10 Easy Ways to Go Green

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Green Light

Going green needn't require a lot of time, energy or money on your part. You actually can save a bit of money and conserve our natural resources by starting with these small changes.

Change your traditional light bulbs to compact fluorescent bulbs. Though they cost a bit more up front than traditional bulbs, they last longer and are more energy efficient, thus saving you money in the long run. Each bulb can save you approximately $30 over the course of its lifetime and saves 2,000 times its weight in greenhouse gases.

Stop junk mail!

Junk mail just adds more waste to our landfills. Register for a "mail preference system" and decrease your mail by up to 75%. (Cancel a couple of magazine subscriptions, and you'll also save $40 a year, too!) When stores ask for your telephone number, don't give it to them. They use your number to find your address—and send you junk mail!

Inflate Your Tires

Your car runs its best when the tires are properly inflated. With gas prices rising each week, every bit helps. Making sure your tires have the optimum pressure can improve your gas mileage and reduce pollution. (Hint: Check your tires before you leave home, when they're cool. You'll get a more accurate reading.)

Bring Your Own Bags

It seems like every store is peddling reusable bags these days. Plastic is passé, and paper is on its way out, too. These days, cloth or recycled plastic bags are all the rage. Not only are they sturdier (no more broken eggs), but they're good for the Earth. Round up all the tote bags you've gotten at conferences and events over the years. Keep them in the trunk so you'll have no excuse to not use them. (Bonus: Many supermarkets refund a nickel or dime for each bag you bring.)

Natural Clean

Household cleaning products often contain chemicals that can harm your health and the environment. Vinegar, baking soda and even salt can be used to clean house, and there are now plenty of natural cleansers, soaps, and detergents on store shelves. Sleep well knowing your home is clean—and the waterways aren't being harmed in the process.

Keep it Cool

Wash your clothes in cold water. Laundry detergent works just as well in cold water, and you'll save money on energy. (And you'll cut up to 500 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions each year!) Rinse dishes in cold water, too, and only run the dishwasher when it's completely full. (While you're at it: Hang your clothes to dry. Get a rack for the laundry room or string up a line in your yard. They clothes will smell incredibly fresh and dry in no time on a summer day. Just watch the forecast for rain!)

Buy Local

Buying produce that was grown in your area has plenty of benefits. In addition to supporting local farmers and stores, buying local means that your food didn't have to travel as far, thus reducing the fuel used to get it from the field to your table. Shop at a farmers market, or ask the produce manager at your supermarket if they can carry local fruits and vegetables. (Save even more money by finding a pick-it-yourself farm, where prices are lower because you're doing all the work.)

Plant an Organic Garden

Worried about how far your food has traveled? There's an easy solution: Grow it yourself! Whether you're an apartment dweller with a tiny fire escape or a suburbanite with a sprawling back yard, you can grow some of your own food. Plant tomatoes, peppers and even strawberries in pots on the patio, grow a mini herb garden on a windowsill, or plant onions, potatoes and carrots in the yard. Feeling incredibly ambitious? Replace your flower beds with lettuce patches, and plant berry bushes and fruit trees if your climate permits. (Bonus: Gardening is a great way to burn some calories!)

Turn it Down

We wait all year for summer to bring warm weather, then we immediately crank the air conditioning and start freezing. During summer, it's OK to sweat a little. Turn the thermostat up a couple of degrees (keep it at 76 instead of 72 for example) to save at least 5 percent on your energy bill. During the winter, turn the thermostat down a couple of degrees. Pile on another blanket or put on slippers or a sweater to keep warm.

Unplug It

Look around your any room in your house. How many appliances are plugged in but not in use? The microwave, the TV and DVD players, the stereo, your son's computer, a couple of cell phone chargers, the toaster oven, the coffee pot, the coffee grinder, three lamps… the list goes on. Even though you're not using those appliances, they're still using electricity, even when "off." Use a power strip for electronics (including your computer and printer), and get in the habit of unplugging appliances after using them.

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Member Comments on this Slideshow

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BONIFIANT

4/23/2015 11:41:41 AM

BONIFIANT's SparkPage
I make my own laundry soap using ivory bar soap, washing soda, and borax. It works fabulously. I also make my own prewash spray. When my family was keeping dairy goats, we found that these products were the best for getting mud and stink out of work clothes.

REDBORN

4/22/2015 8:00:35 PM

Composting a good way to get fertilizer for plants. I also love looking for good used furniture.

ANON76

4/22/2015 3:59:44 PM

ANON76's SparkPage
Thinkflowers brought up a very good point on the animal issue, though I agree for different reasons. A diet eating animals and their excretions can be just as healthy as a vegan diet. No reason AT ALL it cant be every bit as healthy. However, with our current world population being so high, folks need to stepback and realize that for every person to eat, it requires so mch acreage for growing food, AND extra acreage for the animals they eat to graze. That's why my family lives on five acres, and why we raise our own animals. We have control over what they eat, how they are treated, and how quickly and humanely they are killed. Too many people on this planet is our biggest crisis facing society today. It even tops obesity.

ANON76

4/22/2015 3:44:02 PM

ANON76's SparkPage
To thinlflowers: I'm not antimeat by any stretch, but you have a point on some factors

CLAYMACT

4/22/2015 2:28:10 PM

CLAYMACT's SparkPage
Some of these suggestions aren't necessarily accurate.

We are trying to go back to incandescent bulbs, because the compact fluorescent ones do cost more, but don't last that much longer to justify the savings on electricity. I'm a bit of a geek and I've done the numbers. They don't last nearly as long as they say. I put dates on the bulbs. Also, when they break - and they do - the mercury vapor is deadly. That is not "green."

Unplugging everything is not always beneficial, either. When unplugging the printer, for instance, it uses ink every time it gets turned on. It also uses paper, printing a test sheet. We try to recycle used paper, but the ink is still used. It uses more starting up than it does in its ink cycling, being left on. That's not green, either.

NOLAHORSERIDER

4/22/2015 12:46:20 PM

NOLAHORSERIDER's SparkPage
I have been making my own laundry soap AND using vinegar, lemon juice and baking soda, clean my sinks and toilets. I mop my floors with a mixture of vinegar and water. I use vinegar for softer in the washer too!

THINKFLOWERS

4/22/2015 9:56:39 AM

THINKFLOWERS's SparkPage
The biggest impact that we can make on our own health and the health of the planet is to move to a vegan, plant based diet. By slowly (or overnight if we are really motivate to create change) giving up eating one animal at a time, then giving up their secretions, milk, eggs and the foods made with them like butter, ice creams, etc. we can make a an enormous impact on our health and at the same time stop contributing to the immense cruelty that happens daily to the animals that are breed for the only purpose of being killed for our food system.

NORASPAT

3/26/2015 10:59:22 PM

NORASPAT's SparkPage
The link to the junk mail is not working alas. I will have to find it some place else. I never knew it could be stopped.

NELLIEC

3/26/2015 1:04:57 PM

NELLIEC's SparkPage
The link for registering for a mail preference system didn't work.

DANMOFFETT

3/26/2015 7:52:23 AM

Unless an appliance has a clock, or memory, feature it isn't using any electricity at all if not turned on! And lamps? Really? When a lamp is not turned on it also uses nothing! It's a simple on/off circuit! And cell phone chargers. Unless your cell phone is plugged into it, the circuit is not complete. The circuit needs to be complete for electricity to flow!

DANMOFFETT

3/26/2015 7:44:10 AM

Can not call compact fluorescent bulbs "green" when they contain toxic mercury!

RLKARMAN

3/25/2015 11:09:03 PM

RLKARMAN's SparkPage
The last I looked, the 'green' bulbs contain mercury. So even though switching to these bulbs might save energy, they are not helping our environment when disposing them

SOULCOLLAGESUE

3/25/2015 9:55:07 PM

SOULCOLLAGESUE's SparkPage
Excellent suggestions! I can add more to our green home. Thank you (and hi teammate Hannah_Calm :D).

HANNAH_CALM

3/25/2015 5:37:47 PM

HANNAH_CALM's SparkPage
We went green by unplugging my cousin. He was using our electricity and not paying any money for it. It made me mad that he wasn't paying his fair share, but he was earning money for fixing people's computers with our electricity. But now he's gone, yay!

JOSHUAWITHAM

3/25/2015 3:10:31 PM

this has been working for me for years and I have money for other things because of it I turn my thermostat to 65 in the winter months an and 76- 80 in the Summer months and open the doors an windows to let fresh air come in, and ware warm clothes and pile the blankets on during the winter and it has been good. oh and my house plants love it.

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