ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

25 Easy Ideas for Going Green, Free or Low Cost

Updated on March 23, 2018
Robie Benve profile image

Robie is a writer interested in frugal living and ways to acquire financial strength. She got her MBA from the University of Venice, Italy.

In this article, 25 ways to go green - Save money by reducing, reusing, & recycling. Tips on how to reduce your carbon footprint.
In this article, 25 ways to go green - Save money by reducing, reusing, & recycling. Tips on how to reduce your carbon footprint. | Source

Old Habits Are Not So Hard To Change

I'm very sensitive to how my carbon footprint affects the environment.
The chemicals I use, the trash I produce, the energy and clean water I waste has been nagging my conscience for years.

Now that I have my own family, I feel responsible for many of our family decisions on purchases, energy consumption, and chemicals used, and I try to make my household lifestyle more eco-friendly.

The trick to going green is doing it in a practical way, so it becomes part of your lifestyle.

You must keep doing the things you already do, without creating more work for yourself, but choose the greener option available.

Be the change you want to see in the world.

— Mahatma Gandhi

Help the Environment by Reducing Buying

The first rule I follow is to buy only what I need to be happy, safe, and healthy. Everything else qualifies as surplus or extra.

Buying only what is needed means using everything until it works, and before you throw away, try to fix it or re-purpose it.

Buy less, with the awareness that you'll keep that thing for a long time. Buy good quality items, in a style that you like, so you don’t get tired of them.

This does not necessarily mean being frugal, you may spend a lot on some items, but the fact that you are going to keep it and use it for a long time, means that it does not end up in a landfill anytime soon, and no resources or pollution will be needed to produce a replacement.

Tips to Save Energy

Environmental Protection Starts at Home

1. Adjust the Thermostat

Adjust the thermostat and wear appropriate clothes. Keeping the thermostat cooler in winter, 69˚F or below, and warmer in summer 79˚F or higher, requires the heating and cooling systems to work less, keeps the utility bill lower, and produces much less pollution due to energy production.

2. Shorten the Dryer Cycles

Air dry your laundry whenever possible. You may want to get the clothes out when they are still a little wet, yet wrinkle free from a short tumbling in the dryer, and I hang them to dry on collapsible hangers, near an air vent. In the summer you can place the hangers outdoors.
The sunlight makes the clothes smell great, and sun rays are great for getting rid of any dust mites that may have survived the washing cycle.

When possible hang dry your clothes
When possible hang dry your clothes | Source

3. Use Energy Efficient Bulbs

Updated light bulbs to low-energy ones. Make sure your most used light bulbs are energy-star rated.
Dimmers are also great for saving energy and creating a comfortable mood.

4. Use the Broom

When there are bigger specks of dirt on the floor, save energy by using the old fashion broom.

Electric vacuum cleaners not only use electricity but, unless you have a bag-less model, there are a cost and an environmental impact for replacing the bag when it gets full.

5. Heat the Home With Natural Light

Every morning, open blinds and curtains and let the sun rays warm the air inside.
As added benefits, you need less artificial light, and the sunlight boosts your energy by stimulating your brain's production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps to feel energetic and improves thinking and alertness.

6. Cool the Home with Trees

Deciduous trees planted on the south or west sides of the house provide nice shade during the summer months and help to warm your home in winter when the naked branches let the sun in.

Cool tree shade

Trees provide natural cool shading during the hot months and let the sunshine through in winter.
Trees provide natural cool shading during the hot months and let the sunshine through in winter. | Source

7. Open Windows

During the warm season, open your windows every time there is a breeze outside and at night, to let the fresh air in. The fresh air will not only help with temperature control but also remove pollutants and chemicals from the air. Of course, make sure you turn your a/c off when you open windows.
It's also recommended that you have window screens installed to keep bugs and animals out.

8. Close the Fridge

I keep the refrigerator and the freezer open only the minimum time necessary. Every time it’s open warmer air gets in, and energy must be used to bring it at the right temperature.
Also, if possible, upgrade to an energy-efficient model that consumes less energy. New models beep if the doors are open too long.

9. Turn Off the Lights When You Are Not in the Room

Turning off lights saves energy and even though the energy used by a light left on isn’t huge, when you add leaving on random lights with other energy-wasting behaviors, paying attention to lighting savings could be more important than you think.
Incandescent lights are the ones that waste the most energy and should be turned off every time you leave a room. Other kinds of lights, like CFL lighting, may get tricky, but a good rule of thumb is to turn them off if you leave the room for 15 minutes or longer.

Tips to Save Water

10. Reduce Outdoor Irrigation

It's a great thing to keep your lawn green, but the water bill can get extremely high, and with it the water consumption. To reduce water usage, water after dark and before dawn, between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., although early morning is best, and water in short bursts to let water seep deeply into plant roots in the most efficient way possible. Watering before dawn reduces the chance of evaporation in the hot afternoon sun. Watering in short bursts allows water to better soak into the ground. A suggested watering interval involves watering for five minutes, waiting 10 minutes for the water to soak in, and then watering again for another five minutes.
Instead of using a sprinkler, water manually some particular areas that need special care, like pots or specific plants.

11. Install Dual-flush Toilet Systems

Dual-flush toilets have a two-setting mechanism that uses either a lever with two positions or a two-button system. This allows you to decide whether or not to use a high water volume flush or a low volume flush.
While conventional toilets can use up to 5 gallons of water per flush, a high-efficiency toilets (HET) model uses no more than 1.6 gallons.

The low-volume flush option on a dual flush model use 1.1 gallons per flush or less. The EPA estimates that replacing every conventional toilet in the U.S. with a high-efficiency model would save 2 billion gallons of water every day.

The average toilet flushes 3.5 gal /13 liters per flush

One person can consume as much as:

19.5 gal / 74 liters per day

or 7,135 gal /27,010 liters per year.

12. Flush Less

This is kind of gross, but in our household we have the general agreement that "if it's yellow, let it mellow; if it's brown, flush it down", up to a certain extent.

Of course, the children love it - like they needed an excuse not to flush! (PS: you may want to have the rule that the agreement is null when guests are expected).

13. Treat Clean Water Like Gold

Looking at water as a precious thing, it's easy to understand that every waste of water should be avoided, and simple things like turning off the water while brushing your teeth, using water efficiently when washing dishes, taking "submarine" type showers, where you turn off the water while soaping up, all are great ways to conserve.
Teaching these rules to your children in a fun way, you can provide benefits that will stay with them for a lifetime.

Tips to Reuse, Recycle, and Reduce

14. Use Both Sides of the Paper

Why throwing away a sheet of paper of there is still a lot of blank unused space on it?

Here are some things you can do, at work or at home, to use paper more efficiently:

  • Use both sides of the sheet of paper, whether for copying or printing.
  • Set defaults to double sided. Select one-sided printing only when really needed.
  • Print only the pages you need by using the "Print Selection" function.
  • Reduce margins to fit more on each page.
  • Use a small font size to reduce the number of pages printed
  • Create a supply of scrap paper from the half-used sheets.

15. Sort Your Trash

Limit what goes into the regular trash to the minimum. Dispose of soft bio things in the sink disposer, if available, put recyclables in the recycle bins, and research the most efficient ways to dispose of lawn waste in your town.
Collect hazardous trash, like batteries, and take it to the specialized collection points every few months. Store all donatable items in boxes and donate them at the first occasion.

16. Keep Separate Trash Cans Available

Have separate receptacles readily available, to make recycling easier for your family. It's much easier for kids to recycle when they know plastic and paper go in a separate container, and it's much more convenient for adults too because it saves many trips to the garage, or wherever you keep the recycle bin.

17. Reuse Plastic Containers

When discarded, plastic takes forever to decompose. Even when recycled, it needs energy and costs to be processed, so it much more eco-friendly to reuse plastic as much as possible.

Nice size containers, like the clear salad packages, come handy to wash my veggies, or I use them as planters for my seedlings in the spring.

Plastic cups from parties, pudding and yogurt cups, they can all be used as single-plant starter, I keep them during winter and then start my vegetable garden from seed in them.

Reducing consumption we reduce pollution

Everything that we throw away ends up somewhere, sometimes not in a landfill.
Everything that we throw away ends up somewhere, sometimes not in a landfill. | Source

18. Reduce Lunch Time Trash

Pack lunch in reusable plastic containers instead of paper bags, plastic wrap, or plastic bags.

19. Fix Things

If it’s broken, try to fix it before throwing out. This can be applied to a lot of things, from socks, to pants, to furniture, to tools.

Sometimes the “fixed” item it’s no longer useful for the initial purpose, but you can re-purpose it. Like a broken or stained shower curtain may become a craft tablecloth or old or single socks may transform into hand puppets, worn shirts become cleaning rags, etc.

20. Filter Water

Purify your tap water with a filter and use less plastic. Most of the bottled water is from tap anyway...

21. Ditch the Plastic Shopping Bags

Get in the habit of bringing to the store some reusable tote bags made of fabric or recycled materials.

Tips to Limit Pollution

22. Throw Cooking Oil in the Garbage

Never pour grease or oil down the drain, it will get into the waterways and eventually clog your pipes.

For fats that solidify, let them do so, then toss them in your regular garbage. Chill grease in the fridge if you need to get it to harden up. For ones that don't solidify, pour them into a sealable (hopefully non-recyclable) container, and throw the whole container away with your regular garbage.

23. Don’t Flush Garbage or Hazardous Waste Down the Toilet

This is pretty self-explanatory.

Natural cleaners

Natural cleaners, like white distilled vinegar and baking soda, get the job done without polluting your home environment with toxic chemicals.
Natural cleaners, like white distilled vinegar and baking soda, get the job done without polluting your home environment with toxic chemicals. | Source

24. Improve Indoor Air Quality

Control the sources of pollution, like chemicals, gases, and living organisms such as mold and pests. Clean with the least toxic products that would do the job, for instance, I love to use white distilled vinegar and baking soda for a lot of my cleaning.
Freshen your home: increasing the amount of fresh air brought indoors helps reduce pollutants inside. When weather permits, open windows and doors. Bathroom and kitchen fans that exhaust to the outdoors also increase ventilation and help remove pollutants.
Change filters regularly: central heaters and air conditioners have filters to trap dust and other pollutants in the air. Change or clean the filters regularly, following the instructions on the package.

25. Buy Local Organic Produce

Supporting local farmers reduces transportation pollution and reduces your carbon footprint. When your food doesn’t travel long distances, you’re promoting better air quality and reducing pollution.
Supporting organic cultivations decreases the overall usage of chemical pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, and fertilizers and increases biodiversity in our local ecosystem.
You can also grow my own produce.

Grow Your Own Veggies

My garden starter. Seeds of mixed lettuce started indoor in a reused plastic container.
My garden starter. Seeds of mixed lettuce started indoor in a reused plastic container. | Source

Look at the Big Picture

Each of us is responsible for our health, our safety, and our environment. When we buy something we should always consider how the product and its use will affect us and the environment in the long run.

I try to make purchases that align with my values which include: caring for my family, respecting nature and the environment, and embracing social responsibility.


It's a beautiful world, let's keep it that way for the future generations as well.
It's a beautiful world, let's keep it that way for the future generations as well. | Source

Be the Change You Want to See in the World

I wrote this article in answer to the question: What are some things you have done to 'Go Green?', asked by fellow Hubpages writer Beani.

That’s a question that puts us face to face with our environmental responsibility.
What kind of planet are we leaving to our children? People complain a lot about pollution and the greenhouse effect, but what’s the point of griping if we don’t do our part trying to make eco-friendly choices?

Every choice we make about what we buy and what we eat has some effects on the environment, water quality, and air quality.

Becoming aware of the problems modern lifestyle causes to our planet is the first step, changing our habits to decrease our personal carbon footprint and impact on the bio-system is the necessary follow up, even if not always easy.

© 2012 Robie Benve

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Kristen Howe profile image

      Kristen Howe 

      3 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      You've very welcome Robie and my pleasure. It's something I'm getting used to doing here.

    • Robie Benve profile imageAUTHOR

      Robie Benve 

      3 years ago from Ohio

      Thanks Kristen, that's great news, happy recycling! :)

    • Kristen Howe profile image

      Kristen Howe 

      3 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      Great tips, Robie. I love your innovative thinking. My apartment complex have started recycling last month with a recyling dumpster, just like the rest of the neighborhood has recycling bins as well. Voted up!

    • Robie Benve profile imageAUTHOR

      Robie Benve 

      6 years ago from Ohio

      Oh brother, I'll keep that in mind! lol

    • Written Up profile image

      Written Up 

      6 years ago from Oklahoma City, OK

      If you start a worm compost, just don't do what I did (I wrote a hub about it)! Suffice it to say my living room was crawling with worms.

    • Robie Benve profile imageAUTHOR

      Robie Benve 

      6 years ago from Ohio

      Hi Written up, the fact that we are not composting is bugging me too, I'll give it serious consideration on how we can make it happen the easy way.

      Thanks a lot for reading and leaving a comment. :)

    • Written Up profile image

      Written Up 

      6 years ago from Oklahoma City, OK

      Loved reading this. One thought came to mind, instead of putting the bio waste down the disposal, you should consider composting, or even just tossing them into the garden.

      Look forward to reading more of your hubs.

    • Robie Benve profile imageAUTHOR

      Robie Benve 

      6 years ago from Ohio

      Passthejelly, thank you for your support! :))

    • passthejelly profile image

      Mark Passarelli 

      6 years ago from Lakewood Colorado

      This is a great hub. I think people need to start living eco friendly or we might be in a great deal of trouble. Not only can this help the environment but it can also save money. With you 100%

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)