We’re back with some more green tips that we snagged from a fun & informative read (True Green by Kim McKay and Jenny Bonnin). I was actually sitting at my super cool downtown hair place (called Red- how cool is that?) when I noticed this book atop the stack of mags and decided to have a little look-see. And it turned out to be really inspiring. So as you peruse the helpful hints below, feel free to snag your own copy (or any other greenification manual) and leave it out in your waiting room, cubicle, or any other shared domain where you think it can make a difference. But enough jibber jabber. Here are some über simple solutions and switcheroos that you can easily implement to make the world a greener place:
1. Replace your paper coffee cup habit at work with a ceramic mug that can be reused (and bring in a knife, spoon, fork and plate to store at work instead of relying on the plastic versions that can only be used once).
2. Leave the clippings on your lawn when you mow for enriched soil and happier grass. It’s the lazy person’s way to a greener lawn. Love it.
3. Start a compost bin. It may seem like a radical step, but it’s actually really easy. Check out our super simple system here.
4. Grow your own fruits and veggies (my thumb’s too black to start with seeds, but a little basil and tomato plant are super easy to care for- and you’ll save money and avoid pesticides in one fell swoop).
5. Use eco-friendly cleaning products, and bring old oil paints and paint thinners to specialized recycling centers to keep ’em from contaminating our water supply (for some great green cleaning products, check out this post and all of the helpful comments that our readers left).
6. Set the freezer to -5 degrees and the fridge to 40 degrees F. Anything colder just makes things unnecessarily icy.
7. Wear a sweater when you’re cold and wear something skimpy when you’re hot. This is my mom’s method and it’s been passed down to me after I noticed substantial heating and cooling savings from this method after leaving the nest. Look at it this way, the money you save on heating can be put towards a cute new sweater to wear around the house.
8. Turn off the light/tv/radio when you leave the room. Don’t believe those rumors that it takes more energy to turn something off and back on again than it does to leave it on. Unless you’ll be back within 3-5 minutes, all things should be shut off.
9. Join the fan club. Invest in an oscillating table fan for your bedroom if you don’t have a ceiling fan and use fans throughout your home to keep air circulating to decrease your air conditioner dependence.
10. Set an alarm for five minute showers only. For those who are wary about installing fancy low-flow shower spigots, this is an easy way to ensure that you’re not wasting water. And if you have a waterproof shower radio like John and I, you can limit yourself to two songs and you’re out.
11. Recycle. I just learned that only 70% of the people in my hometown recycle. I just don’t understand it. It could not be easier (especially since we don’t have to separate anything these days and it can all just go straight into the free bin that they provide). Please please please consider using this free service for the good of your planet (and your karma).
12. Reuse printer ink cartridges (this is an easy one) and lots of places like Staples and Office Depot will actually give you money back when you bring in your old cartridges.
13. Be an office eco-warrior and convince your company to “duplex” (use both sides of paper to print) and institute paper recycling bins.
14. Snag some indoor plants for your house and your office since they reduce toxins in the air and can even combat colds. John now has two plant friends in his office and we’ve added 7 green guys around the house.
15. Shut down your computer when you leave the office each night. I know from experience that this seems like a lot of extra effort when you’re just trying to get out the door, but it’s something that you can do every day that actually makes a huge difference over the course of a year. So worth the extra three minutes.
16. Use those cute reusable fabric shopping bags that everyone from Target to your local grocery store sells for less than $2. They can hold a lot more than the average paper or plastic bag so all of our two-week grocery shopping items can fit into our four bags. Which makes it a lot easier to lug them into the house.
17. Buy Energy Star appliances. They’re a tax write off, they’re just as affordable as non-energy star versions, and they’re good for the globe. Even our TV is energy star rated, which makes us feel slightly less guilty when we watch hours of home improvement shows.
18. Get books from the library and rent videos at Blockbuster or through Netflix instead of purchasing boundless books and movies. You’ll save packaging from going into landfills and keep your house less cluttered to boot.
19. Get a fuel efficient car. We recognize this is a bigger commitment than some of the other easy-peasy items on this list. But with soaring gas prices and a super-sized world that just keeps getting bigger and more insane, it’s refreshing to snag something practical and functional without buying into the go-huge hype.
20. Support local business. If you find a little shop nearby that does something well (for us, it’s a local printer called Uptown Color where we get all of our shop merchandise printed) then use them religiously and spread the word about them to others.
So whaddya think? We’re by no means experts in the area, but we’re learning as we go and sharing the wealth. Are there five things from the list above that you can institute in your life? Any other quick and easy eco ideas for us to share?
Update – Two of our favorite green updates that we’ve since tackled are converting our old toilet to being a dual-flush one, and making a rain barrel, so you can click those words to read about those eco adventures.
Hey guys- I’ve been a reader for a while, but my first comment. Thanks for posting this and raising the issue. I also just can’t understand why folks don’t recycle when it’s been made to be so easy! Other tips:
1. Buy a Nalgene or other reusable water bottle, then re-fill it rather than buying disposable.
2. Turn off your water when brushing teeth, washing dishes, ect. Water plants and lawns briefly in the morning/night when it will be less likely to evaporate.
3. Eschew styrafoam!!! Ask that your restaurants not use it. It takes tremendous energy to produce, and won’t biodegrade. It’s so bad that my hometown of Portland, OR has banned restaurants/stores, ect from using it. And guess what? starbucks and mcdonalds survive just fine, and use much more eco-friendly packaging instead.
about #16 – if you go to barnes & noble, they sell their reusable bags for $1.49, they’re bigger than the ones at target/walmart, AND they’re really pretty! they’re black with pale green leaves on them.
You can also join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) to get your veggies. They’re more delicious than store bought produce and are grown locally with no pesticides. So you’re not only getting great food, you’re also supporting local farmers. We’ve been doing it for 3 years, and it has really encouraged us to eat more veggies…and different ones that we wouldn’t have tried otherwise!
http://www.localharvest.org/csa to find a farm near you.
Donate old clothes! It’s so easy to do and it cuts down on a ton of waste.
If you live in a sunny place and have space to put up a clothesline, do so! Dryers are notoriously energy inefficient, and you also get that oh so special sundried smell! (If you don’t like how ‘crunchy’ they get, just toss them in a dryer for 5 minutes with a sheet)
If you’re lucky enough to live in an area with good farmer’s markets, patronize them! There is nothing like fresh, locally produced food that has not traveled far to get to you.
I’m surprised no one ever mentions this factor, perhaps because it’s politically incorrect to do so and it’s a big and long-term commitments: become a vegetarian. A vegetarian diet puts MUCH less strain on the planet and it’s resources, besides being healthier for you. If you’re not ready to go whole hog (no pun intended!), at least try to cut down on your meat consumption – instead of meat everyday, try no more than 2 days a week. As Sherry and John mentioned a few weeks ago, use this as an excuse to bust out a cookbook and try new foods.
And if you thought the previous suggestion was a little too much, try this for size: have fewer children. Ack! Every individual on this planet is a major consumer of resources (and much as it pains me to say this, the average American consumes much much much more than the average Indian, say). When I’m ready to be a parent, I will adopt children.
Ugh…everyone hip is now SO tired of the green trend…come on…try and keep up!
Ride a bike! Commuting by bike one or two days a week will save you money, improve your health, and cut down on green house gasses. It’s a huge mood-booster, too.
If you can’t ride your bike to work, ride your bike for trips under two miles. Need to run to the store to pick up a few things? Hop on your bike! Enjoy the fresh air and the fact that you’re doing good things for both yourself and your planet.
Sweet! Thanks so much for even more fabulous eco-friendly tips & tricks. We love you all for taking the time to share the wealth of knowledge you’ve all amassed. Look forward to more green & proud of ’em posts in the near future!
I have a really hard time shortening my shower. I know I should, yet I let the hot water run on, and on. I am working on that, however.
I have a great book to recommend: Green Goes with Everything by Sloan Barnett, who has 3 kids and is a dedicated consumer advocate. She talks about the ways our homes (and the products we bring into them) are making us sick and, way more importantly, alternatives to those toxins. The book is stuffed with tips to help us all make our lives more green.
Using a Kindle is a good way to use less paper. You can download all your books on it and read them whenever! I think you can even get text books. Knowing I am an avid reader my husband bought me on for my birthday this year but I have yet to use it. I just love the feel of books in my hand and the wonderful smell on them. I also like to decorate with them. I am so ashamed. :)
I know this is going to seem silly, but do you think you could do a post on green living regarding recycling and the basics of keeping your kitchen green? I saw the composting post, and it was really helpful but we don’t have a yard or much space. We live in a tiny apartment and so I’d love some ideas for having separate recycling bins that are stackable/ don’t take up much space AND can be easily walked to the recycling bin near our apartment complex’s entrance.
There’s a picture of our under-sink recycling & garbage & compost system (basically it’s just three different bins) here: https://www.younghouselove.com/how-ya-bin/
Hope it helps!
I know this is a really old post, but I wanted to add my two cents about the low-flow shower heads. I have one. And I LOVE it. It’s the Waterpik Eco-flow, handheld model- it’s only 1.5 gpm (gallons per minute), which is way lower than the government mandated 2.6 gpm flow rate for new shower heads.
The low-flow, non-aerating shower heads have come a long way from their original, only-crazy-hippies-would-use-this impression, and they really are worth the money- only $35! Just make sure you go with a non-aerating one. And the only downside is that they don’t have a lot of finish options for that under $50 price point- if you’re willing to spend more, your options increase substantially. Guess I’m just a cheapo. :)
Becky S. says
I know this is a really old post and I hope someone replies. I would LOVE to be able to take a 5 minute shower…but, between shampooing, conditioning, washing my body and face and doing the bare minimum of shaving (TMI I’m sorry but just my armpits) I cannot get below 15 minutes of shower time no matter how hard I try. Am I just unusually slow?? For all of you ladies out there…do you shave in the shower? Legs and all? Whats your routine like? Maybe you use shampoo and conditioner in one? I feel so bad and un-green with my 15 minute showers…
Anyone have info for Becky on this? I just shampoo, rinse, condition, leave that in while I wash my body & face, and then rinse the conditioner. Sometimes I shave but not always (I’m lazy like that, haha). I think the key is just to start the water and jump in as soon as it warms up (instead of puttering around the bathroom for five minutes while the shower runs) and then just lather, rinse, repeat, etc. I don’t really stand there and zone out, even though I’m sure that would be amazing.
Jessica G in NN says
Ummm…I would say you might be unusually slow, Becky? But I don’t want to say that. I only wash my hair every other day (my hairdresser convinced me after months…and my super-fine hair that used to show oil like-whoa has stopped.) But, even on those days, my showers are usually under 8 minutes at the most. I also feel you on the bare minimum shaving…and, if I have time will shave in the sink (legs, I mean) since it uses less water. I would say…start setting a timer? I grew up on well water (out in the country) and whenever we went through a water shortage, we had to time showers. In high school (when image mattered to me in my fishbowl “all about me” brain) I took 2 minute showers every day. Crazy. So yeah, think about cutting down…but also, ever noticed how, at the salon, they don’t leave conditioner in a long time? I thought I had to, but then realize that I can shampoo, blob on conditioner, scrub the face, wash the body, shave the pits, and rinse the conditioner…all in under 5 minutes. I think I rambled more than helped, but I’d suggest a timer and you might see how much time(and water) you were wasting? And don’t feel badly, my husband takes WAY longer than I do…and doesn’t shave or have long hair…so it’s NOT just you. ;)