With the need for transportation, heating, and food shopping, living green can be difficult anywhere. Pittsburgh is no exception, and in some ways, the city is even harder than most for living an environmentally friendly lifestyle. The following tips will help you live a green life in the city of Pittsburgh.
Recycling – Recycling is mandatory in Pittsburgh, but that does not mean it is cheap. The city does provide an easy to understand guide for residents, single stream recycling, and free pickup, which helps ease the cost and difficulty. Unfortunately, while pickup is free, recycling bags are not, nor does the city pay anything for recycled goods. If money is tight, you can use the blue plastic grocery bags that are provided by the Giant Eagle grocery store, though if you can afford it, it is more environmentally friendly to buy 30 gallon recycling bags from the store and use a cloth grocery bag for your shopping.
Transportation – Pittsburgh does have a bus route, but it does not have 24 hour service and many areas of the city are nearly inaccessible via bus. A year long bus pass from PAT costs slightly over $1000 for most of the city proper and $1600 to also include the outlying areas, the limited stops in those areas means you should research carefully whether the extra cost is worth it. If, like many Pittsburgh residents, you find the bus service is not enough for your needs, you can take advantage of the many Zipcar locations in Pittsburgh. This will allow you to occasionally take advantage of an individual car while still using public transportation for most of your travel.
Energy Saving Devices – Most of the housing in Pittsburgh is rental housing and the landlord controls what appliances are in the house. Unfortunately, most of these appliances are older and have poor energy saving ratings. Additionally, most of the houses in Pittsburgh are rather old and have poor insulation. Overall, this means that houses and apartments are very wasteful of energy and you will often have no say in the matter. Unless you own your place, the best solution is to purchase energy efficient lamps and bulbs, rather than use overhead lighting. As for other appliances and devices, you will either need to be very conscious of turning them off when you leave the house and go to bed, or you will want to purchase power strips with timers that you can program to shut off at certain hours.
Long Term Projects – As previously mentioned, Pittsburgh houses tend to be old. This means, as a rule, they have poor insulation, bad wiring, and are incredibly water inefficient. If you do purchase a house, the best thing you can do is to renovate. Solar panels are not particularly efficient in Pittsburgh due to the high number of overcast days in the city, but new wiring, lighting, toilets, showers, and insulation will all reduce energy use. If you purchase a house in Pittsburgh, take on these projects and you will not only reduce your environmental impact, but the impact of those who own the house after you.