Going green: Ten things you can do today to help save the environment

More and more people are finally getting wise to the importance of trying to protect the environment. While some poiticians are still trying to deny that climate change exists, scientists, and the rest of the educated population, are in little doubt. But just like the politicians, many of us don't want too much disruption to our daily lives or to our finances. Many of us are still struggling to find really simple strategies for "going green" that fit into our lifestyles and don't cost us any extra money.Here are ten easy ways to live a greener life, and some of them will even save you money.

BUY recycled goods.

More and more people are recycling but the demand for recycled goods is often low or non-existent. I live in an area which apparently has one of the most advanced recycling systems in the world. We recycle almost everything, but our recycling plant sometimes has difficulty selling recycled materials on to companies, even though the same companies may be cutting down trees and manufacturing new plastics to make their products. Whenever you have a purchase to make, check if the product is made from recycled materials. Make a point of buying recycled when it’s available and asking stores and companies for recycled goods if they don’t seem to be stocking or producing them. If enough of us do this we will slowly 'close the gap' between supply and demand.

Buy used.

E-bay and other auction sites are a great way to be green and save money. The same goes for flea markets, yard sales, charity shops, vintage/second-hand clothes shops and second-hand book stores. Every time you buy a used product you save the energy that would have been used in producing a new one. If you're new to buying second hand or think it's a bit 'icky' force yourself to give it a try. Once you find you can find perfectly functional stuff for a fraction of the price, you may just become an ebay addict. If you find a good support group for this particular addiction, I could use their number!

Invest in a re-usable shopping bag.

So simple, but it’s amazing how many people are still using plastic bags, or maybe asking for paper in the mistaken belief that that is the ‘greenest’ option. The best option is to buy a re-usable bag. They’re available in most stores for a dollar or less, or you can buy a string bag which has the added advantage that it will fold down small enough to fit in a purse or even a large pocket. If you need an extra incentive many stores are starting to charge for plastic bags. It may only be about 5 cents a bag but take a quick look at wherever you store your used bags and see how many there are. Can you imagine how much that's going to cost you over a year or so?

Join freecycle.org.

It’s a world-wide organisation allowing members to offer, and obtain, all kinds of items that would otherwise be thrown away. Log on to the website to find your local branch. You can give, and get, everything from used furniture to old building materials. A true testament to the fact that one man's junk really is someone else's treasure.

Walk, don’t drive.

OK, so we all need our cars (or do we - that's a whole article in itself) but it’s shocking how many car journeys cover a distance of a mile or even less. Distances that would amount to a pleasant 10-15 minute walk. It’s not unusual to see people driving from store entrance to store entrance on the same street, or even across a parking lot! People drive their kids to friends’ houses two blocks away or down the street to the school bus stop. Get into the habit of always thinking ‘could I walk it?’ before opening the car door. If you must drive, car pool when possible, slow down (a real simple way to save fuel) and don’t drive with accessories you don’t need - a roof rack, for example, can increase fuel consumption by up to 30 per cent.

Re-use, don’t recycle.

Recycling is great but it still uses up a lot of energy. If you can re-use things instead of recycling, that’s even better. Re-use gift wrap on another gift. Re-use junk mail and other printed paper as drawing paper or craft materials for kids. Re-use plastic food containers and glass jars for storage. Ask local schools and community groups if they can re-use containers for craft projects or storage.

Shower, don’t bath.Wish I could take my own advice on this one. I love a hot bath. It's an important part of my stress management system. But I know I should be showering instead. It uses up to 80 per cent less water and probably gets you cleaner!

Turn the thermostat down in winter, and up in summer.

It’s such a simple step, and that one or two degrees of difference really won't have a huge affect on your comfort level – you’ll just save energy. Set the heat lower at night or when no-one is home, and remember to turn it down ahead of bed-time or the time when the house will be empty. It takes at least an hour for your home to cool down.

Cut out drafts.

No matter how well insulated your home is there will be cold spots. Check for them at the beginning of winter and eliminate them with extra insulation or simple draft excluders. Draw drapes at dusk every night. Even double glazed windows can be an energy leak.

Use simple strategies to save energy when cooking.

Only boil the amount of water required, whether in a kettle or pot. Put lids on your pots whilst cooking to conserve energy. Use cloths not paper towels, and always allow food to cool thoroughly before putting it in a fridge or freezer.

If anybody has any real simple, no-brainer, "I could do that today with very little effort" tips on being green, please share in the comments.

Comments 9 comments

men are dorks profile image

men are dorks 7 years ago from Namibia

Weare killing ourselves, slowly but surely...


sarah dawkins 7 years ago

Great hub, but are we really stating the obvious here? Why do people not recycle/reuse, turn down thermostats, drive when they could walk, not insulate their homes and not want to buy second hand items. Why is society so wasteful of resources? I fail to comprehend why anyone would think that not doing any of these is acceptable. Have we been brainwashed into believing that we are an affluent society that can afford to be so wasteful? what other reason could there be? Keep up the good work. Education is really the key. Thanks


Karen Banes profile image

Karen Banes 7 years ago from Canada Author

Thanks for commenting Sarah. I think the short answer is, people just don't think about the consequences of what they're doing. I love a simple statement my environmental science professor was fond of - There is no "away". Everything you throw "away" stays right here on the planet, in landfills and garbage dumps, unless or until it biodegrades. Really makes you think about the other possibilities before you throw anything "away".


midnightbliss profile image

midnightbliss 7 years ago from Hermosa Beach

though many campaigns had already been launched to inform people on how to conserve and preserve our resources there are still a lot who are unaware of what they can do to help reduce their carbon footprints and live the eco friendly way. more information should be needed. good thing, more and more companies are promoting reusables with their products.


Rebecca E. profile image

Rebecca E. 5 years ago from Canada

well done and informative, just starting to get into this idea.


Karen Banes profile image

Karen Banes 5 years ago from Canada Author

Thanks for stopping by Rebecca. If you're a newbie greenie these steps really are simple enough to start implementing straight away. And most of them save money as well as the planet!


HikeGuy profile image

HikeGuy 5 years ago from Northern California Coast

Good user-friendly suggestions. I use human power for many day to day tasks. I bicycle to do errands, walk instead of moving the car a few blocks when I drive, use a hand mower and hand tools for all my yard work.


Karen Banes profile image

Karen Banes 5 years ago from Canada Author

Thanks for commenting HikeGuy. Human power - I like it. The ultimate renewable resource, perhaps?


vocalcoach profile image

vocalcoach 4 years ago from Nashville Tn.

We need many more great hubs like this one. Too many of us are uninformed. I do everything I know to help the environment. There is so much to do and we each nust take responsibilityto help our planet in every way possible. Thanks for the hub - voted up!

vocalcoach~

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