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.