Here is our collection of green tips; a few ways you can reduce your fossil-based energy use, lessen the damage to the environment, and even save money. We’ve tried many of these ourselves, but like most new habits you'll probably find it takes some repetition before they become routine.
The parallels between going green and dieting have probably been pointed out before, but they’re worth mentioning again because both are, at their core, changes in behavior and habits of thought. Going on a crash diet and a Navy Seal exercise regime are almost always fruitless and short-lived. They just demand too much change too quickly. So, too, unplugging from the grid and becoming self-sustaining in food, energy, shelter, and clothing are doomed to similar failure.
Our advice: make a few changes at a time. Become comfortable with them and take the time to understand why you’re making them and what effects they have on the environment — and your wallet. Then add in more changes as you feel comfortable doing so. Therein lies the path to sustained (and sustainable) success.
So, starting out easily, but in no particular order, here are our tips…
- Turn off incandescent lights when you leave a room; turn off fluorescent lights when you’ll be away for 15 minutes or more. Learn more here.
- Replace incandescent lights with compact fluorescent bulbs or, better still, LED bulbs. Learn more about compact fluorescents here and about LEDs here.
- Recycle fluorescent and compact fluorescent bulbs (they both contain highly-toxic mercury). Learn more here.
- Recycle used sports equipment. Learn more here.
- Recycle your bicycle. Learn more here.
- Recycle batteries, both rechargeable and non-rechargeable. Learn more about rechargeable batteries here.
- Non-rechargeable (sometimes called dry-cell or alkaline) batteries can be dropped off at many stores including Radio Shack, Best Buy, Staples, Office Depot, WholeFoods.
- Plant a tree. Learn more here and see the store here.
- Try donating partially used cans of paint instead of dropping them off at hazardous waste recycling sites. Habitat for Humanity accepts paint for their ReStores. Learn more here.
- Skip paper or plastic and try reusable grocery bags instead. Learn more here.
- Even if you’ve eliminated use of plastic grocery bags, remember you can still recycle dry cleaning bags and newspaper sleeves. Learn more here.
- Recycle (donate) your old cell phone to help prevent domestic violence. Learn more here.
- Weatherize your home and save both heating and cooling costs. Learn more here.
- Drive more reasonably and consistently: don’t drive aggressively, don’t speed, and on longer trips, use cruise control. Learn more here.
- Compost. It reduces landfill and overly nutrient-rich sewage while improving soil. Learn more here.
- Install programmable thermostats for heaters and air conditioners. Learn more here.
- Purchase Energy Star rated products for home and office. Learn more here.
- Reduce the number of stand-by power “vampires” at home and at work. Learn more
- Turn down the thermostat on your water heater to no more than 120 degrees and wrap the tank in an insulating thermal blanket. Learn more about temperature setting here and about insulating here.
- ;Wash clothes with cold water. Learn more and calculate your savings here.
- Buy copier and printer paper that is either recycled or rated either SFI or FSC certified. Learn more about SFI here, FSC here, and find information on recycled paper here.
- Have your name removed from catalog mailing lists. Learn more here.
- Fix leaking faucets. Learn more here.
- Use the Post Office’s free Recycling Through the Mail program. Grab a plastic bag-mailer in a Post Office lobby, put in your inkjet cartridges, PDAs, Blackberries, digital cameras, iPods and MP3 players, and just drop into any mail box, postage-free. Pilot areas for this program include Baltimore and Annapolis in Maryland, and all of DC and Virginia. Learn more here.