Everyone could play a part in protecting and restoring our environment – and today is a good time to start. You can help the environment in your daily life at home, the office, shopping or in the garden.
You can make a difference! The first step along the green path is often the hardest to take. Here are 121 bite size chunks of information and inspiration you need to set you on your way.
- Once you have a taste of the satisfaction that you get from giving back to the planet, you will likely start looking for other ways to change your life.
- When you choose to grow organic foods, use organic products and recycle the rubbish that has been polluting our world for years, you will be giving a gift to yourself, the world and future generations.
Once you start giving back, you will be glad that you took the steps to start looking after our planet!.
Live green, and live well.
In Your Home – Conserve Energy
1. Clean or replace air filters on your air conditioning unit at least once a month.
2. Dress for the climate and don’t try to heat or cool the whole house. If you have central air conditioning, do not close vents in unused rooms.
3. Lower the thermostat on your water heater to 120.
4. Wrap your water heater in an insulated blanket.
5. Turn down or shut off your water heater when you will be away for extended periods.
6. Switch off unneeded lights even when leaving a room for a short time.
7. Set your refrigerator temperature at 36 to 38 and your freezer at 0 to 5 .
8. When using an oven, minimize door opening while it is in use; it reduces oven temperature by 25 to 30 every time you open the door.
9. Clean the lint filter in your dryer after every load so that it uses less energy. Line dry where possible.
10. Unplug seldom used appliances.
11. Wash clothes with warm or cold water instead of hot.
12. Reverse your indoor ceiling fans for summer and winter operations as recommended.
13. Turn off lights, and other appliances when not in use. Switch off the TV at the switch – don’t use the remote.
14. Purchase appliances and office equipment with the Energy Star Label; old refrigerators, for example, use up to 50 more electricity than newer models.
15. Only use electric appliances when you need them.
16. Use compact fluorescent light bulbs to save money and energy.
17. Keep your thermostat at 68 in winter and 78 in summer.
18. Keep your thermostat higher in summer and lower in winter when you are away.
19. Insulate your home as best as you can.
20. Install weather stripping around all doors and windows.
21. Shut off electrical equipment in the evening when you leave work.
22. Plant trees to shade your home.
23. Shade outside air conditioning units by trees or other means.
24. Replace old windows with energy efficient ones. Shut the curtains to retain heat or cool at night.
25. Use cold water instead of warm or hot water when possible.
26. Connect your outdoor lights to a timer / use solar lights where possible
27. Buy green electricity – electricity produced by low – or even zero-pollution facilities
In Your Home – Reduce Toxicity
28. Eliminate mercury from your home by purchasing items without mercury, and dispose of items containing mercury at an appropriate drop-off facility when necessary (e.g. old thermometers).
29.Cleanse and pamper you body with homemade, chemical-free beauty treatments based on essential oils and fresh herbs or use organic coconut oil and baking soda.
30. Buy the right amount of paint for the job. Consider eco-friendly alternatives.
31. Review labels of household cleaners you use. Consider alternatives like baking soda, lemons, vinegar, scouring pads, water or a little more elbow grease.
32. Grow an organic garden and swap / buy local organic food. Give organic food plants as gifts.
33. If you have an older home, have paint in your home tested for lead. If you have lead-based paint, cover it with wall paper or other material instead of sanding or burning it off.
34. Use traps and essential oils instead of rat and mouse poisons and insect killers.
35. Have your home tested for radon.
36. Use cedar chips or aromatic herbs instead of mothballs.
In Your Yard
37. Avoid using leaf blowers and other dust-producing equipment. Use a rake instead – it’s better for your health too!
38. Use an electric lawn- mower or better still invest in a push mower (great for your health as well!) instead of a gas-powered one.
39. Leave grass clippings on the yard-they decompose and return nutrients to the soil.
40. Use recycled wood chips / recycled mulch as mulch to keep weeds down, retain moisture and prevent erosion.
41. Minimize pesticide use. – try to use natural products instead. – Use traps, parasites, and natural predators such as ladybirds.
42. Try to attract birds to your garden as they eat aphids and other gardeners’ pests.
43. Water grass (replace grass with edible gardens as much as possible) early in the morning.
44. Rent or borrow items like ladders, chain saws, party decorations and others that are seldom used.
45. Take actions that use non hazardous components (e.g., to ward off pests, use plants that repel insects. Some herbs and flowers – including basil, chives, mint, marigolds, and chrysanthemums – mixed in with other plants, help keep pests away.
46. Put leaves in a compost heap instead of burning them or throwing them away. Yard debris too large for your compost bin should be taken to a yard-debris recycler.
47. Collect rainwater to water your flowers.
48. Let part of your garden grow freely and see what wild flowers appear.
49. Plant local species of trees.
Don’t use peat in your flower beds and vegetable gardens (peat is taken from ancient bog land, destroying some of our most precious wildlife areas). Instead, make your own compost with grass clippings and vegetable scraps from the house.
51. Choose drought tolerant plants like Nepeta Six Hills Giant (Catmint). It looks like huge lavender flowers but uses very little water.
52. Pick only drought or Xeriscape friendly grass seeds that don’t require as much water to maintain.
53. Never take plants or pick flowers from anywhere in the wild.
54. Buy bulbs from cultivated stocks only and untreated. non-hybrid, non-genetically modified, open pollinated organic seeds.
55. Join an organic seed-savers club / swap organic seedlings.
56. Don’t buy garden furniture or decking made of tropical hard wood – mahogany for example – unless it’s got a Forest Stewardship Council label (the “tick” tree).
57. Take time out to sit in your backyard with friends and family, and appreciate the beauty of nature.
In Your Office
58. Copy and print on both sides of paper.
59. Reuse items like envelopes, folders and paper clips.
60. Use mailer sheets for interoffice mail instead of an envelope.
61. Set up a bulletin board for memos instead of sending a copy to each employee.
62. Use e-mail instead of paper correspondence.
63. Pay bills online and save paper etc.easy, free bill pay, in case your bank doesn’t provide the service. check out MyCheckFree.com
64. Use recycled paper + discarded paper for scrap paper.
65. Encourage your school and/or company to print documents with soy-based inks, which are less toxic.
66. Use a ceramic coffee mug instead of a disposable cup, for your organic coffee or herbal beverage. Dishwashing (cups) in cold water in a basin with biodegradable soap and reuse the water.
67. Buy services instead of products—such as leasing services for office equipment, so manufacturers will produce durable, updatable products, rather than ones that are obsolete in a few years.
Ways To Protect Our Air
68. Ask your employer to consider flexible work schedules or telecommuting.
69. Recycle printer cartridges, mobile phones computer discs. If there’s still life in an old computer or mobile phone then consider donating to an organization that could use one. Refurbished desks are another good way to save resources, if decking out a new office.
70. Use a laptop because it drains less energy than a desktop. You can also make sure to buy one of the newer Energy Star computers.
71. Put your PC into ‘sleep’ mode when you’re away from your desk in order to reduce energy use to 5% of full power. Don’t forget to switch it off at night too.
72. Use an energy strip.
73. Report smoking vehicles to your local air agency.
74. Don’t use your wood stove or fireplace when air quality is poor.
75. Avoid slow-burning, smouldering fires. They produce the largest amount of pollution.
76. Burn seasoned wood – it burns cleaner than green wood.
77. Use solar power for home and water heating.
78. Use low-VOC or water-based paints, stains, finishes and paint strippers. Make your own paint.
79. Purchase radial tires and keep them properly inflated for your vehicle.
80. Paint with brushes or rollers instead of using spray paints to minimize harmful emissions.
81. Ignite charcoal barbecues with an electric probe or other alternative to lighter fluid.
82. If you use a wood stove, use one sold after 1990. They are required to meet federal emissions standards and are more efficient and cleaner burning.
83. Walk or ride your bike instead of driving, whenever possible.
84. Join a carpool or vanpool to get to work. While you’re at it, Elon Musk and Tesla Motors have come out with a green SUV, which would be great to carpool in, as well as keep our air clean.
85. Check and fix any water leaks.
86. Install water-saving devices on your faucets and toilets. Buy and install a rainwater tank. Use water-efficient fixtures in the home, office and landscaping that minimizes water use. The 100 gallons a day that we each use in our homes can easily be cut by a third to a half by substituting efficient conveyances – in the form of well-designed fixtures, showerheads, toilets, and aerator. Power showers can use more water than a bath. By switching to an aerated shower head that mixes air into the flow, you keep the pressure high but reduce water use.
87. Wash and dry only full loads of laundry and dishes. Reuse the water from the washing machine to water the grass or wash the car (make sure you use biodegradable soap / detergent).
88. Follow your community’s water use restrictions or guidelines.
89. Don’t wash dishes with the water running continuously. Choose the dishwasher over hand-washing dirty dishes. By some estimates it could save your household 8,000 litres of water a year! Modern dishwashers use about 16L to clean 12 place settings, however, it can take 20L to wash up twice a day. Only use the dishwasher when it’s full, don’t rinse the dishes; and turn it off before the drying cycle and open the door to air-dry instead.
90. Replace old toilets with new ones that use a lot less water, only flush when necessary.
91. Turn off washing machine’s water supply to prevent leaks.
92. Collect water in a bucket while you wait for your shower to warm up. The water you save can go to your plants or other household chores. In addition to the shower bucket, pour any leftover water (from glasses, teapots, anything) into a watering can to use on houseplants, or if it is filtered water, reuse in your pet’s water bowl.
Ways to Protect Our Water
93. Revegetate or mulch disturbed soil as soon as possible.
94. Never dump anything down a storm drain.
95. Have your septic tank pumped and system inspected regularly.
96. Check your car for oil or other leaks, and recycle motor oil.
97. Take your car to a eco car wash instead of washing it in the driveway.
98. Learn about your watershed.
Create Less Trash
99. Buy organic items in bulk from loose bins when possible to reduce the packaging wasted. Natural packaging (like banana skins) is always better than plastic. Still a quarter of our food ends up in landfill. So buy only what you need.
100. Spending a bit more for organic produce at the local farmers’ market is worth it since it tastes better, provides more nutrients and isn’t covered in poisonous pesticides. By growing some of your own produce you will create less trash and enjoy the flavour of homegrown.
101. Eat before you shop for food. Studies show that this helps trim the amount you buy.
102. Don’t buy bottled water. Bottled water produces up to 1.5 million tons of plastic waste per year. According to Food and Water Watch, that plastic requires up to 47 million gallons of oil per year to produce. And while the plastic used to bottle beverages is of high quality and in demand by recyclers, over 80 percent of plastic bottles are simply thrown away. This represents a great risk to marine life, killing birds and fish which mistake our garbage for food.
103. Avoid products with several layers of packaging when only one is sufficient. About 33 per cent of what we throw away is packaging. While some packaging is clearly used as protection, some is nothing other than wasteful. Let manufacturers know you disapprove of excess packaging by writing to them. As companies vie for the green consumer’s spending money, in some countries there are labelling schemes to help evaluate claims such as ‘recyclable’ or ‘made from recycled materials’.
104. Buy products that you can reuse. Go for Waste-free lunches with reusable drink bottles and lunch containers.
105. Buy Quality items and maintain and repair durable products instead of buying new ones.
106. Check reports for products that are easily repaired and have low breakdown rates.
107. Reuse items like bags and containers when possible
108. Use cloth napkins instead of paper ones. Use hand towels and dish towels instead of paper towels.
109. Use reusable plates and utensils instead of disposable ones.
110. Use reusable containers to store food instead of aluminium foil and cling wrap.
111. Shop with a re-usable DIY eco-friendly bag instead of using paper and plastic bags.
112. Buy rechargeable batteries for devices used frequently.
113. Reuse packaging cartons and shipping materials. Old newspapers make great packaging material.
114.Compost your vegetable scraps.
115. Buy used furniture and clothing – there is a surplus of it. Some people find charity shops liberating and exciting places to dig for treasure – others have a horror of being seen wearing hand-me-downs. Making “green” choices when you shop can have far-reaching benefits.
116. Buy less stuff. Wait at least 24 hours before you decide to buy.
117. Sign up for the online edition of your favourite newspapers. Cancelling home newspaper delivery is a super fast green step you can take. It only takes a minute, but you’ll save an important resource – trees. Over 35% of the trees used each year, are being used to produce newspapers.
118. Organise a ‘give or take’ day where you bring items you don’t want anymore and pick up some things you do for free.
119. Experience Nature together! Get out into nature with family and friends to explore the world that requires protecting. Go outside and just enjoy – whether it is taking a walk, stopping to smell the flowers, or sipping on an organic wine or latte at the local, just really take a moment to slow down and look at the world around you. Volunteer activities, like planting trees or cleaning up the beaches.
- 120. Share + Spread the Word! If you take public transit, compost your scraps, or buy organic, tell people why!
- If people show an interest, or be sneaky by casually bringing up the environment in daily conversation and try leaving eco-themed reading material in convenient places to help them get started!
- Help organize going green workshops, or discussion groups.
- Ask your local council about setting up eco-initiatives like a community vegetable garden, bike sharing or swap events.
121. Encourage others. Can’t win them over with a planet-saving message? How about the green they will save by going green? After all, shopping wisely and being energy and water efficient is cost effective + Green!
- In terms of the beleaguered state of the environment, time is only going to lead to further deterioration unless we all band together and make some significant – and immediate – changes to our behaviour.
- Fortunately, this is very easy to do with the above 121 quick checks that everyone can do with the minimum of fuss.
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