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Hoosiers Care

Hoosiers Care > Do Your Part > Small Steps, Big Results Small Steps, Big Results: Additional Things Hoosiers Can Do to Help the Environment

In Your Home

Use Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs

Compact fluorescent light bulbs [PDF] use 67 percent less energy than incandescent bulbs and can last up to 10 times longer, with an average lifespan of 6,000 hours per bulb. Replacing the incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent light bulbs in your five most frequently-used light fixtures can save you more than $60 a year in electricity.

Turn Off the Lights

Lighting accounts for 20 percent of a household's annual electricity bill. Turning off lights when not needed can reduce your energy consumption and help reduce air emissions.

Unplug Electronics and/or Use a Power Strip

Home electronics cannot be switched off completely without being unplugged -- they use energy even when turned off. We call this power consumption "standby power". Unplugging or turning off at a power strip allows you to eliminate the energy used for standby power.

Use Less Water

One easy step is to take shorter showers. Additionally, instead of letting the water run while brushing your teeth, run it just to wet and rinse your toothbrush. Turning off the water can save 4 gallons a minute, which adds up to 200 gallons a week for a family of four.

Fix Leaks

Check your faucets, and fix any leak you find. A faucet leaking at a rate of one drop per second can waste up to 1,660 gallons of water per year. Fixing hot-water leaks can save up to $35 per year in utility bills.

Wash Full Loads and Use Cold Water

Washing full loads as opposed to partial loads of laundry can save an average household more than 3,400 gallons of water each year. Using cold water for laundry instead of hot or warm water can save the average household more than $30 annually.

Properly Insulate Your Attic

Proper insulation can lower your heating, cooling and energy needs. To determine whether you have enough insulation, measure the thickness of the layer of your attic insulation directly above the ceiling of the highest point in your home. If there is less than 7 inches of insulation, you could benefit by adding more. When your home is properly insulated, it will feel cool in the summer and warm in the winter.

Buy Locally

Buying locally-grown food supports the local economy, reduces refrigeration and transportation emissions, and lessens the need for packing materials. Indiana organic products are produced by a farming system that relies on maintaining and replenishing the soil to grow crops without synthetic pesticides, herbicides or fertilizers. Most farmers’ markets and pick-your-own locations offer organic products. You might even discover a few fruits or vegetables you didn't even know were Hoosier grown.

Use Less Toxic Cleaning Products

Using fewer toxic cleaning products can reduce pollutants in both the air and water, and help improve the air quality in your house. Use baking soda as a deodorizer (instead of aerosols): dissolve four tablespoons of baking soda in one quart of water for an all-purpose cleaner; use vinegar to dissolve mineral deposits and remove soap scum and mildew; to remove clogs, pour 1/2 cup of baking soda down the drain, add 1/2 cup of white vinegar, and cover the drain.

In Your Yard

Use Fewer and Better Pesticides and Fertilizers

Surprising as it may seem, residential users apply more pounds per acre of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers than farmers. Routine watering or a rainstorm can wash away the chemical excess, wasting your money and endangering nearby waterways. Always apply pesticides and fertilizers according to the label’s directions, and use only the recommended amount.

Avoid Over-watering Your Lawn

Watering too heavily or too often weakens your lawn and causes erosion and runoff pollution. When needed, water one inch, once a week. To measure, place an empty 6-ounce tuna can on your lawn and stop watering when it is full. Watering in the morning will save water from being evaporated by the midday heat. That will save you money on your water bill, too!

Use an Electric Lawn Mower

For each hour of operation, one gas-powered lawn mower emits 11 times more air pollution than a new car -- gas-powered garden-tool emissions account for an estimated 5 percent of the nation's air pollution. Using an electric lawn mower instead can save you 73 percent in total energy cost.

Leave Grass Clippings on the Lawn

Allow grass clippings to remain on the yard after mowing; they can act as a slow-release fertilizer to your lawn while helping to retain moisture in the soil. This reduces the need for watering and could eliminate the need for fertilizer. Plus, it helps keep fertilizers out of storm drains and as a result, out of rivers, lakes, and bays.

Use Native Plants

Plants that are native to Indiana aren't only beautiful; they typically require less water, pesticides, fertilizers, and maintenance–saving you time and money. The deep root systems of many native plants also increase the soil's capacity to store water and reduce runoff.

Pickup Pet Waste

Pet waste contains bacteria that can run off of your lawn and contaminate our streams, lakes, and rivers. Always clean up after your pet by reusing plastic grocery bags to scoop up pet waste.

Recycling and Waste Reduction


By recycling paper, metal, plastic, and other materials, you can reduce waste, help conserve energy, and preserve our state’s natural resources.

Buy Recycled-content Products

Buying products made from (or packaged in) recycled materials helps to reduce the amount of waste that goes to landfills.

Recycle Electronics and Batteries

Don't short circuit recycling by throwing away your old computer. There's a better way to manage unwanted electronics: donating, reusing, and recycling.

Cut Back on Your Amount of Mail

You can help reduce waste by taking your name off of marketing mailing lists and banking online.

Recycle Used Motor Oil

Motor oil never wears out. In fact, two gallons of recycled motor oil can produce enough energy to power the average home for one day. Whenever you change your oil (or other vehicle fluids) at home, make sure you recycle them -- never pour used motor oil down storm drains, because the drains will carry the oil directly to Indiana waterways. Visit Recycle Indiana to find a recycling center near you.

Safely Dispose of Hazardous Household Waste

Hazardous household waste (HHW) includes consumer products containing chemicals that can present concerns if improperly used or disposed. Almost all can be safely and legally disposed in landfills that can accept regular trash. However, community collection programs offer a better disposal option for collecting, sharing, and safely disposing of HHW. To find one-day collection events in your area, check Recycle Indiana.