliances, CFL’s

Home Depot, Lowe’s

EnergyStar appliances and CFL’s

Online Shopping

ULEW Natural Products Local Company

Also at Farmers’ Market in Peoria in the summer. Certified Organic skin, body, hair products.

Earth-friendly household cleaning products and recycled paper products

Farmers’ Markets

Heritage Farmers’ Market

State Rt. 9 between Pekin and Tremont

Open Wed 3pm – 7pm

Sat 8:30am – 1:30pm

All Year

Organic vegetables, honey, fruit

Organic beef, pork, chicken, and eggs

East Peoria Farmers Market
Begins June 5th and ends Sept. 25th
It is located in the Levee District in the parking lot close to Target.
It is every Friday from 3 p.m. – 6 p.m.
There are a variety of items from vegetables – to baked goods – to caramel corn – to environmental information.

Tips for Kids!

A Kid’s Guide to Reducing, Reusing & Recycling Waste
Special Thanks to Tabitha Barnes and her Girl Scout Troop for this link!

Going Green on Campus Guide

College students and campus administrators are leading the sustainability charge nationwide, implementing innovative, eco-friendly ideas and actionable objectives. has created a new guide that makes going green on campus fun. Through a quick quiz and clever tips, everyone is sure to find a new way to help the environment.