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Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2010:12:19 10:23:07

Photo: N/A, License: N/A

How much do you care about the planet you live on? Enough to go slightly outside your comfort zone to try to save it? Just a few small life choices will send you on your way to being a better human and make your world a better place to live.

Barbara Giovagnoli, recycling coordinator and manager for the Lackawanna County Office of Environmental Sustainability, encourages residents to reduce their carbon footprint because humans make the largest daily impact on the planet.

The efforts we make on Earth Day, April 22, 2017, should be practiced every day. Here are 10 tips to begin:

1. Begin with your morning routine. Shower smarter. Stop using 9,000 gallons of water with an old shower head that spews out 2.5 gallons a minute. Look for an EPA-approved brand that sends a flow of 1.5 gallons of water per minute. Some devices also conserve hot water prior to your shower. While you are at it, change your toilet out and flush less water with a high efficiency one. And remind your children to turn the water off while they brush.2. On your way to work in the morning, “Don’t idle your car because up go carbon emissions,” pointed out Giovagnoli. Ride your bike to work, take public transportation or carpool if you can. If that is not doable and you must drive to work, slow down. Going more than 60 miles per hour is like adding 50 cents to the price of a gallon of gas. Check your tire pressure, make sure it coincides with the mandated amount and improve your mileage by 3 percent.

3. Forget about “brown bagging lunch.” A reusable container cuts out plastic water bottles. “Reduce waste. Carry a reusable beverage container and shopping bag,” Giovagnoli said. Always think reusable. Not only do you help the environment by not contributing to the garbage, families save $1,250 a year by not purchasing bottles.4. Make sure the dishwasher is full before you run it, to save water and energy. Don’t waste water by rinsing before loading because today’s machines are designed to power off the mess.

5. Plant native trees and flowers. “They provide habitat for bird species, moderate temperatures and absorb carbon emission. Also, butterflies and honey bees will follow. In urban areas, beautified areas reduce the likelihood of litter,” Giovagnoli said.

6. Recycling electronic devices is so important. Electronics don’t belong in landfills. When exposed to higher temperatures they release chemicals which are toxic and seep into the air, water and ground. Check out for recycling options and seek out locations in your area to recycle them properly.

7. Recycle paper. Today, paper is made from trees mostly grown in sustainable forests and from recovered paper. Compost food and yard waste. “Half of the landfill materials can be composted and used to enhance soil values,” Giovagnoli said.8. Light up with Energy Star-rated compact fluorescebt light bulbs, which use 75 percent less energy and lasts 10 times longer than standard bulbs. You may find your electric bills is $30 less for each bulb, over its lifetime. And for goodness sake, turn the lights off when you leave the room.9. Switch to cold water on laundry day and line dry the clothes. The scent alone is worth it, never mind the energy you save. Also lower the temperature on your hot water heater while you are at it.

10. Finally, plug into a power strip, advised Giovagnoli, “Seventy-five percent of the electricity used to power your home electronics occurs when they are off. Unplug chargers from the outlet, they produce phantom use of energy.”