By Arlene Castro
Conserve Water & Save Money
Here’s the leak on how you can conserve water to lessen the weight on your monthly bill.
- Regularly inspect areas in your home like hoses, connectors and faucets to check for any leaks.
- Have water catchments around your house to use for a variety of outdoor upkeeping activities such as watering plants, washing cars, washing concrete surfaces.
- Take shorter showers, and use a low-flow showerhead.
- Have a faucet aerator in every faucet to conserve heat and water, and maintain high water pressure
Conserve Energy to Save Money
Give power back into your pocketbook. Many local families seem powerless in their residence when it comes to combating the humid tropical climate in Guam, thus finding it imperative to use air conditioners on a daily basis, and accrue hefty power bills each month. If we cannot live without these climate control appliances then we can look at other ways to conserve power.
- Know how much energy is used by major home appliances, electronic devices, and in each room of the house. Share the information with your children, by doing a walking through and demonstrating techniques to save energy.
- Unplug appliances when not in use, to cut “phantom” power—a term also known as standby power that seeps or leaks electricity.
- Line-dry laundry
- Use compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs). They use 70-90% less energy than incandescent light bulbs, last 10 to 25 times longer, and save $30 to $80 in electricity cost in their lifetime according to the ENERGY STAR government website.
- Use products that have earned the ENERGY STAR certifications meeting strict energy efficiency guidelines.
Conserve Fuel, Save Money
Going for MVP in MPG. To get anywhere in Guam, whether it’s to work or to the closest Mom ’n Pop store, the car is the most preferred mode of transportation. Although gas prices have been dropping, Guam’s prices are still higher than in the U.S. When making a new investment into purchasing a car, look for a car with good gas mileage or follow the tips below with your current vehicle.
- Look for cars with high miles per gallon (mpg). For a small car, 20 mpg is not so good, but decent for a large car. Good gas mileage driving in Guam’s roads, even if the distances are fairly short, should be 30 mpg and above. Hybrids can get to 45-50 mpg.
- Regularly maintain car: change oil, clean filters and plugs, check tire pressure.
- Lessen excess weight in the car by removing things such as outdoor activity equipment that are is not in current use.
- Use or replace window tint to ensure effective blockage of some of the sun’s heat.
- Roll down the window and turn off the car a/c when driving later in the day or evening. Many people practice this routine while driving uphill no matter the time of day.
Try Water on Tap
Since 2006, Guam Waterworks Authority issued a letter to the public announcing that Guam’s water is safe to drink. USEPA reported that GWA has “the safest drinking water Guam has experienced in decades.” Drinking water, including bottled water may reasonably be expected to contain small amounts of some contaminants of natural origin, but do not necessarily pose health risks. Here’s why drinking tap water should be considered.
- Learn about known health risk factors in drinking from commercial bottled water, especially for people with compromised immune systems. To read more go to: www.cdc.gov/healthywater/drinking/bottled/index.html
- Invest in a water filter to purify your drinking water. Faucet filters priced between $18 to $45 are easy to replace, while under-the-counter filters may cost about $125 or more, but they are still a safer investment when comparing it to buying store-bought purified water at .35 cents per gallon. If a family consumed 10 gallons each week, it will cost approximately $182 a year, plus gas money to drive to these water stores.
- Minimize or stop purchasing plastic water bottles. They create more waste for the environment. Roughly 40 million plastic bottles each year are not recycled. Many calculations have shown that plastic bottles can circle the Earth many times over. One time around is already an 8,000 mile trail.
Be an Eco-Friendly Bargain Hunter
Getting a bargain isn’t necessarily finding the cheapest item on the rack, but the belief that you are getting more back than what you paid for. What better way to show that you are contributing to preserving the environment and supporting businesses that provide you with an environmentally-conscious experience?
- Look for store products that support efforts in saving the environment, use biodegradable packaging, or use less packaging such as items bought in bulk.
- Purchase containers that can be reused to pour in beverages such as a glass or aluminum canisters.
- Furnish or redecorate home with new or gently used secondhand furniture by going to yard sales, reading up on the classifieds in the newspaper or online.
- Purchase biodegradable paper products instead of plastic or foam.
- Purchase from stores that offer incentives or discounts for bringing in reusable tote bags.
- When planning for an off-island trip look for hotels that promote the “Green” movement. You can view the 10 most eco-friendly hotels in the world here provided by Hotels Combined.
Seek Sustainability Solutions
Being on a remote island far away from civilization should compel us to become prepared for the possibility that someday our outside resources may become very limited or cut off. The University of Guam has spearheaded several Island Sustainability conferences annually, and also offers classes that tackle issues the local community faces by sharing successful practices and solutions. Government support through grants have helped organizations in the agricultural field develop and improve on their sustainable solutions and many of these solutions are intended to begin in one’s very own backyard.
- Grow an herb garden. Most herbs require low maintenance, and can easily be replanted. Aside from enhancing a recipe, herbs have been known to be natural insect and animal repellents. The invasive slug stays away from oregano and wild pigs stay away from onions.
- Make compost with the leaves and other dead plant material around your yard to use as fertilizer.
- Plant fruit trees like papaya and bananas instead of ornamental trees, and vine-plants such as squash, sweet potatoes and long beans. Soon you’ll see big savings in your grocery receipt.
- Upcycle furniture, household items, and crafts with recycled material.
- Make household cleaners with natural ingredients like baking soda, vinegar, lemon and soap.
E-Waste Not, E-Want Not
Electronic Waste describes what electronic products such as computers, TV, monitors, laptops cell phones and so on, have become at the end of their “user friendly” life. EPA reported that e-wastes are rapidly growing segments of trash making their way into landfills. They carry with them many highly toxic chemicals, but if they are placed in proper recycling centers then precious metals such as gold, silver, copper, palladium and platinum can be recovered and reused.
- Recycle or donate electronics.
- Keep your electronics as long as possible. Some of the older laptop models have sturdier hardware than newer models and can be a reliable research tools in the home for many years.
- Bring your e-waste to the local electronic recycling centers: Pyramid International, Island Scrap Yard, and Xiong’s Recycling. Contact information provided by Guam Solid Waste Authority.
Think of food as fuel. Like the price of gas on Guam, meat prices are fairly high, and how much you consume also may further add costs to your physical health. Several studies have reported that those who have chosen to lessen meat or eliminate certain types of meat from their diet and increase vegetable intake, have felt a positive difference in energy levels, mental clarity and skin conditions.
- Buying local not only helps the economy, but locally-grown food provides more nutritional value. According to a local business owner who sold local food and products, most of the fruits and vegetables that are shipped to Guam are given the USDA rating of Grade B. They are of excellent quality but not a prime selection for color and tenderness, and are more mature than Grade A produce.
- Grow greens in your backyard or if living in apartments or condos create an “urban garden” by heading to the nearest hardware store to purchase planting materials and pots, or reuse plastic containers.
- Eat greens to detoxify. Basic life science shows that primary consumers (plant eaters, herbivores) receive the most energy in the food chain, while secondary and tertiary consumers (meat eaters, omnivores) seem to expend the most energy while taking in more toxins contained in their diet. From a microscopic perspective, plant cells are designed to absorb more toxins.
Have a Recycling Routine
Recyclable materials not picked up by local waste disposal services can quickly pile up and the trip to the recycling centers may seem inconvenient. Glass is one item we hesitate to throw in the regular trash when we know there is a recycling center on island. Here are some ways to keep your going green efforts momentum going.
- Support the recycling efforts of your child’s school or the village Mayor’s office.
- Set a date once every month or so to dispose of any waste you accumulated and figure out the closest recycling centers in your area. Here is a link to Guam Solid Waste Management’s schedule and locations for free disposal.
- Do research to find creative, artistic and innovative ways to reuse recyclable items in the home. Photo above shows how an ottoman is made with plastic water bottles.
Take a Hike!
Engage in outdoor activities and experience nature with your family. This is another great way to conserve power energy. Most home activities for the kids involve plugging something into a socket, from turning on the a/c, constantly opening the fridge, to fiddling around with the microwave oven. Get them outside to climb other things other than the walls of your mind.
- Get up-close with nature to see what going green is all about. Marvel and feel Earth’s precious gifts to us and see how it is capable of cleansing and repairing itself.
- In those surroundings, you will develop a strong sense of respect and a resolve for restoration—to give back what we are taking and to stop doing what may harm our planet.
- Make it a goal to visit all the places mentioned on a previous article about: Family-friendly hikes.
Have you accomplished every item on the list above? If so, then you are living the “Green” dream and making a difference in helping to preserve the integrity of our island, a cleaner world for our children and future generations to come. If you didn’t check off everything on the list, make it a goal to try out some of the fun and rewarding recycling opportunities. Albert Einstein once said, “Today’s problems cannot be solved if we still think the way we thought when we created them.”