Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Grab a reusable bag

I don't know how many times I've heard customers at the grocery store I work at chose to use paper bags because they are "better" for the environment. In reality, this is far from the truth.

Sure, paper is biodegradable right? Yes, and it is recyclable too. However, that's as far as the advantages go. Where do you think paper comes from? Trees! Aren't trees renewable? Of course, but they require years and years to mature. Cutting down all those forests to create bags has devastating effects on the creatures that live in that ecosystem. Plus, most companies who pledge to plant new trees typically grow pines, which aren't nearly as effective at removing CO2 from the air as other hardwood species.

The logging, transporting, and processing of paper bags requires fossil fuels to power the machines and produces pollution waste. In addition, paper bags weigh more than plastic, meaning it takes a large amount of energy to transport them anywhere. Even recycling the bags requires fossil fuel-powered machinery.

Plastic bags are not much better. They are made from petroleum (oil), and are not biodegradable.

So what's a shopper to do? It's easy- reusable bags! Many grocery stores such as Kroger and Ukrops' Grocers have begun to sell their own brand of bags at only about $0.99. Plus, some stores give you $0.05 back for every bag you use every time you shop. These durable, eco-friendly bags will pay themselves back in no time!

Reusable bags are actually becoming quite fashionable. Check out Ecobags and EnviroSax for some cute and chic options.

Next time you go to the supermarket, grab a reusable bag! It'll only take 10 seconds to pick one out, and it'll relieve your conscience to know that you will never need a paper or plastic bag again!

For more information about plastic vs. paper bags, go to GreenFeet.Net.

The image above is from PrettyPatrol.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

When it's yellow, leave it mellow...

I'm sure you've all heard this saying before, right? Sure, it might seem a little gross, but trust me, it is totally worth it.

According to, every time you flush a toilet you use 5-7 gallons of water. Now, let's say the average person uses the bathroom 8 times a day. That means around 50 gallons of water are used for toilet flushing alone! Now, what if that person only flushed twice a day? That would save around 40 gallons of water.

You're not only conserving water, you're saving money! Now, water is pretty cheap in the United States. 1000 gallons costs about $2. However, if you used this water-saving technique for a whole year, you would eliminate (hmm...let me get a calculator) around 14,600 gallons of water. That means you save approximately $30 a year. Over 50 years, you would save $1500.

No, it is not a huge sum of money. This change may not impact your wallet a whole lot, but it sure impacts the amount of fresh drinking water a whole lot. You know, it is precisely because of the low price of water that encourages people to keep sprinklers on the whole day and leave the tap running, but that's a whole other story for another day...

The bottom line is that this change that doesn't take all that much time or effort (it actually saves you time and effort, if you think about) can really make a difference.

Think twice before you flush! But please, keep this habit within your private residence, and if it's brown, flush it down!

This image is from

Monday, April 21, 2008

Chose local foods

Have you ever paid attention to where that jar of peanuts came from? The bag of juicy navel oranges? How about that canister of oats in the cabinet?

Some of the foods we eat everyday come from all over the country and even the world. There's fresh fruit from California, salmon from the Atlantic, crackers from Kansas, and bell peppers from Chile. Of course, it is a tribute to our modern technology and transportation that we can have such easy access to such a variety of products year round.

However, the further a food is from you, the more energy is required to transport it to your local supermarket. Think of the thousands of miles that specialty bottle of olive oil had to travel from Europe! These trips consume gallons and gallons of gasoline, and release harmful air pollutants into our atmosphere.

Next time, when you are looking at cookies, chose the company located closer to your home. Canned beans from Ohio or Siberia? Ohio would be the better bet, unless, of course, you happen to live near Siberia. Many times local products will also be cheaper, reflecting the lesser amount of fossil fuel needed. Produce often will be fresher if bought locally and seasonally as well.

Some people are even taking this philosophy to an extreme, refusing to eat food from outside a certain radius of their home. Check out this website

I'm not advocating such a drastic approach (Of course, you can always give it a try), but truly, such a simple change as scanning the labels of two nearly identical products can make a huge difference. Some specialty products you may find are truly better from a certain location, but for most generic items, you will not notice the different between two brands. But the environment will.

Sunday, April 20, 2008


Hello everyone! I'm Molly, a junior in high school, and I'm really excited to start my first blog! The point of A Minute to Save the Planet is for everyone to learn simple changes in their everyday lifestyle that they can make that will in the long run greatly benefit our environment. I promise, these changes will be easy to incorporate into your everyday lifestyle, and they will save you money and maybe even whittle your waistline!

Really, there is no downside to becoming more environmentally-friendly. Why aren't more people changing then, you ask? I believe it is because the public is not aware of many of the little effortless things they can do. That, of course, brings me back to the point of this blog!

Please, check back often, comment on your thoughts, and take these ideas to heart, and I will update as often as possible. See you at my next post!