Looking for ways to save water, energy, money and waste less?
Take a peek at the Change Your Life Challenge 2020 (CYCL 2020) based here in the Nebraska Panhandle.
It’s a year long facebook-based community group exploring a different theme each month with weekly challenges to help transform living habits to be more sustainable, environmentally friendly, energy efficient, or a combination thereof. Several local businesses and entities have partnered in an effort to connect residents with helpful resources and information to become more efficient stewards of resources.
The average US person’s water footprint for power production in the US averages to 39 gallons per person per day on according to WaterFootprint.org. And nearly 25% of all residential power consumed stems from idle appliances and devices.
Save water and energy:
– Unplug phone chargers, laptop charges, and game consoles when not in use.
– Shut down computers at the end of the day
– Flip off power strips when done with the devices
– Use power strips or smart strips to cluster multiple devices onto one switch. (e.g., computer, printer, and router or TV and video game console)
– Unplug the coffee maker, washer, dryer, or microwave if not using. Digital displays require a constant draw of power.
Urban snowmelt runoff carries diverse pollutants, like gas combustion products, snowmelting agents, and automotive exhaust, which threaten the quality of the receiving waters, like the North Platte River.
Pollutants can affect water quality faster two ways in winter. First, snow collects contaminants and releases them in concentrated form during melts. Second, the partially frozen state of rivers lessen the ability for self-purification.
Keeping walks and driveways clear, using snowmelt “sparingly and caringly”, and driving only when necessary are good winter water quality measures.
As much as 75 percent of water supplies in some western states are derived from snowmelt, according to the United States Geological Service (USGS). The Nebraska Panhandle relies heavily on snowmelt for our water supply – so taking care of our snow means taking care of our water.
This week’s snow may require some walkway de-icing before holiday gatherings tomorrow. There several options for ice melt, each with its own advantages.
1. Rock salt, or sodium chloride, is inexpensive and effective. It works well in temperatures over 20 degrees. However, it is toxic to plants, corrosive, and can burn pet paws.
2. Magnesium chloride less corrosive to concrete, less irritating to skin, and less toxic to plants. It is effective to 5 degrees Fahrenheit.
3. Calcium chloride works in temperatures down to -20 degrees Fahrenheit. Very little calcium chloride is needed to handle most icy conditions.
4. Potassium chloride and urea are considered safe to use around vegetation. Both require a higher rate of application than the other options and work down 12 to 15 degrees Fahrenheit.
4. Calcium magnesium acetate (CMA) is safe for the environment, biodegradable, and non-corrosive to concrete and metal. It works to 20 degrees Fahrenheit. CMA doesn’t need to be applied as much as rock salt to be effective, but does need to applied before the snow and ice accumulate to be most effective.
Water runoff from streets and parking lots picks up oil and grease dropped from cars. Oil and grease clog fish gills and block oxygen from entering the water. If oxygen levels in the water become too low, aquatic animals may be harmed and/or die.
Clothing, especially those made from synthetic fabric, sheds microfibers when washed. The microfibers are small enough to slip through washing machine filters, dryer lint catchers, and municipal water treatment. Synthetic fibers contribute to microplastic pollution in the nation’s waterways since they cannot degrade.
Reduce microplastic/fiber pollution with these tips:
1. Wash less. Wash clothes only when they’re visibly dirty or smelly. Sponge or dust off little messes and air out if it doesn’t really need a wash.
2. Do full loads at coolest temperature to get clothes clean when washing is necessary. This helps preserve fabric and colors.
3. Line dry. Dryers and heat break down fabric faster and increase shedding.
4. Choose natural fibers. Cotton, wool, linen, hemp, silk and lyocell are natural biodegradable fabric fibers.
5. Can’t part with the fleece pullover or nylon running tights? Try a guppybag or coraball to help capture the microfibers.
Graphic: Statista based on research at Plymouth University, UK