As a home builder in Colorado Springs, home of such iconic displays of natural beauty as Garden of the Gods and Pikes Peak, we understand that caring for the environment is important. For some, that could mean turning off lights when they’re not in use. For others, it could mean going as far as using (and washing and reusing) “family cloth” instead of toilet paper…wow. While none of us here at Solid Rock are quite ready to make that leap, we are taking steps to reduce our impact on the environment. And bonus – many times, it makes sense economically, too! Here are some things we can all do to shrink our carbon footprint:
1. Reduce waste of things you don’t benefit from
- Water from your irrigation system when it’s raining
- Electricity from your appliances when you’re not using them (known as “vampire energy”) – chargers and computers are major culprits
- Warm or cold air (depending on the season) when you’re not home
- All kinds of things in your home have the potential of causing water or electricity waste. You can save substantial amounts of money by using a wide variety of home products, appliances and monitors to automatically cut back on consumption, and many of these can earn you substantial rebates.
2. Reuse things that still have life left in them
- Plastic bags – the petroleum-based plastic bags we’re most familiar with haven’t been around long enough to decompose, but scientists guess it could take 500 years or longer. Let’s try to get as much use out of them as we can before consigning them to a relative eternity in a landfill. Better yet, invest in some reusable shopping bags and reduce your use of plastics altogether!
- Paper – you can reuse paper for shopping lists, printing, kids’ coloring pages, all kinds of things. Make sure it’s been used on both sides before getting rid of it.
- We home builders also have things we can reuse. Here is a shot of concrete forms that we reused to help form the foundation walls of a beautiful custom home in Crystal Park . Once the concrete has set, the forms are removed and used again on another project.
- Clothes – once a shirt has holes in it, you probably don’t want to use it again as a shirt. There are probably some ultra-green folks out there who would use that shirt until there was nothing left, but that’s not us, and we’re guessing it’s probably not you either. Instead, repurpose that shirt as a rag, or better yet, have a memory quilt made!
- Glass jars for spaghetti sauce and salsa make great jars for leftovers or organizing odds and ends. They also allow you to buy items in bulk but keep a small amount readily available on your pantry shelf.
- Empty paper towel and toilet paper rolls can be used to store knives and other sharp objects in your kitchen drawer
- A lonely, single sock can be used to cover a hot curling iron so it can be put away, right away without melting anything else
- Being a home builder in the Rocky Mountains means that when we excavate property, we often have to clear out, and sometime dynamite out, rocks and large boulders. We repurpose these for use in landscaping.
4. Recycle – if you can’t avoid buying/using it to begin with, it has no more life, and can’t be used for anything else, then it’s time to recycle.
- Unwanted food can be “recycled” into compost for your garden
- Plastic, metal, glass, paper and more can be recycled using a variety of local options, such as
- Whole Foods (dump your whole collection into their recycle dumpster, or go inside to separately recycle plastic, metal, glass, paper, and even cell phones and shoes)
- Sign up for residential recycling pick-up
- Take it to the Waste Management facility
Unless you move out into the wilderness, live on the land, eat grass and berries, and make clothes from the hides of animals you killed with your bare hands or tools you made out of some other dead animal’s carcass, it is virtually impossible to totally eliminate your impact on the environment. In fact, it is impossible if you want to live any semblance of a normal American life. But if you take a few of these tips, or even just one, and implement them into your lifestyle, you can help make the planet a little nicer for those coming along behind us.