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Live Greener - 145 Ways
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Have you attempted to live “green” but feel as though you haven’t gotten enough done or that you can’t afford enough products to make a dent? Living a more ECO-friendly life should not be rocket science or attempting brain surgery. For many, a greener life has saved moola. Perhaps what is needed is a checklist, one for brainstorming and filled with enough suggestions that will provide dents, (and not to the head.) There is more than just hauling around shopping bags. Scrutinize this list for areas of interest, run tests, rinse then repeat. Keep trying new approaches, track successes, and then enjoy the rewards of a greener–and healthier–life.
Fun Fact: The term “green,” actually started surfacing in the early 1900s. Henry David Thoreau’s book Maine Woods, published in 1864, talked about the importance of land preservation and respect. Through the 1900s awareness of the importance of protecting land continued to grow and into the 2000s. Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring created a stir in the 1970s, and let's not forget how Teddy Roosevelt felt that perseveration of national forests needed to be enforced. Terms expanded to include sustainability, ECO-friendly, tree-hugging, environmentalist and homesteading.
How to Use This List
This article is broken down into categories. Choose an area of interest, begin to work through choices as if doing an experiment. Remember to track successes and fails. Examine why fails occurred and decide if anything simply needs to be adjusted–like a habit. Habits make a big difference in how we live green. We all have sloppy inclinations that not only impact the environment but our pocketbooks. We often just need to suck it up and embrace change.
Greening Your Ride
- Revisit public transportation, carpooling, and the exercise benefits that biking and walking have to offer. It’s amazing what adventures can be found by not being in a car.
- Research possible car co-ops in the area. This relieves the need for vehicle ownership, saves money, and allows access to a vehicle when needed. This also works for obtaining a different type of vehicle, such as a truck, when necessary. Zipcar.com and eGoCarShare.org are two sites that can help locate this service.
- Drive correctly. Don’t speed, don’t over-idle, and don’t drive aggressively, unless you like eating up gas and adding wear and tear on tires and brakes.
- Stick to a service schedule by checking owner’s manual for recommendations. Keeping up on maintenance keeps the auto performing well and in turn heightens safety and less gas usage.
- Check tires monthly. Properly inflated tires provide for better gas mileage and better wear. Additionally, don’t forget to change the oil every 3,000 to 8,000 miles and tune-ups per owner’s manual. Some of these services can be DIY. Learn by taking lessons at local parks and recreation locations, an adult school, or mechanically-skilled friend. Saving money on what can be DIY means money to set aside for when the car needs to be taken to the mechanic for more expensive repairs.
- Don’t cause drag to the vehicle with a full trunk. More car weight equals higher gas usage. This also includes hauling a full roof rack or keeping the sunroof open.
- If the vehicle is well-maintained use regular octane gasoline. Check the owner’s manual for recommendations but unless the car is designed to make use of a higher octane, it's a waste of money.
- If in the market for a new vehicle try to buy the most energy-efficient model. Skipping upgrades can help make it more affordable as well as buying a certified used model. Just don’t scrimp on safety features. Stay on top of current vehicle ratings with the Kelley Blue Book.
- Whenever possible, try to telecommute rather than driving to work, or traveling. Skype really is a lot of fun.
- Don’t use the air conditioner. Let the fans, cool water, and tinted windows do the job. There are also battery-operated fan devices with cold packs that can work for individual use and maintain perfect comfort with less gas usage from the pull of the air conditioner, including fewer emissions.
- Keep air filter, air conditioning filter, and fuel filter clean. This will not only help reduce gas usage but keep the car’s environment cleaner. Speaking of the vehicle’s environment, do not use store-bought air fresheners that can emit chemicals into the tighter space of the car. Use essential oils instead.
- Combine errands to reduce the use of a car and save time in the long run. If at a drive-thru and the line is long, park and walk in to order. This creates less time that the car is idling.
- For more information on greening the ride take a look at Greening Your Auto.
Fun Fact: Landfills produce methane gas, a byproduct of decaying trash. This gas gets burned off or captured into pipes being released into the atmosphere, therefore contributing to harmful atmospheric emissions. Organic trash also emits methane but can be turned into a biofuel. Only throw into the trash anything that cannot absolutely be recycled in some way. Compost the organic materials (food waste) into a yard trash bin for a second life of positivity.
14. Open curtains and blinds during the day as much as possible when the weather is colder, but close off to maintain coolness in the home during hot weather. This action can reduce the use of the furnace or AC.
15. A lot of heat and cooling can be lost through windows, especially single paned. Older homes often need newer windows which are doubled paned. If unable to upgrade, make use of storm windows, clear plastic sheeting that can be fit to a window and tightened with a hairdryer, and insulating blinds and drapes.
16. Switch to LED lights which use considerably less electricity and emit less heat when the weather is warmer. Energy efficient lighting has come a long way in the warmth of emitted light.
17. Shut off the pilot light to the furnace and/or fireplace during warmer seasons. Less gas usage and less heat generated.
18. Close the flue of the fireplace when not in use so warmed/cooled air doesn’t suck up the chimney.
19 Use solar products, and no, not just for the roof. There are portable, small devices for charging batteries, cell phones, and even power a computer. Prices have come down on many solar products. Visit Go Green Solar Energy for multiple, affordable recommendations.
20. Don’t forget changing the heating filter at least monthly during times of more frequent use. A dirty filter equals air drag on the system as well as escaping dust pollutants into the home. If possible, have the system checked annually for top performance. Review owner’s manual for any do-it-yourself maintenance like cleaning the blower. You’d be surprised at how much can be done which will save money and maintain a well-functioning system.
21. Speaking of filters, don’t forget to clean out the filter on the clothes dryer. Built-up lint is not only a fire hazard, but more energy is used for heating due to resulting air inhibition by lint. Vacuum the filter coils on the refrigerator every two to three months as well.
22. Hang dry your clothes. If nothing else, hang tops and bottoms to dry, then air spin to soften. This will reduce the number of clothes being dried in the dryer, thus less electrical/gas used. To reduce the amount of drying time, place two hand towels into the dryer that will absorb moisture and drying items quicker.
23. Keep freezer full either with food or filled with water containers. Frozen items create cold air thus less energy on the unit to maintain temperature.
24. Check the temperature of the refrigerator with a thermometer for a proper, safe temp of 38 -45 degrees and five degrees in the freezer. It’s common to over chill a refrigerator thus generate more energy to run. Keep the freezer defrosted and check the door seals for leakage. Simply closing the door on a dollar bill then pulling it out will reveal if seals are tight. If the bill comes out easily, not good. Replacing the seals is a bit of a pain but totally do-able if necessary.
25. Maintain the refrigerator away from any heat source such as the oven which will inadvertently warm it from the outside creating increase need to cycle on for cooling.
26. Need to know how to clean the air conditioner? Check out DIY Network’s tutorial on doing just so. Proper home maintenance of any system keeps higher cost maintenance at check as it prevents problems rather than allow any to build up from neglect. And when the system is running effectively less energy use results.
27. Make use of a digital or Wi-Fi timer for the computer system or even the refrigerator. By turning the fridge off for around two hours each day, say sleeping times, a savings of 60 hours of electricity occurs. Turning off all systems, i.e. computer, entertainment system, anything drawing phantom usage can be controlled more effectively. Use of power strips is always effective for completely turning off any system or equipment, especially if placed in a reachable area.
28. Do a home energy audit. Audits reveal devices drawing phantom power which are those that remain in standby mode drawing collective amounts of electricity. Check with the local utility company to see if they offer a free audit, but if not, a self-audit is not difficult. For guidance read through Energy.gov.
29. One thing often revealed in a home audit is the need for more insulation. Attic space can be tedious to access but worth the time. Window and door caulking are easy fixes. Make sure exposed pipes are insulated to trap heated air and water. Again, all easy to do and for a nominal fee.
30. Let’s not forget to turn off lights when leaving a room for an extended time period. Its promised that belongings are not afraid of the dark. Don’t over-light a room. Use of dimmers and lower watt bulbs can keep an individual comfortable without the added energy of higher wattage in use, even on LED bulbs. Keep bulbs dust free as dust will act as a barrier reducing light output by as much as 50 percent.
31. In place of using an air conditioner, hang frozen water bottles behind a fan. This will allow air pushing past the bottles to cool and output colder air into the room. Placing a bowl of ice in front of a fan also helps.
32. Dress appropriately for the weather. Layered clothes when it’s cold, cotton, breathable clothes in summer. Use of cold and hot drinks also promotes body temp control and less temptation to crank the thermostat.
33. If your system is greater than ten years old, any system for that matter, it may be time to get a professional evaluation. System replacements can be costly so ask if there are any parts that can be upgraded for better functioning and less cost.
34. Use a programmable thermostat which helps to regulate desired temperatures without the battle of someone messing with it and the opportunity to get things going in time for arrival at home.
35. How many electrical devices are being used in the home? Review if they are energy hogs. Anything that heats or cools takes the most energy. Short-term use of a microwave, electric razor, hair dryer much less. To calculate how much energy a device uses review Energy.gov guide. A silly experiment is to run through the home and turn off as many devices as possible. Don’t forget any storage/garage areas. Now run to the electric meter and see if the dials are still turning. If yes, then something remains on, even if in standby mode. Keep this up until the dials are still. It’s a surprise at how many electrical items are on in a home consistently drawing power. Decisions can be made to importance and reduction of use.
36. Another quirky habit to break is not to open the oven unless necessary so as not to allow heated air to escape. Use the right size pot to match stove top burners. Turn off energy five to 10 minutes before cooking time is done which allows built-up heat to complete the job. These tricks accumulatively add to energy savings with simple changes in effort.
37. Keep range-top burners and reflectors free of built up cooking materials. Improved heat reflection is maintained allowing for shorter cooking times.
38. Make use of crock pots and toaster ovens versus the standard oven. The broiler especially uses a lot of energy, but smaller cooking appliances use less energy than the oven, as much as 75 percent less depending on the age of the oven.
39. Set the home thermostat to 58 during the night and 68 during the day, making use of other cold weather tactics. Do vice versa during the summer with setting the thermostat at 78 for both night and day. For every degree adjusted is a three percent energy savings.
40. Keep lamps and other heat producing equipment away from the thermostat to prevent false rising temp readings causing an air conditioner to cycle more often.
41. Make use of some plastic bottles (yes, saving some plastic can be beneficial). Take a liter soda bottle and fill with hot or cold water. These bottles can be used to warm or cool a bed at bedtime or can be sat with while watching a favorite show to stay comfortable without fussing with the heating/cooling system.
42. Adjust upper wall vents so that they are aimed downward. This allows warmed air to get pushed down before it rises upward. This is especially useful for a two-story home but upstairs direct vents down when cooling the house as cold air drops, warm rises. There are also magnetic covers that can be attached to vents that direct air even better. Found at the local hardware store they are inexpensive and make a reasonable difference. Keep vents closed completely in unused rooms and unblocked with furniture.
43. Use the kitchen and bath ventilating fans for as short of time as possible. Warmed and cooled air gets sucked up and out along with the steam from a shower. Using a fan also helps to push out steam and keep walls dry and prevent mildew reducing the use of the ventilator fan. Keep the bathroom door closed when using the fans as this will prevent any adjoining room air moving out.
44. Check the ceiling fan for a reverse switch. When spinning clockwise cooler air is spun downward. Counterclockwise directs warmed air down.
45. If in the market for a new TV or computer, shoot for an LCD TV and laptop. Both use much less energy than traditional models.
46. Wash clothes in cold water as often as possible. Unless very soiled, energy is saved by using cold water for the wash and rinse.
47. If in the market for a new printer, obtain an ink-jet which uses less energy overall. If must have a laser printer, look for one with the Energy Star logo so to use as little energy as possible.
48. Always air dry dishes in the dishwasher instead of heated air.
49. Turn down the thermometer on the hot water tank to around 110-120 degrees. If the dishwasher has a temp booster, dishes will still come out clean, and 110 degrees is still comfortable enough for showers without accidental scalding.
50. If possible, install a tankless water heater or at least replace the older tank with an Energy Star model. If replacing the tank, consider the size needed for the home. Too large will use more energy and if the family is small, a smaller tank may suffice and save needed energy.
51. If only have the option for an electric water tank place a timer on it so it is off during unused times. Many households do fine if the tank is off for four hours a day saving 120 hours per month of use.
52. Wrap older tanks with an insulating blanket to trap heat and insulate surrounding pipes.
53. Learn how to install a heat loop, also known as an in-line trap, on the hot water tank. This device prevents unwanted heated water to leave the water tank retaining it for when needed. These devices are relatively inexpensive and are DIY. If unable to purchase an upgraded tank, this is a second way of making it more energy efficient. New tanks often have the device pre-installed.
54. Maintain the water tank by draining a bucket’s worth of water out of it annually. Sediment can build up and creates interference of function.
55. If in the market for a new air conditioner opt for the right size model. Bigger is not always better as bigger requires more energy so choose based on need whether it is a window appliance or a whole house. Learn about Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratios (SEERS) which should be 13.0 or higher for best efficiency. SEER represents the energy efficiency of the model.
56. Learn how to warm the home without electricity by building a space heater from terracotta pots. Full instructions are at Budget101.com .
57. Speaking of DIY projects, Buzz Feed offers a tutorial on how to make a homemade air conditioner.
Fun Fact: Toilet paper first got its start in the U.S. in 1857. Joseph Gayetty, a New York entrepreneur came up with sheets of Manila hemp to be used in the prevention of hemorrhoids. The idea didn’t take off too well especially since the Sears and Roebuck catalog, a free source of paper, was just as easy to use. Clarence and E. Irwin Scott stepped up in 1890 with the idea of paper on a roll. Sadly, due to the embarrassment of bodily functions individuals were hesitant to purchase. The idea didn’t quite get going until the 1930s, but by then the paper was softer, beating Sears out by a landslide.
58. Purchase as many products as possible in recyclable packing material. If you have a favorite item that does not come in recyclable materials write the company.
Check with the municipal waste management for all recyclable items they take curbside. For anything not picked up, locate a local recycling center to check if they might take and perhaps offer stipends in the process.
59. Replace as many throwaway items such as paper towels and sandwich bags with reusable choices. Not only will this reduce the cost of replacing, but often reduces plastic in the home which has been linked to various cancers.
60. Never toss one-use batteries in the trash. Collection centers are popping up in more convenient locations, such as the public library, to be refurbished. Even better, purchase a battery recharger and use rechargeable batteries. Good to the environment, good to the pocketbook.
61. Donate to charitable organizations and shop them as well. You’d be amazed what goes to a thrift store, still in the box, that would be perfect to take home for use. FreeCycle.org and Craigslist.org are also effective for getting rid of unwanted items and scoring needed ones.
62. Recycle empty ink cartridges. Costco has a program to refill for a nominal fee regardless if a member or not. Staples and Office Depot are just two companies that will provide store credit for cartridges turned in. There’s just no excuse for chucking an empty cartridge into the trash.
63. Recycle cell phones, computers, and other electronics. There are multiple websites that offer cash with free shipping. Electronic parts either get renovated or parts stripped for reuse in new electronics. It’s a win for all.
64. Many cities also offer a collection day specifically for toxic goods, such as paint and poisons, as well as electronics.
65. Use a vacuum and coffee pot that doesn’t require disposable bags or filters. HEPA vacuums are not only better for home air quality, but often have a collection chamber and washable filter. Many a coffee pots have the same. Maybe a little more to clean, but less trash to the landfill.
66. Use dryer balls, made from rolled up wool yarn, in place of dryer softener sheets. The wool reduces static, softens the fabric and the ability to dry with less heat as they help keep clothes separated for better air circulation. Here’s how to make them from MommyPotumus.com.
67. Many gardens have been whimsically decorated with trash. Key at Pinterest “garden decorations from trash” and a gazillion links will pop up.
68. Try to re-purpose everything. A second life means it’s not going to the landfill. Exchange things with friends as well. Remember the old saying, “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” Pretty much what we do when holding a garage sale.
69. And remember that dryer lint getting removed? Put it to good use. Dryer lint can be used as garden mulch, bedding for hamsters and pet mice, or even to start a fire in the fireplace. LaundryCare.biz offers the story.
70. As full loads of laundry and dishes get done, we should also be putting out full bags of trash. As a matter of fact, check with the waste management company if the trash can be commingled. That is, all can be tossed into the pickup bin without being in any bags. Then the bags can be reused or not used at all. Again, less plastic. Trash bags can also be made from cleanable fabrics such as vinyl and washed in the washing machine when soiled.
71. Keep up the good practice of reusable shopping bags. Reuse any plastic bags that make it home such as a bathroom trash can liner.
72. Stop using plastic water bottles. The landfills are just brimming over with them for lack of getting into a recycling bin. Plus, the plastic can leach chemicals into the water. Reusable water bottles not only save money but have been fashioned in so many styles they are actually fun to carry around. Use an in-house water filter for your drinking water.
73. Reuse wrapping paper or don’t use it at all. Many gift wraps are recyclable, but can also be ironed smooth again. Replace with comics, bandanas, scarves, etc. to add to the gift and its secret contents.
74. Try to shop without producing waste. Many grocers are now allowing customers to bring their own containers so that cheese and meat that often needs to be wrapped doesn’t have to be. Check with management and bring own produce bags that are reusable or reuse ones previously picked up. Bring bags to obtain bulk purchases of cereal, flour, and nuts. Stores account for the tare weight of containers, that is, the weight of the container before anything is placed into it.
75. Make use of emails, E-cards, Skype, texting, any form of communication that doesn’t require paper. Print only when necessary as printing is not only using up paper but energy.
76. Get rid of junk mail. ZeroWasteMemoirs.com provides an article on how to do just that. If you would like to make some money off of the junk mail, Small Business Knowledge Center (SBKC) will pay you. They especially like ads related to money and will also pay for emails on the same topics.
77. Do banking and bill paying online. Most organizations will send bill notices online thus reducing paper documents in and out of the home, plus postage. Ask the employer if a paycheck can be direct deposited. Not only less paper used, but one less errand to the bank and less driving.
78. Paper trash can also be made into fire logs. Nifty Outdoors posted a how-to on Facebook. It’s super simple and effective with a lot less work than previous tutorials. Just be careful not to include any glossy printed materials, as they emit fumes.
79. Compost. Composting is not as hard as many believe. For composting basics, MomsNeedtoKnow.com has you covered. Compost containers can be made from recycled plastic containers or large trash cans. If not liking this idea, check local waste management and ask if kitchen scraps can be tossed into yard bins. Most accept which means simply having a container in the kitchen to collect and then simply tossing into the yard bin preventing food scraps from going into the sewer lines or landfill.
80. Use loose tea and a tea ball instead of buying tea in toss-away bags. The actual tea portion is compostable and good for the garden, but the bags and foil-lined covers are not. The same goes for individual portion coffee products. Try also to use the coffee grounds in the garden or toss them into that compostable bin.
81. Use cloth diapers and washcloths for baby wipes. At least reduce the use of disposables by using only when going out. A SilverLinedLife.com offers a great beginner guide on such a topic. It really is easier than many believe it be.
82. NaturalSociety.com provides an excellent, easy-to-follow guide that describes all the different types of plastic that can be recycled.
83. When going to a fast food store, ask if your own containers can be used. Bring your own bottle, reusable straw, and washable napkins. There may be stipulations, but frequenting a business that allows others to be greener is a plus.
84. Stop using paper plates and plastic utensils. Yes, it’s more work to wash up after a barbeque, but less trash.
85. Make as much own home cooked meals as possible to prevent non-recyclable packaging from coming into the home.
86. Use glass containers to store things instead of plastic. Glass is not only prettier but 100 percent recyclable when time to discard.
88. Stop using paper towels. Reusable Handi Wipes and cloth options not only reduce paper options to the trash but less to buy at the store. And they’re washable. At least find a way to reuse paper towels such as rolling up in a newspaper for fire starters.
88. Sign up with TerraCycle.com. This organization is dedicated to finding ways to recycle a wide variety of items that would otherwise end up in a landfill. Plus, points will be awarded and are exchangeable for their green products. A perfect site for fundraising efforts TerraCycle provides postage-free shipping making the effort even more attractive.
89. Cash in on plastics, glass, and metal at recycling centers. If local waste management declines pick up of certain products a recycling center will often take with stipends offered.
90. For more trash reducing tips, review Trash Reduction Beginner Steps.
91. Use the dishwasher instead of hand washing. Dishwashers today use much less water than how a person typically hand washes. If hand washing, fill one side with soapy water, and the other with plain water for rinsing. And simply scrape food off dishes and then put into the washer. Dishwashers today are designed to handle food pieces. Periodically clean the dishwasher and prevent build up for optimum performance. Check user manual on when and how to do or read HomeRepairTutor.com.
92. Use the shortest wash cycle on the dishwasher and pass up the rinse hold which uses more water. Same can be applied to the washing machine.
93. Always keep a watch for leaking faucets including out in the garden. Slow, constant drips add up. If unable to fix right away place a container under the spout to capture water for other uses. Another way to check for leaks is to check the water meter. Do not use any water for two hours and then recheck. The number should be exactly the same; if not, there is a leak somewhere.
94. When in the market for a new dishwasher or washing machine, always shoot for the Energy Star rating. Understand how to read this label by visiting energyrating.gov, then picking the best model not only for the budget but for home needs.
95. Take shorter showers and use water-saving shower heads. Baths take more water than a typical shower with a water-saving head. Also collect water, especially the water warming up, in buckets to use in the garden or for toilet flushing. A nearly full bucket of water for the toilet use means the tank now doesn’t have to expel fresh water for that flush.
96. In addition to low-flow shower heads are faucet aerators. They are easy to fit and reduce the amount of water spilling from the faucet.
97. Many market toilets today are low-level models. They make use of less water than the job requires. If working with an older toilet fit toilet devices to adjust the tank water level. Remember the old trick of using a couple of bricks in the tank? Displacing water reduces overall water used. Just be sure not to place in a location that affects the tank fixtures. And speaking of old sayings, “if it’s yellow let it mellow, if it’s brown then flush it down.” On average toilets can use up to 3.5 gallons of water per flush. Anytime flushing can be held off is a saving.
98. Make use of grey water. This is water collected from cooking, bathing, showering, and even the washing machine. The average washing machine uses 20 gallons of water per load, 40 including the rinse and it does not hurt the garden. Energy efficient models use 15 to 30 gallons but can also be set up to collect and reuse. Greywater, however, is not recommended for vegetable gardening. TreeHugger.com offers great information on how to incorporate the use of grey water in the home.
99. Most water usage goes to landscaping. Work to water no more than twice a week. Lawns only need about an inch of water twice weekly for good root growth. Test out the system by putting out an empty tuna can, about an inch in depth, and this will reveal if the length of time is correct. Plant drought-tolerant foliage and decorate with simple garden decorations made from terra cotta pots. Decorations add to the joy of the garden without having to add more plants that need water.
100. Use a watering can instead of a hose. We naturally tend to use less water using a container than when holding a hose, forgetting about how much water is spewing out.
101. Use two buckets for car washing. One for soapy water, one for the rinse. This will cut down on the average 150 gallons of use of home washing. Better yet, if out running errands stop at an energy saving car wash providing a treat in the process.
102. Sweep instead of hosing down the walkway or driveway. Or do a quick sweep with a blower.
103. Wear clothes more than once–unless having been participating in mud wrestling. Reuse rinsed cups and plates whenever possible. Both habits reduce the frequency of the washing and dishwashing machines.
Greener Food Options
104. Try to always eat locally provided food. Locally provided means less gas-guzzling vehicles coming in and supports local merchants and farms.
105. Learn how to can, freeze, and dry foods. There are multiple resources on the web as well as the library, and the processes are much easier than one might think.
106. Eat more vegetarian. Not only better for the health and bank account but it supports a more humane lifestyle.
107. Never eat meat or fish that are endangered. Support suppliers that raise livestock and fish via humane ways and with no antibiotics or hormonal supplementation. Maybe more expensive, but with the effort of eating more produce, a balance can be kept in the budget.
108. Carry own coffee mug to the favorite coffee shop. No need for the discardable coffee cup. And while there, ask for the grounds to be used in the garden which is often free for the asking.
109. Make own baby food. Again, many resources online and library. No reason to risk added sugars and salt to an infant’s diet or pay higher prices for buying it prepared.
110. For more information on making food safer, read How to Green Your Food.
Green Financial Considerations
111. Whenever buying a new product, check out potential rebates on Energy Star products. Tax credits are just ahead.
112. Use financial organizations/banks that support sustainable living such as Bank of America.
113. Participate in the carbon neutral incentive. This is a program where if someone inadvertently puts out polluting emissions, it can be addressed by purchasing carbon offset credits. These credits support energy efficiency projects such as wind farms and solar. There are several carbon neutral companies, just key into a favorite search engine “carbon neutral.”
114. Invest in green stocks. SwellInvesting.com offers resources in investing in organizations that work towards fighting environmental issues.
How do you live green?
Being Greener at Work
115. Pack lunch in a reusable lunch box, including kid’s school lunches. Use reusable sandwich bags and liquid containers.
116. Bring own coffee in a thermos. Less money spent and less wasteful containers popping out of the vending machine.
117. Encourage the boss to participate in green habits especially in recycling paper and cardboard which are two of the biggest trash producing items at work and both can have a second life.
118. Encourage the employer to monitor for toxic chemical possibilities and locate resources on how to handle/replace. Bathroom air fresheners are just one type of chemical that can be toxic but overlooked. Healthier employees’ means less work comp situations.
119. Participate in ink cartridge recycling. It’s amazing how many don’t realize the money savings by simply collecting and refurbishing this high use item.
120. Encourage the use of LED bulbs wherever possible including your desk.
121. Use stairs instead of elevators. Good for the body and contributes to less energy usage for the employer.
122. Encourage everyone to start a green working campaign. Check out WikiHow’s article, How to Go Green at Work for tips.
Greening Household Choices
123. Learn how to mix own laundry detergent, softener, dishwasher soap, and cleaning supplies. Not only does this save money, but safer ingredients are dealt with. Do a search on the web or go to the library for multiple resources.
124. Hydrogen peroxide, crushed aspirin, and white vinegar are safer bleaching alternatives to chlorine bleach.
125. Make use of the neighbor toxic chemical collecting site. Many household items, including cleaners, contain unsafe ingredients that should never be put down a drain or flushed. Many cities offer collection times periodically throughout the year. Check with local city council offices or newspapers to inquire. Same for unused medications.
126. Have the home tested for radon, carbon monoxide, even formaldehyde. Radon is a naturally occurring gas but can reach unsafe levels. Carbon monoxide may be released by a furnace and, even in low levels, can become dangerous. Formaldehyde is usually found in carpets and often gets expelled into the air simply by walking on it. Test kits can be found at home improvement centers or a professional can be contacted.
127. Make use of plants in the home. Plants clean the air and help to control air toxicities. Organic Life provides a tutorial on houseplants to help purify living spaces. Make use of them at work as well.
128. Make use of all-cotton bedding, rugs, and towels. Easy cleanup, fewer allergens.
129. Thank you TreeHugger.com for yet another productive green tip, but this time regarding pets. Pets too can create waste but their health can also be affected by poor food products. Visit the article, How to Go Green: Pets.
130. For more ideas on greening personal products review, Greening Your Personal Products.
Garden and Yard
131. If possible, get rid of the lawn. Grass requires larger amounts of water and traditionally grass can be replaced with clover and other forms of ground cover requiring less fertilizer and water.
132. Time landscape waterings to early morning or late night which in turn will reduce the chance of water evaporation. Additionally, adjust watering times and frequency between warmer and cooler seasons with cooler seasons needing less.
133. Buy and/or swap heritage seeds. Many parks and recreations centers will host seasonal events where seeds can be exchanged. These events are a great way to obtain free seeds and seeds that are native to the area.
134. Plant a tree. Planting a tree provides not only oxygen but cleaner air.
135. Make use of a manual, electric, or battery operated mower for cutting grass. Fewer emissions and decent exercise on that manual version.
136. Become friends with mulch. Mulch prevents water evaporation and protects against weeds and cold weather and you can hide a dead body really well. (Just seeing if you are paying attention.)
137. Check sprinklers periodically and be sure the vibration of water has not rotated the heads. It is not uncommon for sprinklers to get hit by the lawn mower, kids playing, or that simple vibration and twist, thus watering onto the sidewalk and street. Water needs to stay directed where it is needed and not onto locations that are not necessary.
138. Make use of good organic gardening guides. Pinterest is full of gardening tips. Organic substances for fertilizing and planting are better absorbed by plants versus commercial brands that have been found to be toxic. Homemade pesticides especially do a good job with less exposure to scary chemicals.
139. Make use of soaker hoses. Soaker hoses are very easy to make. Just take any hose, punch holes, and wrap around necessary shrubs and bushes. The water becomes directed to where it is needed.
140. Participate in Earth Day and get the word out about greener habits.
141. Write local politicians and ask for more support on building greener homes, greener businesses, anything you feel passionate about but are not seeing enough taking place where residing.
142. Other green activity days to participate include Buy Nothing Day, Bike Month, Car Free Day, and Pay It Forward Day. All promote good green habits and work to raise awareness of strategies for protecting the earth.
143. Make it a family affair to living greener. Teach children not to be wasteful and how they too can care for the earth. Take them out to nature whenever possible with camping, going to the beach/lake, and include sharing information as to how nature can be protected.
144. If traveling, opt to stay at green-rated hotels. Don’t leave lights on 24/7 while gone but make use of timers and a good neighbor to keep watch of the home. Turn off the hot water tank, and any other energy draining device while gone unless traveling during freezing temperatures times. Pipes will freeze and burst if some level of heat is not maintained.
145. Sign up for regular sustainable living ideas with MotherEarthNews.com and TreeHugger.com. These sites not only provide tips but provide current world affairs in the advancements of improving environmental concerns.
Wrapping It Up
Recognize that many of the listed tactics are quite simple but tend to get forgotten. Keep track of personal habits and adjust towards greener actions. If you have an idea, please share and allow it to be added. Let’s all be green buddies. Let’s all learn a volume of options towards living greener and safer. Let’s keep earth beautiful not only for ourselves, but everyone for the centuries ahead.
SustainableSanMateo.org, Use Your Local Car Wash – Not Your Driveway
Mental Floss.com, Toilet Paper History: How America Convinced the World to Wipe.
Renergy.com, 5 Facts About Landfills
TopTenFindings.com, List of Top Ten Dirtiest Countries in the World.
Ecowatch.com, Top 10 Greenest Countries in the World.