October 9th, 2012

5 Ways to Be More Green

Seattle was voted “3rd Greenest City” in the US this year.  While we should be proud of our achievement, there’s still room for improvement. We all made the switch to reusable bags when the plastic bag ban went into effect, and now it’s time to take it a few steps further. Here are 5 ways you can be greener.

1. Waste Less, Compost More
In 2010, Americans produced 250 million tons of trash. An estimated 50% could have been composted instead. Composting may seem like a hassle compared to the ease of having your trash and recycling picked up each week, but once you get set up, you’ll wonder why you didn’t start sooner.

Compost bins can be purchased online or at your local hardware or gardening store. Better yet, you can get crafty and make your own. There are many options for those who have big yards, small yards, or even no yard at all. Here is a guide on how to make a variety of indoor and outdoor compost bins based on your needs.

If you don’t want to do your own composting, check to see if your waste disposal provider offers curbside pickup of food scraps and other organic waste.

Find out which items are compostable and which items to avoid in this infographic.

2. Recycle Your Recycling
Creating things out of milk jugs and paper towel tubes isn’t just for kindergarteners anymore. Have you been thinking about buying containers to hold cotton balls and q-tips next to your sink? Clean out and reuse your candle jars instead. Need a small shovel to mix your indoor compost? Make one out of a milk jug. With a little bit of creativity, a lot of waste can be minimized.

3. Save Electricity
The idea of saving electricity isn’t exactly groundbreaking, but it’s often overlooked. Does it really make a big difference if you leave your cell phone charger plugged in all day?

Let’s say your charger uses 3 watts when your phone is charging and 0.5 watts when it’s not. Assuming your charger is only in use for 8 hours when you charge your phone overnight, you’re wasting 8 watts of electricity throughout the rest of the day. That’s equal to 2920 watts per year. What else do you leave plugged in? How many people in your community are also leaving their phone chargers plugged in all day?

Saving electricity is good for your wallet as well as the environment, so start unplugging! A quick and easy way to minimize use of electricity is to use a power strip with an on/off switch. You can power off multiple items at once with the flip of one switch.

4. Greener Transportation
Not only is Seattle one of the greenest cities, but it’s also the 10thmost bike-friendly city. Strap on your helmet and get some exercise in on your way to and from work or while running errands on the weekends.

You can also take advantage of Seattle’s public transportation to help keep the air clean (and save money on parking). Taking the bus may be a little intimidating at first, but you can use King County Metro’s Trip Planner to find the best routes for your travel in advance, or use the OneBusAway app (available for both iPhone and Android) to see which buses are coming to the stop nearest you in real-time.

Not a fan of biking or public transportation? You might consider driving a fuel-efficient car instead. To thank those who fight pollution and reduce greenhouse gases, SMCU offers a .25% discount off of already low auto loan rates on hybrid-electric cars and cars that average 25 miles per gallon or greater. (Bonus: We even have electric car chargers in the parking garage at the Downtown Branch!) Learn more about our Green Loans here.

5. Switch to eStatements and Electronic Billing
SMCU and many other financial institutions give you the option to receive your bank statements electronically to save paper. If you’re not already enrolled in eStatements, you can sign up in the “Account Access” area of Online Banking.

You can also save paper by receiving and paying your bills electronically. SMCU offers a free Bill Pay service in Online Banking and Mobile Web Banking. Contact your utilities and electricity providers to learn about their paperless options.

The Bigger Picture

If we all take small steps to be more green, we can make a huge impact. The actions of each and every person make a difference, contributing to clean air, clean water, preserving animal habitats, saving trees, and supporting the local economy. Lead our community towards sustainability by trying one or more of these tips today.

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