Twenty-years ago, 50 Simple Things You Can Do to Save the Earth became a New York Times bestseller. This month -- just in time for Earth Day April 22 -- an updated version of that classic text on green living is being released (Hyperion, $12.95).
Written by John Javna with his teenage children Sophie and Jessie, the revised version suggests ways to preserve the environment, including many money-saving tips.
Here are tips for conserving water and gas:
• Create a rain barrel. Water from your roof can be collected and then used to water the lawn or garden. Javna suggests that renters ask their landlords first. Building instructions and details can be found at http://www.waterkeeper.org/.
• Garden with a green thumb. Select drought-tolerant plants for your garden. When you do water, use soaker hoses and drip irrigation systems. Spread mulch to help roots retain moisture.
• Stop leaks. A single leaky faucet -- with one drop of water per seconds -- translates into 192 wasted gallons per month. Whenever we run the faucet while shaving or brushing our teeth, we waste about five gallons of water.
• Safeguard water pipes. Popular drain cleaners can damage household pipes, leading to expensive plumbing bills. Here's a recipe for a gentle alternative: Mix one cup of baking soda and one cup of vinegar into a pot of boiling water. Pour this mixture down the drain to dissolve most clots. Replace chlorine cleansers, which are not bio-degradable, with eco-friendly alternatives such as oxygen or hydrogen peroxide-based bleaches.
• Demand gas-efficient rental cars. Save money and the environment while you're on vacation by asking the rental car company to provide a fuel-efficient vehicle. Your selection will have a long-term impact on the auto industry, which studies rental trends when developing new cars.
This is from my latest column in the home & design section of the Miami Herald.