It doesn't have to be Earth Day for me to think about how I can make an impact (or less of an impact) on our planet. Here are a few of my favorite tips:
1. Lower your thermostat. Buy a programmable thermostat.
2. Reuse your water bottle. Avoid buying bottled water. In fact, reuse everything at least once, especially plastics.
3. Check out your bathroom. Use low-flow faucets, showerheads, and toilets.
4. Start a compost in your back yard or on your rooftop.
5. Buy foods locally. Check out Eat Local Challenge and FoodRoutes to get started. Buy locally made products and locally produced services.
6. Buy in season.
7. Buy compact fluorescent light bulbs. You'll find more on energy-efficient products and practices at Energy Star.
8. Turn off lights and electronics when you leave the room. Unplug your cell phone charger from the wall when not using it. Turn off energy strips and surge protectors when not in use (especially overnight).
9. Recycle your newspapers.
10. Car pool. Connect with other commuters at eRideShare.
11. Consider a car sharing service like Zipcar.
12. Ride a bike.
13. Walk, jog, or run.
14. Go to your local library instead of buying new books.
15. At holidays and birthdays, give your family and friends the gift of saving the earth. Donate to their favorite environmental group, foundation, or organization.
16. Get off junk mail lists. GreenDimes can get you started. They’ll even plant a tree for you!
17. Buy products that use recyclable materials whenever possible.
18. If you use plastic grocery bags, recycle them for doggie poop bags or for small trashcan liners.
19. Bring your own bags to the grocery store. Given a choice between plastic and paper, opt for paper.
20. Buy locally. Find farmers’ markets, family farms, and other sources of sustainably grown food near you at LocalHarvest.
21. Consider organic cleaning products like vinegar, borax, and baking soda.
22. If you have a baby, consider using cloth diapers. To sign up for a diaper service to do the dirty work, check out the National Association of Diaper Services.
23. Consider buying a fuel-efficient car or a hybrid.
24. Landscape with native plants. Check out the article on the EPA website.
25. Opt into a clean energy program. Check out the Green Power Network at the US Department of Energy.
26. Go paperless. Consider reading your newspaper and magazine subscriptions online. Switch to electronic banking and credit card payment, too.
27. Teach kids about the environment.
28. Take your batteries to a recycling center. Earth 911 gives you the scoop.
29. Turn your car off if you’re going to be idle for more than one minute.
30. Do full loads of laundry and set the rinse cycle to “cold.”
31. Recycle. If you’re not at home, take the extra steps, (literally), to find that recycling can.
32. Reuse. Plastic food containers make good crayon and marker holders. Use padded envelops more than once. Buy your toddler or preschooler’s clothes from a thrift shop and give away those that don’t fit to friends. Goodwill or the Salvation Army can help.
33. Limit the length of your showers. Even better, take a “navy shower,” shutting off the water while soaping up and shampooing.
34. Don’t run the water when brushing your teeth. Learn about water scarcity.
35. Wash towels after several uses.
36. Purchase one case of water and provide clean water to 24 people (for over twenty years).
37. Give away your goods and find new ones at FreeCycle.
38. Recycle your technology. Dell, Hewlett Packard, Apple, and IBM, among others, offer recycling programs.
39. Go zero! Log on to the Conservation Fund’s Carbon Zero Calculator and in less than five minutes, you can measure and then offset your carbon dioxide emissions by planting trees.
40. Put your money where your mouth is—invest in green investments. Web sites like Co-op America's National Green Pages™ can help.
41. Learn about threats to ocean life and help Greenpeace take action.
42. Whenever you can, try using green cleaning products. Check out Cheap, Clean, and Green.
43. Find your local watershed and learn how to protect it.
44. Build a greener home.
45. Opt for eco-friendly and holistic health products.
46. Good to the last drop. Switch to fair trade coffee.
47. Go paperless at work. Distribute company information and post company material online.
48. Eliminate junk mail at work. For no fee, the EcoLogical Mail Coalition will eliminate the junk that former employees receive at work.
49. Plant a forest and feed a family while you’re at it.
50. Shop smart. Choose eco-smart products.
By Kathleen J. King