Living green

A List of Tips on Living Green

Trying to live green can be a daunting task, especially if you’re just starting.  We suggest that you simply try making one or two changes a week.  After a period of time, you’ll be excited about what you’ve accomplished!  Below are quite a few things that you can incorporate.  Check them out…

  • Determine Your Impact!  The Eco FootprintGreendex and Water Footprint calculators give you a great way to determine how you are impacting the environment.
  • Purchase in Bulk!  Avoid products that are packaged for single use (i.e., drinks, school lunches, candy, cat and dog food, salad mixings, etc.). Instead, buy in bulk and transfer the products to your own reusable containers. Many health food stores have bulk bins where they sell everything from grains to cereal to cleaning products.
  • Get a High-Efficiency Showerhead A high-efficiency showerhead saves up to 3,000 gallons of water per person per year. You’ll also save $50 in energy costs and 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per person per year. The showerheads are specially designed to conserve resources while still providing like a luxurious-feeling shower. Sink-aerator attachments also save major amounts of water and are very inexpensive.
  • Choose low-toxic paints that also are low in volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, which convert to gas at room temperatures. Outdoors, certain VOCs react with sunlight to create smog. Indoors, VOCs can irritate lungs and cause allergic reactions. Check the paint label for a VOC level below 150 grams per liter. Zero-VOC paints also are available.
  • Fine-tune a refrigerator for optimum energy use by checking to see that the temperature in its main refrigeration box hovers at 37 degrees while the freezer stays at a relatively steady 3 degrees. A weather thermometer will do the trick.
  • Have a plugged or slow-draining sink? Search a hardware store’s plumbing shelves for a bacteria-based product. Its goal is to establish colonies of goop-eating, human-friendly bacteria that are supposed to keep drainpipes clear. To allow the critters time to establish themselves, pour in a little just before bedtime, after everyone has quit using the sinks.
  • Laundry activities are the second-biggest water user in a home. New water- and energy-efficient machines can save big on utility bills, and the technologies employed in those machines also can be gentler to your clothes, help you use less detergent and reduce drying time. Look for a WashWise qualified model. Visit for a list of WashWise-qualified clothes washers.
  • Recycle Water in Your Bathroom Use devices that allow you to reuse sink water for flushing your toilet. Or keep a bucket by the shower or the tub and fill it with the cold water that comes out before the hot water kicks in. Then take the bucket outside and use it to water your plants.
  • Recycle your Plastic Bottle Tops: Plastic bottle recycling is transitioning to recycling bottle tops (left on the plastic container)! Contact your local recycling center first to confirm they are recycling bottle tops. Better yet, switch to reusable glass or metal drinking bottles and skip the plastic bottles all together.
  • Compost Use a compost bin to turn your food and lawn wastes into rich mulch. It’s a great way to reduce your trash production, and next year you’ll have rich compost ready to go for spring planting.
  • Use High-Efficiency Outdoor Lighting A typical 100-watt floodlight, if used for six hours a day, can consume up to $40 of electricity over the course of a year and produce upwards of 400 pounds of carbon dioxide, depending on where you live. For starters, replace those floodlights with compact-fluorescent versions-they’re just as bright and use a quarter of the energy. Next, replace low-wattage halogen landscape bulbs with LED versions. They cut energy use by over 80 percent and can last for 10 years or more. Finally, install motion sensors on any nonessential lights. New versions just screw right into your existing light socket.
  • Replace High-Use Indoor Lights with Compact Fluorescents or LEDs With high-quality light, sizes for almost any fixture and even versions that are dimmable,  compact fluorescents have it all. They’re more expensive than normal light bulbs, but between the energy savings and their much longer life spans, they pay for themselves in less than two years. And consider LED bulbs for non-dimmable circuits (especially for holiday lighting).
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Garages often contain combustion byproducts (including carbon monoxide) from car engines, as well as pesticides, paints and other hazardous household products. Make sure the door from the house to the garage has a high-quality seal around the entire perimeter, including the threshold.
  • Drive Smarter Simple changes in our existing driving habits can improve fuel efficiency by up to 25 percent. Drive at or near the speed limit, keep your tires inflated, make sure oil and air filters are clean, and step on the gas and the brakes carefully. Driving like a drag racer may be fun, but it has a substantial environmental cost.


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