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Ten Quick Tips for Going Green

Updated on May 11, 2013

1. If you don't already recycle paper, cardboard, metal, aluminum, glass, plastic, etc., start now. (You can also recycle batteries, cell phones, computer components, appliances and a variety of other office and household products. And you can either garage-sale or donate to a worthwhile charity just about anything else.)

2. Prepare more meals at home (and from scratch, if feasible). It requires much less energy use and packaging material than eating out. (You can also become a 'locavore' — someone who eats locally grown and produced foods; visit your local farmer's markets and perhaps start your own garden.) You'll be surprised how you can improve your health while also maintaining a reasonable food budget. And abandon sugared sodas for tap water; you'll regain the sensitivity of your taste buds, while avoiding the pitfalls of weight gain and diabetes.

3. Use your microwave more, and your oven less — it's more energy efficient. Try cooking your food a bit less, especially vegetables; they have much higher nutrient value when lightly steamed or sautéd, rather than nuked to mush.

4. Discontinue unnecessary newspapers and magazines, and stop printing out all your emails; they all consume a lot of paper. Your local library already stockpiles just about any reading material you need or want. (You can also buy all your textbooks or favorite reading material at used-book stores; browsing can become a fun social outing.)

5. Tune up your cars, properly inflate the tires, and ease up on both gas pedal and brake; all will maximize your gas efficiency (as will following interstate speed limits and avoiding jackrabbit starts and squealing-tire stops).

6. Buy CFLs (compact fluorescent light bulbs) or even the latest LED lamps to replace incandescent ones. They keep getting more affordable, with better light quality, all the time. Consider shutting off or disconnecting all those things that perpetually suck energy: clock radios, cable boxes, flashlight or tool or cell phone or computer chargers, etc.

7. Switch from gas-powered mowers, trimmers, and leaf blowers to rechargeable electric ones. Consider mulching or composting your lawn cuttings, rather than sending them through the municipal waste system to a landfill. (And always dispose of used motor oils and leftover paints, pesticides and cleansers properly.)

8. Cut back a degree or two on your heating and cooling thermostat settings, and don't be afraid to open the windows to fresh air now and then. Keep your furnace filters clean for maximum efficiency, and you might want to vacuum diffusers and vents.

9. Caulk and weatherstrip windows and doors, and any other gaps in your house's outer shell that might be leaking heat (dryer vent?, chimney? attic windows?, pet door? etc.) Deciduous shrubs around your home's foundation can also temper your energy needs to heat and cool your house.

10. Try to consolidate your work, school, shopping, dining out, movie-going, social and banking trips, to save on gas usage. Consider whether foot- or bike-power might be healthier for you than horsepower.

For more tips in greater depth, why not check out some of my many other hubs on sustainable design and energy efficiency?

Brighten up your energy profile
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