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How to live green, choices to help the environment

Updated on November 23, 2007

What can you do to live green? What can you do to help the environment and reduce your carbon footprint? There are so many choices and options available that the average person can do. These things don't have to cost a fortune and are easy to incorporate into daily living.

Some of the most basic things you can do to live green involve using less. Turn your lights off and use natural light to use less electricity, turn your heat down to use less gas or oil, combine your errands so that you use less gasoline, cook multiple items at the same time so that you turn your oven on only once a day instead of four times, and turn the water off when you brush your teeth. Many people worry that living green will cost you money; however all of the above ideas will actually save you money.

Another way to help the environment and reduce your carbon footprint is to reuse items. There are two ways to reuse items. Reusing them for their original purpose, such as ziploc bags, tinfoil, plastic utensils, etc and finding new uses for things you already own. By doing this you are not consuming any more of the world's precious resources. If you can't reuse something of your own, purchasing something secondhand instead of brand new is another way to reduce your consumption of resources.

Recycling is a great way to reuse items. Many cities offer free recycling, all you need to do is start taking advantage of it. If recycling is not offered curbside there are other options. I know many organizations, such as churches, raise money by collecting paper products. You will notice these bins in many parking lots. They typically take newspaper and magazines, and sometimes boxes. This is a great way to help the organization raise some money, while recycling your papers instead of throwing them away. Do you use a lot of aluminum cans? You can make a little money by taking these to a can depositor. Check your phone book to see if there is a place near you.

There are also some options that will cost you a little bit of money - at least upfront. My grocery store sells cloth grocery bags for $.99 each. Yes I had to buy them to avoid using all those plastic bags the grocery store loves to give out, however I also get a nickel back for each bag of my own I bring in. Slowly I will make my money back from this investment and I am helping the environment in the process.

Replacing your incandescent light bulbs with fluorescent bulbs will cost you upfront as well. I purchase these in bulk from Sams Club, eight of them for $11.97. My estimate is that I spent about $6 more to purchase these bulbs that use so much less energy and last so much longer. It won't take much time for me to make my money back in energy savings. And it is better for the environment than incandescent bulbs.

Another huge thing a parent can do to live green is to use cloth diapers as opposed to disposables. Disposable diapers take up an enormous amount of this countries landfills, don't break down easily, cost a lot of money, put chemicals directly on the bottoms of our children, and in many cases delay potty training. Yes it is a chunk of change in the beginning, but a couple of hundred dollars spent upfront will save you thousands in the long run, especially if you use them on more than one child.

Other easy things a person can do to live green include carpooling to work or the store, using the Diva Cup or Keeper instead of disposable sanitary products, bringing your own mug to coffee places instead of using their disposable cups, turning up the thermostat in the summer to reduce electricity usage of your AC, putting a sweater on instead of turning up the heat, borrowing books and magazines from the library instead of purchasing new (it takes 15-20 trees to make the paper for a new average sized adult book), using cloth napkins instead of paper, using rags instead of paper towels, cooking from scratch (uses less packaging than convenience foods), and getting your ink cartridges refilled instead of buying new.

Purchasing as much as you can from local resources will help reduce fuel consumption and pollution. Why not eat the oranges from Florida instead of the bananas from another country? Better yet, purchase food items that are grown within the same state or county as you to really reduce fuel consumption. An added benefit of purchasing locally is that you are supporting people in your own community, state and country, as opposed to people halfway around the world. This could cost you a little more money depending on what is in season; however it doesn't automatically cost more to eat locally. In the summer and fall especially this should reduce your grocery bill.

Composting and growing your own food are also ways to help the environment and live green. Doing things yourself instead of hiring a third party helps the environment as well. When you hire someone else to do something there is fuel use involved in transporting the person to you or transporting you to the person. Cutting your own hair or at least your kids saves a trip to the barber as well as saves you money and time.

On the high end of living green you could always install solar panels on your home, invest in wind energy, or purchase a hybrid car. These cost a good bit of money, but if money isn't an object and you really want to help the environment these are great ways to do it.

Living green does not have to be hard and it does not have to cost money. I find it very easy to do most of these things. Start small if you need to, but try to incorporate these things, and more, into your daily life. It takes some thinking about it in the beginning, but in time you won't even notice. By living green you will be helping the environment as well as saving money.

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    • rekha anand profile image

      REKHA ANAND 4 years ago

      good ideas for a green life style

    • leights profile image

      Leighton Reid 5 years ago from Jamaica

      Excellent article madam

    • profile image

      whowas 5 years ago

      Great tips for a greener life in this clearly explained hub.

      The great mantra of the practical green movement is, of course, 'Reduce, reuse and recycle' and you do cover all those points.

      What a lot of people don't realize is that they are in descending order of importance. Reduce the amount of energy we use is the most important thing we can do. Everything else takes second and third place. So, rather than spending thousands of dollars on a solar generating system, you can actually save as much energy - and money - by effectively reducing the energy you use from the grid.

      For example, we got rid of the washing machine, the motor car, the stereo, the electric heaters and so on. We think carefully about how we use our wood range to get the maximum effect from the minimum burn and so on. That way, we have reduced our overall household electricity consumption by nearly two thirds.

      Not quite carbon neutral but well on the way.

    • Reves-diary profile image

      Reve 5 years ago from Dhaka

      We can make our cities green if we prefer to plant 1 tree in 2 months. We have to make some serious steps that can lead to sort out these issues related to the green house effect.

    • emilybee profile image

      emilybee 5 years ago

      Green living is so important and many things can be done that are so easy but effective. voted up!

    • Melis Ann profile image

      Melis Ann 5 years ago from Mom On A Health Hunt

      A good summary of how to live green - one thing that I find people don't know to do is recycle shoes and cotton clothing. Of course you reuse the clothing first as a rag, but there comes a point when you need to dispose of it!

    • Anthropophobia profile image

      Anthropophobia 6 years ago

      Great ideas! If only everyone did small things such as these! I do as much as I can to help the environment and this gave me ideas I hadn't even thought of. Thanks!

    • HikeGuy profile image

      Bryce 6 years ago from Northern California Coast

      Lee --

      Good point. Avoiding disposable products and buying durable and second-hand goods cuts down on waste. I use a push mower similar to what I used when I was a kid. Great exercise, no gas and it will never break down.

    • leeroper profile image

      leeroper 6 years ago from UK

      Reuse items and make an effort to purchase items that will last for a long time is one of the things I do. So much stuff is throw away rubbish intended only for a one, two or a few uses.

    • profile image

      ForYourInfo 6 years ago

      Your first lines are really good.

      It invokes one's sense to think and to do something for the nature.

    • gamer123abc profile image

      gamer123abc 6 years ago

      I recently converted my gas powered car to electric. It was really easy. Click below to go to my hubpage to see how I did it

      https://hubpages.com/technology/Convert-Gas-Vehicl...

    • HikeGuy profile image

      Bryce 6 years ago from Northern California Coast

      It all counts. Thanks for posting this.

    • lisawebber profile image

      lisawebber 6 years ago

      A must read. Green choices are definitely worth trying since there's nothing to lose, but only gain. After all, all our efforts shall return to the ocean one day. Thanks for this very eye-opening hub!

      Hugs,

      Lisa =)

    • Vernpaulwriter profile image

      Vernpaulwriter 6 years ago from backwoods of Nevada

      Living green does save money. Another way to tie in to your saving money articles. Loved your hubs keep writing.

    • SeptemberGray profile image

      SeptemberGray 6 years ago from Corpus Christi, TX

      I live in South Texas. We are not known for being green. Living in a coastal town that hosts most of the oil refinery's, I really wish we would get with the program. There are loads of trash and cigartette butts all over the beach, as though we figure it's already so polluted with oil we might as well not bother caring anymore.

    • profile image

      joyce.blue 7 years ago

      great hub! truly there many small things that we can do to live green and to help our environment. Most people think that we have to spend much, but that is not the only option.

    • pisethz profile image

      pisethz 7 years ago

      Yeah, great thought. Living green doesn't need to spend money and it is not hard to do.

    • profile image

      Zara 7 years ago

      I agree with everything you've posted here. this is very useful to me. I'm 15 years old but i really want to change this world to be a better world. thank you for your ideas.

    • profile image

      Ben Harack 7 years ago

      This is funny, I just worked really hard on producing an article very similar to this one! Now of course I find this...

      Good work, looks like a really good overview of personal action towards living a greener life.

      I feel that the political and social aspects of a green life are underrepresented in most discussions. I think those of us who have educated ourselves on the matter should do our best to help others learn.

      I have learned over time for instance that political action depends heavily on an educated populace. We need political action since some of these green initiatives are too big for us to take on in a grassroots fashion. So it goes something like personal education leads to better government lobbying which leads to (hopefully) better government, which leads to better decisions being made on the biggest scales. All of these are things that we need.

      If anyone is interested in my volunteer group's attempt to write a comprehensive green energy action guide, you can find it here: http://www.visionofearth.org/featured-articles/per...

    • PrometheusKid profile image

      PrometheusKid 7 years ago from Heaven

      Is it a bad idea to put old car oil in the river. Last time I did and the fish were dying.

    • profile image

      nizam khan 7 years ago

      Very well explained. My Blog is about Global Warming and solutions to reduce Global Warming.

      http://liveingreenworld.blogspot.com/

      Thank you.

    • lindsays5624 profile image

      lindsays5624 7 years ago

      I like your ideas

      The are I am expert in is light bulbs.

      I can see the benefit of moving to fluorescent tubes but if you really want to see a massive environmental gain then LED bulbs are the best. They not only use less electricity but they also don't contain mercury

    • profile image

      masmasika 7 years ago

      Great hub. I am concerned and worried about the environment and what is happening at present. I wish all people will be as concerned as you in order to minimize the pollution that is ruining Mother Earth.

    • FLUORESCENT LIGHT profile image

      FLUORESCENT LIGHT 7 years ago from England UK

      Interesting Hub Page. Another good way to go green is to replace your old bulbs with flourescent bulbs. A small amount of mercury in them I agree, but this is offset by less energy use and longer life.

      http://hubpages.com/hub/Fluorescent-Light-Lamp-Tub...

    • profile image

      saveursocks123 7 years ago

      This is a great article!

      For more ways to save money while being green,

      Please Visit

      http://preserveandsavemoney.weebly.com/save-money-...

    • profile image

      ecomindful 7 years ago

      For those that are interested in decreasing green house gases and increasing gas mileage I found a product on you tube that I purchased and works great! Just trying to spread the word and help save our planet !!

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=prZWIAzNGns

    • 4FoodSafety profile image

      Kelly Kline Burnett 7 years ago from Fontana, WI

      Green is great! Green is frugal and healthy too! Great ideas!

    • profile image

      Veggie 7 years ago

      All of these ideas are great, however the single biggest impact an individual can have on the environment, as well as on their own health is to adopt a vegetarian diet. You will also save animals from incredibly inhumane treatment in factory farms and from a cruel death in a horrendous slaughterhouse. In fact, the greatest blight on the face of the earth is the modern factory farm/slaughterhouse complex where in the USA alone over 10 billion animals per year are slaughtered.

    • theherbivorehippi profile image

      theherbivorehippi 7 years ago from Holly, MI

      Fabulous hub! I don't think people realize how much they can help with simple changes!! Thanks for sharing this information!

    • Fresh_Flower profile image

      Fresh_Flower 7 years ago from London

      great tips for reducing once carbon footprint Jennifer!

      I also try to avoid airplanes

    • profile image

      Non Toxic Cleaner 7 years ago

      The tips to go green are really awesome and truly going green is not going to cost a fortune on he contrary its going to save a lot o money along with the environment.

    • Dim Flaxenwick profile image

      Dim Flaxenwick 7 years ago from Great Britain

      All great ideas and you brought back memories for me, ."Terry towelling" nappies (diapers) were what I used when my children were babies. Everyone did back then. We boiled them , so they were always very clean and fresh . They lasted way past potty training and were put away ready for the next child. (O dear I sound ancient)

    • whoisrandy profile image

      whoisrandy 7 years ago

      That is good Jenny! I, myself, advocates the use of recycled products. Everybody needs to make a conscious effort to live "green" and help save the earth from rapid environmental damage.

    • rdelp profile image

      rdelp 7 years ago

      I think we all need to do a much better job.

    • wscott1971 profile image

      wscott1971 7 years ago

      Great Post.

      I make a living by providing "green" technology to my customers through products that clean the indoor air, sanitizes the home, purifies and revitalizes the water, and cut utility bills almost by one third. I also disseminate a product that removes the need for hot water, bleach, and detergant, when washing clothes. All of this, while remaining %100 "Green"...Please feel free to view our products @ https://www.ecobusiness.com/wrscott/air

      Click on products to review..I think you may find some value in the company (not to mention..some bucks too:)

      Wardell

    • JYOTI KOTHARI profile image

      Jyoti Kothari 8 years ago from Jaipur

      Hi,

      World leaders will be meeting from tomorrow to discuss environmental issues.

      Thumbs up!

      Thanks,

      Jyoti Kothari

    • beccas90 profile image

      beccas90 8 years ago from New York

      Great stuff as usual Jennifer - great suggestions and ideas to share with friends as well.

    • profile image

      Solar Home Electricity  8 years ago

      This hub is very informative, solar panels are a very sound financial investment. I found one article that I believe complements this one - http://green-home-advisor.com/solar-home-electrici...

    • profile image

      Lose Belly Fat Fast 8 years ago

      Solar panels are great, in some countries they install them for free.. can you believe that?

    • Richard Armen profile image

      Richard Armen 8 years ago

      I would love to install solar panels if I could afford them.

    • profile image

      Investbank 8 years ago

      Great Hub! Hot topic nowadays.

    • martycraigs profile image

      martycraigs 8 years ago

      I agree with Free God of War...you can think about it a lot but there is always more you can do. Thanks.

    • profile image

      Camas Articuladas 8 years ago

      Very useful hub!

    • profile image

      Free God Of War 8 years ago

      Although I think 'green'... sometimes I realize the I'm not! Thank you for reminding me how easy it is to be 'green'!

    • steve1717 profile image

      steve1717 8 years ago

      some realy great tips and links

    • thaninja profile image

      thaninja 8 years ago from America

      Such good info - I just changed out a bunch of lights so that they use less power - also put in a timed thermostat.

    • profile image

      Paid Surveys Online 8 years ago

      I sent this link to all of my coworkers. Invaluable information!

    • profile image

      Dinesh 8 years ago

      just so wonderful article.....

      keep the good work up .....

    • profile image

      jencantwell 8 years ago

      This is a great page with some good ideas for getting people started down the path to a greener life. It takes a little time, but after a while cloth diapers, composting, and turning off the tap seem like totally normal activities. Thanks for this! Jen http://www.mamaswormcomposting.com

    • lbgreeley profile image

      lbgreeley 8 years ago

      Great page! I love your ideas. You've shared some very valuable information. Thanks!

    • ugina profile image

      ugina 8 years ago from Bhutan

      Great ideas. I am really inspired by your ideas. I also turn off the tap when i brush my teeth and reuse the bathwater to flush the toilet and am trying to knit a bag from recycled plastic bags.

    • CristenOHG profile image

      CristenOHG 8 years ago from Asheville, NC

      Great hub! I think many people forget that the little things one person can do add up in big ways. Environmental subjects can begin to feel "weighty," but as your ideas show, one step at a time is the first step! And sometimes, I think, people can become so encircled by the "big" aspects of the green movement that we may begin to forget why we're taking those steps in the first place. Thanks for writing!

    • midnightbliss profile image

      Haydee Anderson 8 years ago from Hermosa Beach

      even small acts of being concern and doing small things for the environment counts, thanks for this post and for incresing awareness on how we can help our environment.

    • Lola Dark profile image

      Lola Dark 8 years ago from Midwest USA

      These are great ideas. Especially for people new to green living.

    • kappa022 profile image

      kappa022 8 years ago from Florida

      Great tips on staying green! Nice hub.

    • profile image

      teleassist√™ncia 8 years ago

      Excelent information! Great advices. We need to start working on saving out planet and probably human kind...

    • profile image

      highschoolboy 8 years ago

      thank you very much, I have a homework from my teacher about how to save the world. can i copy your article? :)

    • LifesStudent profile image

      LifesStudent 8 years ago

      Thank you for this great post - empowering others through this kind of advice and inspiration is really a way forward. Once people begin moving towards a more sustainable life they can then discover their own way, getting them moving is the first task and Hubs like this really help.

      We have homeschooling in common too. Nice to read you!

    • profile image

      Change NOW 8 years ago

      I started riding a 100 mpg scooter in the summer 20 miles each way to work...can only do it for about five months here...but better than ever....my coworker laughed at me and guess what??? now he rides a scooter from his house across town.....instead of taking car....baby steps...I suppose....I think there are a lot of negative people, though....I would like to buy hybrid...but I think about energy in production, etc...for instance I have to ride my scooter 10,000 miles to save money, and I think in terms of total carbon neutrality or carbon footprint, etc...I grow a garden every year, support my local business, eat local...etc...if you do this, some will call you granola muncher, etc....I am definitely not a "first adopter" but I do my own thing.....for whatever it is worth....

      I also get 100% wind energy and give extra to support wind...I bought 99% efficeint hot water/furnace, still gas though....but my local utility still screws you...it uses avg. over ??? years or some other calculation...so my last bill about four times anything I have ever paid before...for no reason.....at least my utility and my state have a renewable portfolio 20% renewable by 2015 or something like that...ALL STATES NEED TO HAVE THIS RIGHT AWAY!!!!

      federal govt. needs to support efficiency and have a new model for utilities...otherwise, they will find a way to make up for lost revenue by more efficient consumers....

    • profile image

      lola  8 years ago

      well i just read this and this is good uinformation it help me get an A on my project and am really happy thank you for making this website.....adios!!!

    • Rockney profile image

      Rockney 8 years ago from Orange County, California

      Great ideas!

    • profile image

      Cheap Home Solar 9 years ago

      Hey Jen, awesome hub you got here.

      Being eco-friendly is not only good for the environment it can also be good for the wallet.

      I've switched to solar and wind power for my home and got rid of that hefty electricity bill every month.

      Plus my carbon footprint has been reduced drastically.

      Eric

      http://cheaphomesolarpower.blinkweb.com/

    • profile image

      Green Skier 9 years ago

      Fantastic advice here. It's a great point that making changes aren't just good for the environment - they save you money.

    • Bruce Elkin profile image

      Bruce Elkin 9 years ago from Victoria, BC Canada

      Great, hub, Jennifer. And more important now than when you wrote it. I hope more people see it, and see that there are lots of ways to save money, make your life simpler, and help the environment -- which is ultimately us! Thanks!

    • DrJim profile image

      DrJim 9 years ago from Oklahoma

      Great stuff here,awarness is the key IF everyone does a little it will mean a lot

    • profile image

      ravenboyriver 9 years ago

      Thank you for this...it's a subject that needs more attention as so much is at stake...consider the world outside your house your garden, your forest, your water, your air...not in a possessive and ownership-claiming way, but more as something you can enjoy when you go travelling etc and therefore are responsible towards...the fish in the ocean, the bugs and insects, birds and all animal and plant life...it really is ours to take care of...and we're not doing a very good job of it sadly...thanks again for this posting.

    • profile image

      want2know 9 years ago

      Being in to green to I appreciate the well thought out article. Amazingly there are so many easy to do tips that have a big impact on and in the world in which we live. I too did a hub on green tips if you care to check it out, it is about California but has a lot of practical tips and water conservation information that could be used by anybody anywhere.

    • profile image

      lisa 9 years ago

      Another great idea to give gifts that are green. There are a lot of specialty shops that support the environment and participate in fair trade to help the global environment.

      http://www.wondersoftheworld.net - Has an amazing collection of products that are made by recycled products from all over the world. A very wide veriety from purses to jewelry to ceramics & pottery all green items that brilliantly crafted and help the environment.

    • profile image

      The Go Green Blog 9 years ago

      Super Tips Jennifer!

      Another good one is to shorten your shower.

      The average person uses 23.3 gallons of water per day when showering. If you shorten your showers, just by a minute or two, you can save up to 700 gallons of water per month. That’s a lot of water!

    • Monica Jenkins profile image

      Monica Jenkins 9 years ago from Northern Illinois, USA

      Good ideas! Thanks for posting!

    • profile image

      Amanda 9 years ago

      These are really good tips for those of us who are new to the green concept. You often find yourself distressed by the costlier options like hybrid cars. Thanks for giving us economically challenged people a way to help.

    • TheCellist profile image

      TheCellist 9 years ago from Nebraska

      I was definitely inspired to be more conscious about the impact I make on the environment after reading this hub. Thanks for the great ideas!

    • dsletten profile image

      dsletten 9 years ago from United States

      Really good hub. Great ideas. Thanks.

    • thranax profile image

      Andrew 9 years ago from Rep Boston MA

      Small posts of advice and ideas all come together to be one big action that if everyone takes part in we can help the planet a lot.

    • profile image

      Anja Atkinson 9 years ago

      Thanks for this really useful and enjoyable article. Although my daughter is now an adult I really agree with the cloth diapers as a major solution to greener living. It's hard to comprehend the garbage we create sometimes.

    • profile image

      Brian 9 years ago

      Hi Jennifer,

      Thought your readers might want to take a look at this facebook app. It teaches people to live greener: http://www.facebook.com/apps/application.php?id=91...

      Thanks!

      Brian

    • johnr54 profile image

      Joanie Ruppel 9 years ago from Texas

      I love this type of article on green living. So much of what you see in the press is whining about what we need to have the government do, or how the big companies need to do this different, and it seems that we have abdicated all individual responsibility for our part in it.

      Thanks for a great hub.

    • sushinisen profile image

      sushinisen 9 years ago from india

      eco friendly post.thanks for the post.

    • solarshingles profile image

      solarshingles 9 years ago from london

      I agree with your ideas. I also like your links to other very quality web sites.

    • 2patricias profile image

      2patricias 9 years ago from Sussex by the Sea

      Good start - the best changes are made one step at a time.

    • Marye Audet profile image

      Marye Audet 10 years ago from Lancaster, Texas

      great ideas