Carmel Pratt, a Sustainability Consultant for Steven Winter Associates, spoke on the top ten ways to save energy in your apartment or home. Pratt pointed out a stunning statistic – the average American uses 140-170 gallons of water per day through choices they make in the kitchen, bathroom and laundry. By simply not running water when washing dishes, limiting shower time, and using cold water instead of hot when doing laundry, residents can significantly reduce this usage.
Energy efficiency is another area in which residents can make significant improvements in sustainability. When purchasing appliances or electronics, always refer to the Energy Guide labels to ensure the energy efficiency of the product and purchase ENERGY STAR(r) labeled products where available. Reduce overall electricity consumption by using natural daylight instead of electric light as much as possible, unplugging electronics when not in use, and programming thermostats to reduce usage when not at home.
Pratt encouraged researching the recycling rules in your area to make your recycling efforts more effective. For example, confirm whether your community is single stream or self-separate, and what specific plastics are recyclable. Additionally, she recommended composting with a vermicomposting system as a great way to divert waste from landfills and reduce your footprint.
Lastly, once you begin incorporating these practices into your own life, the most powerful thing you can do is to pass on the information to others, to create awareness about living sustainably.
The next speaker was Tim Keating, owner of Earthbilt, a green building products company with a mission to shift consumer demand away from products that contribute to the destruction of tropical forests by providing sustainable alternatives. Keating, the co-founder and former Executive Director of Rainforest Relief, shared that 40% of our wood purchases come from tropical forests. Logging for export timber export like teak, mahogany, zebrawood and many others, is the key factor leading to the destruction of rainforests.
He advised consumers to look for products that are SFI (Sustainable Forestry Initiative) and FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified to ensure the best choices are made when purchasing wood products. In the area of smart, sustainable food choices, Keating advised purchasing organically-grown bananas and shade grown cacao. He also said not to patronize fast food chains that use non-sustainable meat, and to avoid products containing palm oil.
When it comes to recycling, Keating spoke of an example in his own life in which he reorganized five trash cans that had been placed on the street, and was able to condense the contents to only one can of trash and four cans of recyclable items. His takeaway for the audience was that we need to inconvenience ourselves a little more in order to save the place we live. Reducing Energy ConsumptionThe last two speakers highlighted energy programs available to New York City residents to who want to reduce their energy consumption and save on energy costs.
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