Living Well

Healthy Living Tips For Sustainability

Managing Waste

Recycling in your home helps to reduce waste sent to landfills, and also saves energy and natural resources – products made from recycled materials require less energy and water than the same products made from new materials.

For example, recycling just one aluminum can saves enough energy to run a:

  • 100-watt bulb for 20 hours
  • Computer for three hours
  • Television for two hours

Recycling paper instead of making it from new material generates 74 percent less air pollution and uses 50 percent less water. In fact, recycling one ton of paper saves:

  • 17 mature trees;
  • 7,000 gallons of water;
  • Three cubic yards of landfill space;
  • Two barrels of oil
  • 4,100 kilowatt-hours of electricity — enough energy to power the average American home for five months

In addition, less landfill waste means less air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from landfills, as well as less leaching of pollutants from landfills into our groundwater and the Great Lakes. If every American household recycled just one out of every 10 plastic bottles they used, 200 million pounds of plastic would be kept out of landfills every year.

Most people know about recycling programs for paper, plastic, glass, aluminum and other metals. What they may not know is that many other household products and appliances are recyclable as well, including batteries, light bulbs, motor oil, tires, refrigerators, computers and printers – many of which could leach toxins if land-filled. Check with your county’s Solid Waste Management District to learn more.

The volume of your trash can also be dramatically reduced by composting organic matter such as yard and food waste. Composting also yields high-quality soil and fertilizer that can be used in your yard or garden. Again, check with your county’s Solid Waste Management District for more information.

Don’t forget to complete the cycle by purchasing products made with recycled content when possible.

Reduce Your Energy Bill

There are many simple things you can do to reduce your household’s energy use and save money on your energy bills:

  • Replace regular light bulbs with compact fluorescent or LED bulbs
  • Turn off your computer when not in use
  • Turn off other appliances when not in use, including DVD players, televisions and video games
  • Properly insulate and air seal your home
  • When purchasing new appliances, prefer more energy-efficient models
  • Check out the US Department of Energy’s Energy Savers website for more helpful tips:


By being thoughtful about how you get around, you can save money and vehicle emissions, and even improve your health. Try some of the following tips:

  • Combine trips and errands
  • Carpool
  • Use public transportation (
  • Walk or bike when possible
  • Keep your car well-maintained to maximize fuel efficiency, safety, and reliability including regular tune-ups, oil and filter changes, and properly inflated tires
  • When making a vehicle purchasing or leasing decision, consider choosing a vehicle with higher fuel efficiency

Green Cleaning

You can maintain a safe and healthy environment in your home by choosing to purchase non-toxic cleaning products. Look for chlorine bleach-free, phosphate-free, non-petroleum-based, chemical-fragrance-free cleaners, and purchase GreenSeal- or EcoLogo- certified products when possible.

You can even save money and use all-natural materials by using everyday kitchen products to make your own safe and effective cleaning solutions:

  • Furniture polish: Mix 1 cup olive oil with ½ cup lemon juice into a spray bottle. Shake, then spritz onto a cloth and wipe onto wood furniture. Polish dry with a fresh cloth.
  • Floor cleaner: For thorough cleaning of tile and linoleum floors, add about ½ cup white vinegar to a bucket of hot water and use for mopping.
  • Tarnish remover: Use lemon slices or fresh lemon juice to cut through mineral deposits and tarnish, and to clean rust stains around faucets and drains.
  • De-greaser: Sprinkle cornstarch on greasy countertops and around the stove, let the cornstarch soak up the grease, and just wipe off.
  • Glass cleaner: Put a half and half mix of water and white vinegar, or lemon juice, in a spray bottle. Spray on to windows and wipe.
  • All-purpose cleaner: ½ cup white vinegar and ¼ cup baking soda mixed into ½ gallon of water

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2015 Progress Report on Sustainability

2015 Progress Report on Sustainability

View the online report or download the summary. You can also view our archived progress reports here.

13 Environmental Excellence awards

UH earned 13 Environmental Excellence awards from Practice Greenhealth, including the prestigious System for Change award. The awards recognize our health system’s achievements in environmental-sustainability programs and improvements during 2015.

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