Waste Not, Want Not
Five simple steps you can take to live a greener life and help the environment.
Chris Castro was instrumental in obtaining a $750,000 grant to install these solar panels on the UCF campus.
Courtesy of UC
Going green starts with you. “At end of day we all have the ability to make a difference in the world,” says Chris Castro, a program manager in the City of Orlando’s Office of Sustainability. The city’s Green Works program, launched in 2007, envisions ways to make Orlando one of the Southeast’s most environmentally friendly cities. You can reduce your carbon footprint starting today with these suggestions from Castro:
1. Donate less to the landfill
Diverting waste from landfills is as easy as recycling and composting. Recycling is kind to the environment because far less energy is needed to create products from recycled materials than from raw materials. Composting is kind to the environment because it keeps organic materials such as food scraps and grass clippings out of landfills and in your backyard, benefiting your landscape. As organic materials decompose, they form a nutrient-rich soil product that’s great for the growth of trees, shrubs and gardens. Homeowners save money because compost is free. Orlando homeowners save even more because the city recently launched a composting program that provides a free 80-gallon composter to Orlando residents.
2. Take control of your power bill
Invest in a smart thermostat that can adjust your home’s temperature for maximum efficiency, depending on your comings and goings. Whether they rely on traditional programming, sensors, learning algorithms or geofencing (a pre-set range within which you’re considered to be “home”), today’s thermostats can air-condition or heat your home on demand, saving energy and dollars. You can’t beat the convenience: Smart thermostats are accessible from smart phones, tablets and laptops; some even offer hands-free voice control.
3. Rely on rain
Conserve water by using Florida-friendly native plants for your landscaping. Native plants don’t require much more than Florida’s rain to prosper. Examples are shrubs such as inkberry, cherry laurel and beautyberry, and groundcovers including beach bean and golden creeper. Even if your homeowner association insists on thirsty St. Augustine grass, you can use creative landscaping with strategically placed native plants to reduce your water consumption.
4. Spend your green on green products
Whenever you’re shopping, think “nontoxic and biodegradable.” Make the transition to more sustainable products in all areas of your life—cleaning products, personal care items, even office supplies. Choose recycled and recyclable products when available; opt for organic, natural cosmetics and household cleaners.
5. Love being a locavore
Buy locally grown organic produce from farmers markets because it’s good for your health and for the economy. The produce is free of pesticides and herbicides, and your money stays in the local economy. Another way to eat smart is to grow your own food. As part of its Green Works initiative, the City of Orlando has helped residents establish community gardens in more than 100 neighborhoods. For more information, contact Braden Kay, the city’s sustainability project manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org
FYI: START COMPOSTING
The City of Orlando is offering free composters and workshops to residents through Mayor Buddy Dyer’s Green Works initiative. For information, visit: cityoforlando.net/composter. Read more about Mayor Dyer’s efforts to turn the city green.