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Beginner's Guide to Going Green: 10 Easy Ideas

written by: Lindsay Evans•edited by: Niki Fears•updated: 5/31/2010

Want some easy green ideas? These going green tips will show you how to go green with small changes that make a large impact. Jump on the green bandwagon by following these easy tips.

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    Going green has never been easier. With the green movement gaining momentum and green products widely available, everyone can find small ways to reduce their environmental impact. If you are feeling overwhelmed or think that going green is too much of a hassle, read through these going green tips to help you get started. Even if you choose just a couple tips to follow at first, you will be making a difference.

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    Idea #1 - Bring Your Own Bag

    Nearly every store has reusable shopping bags you can buy for about a dollar a piece. These reusable shopping bags are shaped like brown paper bags and easily hold your groceries or other shopping items. By bringing your own bags to the grocery store, pharmacy, or even the mall you can become part of the solution to the massive amounts of litter created by plastic bags. Store the bags in your car so they will always be ready for your next shopping trip.

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    Idea #2 - Switch Your Light Bulbs

    Don't be afraid to switch to compact florescent light bulbs; the soft light and silence of modern CFLs are indistinguishable from standard incandescent light bulbs. CFLs are available to fit most light fixtures, including dimmers. CFLs that are Energy Star certified last 10 times longer and use 75% less energy than standard bulbs. Recycle CFLs properly, as they include a small amount of mercury.

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    Idea #3 - Combine Errands

    Don't go on an errand run unless you really have to. Combining errand and shopping trips saves gas as well as time and money. Make a list of things you need to do on errand day and plan the quickest route to the places you'll go. Can you run your errands by taking the bus or riding your bike?

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    Idea #4 - Buy in Bulk

    Cut down on excessive packaging by purchasing bulk goods from a natural foods or warehouse store. Don't buy individually wrapped servings of foods you eat regularly, instead buy a bulk amount and package your serving in a reusable container.

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    Idea #5 - Green Clean

    In contrast to the many commercials that insist you need powerful synthetic chemicals to clean your home, using the powers of natural cleaning agents leaves your home truly clean in a safe and natural way. Natural cleaning products harness the power of plant-based surfactants and non-toxic stain removers and deodorizers. Several brands of natural cleaners can be found at most large stores, including BioKleen and Seventh Generation. You can find a wealth of information online on using simple ingredients like baking soda, lemon, hydrogen peroxide and vinegar to clean your home. Start your research by going to

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    Easy Tips to Go GreenLittle changes add up when you decide to green your lifestyle. Here are several things you can do to reduce your environmental impact.
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    Idea #6 - Shop Secondhand

    Reusing items is a no-impact way to get what you need. Opportunities abound to find everything from furniture, clothing, appliances, building materials and more from used sources. Shop at thrift stores and yard sales before you buy something new. Hunt around on Craigslist, Freecycle, or eBay to find great deals and save items from landfills.

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    Idea #7 - Reuse Before You Recycle

    Recycling is a great thing to do, but it takes a substantial amount of energy to turn old products into new ones. Get as much use out of something as you can by reusing it before you recycle it. Use that old pasta sauce jar to store your bulk oats. Cut up that cereal box and let your kid get creative with glue and scissors - then recycle the creation when it's time to get rid of it.

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    Idea #8 - Choose Natural Personal Care

    Due to lack of rigorous standards for safety tests on personal care products, many commonly used beauty and bath products contain chemicals that can accumulate in your body and lead to health issues. Phthalates, parabens, and even VOCs such as formaldehyde are a few chemicals you should steer clear of. Choose a natural brand of shampoo, body wash, and lotion. Take your research one step further by looking up products you normally use on the Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep Database, which gives consumers information on the safety of personal care products.

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    Idea #9 - Ditch Disposables

    Say goodbye to paper napkins, paper plates, paper cups, bottled water, and more. The excessive waste generated by the frequent use of disposable products really adds up! Choose cloth napkins at home and bring your own reusable water and coffee cups to work. If you have a child in diapers, look into the new generation of easy to use cloth diapers on the market today. Even if you just use cloth diapers around the house you will save money and reduce waste.

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    Idea # 10 - Plant a Garden or Join a CSA

    Locally grown produce not only tastes better but helps the environment by reducing the energy needed to transport it to market. Grow your own veggies if you have space for a garden. If not, shop at a farmer's market or join a local community supported agriculture program. Find a local CSA at