Everywhere you read today there are green sections in magazines, television spots, and in newspapers. Even Hollywood stars are picking up the green mantra. However, not everyone can afford solar panels on their roofs or ripping out their cabinets to be replaced by less toxic ones. Believe it or not, you can take easy green steps without spending a dime! No fooling. And, no I don’t have a bridge to sell you. So, let’s roll up our sleeves and let’s get greening with my favorite 18 no cost, easy green steps.
First Tip—Take off Your Shoes
Take off your shoes when you come into your house and leave them by the door. As you walk around your house with shoes on, you are dragging in toxins from outside such as pesticides. In turn those toxins become embedded in your carpets affecting your indoor air quality.
Second Tip-Practice the Three Rs
Reduce, Reuse and Recycle! Many of you may be doing this already, but there are plenty who are not. When I drive around on trash day, all I see is heaps of recyclable garbage. Some articles, such as plastic, take centuries to decompose. Is this the legacy you want to leave your grandchildren or great grandchildren? Don’t forget about recycling batteries, all electronic waste, and fluorescent bulbs. See my recent article, “15 Tips to Become a Neighborhood Greeny” and Earth 911 for recycling resources.
Donate your furniture to a charity rather than throwing it out or offer it for free on Freecyle™
Third Tip-Turn off Your Lights
Turn your lights off when you leave a room. That seems simple enough. Right? However, how many of you forget to turn off the lights when you walk out of a room? I have teenagers and they never turn off lights. You might think one little bulb is not going to matter. Start to add up all the bulbs you leave on, and you will quickly realized the amount of energy being used unnecessarily and how much money is coming out of your wallet. (Remember, this is a no-cost article. Ordinarily, I would advocate that you switch your lights bulbs to CFLs or LEDs.)
Fourth Tip-Don’t Let the Plastic Bags End up in Our Waterways
Accumulate your grocery plastic bags and take them back to the grocery store to recycle them or reuse them. Many grocery stores have bins for recycled grocery bags. (Best buy reusable bags, but remember this a “no cost” green tips post.)
Fifth Tip- Lunch with a Friend Means Taking home Your Bottle as a Party Gift
Although this is typically part of the 3 Rs, I had to give it a separate category since it is one of my favorite tips. When you go to lunch and you get a drink which is plastic or glass, take it home with you if the restaurant does not recycle. (I have to thank my friend, Ann, who enlightened me.) Think about how many bottles end up in landfills just from people going out to lunch and dinner.
Sixth Tip-Turn Down Your Thermostat in the Winter and Up in the Summer
According to the US Department of Energy.
“[w]hen you are asleep or out of the house, turn your thermostat back 10°–15° for eight hours and save around 10% a year on your heating and cooling bills.”
Now, that’s a green tip that will save you some green by being green!
Seventh Tip-Don’t Drive Like a Maniac
Drive according to the speed limit. Driving 75 mph instead of 65 mph will lower your fuel economy by about 10 percent, and can dramatically increase tailpipe pollution in many vehicles,” according to Greenercars.org. Also, turn off your car when you are just sitting there waiting for someone or chatting with your friends. That “it will only be a minute” can easily turn into twenty minutes! For more automobile tips, see the article, “Green Driving Tips,” on Greenercars.org.
Eighth Tip—Use your Common Household Products as Cleaners
Use natural products such as vinegar and baking soda to clean your home rather than toxic laden household cleaners. See how to make your own natural cleaning products.
Ninth Tip—Wash your Plastic Silverware
Wash your plastic silverware by hand instead of throwing them out. (Don’t rewash your plastic in the dishwasher.) I reuse my plastic. However, if you don’t want to use it again to eat, use it to mark plants in your garden or to locate summer bulbs that need to be dug up in the fall. Just don’t throw the silverware away.
Tenth Tip-Get those Legs Moving
Walk rather than drive! It is good for the environment and your waistline. Also, have your children walk home from school rather than you picking them up if you live close to the school. For safety reasons, please have your child walk with another child. There is always safety in numbers.
Eleventh Tip-Car Pool or Take Public Transportation
“Public transportation produces 95 percent less carbon monoxide (CO), 90 percent less in volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and about half as much carbon dioxide (CO2) and nitrogen oxide (NOx), per passenger mile, as private vehicles. Energy-related carbon dioxide emissions represent 82 percent of total US human-made greenhouse emissions,” according to the American Public Transportation Association. So, there you have it. Car pool or take public transportation.
Twelfth Tip—Lower the Thermostat on your water heater
Lower the thermostat on your water heater.
“For each 10ºF reduction in water temperature, you can save between 3%–5% in energy costs.
Although some manufacturers set water heater thermostats at 140ºF, most households usually only require them set at 120ºF. Water heated at 140ºF also poses a safety hazard—scalding. However, if you have a dishwasher without a booster heater, it may require a water temperature within a range of 130ºF to 140ºF for optimum cleaning,” according to the US Department of Energy.
Another benefit of reducing your water temperature is the prevention of scalding. I lowered my hot water heater’s temperature years ago as a safety measure for my children.
Thirteenth Tip-Wash your clothes in Cold Water
Wash clothes in cold water instead of using warm or hot water. Hot water heating accounts for about 90 percent of the energy your machine uses to wash clothes — only 10 percent goes to electricity used by the washer motor,” according to Energy Star.
Fourteenth Tip-Give your Lawn a Big Glup
Water your lawn in the morning and deeply instead of in short intervals. Established lawns need 1” per week. By watering deeply rather than in short intervals, your lawn will be healthier and you will use less water. Cornell University’s Cooperative has some terrific tips on lawn care.
Fifteenth Tip-Be A Conscious Buyer
Be conscious of what you are buying. Look for products that contain the least amount of packaging, and packaging that can be recycled. I only buy organic eggs in cardboard containers because I can not recycle the plastic containers in my county. In addition, buy locally to support your farms. Ask if your local farm uses pesticides. To search for a Community Supported Agriculture farm, click here for list of databases.
Sixteenth Tip-Use reusable containers
Before you reach for those sandwich baggies for your families’ lunches, use reusable containers instead or wash your bags and reuse them. I hang my plastic bags over my faucets to dry.
Seventeenth Tip–Wash Your Car with Your Lawn
If you wash your car, try and wash it on your lawn. All the water from the car will benefit your grass rather than running down the driveway to the street. Make sure the ground is hard enough before you move your car on the lawn. Afterwards, slowly, move your car back because the ground will be wet at that time and could cause ruts in the lawn.
Eighteenth Tip-Why Pay for Electricity if You are not Using it?
Turn off your computers’ and television sets’ sources of electricity, when you are done using them. If you can’t remember to do this, absolutely remember to pull the plug when you go on vacation. These items have phantom loads which increase the electricity use in your house.
That wasn’t hard! So if everyone took the above easy green steps, we could collectively reduce our impact on the Earth, and be healthier too. Do you have any green tips to share that don’t cost a dime?
Photo by Cathy Stanley-Erickson by permission under the Creative Commons license.