1. Recycle as much as you can
In addition to recycling paper, glass and cardboard, be sure to drop off your no-longer-wanted electronics, batteries, ink cartridges, light bulbs, and building materials at a recycling depot or other drop-off point.
2. Rent instead of buy
Some types of equipment only get used occasionally. If you don’t need them regularly, consider renting instead of buying items like compressors, lawn aerators, pressure washers, ATVs and RVs. This will help reduce over-consumption.
3. Plan your route wisely
Reduce your carbon footprint by using public transit, carpooling, cycling, walking, using a carshare service or swapping your gas guzzler for an electric vehicle.
4. Choose certified goods
From cleaning products to clothing, food, cosmetics, and building materials, you’ll find many items on the market with easy-to-recognize environmental certifications. Look for them in stores near you.
5. Support local businesses
When you buy locally-made goods, both you and the products you purchase spend less time on the road. This means that there’s less fuel consumed and fewer greenhouse gases generated. Additionally, local products tend to require less packaging.
6. Renovate with sustainability in mind
If you’re renovating your home, consider making it more energy efficient by insulating the basement, installing Energy Star windows, switching to geothermal energy or installing a green roof. You should also consider using recycled materials if possible.
7. Reduce the amount of water you consume
Install a low-flow showerhead and toilet, repair leaky pipes, collect rainwater to water your garden, take short showers and keep water chilled in the refrigerator instead of running the tap.
8. Avoid overpackaged products
If you buy products in bulk, you’ll generate less waste. Many communities have zero-waste retailers that allow customers to fill their own bottles and bags with products such as shampoo, vegetables, dish soap, and even windshield washer fluid.
9. Upcycle broken or unused items
Find a new purpose for broken and unused things. For example, you can transform a chipped teapot into a vase, get your furniture reupholstered and drop off toys and clothing that no longer get used to charities that will redistribute them.
10. Endorse eco-friendly businesses
Many companies have taken steps to become more environmentally-friendly or have adopted programs to reduce their carbon footprint. Take the time to search for and support such businesses.
11. Save paper
When you must print documents, use recycled paper, print on both sides and reduce margins and font size to fit more on each page. To reduce paper consumption even further, be sure to sign up for electronic bills.
12. Use electricity wisely
Choose energy-efficient appliances and light bulbs, turn off the lights when you leave a room, turn down the heat at night and plug your electronics into smart power strips
13. Choose reusable products
Opt for reusable versions of disposable products when possible. Straws, sandwich bags, water bottles, sanitary napkins, and makeup removal pads all come in reusable formats that can be washed and reused repeatedly.
7 key safety tips for snowmobilers
January 18 to 26 is International Snowmobile Safety Week, an occasion during which snowmobilers are reminded about the importance of responsible riding. Here are seven tips for staying safe on the trails this winter.
1. Gear up. Always wear a helmet and dress for the weather.
2. Be prepared. Bring along a safety kit that includes flares, basic tools, and first-aid items.
3. Check your ride. Before heading out, make sure your snowmobile is tuned up and has enough gas and oil.
4. Remain on the trail. Most accidents occur when riders stray from marked trails and run into hazards.
5. Ride with a buddy. Don’t head out on your own, and tell another person where you plan to go before you leave.
6. Avoid frozen lakes and rivers. Only ride on ice if it’s at least 10 inches thick.
7. Never drive impaired. Operating a snowmobile under the influence of alcohol or drugs is both dangerous and illegal.
Lastly, consider taking a snowmobile safety course, especially if you’re a beginner. This will help you stay safe on your snowmobile and learn the local rules and regulations.
9 safety tips for walking in winter
Freezing rain and hard-packed snow create icy conditions that make walking a hazard in winter. Before you venture outside this season, be sure to follow these nine safety tips to avoid falls and injuries.
1. Maintain a wide stance with your feet about a foot apart
2. Keep your knees slightly bent to lower your center of gravity
3. Walk slowly and take small steps, even if you’re in a hurry
4. Place your whole foot down at once, rather than leading with your toes or heel
5. Opt for lightweight boots with non-slip soles, and avoid wearing high heels
6. If you wear ice cleats, remove them before walking on smooth, hard surfaces
7. Use a cane adjusted to your height, and attach a retractable ice pick to the end
8. Dress warmly to avoid shaking, which can make it harder to keep your balance
9. Wear padded underwear or hip protectors to reduce the risk of injury if you fall
While these precautions can help keep you safe, be sure to take advantage of delivery services offered by grocery stores and pharmacies to limit your need to go out in bad weather.
Everything you need to throw an outdoor winter party
If you’re tired of being cooped up inside this winter, consider hosting an outdoor party. Here are a few things you’ll need to make the event a success.
To create an inviting atmosphere, string paper lanterns or fairy lights from trees and line walkways with tealights in Mason jars. Vibrant streamers and balloons will contrast beautifully with a snow-covered yard, or you can opt for natural decors like pine cones and evergreen branches.
If you want to keep your guests entertained, plan an assortment of activities. For example, you could:
• Organize a snow sculpture contest
• Build a backyard skating rink
• Gather around a campfire for a sing-along
• Set up a dance floor and play lively music
• Rent a projector for an outdoor movie screening
Finally, make sure you have plenty of hot beverages to offer your guests including coffee, tea, and hot chocolate.
How to get your finances in order if you’re diagnosed with a long-term illness
If you’ve been diagnosed with a serious illness or disability, money may be the last thing on your mind. However, as soon as you’re able to, you should give some thought to your finances. If you can no longer work as a result of your condition, you’ll probably need to take some steps to ensure your financial situation is stable.
Determine which benefits you’re eligible for
Speak with your employer to find out how much paid sick leave you’re entitled to. If you have some form of disability coverage, also reach out to your insurer. Additionally, you may be eligible for unemployment insurance. Contact your state’s unemployment insurance program as soon as possible to apply.
If you’re going to have trouble making your mortgage payments, you should also contact your mortgage company. Some lenders offer foreclosure prevention programs to help homeowners who are dealing with a crisis.
Make a budget and manage your money carefully
Determine how much money you require each month by making a list of living expenses including groceries, rent/mortgage, utilities, insurance, car payments, and other recurring fees. Compare this with what you have coming in from various revenue sources. You may need to cut back on certain frills or unnecessary expenses to make ends meet.
To manage your finances more effectively when facing an illness, consider enlisting the help of a financial adviser, debt counselor, or other industry professional.
Social media: tips to keep your teen safe
If you have a teenager, they likely spend time on social networking sites like Facebook, Flickr, Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok, Twitter, and YouTube. But do they know the risks? While social media networks help kids keep in touch with friends, it can also expose them to people who intend to hurt them.
From cyberbullying to sextortion and data breaches to inappropriate content, there’s a lot to be wary of on the internet. That’s why it’s important to talk to your teen about how to use social media safely and responsibly. Here are a few ground rules you should establish:
• Don’t share personal information like your address, phone number, or date of birth
• Don’t post photos or videos of another person on social media without their consent
• Don’t go alone (or without an adult) to meet someone you meet online
• Don’t send intimate pictures of yourself to anyone, even if you trust the person
Remind your teen that once words and photos are shared online, they may be impossible to delete and easily misused. Even if a post doesn’t seem like a problem now, many employers use social media to screen candidates. Explain to your teen that they could miss out on their future dream job because of an inappropriate comment or video they post today.
Finally, here’s a tip to help reinforce the notion with your teen that anyone can see what they post online. Before they send or share anything on social media, encourage your teen to ask themself this question: “Would I feel comfortable if my teacher or grandmother saw this?”
The website StompOutBullying.org provides resources for how to recognize, prevent, and deal with cyberbullying and other forms of digital abuse.
Does your dog need winter clothes?
All dogs need to spend plenty of time outdoors in order to get enough exercise, enjoy the fresh air, stimulate their senses, and do their business. However, when the temperature drops, you may wonder if it’s safe for your pup to be out in the frigid air.
It’s important to note that, like humans, dogs can suffer from hypothermia. In fact, their ears, nose, tail, and foot pads are susceptible to frostbite. Therefore, it’s advisable to keep your pup’s outings brief if the temperature drops well below freezing.
When you do take your dog for a walk in the winter, you must make sure your canine companion is prepared for the weather. There are several factors that influence whether your dog should wear a winter coat and boots. You should consider:
• The temperature (is the cold tolerable or piercing?)
• The duration of the walk (will you be out for five minutes or an hour?)
• The planned activity (are you going for a hike or stroll around the block?)
• Your dog’s breed (short-haired and short-legged dogs tend to get colder faster)
• Your pet’s age (puppies and older dogs are more vulnerable to cold weather)
• Your dog’s health (sick, injured, or recovering pets should stay inside to keep warm)
If your dog needs to be bundled up for winter walks, visit a local pet shop to find boots and a quality coat that will keep them warm all season.