Make a Difference
Green Living - Tips and Resources for Making Environmentally Responsible Choices in Your Daily Life
Photo: Wells Horton
Bookmark this page and check the "10 Things" list below for seasonally updated actions you can take to live greener right now!
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Ten Things You Can Do to Help The Environment Right Now - Winter
- Free workshops on cleaner, greener homes
Green living fans in the Rochester area-don't miss these three FREE workshops: green home cleaning, choosing environmentally sound personal care products and storing and disposing of household hazardous waste. The next workshop is February 11, so register soon! See the "Cleaner, Greener Homes" link at right for more info on all three workshops.
- Enjoy (or not) winter, plan for spring
The state tree nursery's Spring Seedling Sale opens January 2. More than 40 types of trees and shrubs are available to control erosion, offer shade, and provide food and cover for wildlife.
Be part of the winter wild turkey flock survey
- Help wanted-two great jobs, no pay
DEC needs volunteers (no experience necessary) to keep tabs on wild turkeys January - March. If frogs and toads are more your style, help DEC survey frog and toad populations in spring and summer. Attend one of our spring training sessions on identifying different species by their calls. How cool is that?
- Protect pets and water from toxic antifreeze
When buying antifreeze, look for brands using propylene glycol rather than ethylene glycol. Remember, it's illegal to dump used antifreeze in a storm drain, but it can be recycled. Check with a local garage, public works department or motor vehicle salvage yard to see if you can recycle your antifreeze with theirs.
- You don't have to follow football to be an eagles' fan
Wintering eagles begin to arrive in December, with concentrations peaking in January and February. Find the best places to watch in New York State. See also "Eagle Watching" from the Conservationist for more sites.
Even a short visit to a forest is
good for you. (Photo: Jennifer Miller)
- Move over echinacea, meet "forest bathing"
Spending time in a forest is good for your health and there's research to prove it. Even as little as five minutes in a forest can have a positive effect on mood, blood pressure and your immune system. And you don't have to take your clothes off! Check out the benefits and supporting science.
- Let it snow, let it snow
and keep rechargeable batteries and a hand-crank radio on hand for those inevitable winter power outages.
- Green your getaway
Planning a winter vacation? Consider staying at an Energy Star-rated hotel. These lodgings use 35% less energy and emit 35% less greenhouse gases than comparable accommodations. Check if there's one where you're headed (see Offsite links-enter "Hotels" in the "facility type" field)
The spectacular frozen falls at Letchworth
State Park. (Photo: Carl Heilman II)
- Discover the "Grand Canyon of the East"
Letchworth State Park in western New York State. Winter activities include snow tubing, cross-country skiing, and snowmobiling. Rent a winterized cabin or the very non-rustic Maplewood Lodge, which sleeps eight and has modern amenities, including TV.
- Composting in winter with worms
Continue composting during the winter with a worm bin. They're great if you live in an apartment as they're compact, and if properly maintained, they do not smell or attract insects. In four to six months you'll have nutrient-rich worm castings that your house plants will love. Find out how to do it. (PDF) 85KB.
Common Environmental Misconceptions and Myths Exposed and Explained by DEC Experts
Myth: I know LEDs are super-efficient, but they cost a lot, can't be used everywhere and the light has an odd quality to it.
Busted: Give LEDs a second look-they've come a long way
You have probably seen LEDs (light-emitting diodes) used in traffic signals, flashlights and Christmas tree lights. The technology has advanced significantly, and LED light bulbs are now available for lamps, recessed lighting and other applications.
Advantages of LEDs
The new LEDs offer some big advantages over compact fluorescents:
LED bulbs are now available for many uses. (photo:Wikipedia)
- They use less than half of the energy of a compact fluorescent and 1/8th to 1/10th of energy used by an incandescent bulb
- They last a very long time--more than 20 years
- They're dimmable (and don't buzz)They turn right on- no "warm up" delay
- They work well in cold weather
- They contain no mercury
- They're more durable than CFLs or incandescent bulbs
LEDs do not burn out or fail, but the amount of light given will decline over time. While they can be used in recessed lighting fixtures and similarly enclosed spaces, this will shorten their lifespan due to waste heat trapped around the bulb.
Quantity and quality of light
Use lumens, the unit used to measure light output, not watts, to find the bulb you need. LED bulbs come in all the standard brightness levels: 1600 lumens (=100 watt incandescent); 1100 lumens (= 75 watt); 800 lumens (= 60 watt).
Manufacturers have improved the quality of the LED light so that it is closer to the soft or warm white of an incandescent bulb. The perceived color of objects viewed with LED light, however may be off. For more true-to-life colors look for LEDs with a Color Rendering Index of at least 80 or higher.
Although the cost of LED light bulbs has come down significantly, they are still pricey, ranging from $13.00 to $40.00 per bulb. When you consider that their lifespan is nearly three times that of CFLs, they're still a good investment over the long term.
More about Make a Difference:
- Keep Water Clean - Tips for protecting New York's water resources from all forms of pollution
- Save Energy and Water - A selection of tips to help you save energy and water around the house and in your yard
- Keep Air Clean - Tips to use every day to prevent air pollution
- Use Less-Toxic Products - Suggestions and tips for less-toxic and non-toxic products for use in your home and yard
- Reduce, Reuse, Recycle & Compost - Tips on recycling, reducing solid waste, reusing and composting
- Protect Fish, Wildlife and Open Space - Tips for creating wildlife habitat and preventing the spread of invasive species
- Connect To Nature - Different ways to experience and learn about the natural world
- Myth Buster Archive - previous Myth Busters