Everyone seems to be going green these days, and everyone seems to have an opinion on what you need to do to help the environment. We’ve saved you the time of sifting through all the suggestions on how to get started going green, and put together this handy list of 10 easy steps you can take today to get on the road to eco living.
Image credit: flaivoloka at sxc.hu.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: You Knew These Would Be the First Three!
This first step really is the one with the greatest impact. Make thinking of ways to reduce consumption a part of your everyday activities. The concept of "reduce" applies to many aspects of going green (reducing energy consumption, reducing deforestation, reducing water waste, for example), but one major place to think of "reduce" is when shopping. Think of whether you really want or need an item, or whether it might make more sense to borrow from someone else. Buy quality over quantity to reduce the cycle of disposing of cheap items. Just that one question – "Do I really need this?" – is just about the biggest step you can take towards going green.
Find new uses for items rather than throwing them away. Donate things you don’t wear or use anymore to charity. Repurpose old items for new uses.
You know how this goes. Also keep in mind that things like old tires, computer equipment, paint, and light bulbs, can and should be recycled. To find out how to recycle odd items, contact your local household hazardous waste authority.
Replacing incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescents (CFLs) instantly and drastically reduces energy consumption.
Your computer uses a lot of energy just to stay on and running. Turning off the computer when you aren’t using it, or even using Energy Saver settings to shut off the monitor and power down the hard drive, is an easy going green step that has a big impact.
6. The thermostat.
You know this one. It’s still true: turning down the thermostat in winter and up in summer, even by 1 or 2 degrees, will save not only a lot of energy, but money too.
Wash full loads, and wash in cold water. Today’s laundry detergents work just as well in cold water as hot. Using cold water saves the energy that would have gone to heat the water.
Carpool, even if it’s only occasionally. If carpooling to work is impractical, coordinate errands and shopping trips with friends and plan to go together. Take public transit when feasible. Bike or walk rather than drive in nice weather. Even sharing 1 car trip a week or replacing 1 car trip with public transit or a bike ride has a big positive impact.
9. Junk mail.
Cut out unsolicited mail and save some of the 100 million trees used to send junk mail every year. One way to get rid of most junk mail is by registering with the Direct Marketing Association’s Mail Preference Service (LINK)
Do some food shopping at farmer’s markets. Cut back on pop, fast food, and processed food. These steps help support local food economies and local farmers. Buying and eating real food takes you out of the loop of several negative food-production practices as well.
Just try one of these "how to get started going green" tips at a time if it seems overwhelming. Remember, it’s not about being perfect or being the greenest. It’s about taking our own personal little steps towards saving energy and the environment. Share some of your own tips in the comments and let us know how you go green.
This post is part of the series: Start Going Green Today
- How to Get Started Going Green
- Cheap and Easy Ways to Start Going Green
- How to Go Green in Your Home