Did You Know . . . ?

By Rickie Harvey
As published on westroxburypatch.com
May 2012

Information about how to be green and save green is pretty much everywhere now and getting harder to miss with every passing day. Consequently, we all think we are pretty savvy when it comes to recognizing the steps we can take in order to both help our environment and lower our energy bills and related costs. Nevertheless, we at WRSE are wondering whether you were aware of these tidbits:

—No doubt every West Roxbury resident who counts himself among the informed green consumers knows that for each bag you take to Roche Bros. in which to pack your groceries (thus avoiding using a new paper or plastic bag at the checkout counter) the store will take 5 cents off your bill. But did you also know that for every wire hanger you take back to Prime Cleaners (651 VFW Parkway) you will get 5 cents off your cleaning bill? What else are you going to do with all those hangers?

—You have probably figured out that when you idle your car’s engine, you get 0 miles per gallon of gas. But did you know that in Massachusetts it is actually against the law to idle your vehicle unnecessarily for longer than 5 minutes?

—If you are worth your salt in green, you already know that if you have a second (no doubt old) refrigerator in your basement for keeping cold that extra six pack of beer or a container or two of milk (just in case), you are breaking all the rules about not wasting energy. These old fridges (and freezers) are notorious energy guzzlers, made worse by how little they are actually used. But did you know that you can recycle your second refrigerator or freezer with Mass Save and get $50 just for doing so? (Of course you do know that you can get your free home energy assessment through Mass Save also.)

—You probably have heard that with today’s laundry detergents are so effective that you don’t need to wash clothing on anything but cold (90 percent of the energy used for your clothes washer goes toward heating the water), but did you know that you similarly will save money by putting your dirty dishes into the dishwasher instead of washing them by hand (you save money on water usage and on heating the water)? Of course you need to run the dishwasher only when it is full—and make sure you push the button that chooses the option to air-dry the dishes so you don’t use energy for that part of the cycle!

—Be sure to recycle your used ink and toner cartridges at Staples: you will get $2 back each time you do. (Yes, you do need to have a Staples Reward Card to retrieve your money; sorry.) You probably already knew that, but did you know that Staples, in conjunction with HP, recently launched a free technology recycling program in its Massachusetts stores? Just leave your technology for recycling—known as eWaste—at the service desk of any Staples store. You won’t get any money back, but you can feel better knowing these items will be safely recycled and not further clog our landfills.

—Speaking of landfills, did you know that a typical American will throw away  approximately 102 tons’ worth of garbage in a lifetime? That means you! Yikes. In West Roxbury we can significantly reverse this trend by filling our big blue recycling containers to the brim with any paper, cardboard, plastic, glass, or metal instead of pitching it into the trash. Keep a small recycling bin in each room in your house so you can easily capture all those scraps of paper, junk mail, packaging from purchased items, toilet paper rolls, etc. and then fill your blue bin from the room containers on your recycling day. What could be easier? Just please remember: you cannot put plastic bags into the big blue bin! Plastic bags get caught in the single-stream recycling equipment; instead, recycle plastic bags at the grocery store of your choice. (P.S. If you are a super-duper recycler in West Roxbury and would like another big blue bin, click here to request one. We bet you didn’t know you could do that!)

Do you know something great and green that we left out? Please let us know in the comments section below or send us an e-mail or Facebook message and we will post your information on our Web site and send you a free WRSE T-shirt. Help us spread the green news!