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Anna G. Larson, Published March 14 2013

5 Things Friday: Five ways to get green for free

FARGO – Going green can be as simple as turning your computer off or washing clothes on cold.

Making a few swaps and changes can save the planet and your bank account.

1. Don’t buy bottled water.

The production of plastic bottles requires millions of barrels of oil per year, and the transportation of bottled water from its source to stores releases thousands of tons of carbon dioxide.

If you were to fill one quarter of a plastic water bottle with oil, you would be looking at roughly the amount used to produce that bottle.

Instead: Use a washable, reusable water bottle.

Source: National Geographic

2. Stop buying paper towels.

Paper towels are not recyclable because they may have organic matter on them like food, germs or mold that will contaminate other items to be recycled.

Instead: Use washable kitchen towels.

Source: Massachusetts Institute of Technology

3. Wash all laundry on cold.

Almost 90 percent of the energy consumed by a washing machine goes to heating water. Switching from hot or warm water to cold water washing saves that energy.

Each household that switches to cold-water washing eliminates about 1,600 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions a year.

Tip: Many laundry detergents, such as those made by the Method brand, are formulated to work just as well in cold water as in hot.

Sources: Energy Star and Sierra Club

4. Turn your computer off at the end of the day.

Over the course of one year, powering down your computer will save one ton of carbon dioxide emissions.

To save even more energy, use the “sleep” mode feature during the day. A computer’s sleep mode reduces energy use by up to 70 percent – and could save enough electricity to cut annual electric bills by

$2 billion and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by the equivalent of 5 million cars.

Source: The EPA

5. Recycle.

Recycling one aluminum can has the energy savings equivalent to powering a computer for 23 hours, running a refrigerator for 17 hours or operating a room air-conditioner for 14 hours.

Recycling can also help divert the amount of waste sent to the landfill by up to 75 percent.

Tip: Place a recycling box in a kitchen closet or under the sink.

Source: The EPA

Readers can reach Forum reporter Anna G. Larson at (701) 241-5525