|Going Green |
10 Ways to Go Green and Save Green
How can we live lightly on the Earth and save money at the same time? Staff members at the Worldwatch Institute, a global environmental organization, share ideas on how to GO GREEN and SAVE GREEN at home and at work. To learn more about Worldwatch's efforts to create am environmentally sustainable society that meets human needs, sign up here for weekly e-mail updates.
Climate change is in the news. It seems like everyone's "going green." We're glad you want to take action, too. Luckily, many of the steps we can take to stop climate change can make our lives better. Our grandchildren-and their children-will thank us for living more sustainably. Let's start now.
We've partnered with the Million Car Carbon Campaign to help you find ways to save energy and reduce your carbon footprint. This campaign is uniting conscious consumers around the world to prevent the emissions-equivalent of 1 million cars from entering the atmosphere each year.
Keep reading for 10 simple things you can do today to help reduce your environmental impact, save money, and live a happier, healthier life. For more advice, purchase State of the World 2010 - Transforming Cultures: From Consumerism to Sustainability, a report from 60 renowned researchers and practitioners on how to reorient cultures toward sustainability.
Save energy to save money.
State of the World
Purchase State of the World 2010:
Transforming Cultures to learn more about the shift from consumerism to sustainability
Set your thermostat a few degrees lower in the winter and a few degrees higher in the summer to save on heating and cooling costs.
Install compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) when your older incandescent bulbs burn out.
Unplug appliances when you're not using them. Or, use a "smart" power strip that senses when appliances are off and cuts "phantom" or "vampire" energy use.
Wash clothes in cold water whenever possible. As much as 85 percent of the energy used to machine-wash clothes goes to heating the water.
Use a drying rack or clothesline to save the energy otherwise used during machine drying.
Save water to save money.
Take shorter showers to reduce water use. This will lower your water and heating bills too.
Install a low-flow showerhead. They don't cost much, and the water and energy savings can quickly pay back your investment.
Make sure you have a faucet aerator on each faucet. These inexpensive appliances conserve heat and water, while keeping water pressure high.
Plant drought-tolerant native plants in your garden. Many plants need minimal watering. Find out which occur naturally in your area.
Less gas = more money (and better health!).
State of the World
Purchase State of the World 2009:
Into a Warming World to learn more about overcoming global climate change
Walk or bike to work. This saves on gas and parking costs while improving your cardiovascular health and reducing your risk of obesity.
Consider telecommuting if you live far from your work. Or move closer. Even if this means paying more rent, it could save you money in the long term.
Lobby your local government to increase spending on sidewalks and bike lanes. With little cost, these improvements can pay huge dividends in bettering your health and reducing traffic.
If you eat meat, add one meatless meal a week. Meat costs a lot at the store-and it's even more expensive when you consider the related environmental and health costs.
Buy locally raised, humane, and organic meat, eggs, and dairy whenever you can. Purchasing from local farmers keeps money in the local economy.
Watch videos about why local food and sustainable seafood are so great.
Whatever your diet, eat low on the food chain [pdf]. This is especially true for seafood.
Skip the bottled water.
Use a water filter to purify tap water instead of buying bottled water. Not only is bottled water expensive, but it generates large amounts of container waste.
Bring a reusable water bottle, preferably aluminum rather than plastic, with you when traveling or at work.
Check out this short article for the latest on bottled water trends.
Think before you buy.
Go online to find new or gently used secondhand products. Whether you've just moved or are looking to redecorate, consider a service like craigslist or FreeSharing to track down furniture, appliances, and other items cheaply or for free.
Check out garage sales, thrift stores, and consignment shops for clothing and other everyday items.
Watch a video about what happens when you buy things. Your purchases have a real impact, for better or worse.
Borrow instead of buying.
Borrow from libraries instead of buying personal books and movies. This saves money, not to mention the ink and paper that goes into printing new books.
Share power tools and other appliances. Get to know your neighbors while cutting down on the number of things cluttering your closet or garage.
Climate Change Reference Guide
Great for classrooms:
Buy in bulk. Purchasing food from bulk bins can save money and packaging.
Wear clothes that don't need to be dry-cleaned. This saves money and cuts down on toxic chemical use.
Invest in high-quality, long-lasting products. You might pay more now, but you'll be happy when you don't have to replace items as frequently (and this means less waste!).
Keep electronics out of the trash.
Keep your cell phones, computers, and other electronics as long as possible.
Donate or recycle them responsibly when the time comes. E-waste contains mercury and other toxics and is a growing environmental problem.
Recycle your cell phone.
Ask your local government to set up an electronics recycling and hazardous waste collection event.
Make your own cleaning supplies.
The big secret: you can make very effective, non-toxic cleaning products whenever you need them. All you need are a few simple ingredients like baking soda, vinegar, lemon, and soap.
Making your own cleaning products saves money, time, and packaging-not to mention your indoor air quality.
52 Easy ways to green your home without going broke
1. Don't heat an empty house! During the winter, turn down your thermostat to 68 degrees F when you're home and 55 degrees F at night and while you're away. Upgrade to a programmable thermostat if you can.
2. Your computer may go to sleep, but it's still sucking up energy. Turn your computer and monitor off at the end of the day. In addition, take steps to create an eco-friendly workplace.
3. Clean your refrigerator coils — vacuum out the dust and wipe with a damp cloth. You'll be surprised at how much nasty stuff accumulates down there!
4. Look into carpooling. Need convincing? Read why your green commute will save you money.
5. Taking a road trip? Rent a hybrid car. Here are a few more eco-friendly travel tips.
6. Start a compost pile in your backyard. Here is your guide to compost gardening. Did you know you can even add your fireplace ashes to your compost pile?
7. Support green businesses.
8. Cancel your newspaper subscription and read the news online instead. (We'll bet you're already doing this one!)
9. Buy rechargeable batteries. Learn to dispose of old batteries properly.
10. Use cloth napkins instead of paper napkins at dinner.
11. Recycle — all the cool kids are doing it these days! Not sure what is recyclable? Check out this recycle chart.
12. Buy your dog a hemp or canvas leash instead of nylon.
13. Stop using your toxin-loaded dryer sheets and try these alternatives instead.
14. Share your magazines — read them then pass them on. Goodwill, the Kidney Foundation and other used goods collection agencies will usually accept them. You can also pass them along to a doctor's office for the waiting room.
15. Take a break from screen time and take a hike. Take advantage of this eco-friendly fitness gear.
16. File your taxes electronically to cut back on paper usage. Look into having your tax forms emailed to you instead of mailed as well.
17. Donate old newspapers to animal shelters and take your plastic shopping bags back to participating grocery stores. Better yet, purchase cloth or canvas grocery bags and skip that part altogether.
18. Shop for eco-friendly beauty products. Also consider eco-friendly fashion lines and eco-friendly home decor.
19. Take your own mug to the coffee shop — some shops will even give you a discount for bringing your own cup. Find out if your coffee is triple certified.
20. Get e-tickets for the movies through apps like Fandango or get e-tickets and boarding passes when traveling. (For more vacation tips, read How to take an eco-friendly vacation.)
21. Buy a new houseplant. For a greener home, read 10 Eco-friendly ways to green your home and family.
22. Schedule your errands back-to-back to consolidate your trip and save gas or ride your bike or walk when possible.
23. Repair your leaky faucet (especially if you live in a drought-prone area), install water-saving toilets and shower heads, and only run the clothes washer or dishwasher with full loads.
24. Pack your lunch in an insulated lunch bag instead of paper or plastic bags. While you're at it, choose organic food when you can — it's more affordable than you think.
25. Put a cover on your pool when you're not using it. Not only will it keep the water cleaner, but it will keep it from evaporating, saving you refills.
26. Ask your power company about purchasing green power like solar, geothermal, biomass and wind turbine.
27. Follow these five ways to redecorate your home green, like repainting with low or VOC-free paint. Not only will the earth thank you, but so will your wallet!
28. Get the junk out of your trunk (literally!) — extra weight in your car decreases fuel efficiency.
29. Have a yard sale — or visit one before you head out to buy something new. Join Freecycle to find items you need or get rid of items you don't.
30. Switch to chemical-free cleaning products or make your own eco-friendly cleaning products.
31. Make it easy for your family to recycle by keeping bins in convenient places.
32. Take the stairs instead of the elevator (great for the environment and your health).
33. If you have a baby, use cloth diapers instead of disposables.
34. Buy used or e-books instead of new.
35. Reuse old items before you throw them out. Here are few things you can do with your old clothing and linens.
36. Buy a bigger jug of milk. If you only use half a gallon at a time, you can pour half the milk into a carafe and freeze the rest.
37. Use compact florescent light (CFL) bulbs, which last 10 times longer than incandescent bulbs, or light-emitting diodes (LED), which last even longer. Be sure to dispose of your used bulbs safely by finding a recycling center.
38. For your kids, buy crayons made of beeswax, not paraffin. For your babies, try eco-baby shops.
39. Wear an extra sweater or use a blanket before you resort to turning on (or up) the heat.
40. Buy eco-friendly pet toys (Fido and Fifi will never know the difference). Be sure you also raise an environmentally-friendly pet.
41. Call a mechanic to get a tune-up for your car to avoid excess wear and tear on your automobile, saving money on gas and ensuring your vehicle runs cleaner.
42. Pay your bills online (and opt for paperless billing) to reduce paper usage and postage costs.
43. Switch to a manual can opener. Use a sharp carving knife instead of an electric knife.
44. Make it a habit to carry a reusable water bottle instead of buying bottled water. Buy one with a built-in filter to avoid tap water if that's important to you.
45. Get out your rake and leave your leaf blower in the garage to cut down on emissions (not to mention get a good workout).
46. Switch to Energy Star-qualified appliances when you upgrade. Even if they cost a little more, they'll actually save you on your electricity bill in the long run.
47. Keep your freezer full — it runs more efficiently than an empty one. For more money-saving tips, read 10 Frugal tips for cooking family-friendly meals.
48. Use chlorine-free feminine hygiene products, or try products like the menstrual cup.
49. Keep inexpensive reusable to-go containers or washed food containers on hand so you can send dinner guests home with packed goodies. (Think about cooking a couple of vegetarian holiday dishes, too.)
50. Invest in a roasting pan instead of using disposable ones (you'll save money in the long run and it's a lot easier to pull a full ham or turkey out of the oven in a sturdy pan than an aluminum one).
51. Planning a party or wedding? Hire green vendors and go with natural decorations when possible. If you'd like to make a statement with your nuptials, plan a green and organic wedding.
52. Make a resolution to be even more eco-friendly next year.