Yesterday was the 40th anniversary of the founding of Earth Day, and to celebrate, we asked you to share your favorite green living tips. Your response was overwhelming — thanks for sharing all the great ideas!
So, as promised, here is a list of 40 (naturally) of your favorite ways to work off your Earth Day hangover by living greener the other 364 days of the year:
- Compost, Compost, Compost. Overwhelmingly, fans seemed in agreement that composting is a great way to green your life (and your garden!). Some readers suggested using worms for composting…and you’re in luck! We just recorded an interview about worm composting that we’ll share on a future episode of our podcast (subscribe in iTunes).
- Start a Garden. Looking for local, organic food? What’s more local than your local community garden, or, even better, your own backyard? Thanks Linda Brunner and Lynn Kalita Hausch for this tip.
- Reusable Grocery Bags. Several fans suggested this, and we wholeheartedly agree. Apart from keeping plastic bags out of the landfill and reducing our reliance on petroleum, it also helps reduce the annoyance of plastic grocery bags around the house. If you do you have a stash of plastic grocery bags in the house, at least find ways to reuse them. Lisa Clarke-Lewis recommends using them as trash bags and to stuff purses and winter boots.
- Reusable PRODUCE Bags. Carissa left a comment saying: “I bring my own fabric produce bags to the grocery store and farmers market. I found mine on etsy, but there are a lot of places to get them now.” If you’re ready to take your plastic bag reduction to the next level, this is a great way to do it!
- Recycle. Everything you can.
- Including Paper Towel Rolls. Thanks April Goff Smithson! Recycle your toilet paper rolls, too! April just informed us she went even further: “I recycled my PLASTIC paper towel holder. As of yesterday, we have gone TOTALLY PAPER TOWEL-LESS!!!”
- Use cloth…Everything. Convert to cloth napkins and rags instead of disposable napkins and paper towels. And if you have to use disposable paper products, like toilet paper, there are “green” brands that offer more environmental products.
- Including Cloth Diapers. And for the eco-conscious with young children, Jacob Kipfer suggests using good old fashioned cloth diapers.
- “If its yellow, let it mellow. If it’s brown, flush it down” You get the idea. Thanks Darren Benford.
- Breastfeed. “A breastfed baby is not reliant on formula, nor it’s packaging,” says Candace L.
- Make Your Own Household Cleaners: Several readers suggested using homemade concoctions for household cleaners and detergents. Lisa Beth Lindstrom Wilder says “Vinegar and baking soda are both great and environmentally friendly!”
- And Your Own Body Cleansers, Too. Other readers suggested making your own shampoo or body wash. Karen Regan Wylie makes body soap out of epsom salts, apple cider vinegar, olive oil and sugar. If you can let go of the sweetly scented body washes, shampoos and household cleaners (they give a false sense of cleanliness, anyway), this is definitely a way to save money, reduce waste and avoid toxic materials found in some cleaners.
- Consume Less Meat. One of our Facebook fans Donna Burris wrote in with this tip. This is often debated, but eating lower on the food chain is generally considered to be more sustainable. for more on the issue, check out this blog post: The Great Sustainability Debate: Meat or No Meat?
- “Teach your KIDS to love and respect the earth. Good habits start now,” says Eileen Sarett-Cuasay. The best way to perpetuate environmentalism, is indeed to start teaching your kids to make environmentally friendly choices at an early age. But, considering the young generation is a major source of excitement for the green movement, the NY Times teaches kids: How To Green Your Parents.
- Become a Diva: This may be lost on our male readers, but women can reduce the amount of trash created by tampons (the package, the applicator, the tampon itself) and switch to the Diva cup ! It will reduce your monthly expenses, too. Health food stores and organic grocery stores usually sell this product, if not, you can order it online at Divacup.com. (a great tip for women from Missy Stillings)
- Use Reusable Water Bottles. Keep plastic water bottles out of the landfill and work to keep soft-drink companies from depriving local communities of their water supply. Buy a bottle, fill it with tap water (If you’re wary of tap water, buy a filter!). For more on the bottled water debate: The Bottled Water Industry: Buy The Bottle Or Trifle With Tap?
- Reuse Food Containers. Buying packaged food is almost unavoidable, but making waste out of all of the containers isn’t. Morel Stackhouse recommends reusing old food containers to store food and carry out leftovers from restaurants.
- Buy In Bulk. Another great way to reduce the amount of packing you consume (it’s usually a lot cheaper too!). Thanks, David
- Pack Your Lunch. “Saves you money and the environment. You also know what’s in your food,” says Erin Eberhardt. She also recommends making your own sandwich wrapper or snack bag using scrap fabric (like an old, clean sheet). Re-purposing keeps trash out of the landfills and also saves money.
- Make Your Own Junk Food. Or any food, for that matter. But, as Daniel Green suggests, skip buying junk food from the grocery store that creates waste and unhealthy bodies. Make your own cookies, potato chips and fries.
- Organize Your Errands and Outings. DeeAnn Forrest mentioned that she organizes all of her errands and outings for one particular day of the week, including trips to the grocery store, to save time and gas.
- And, Ideally, Use Public Transportation. And if you live in a place where public transportation isn’t very good, ask your local government why not. Thanks Cary Cuevas Fardal.
- Or…Ride Your Bike! The environmental benefits are clear: reduce auto emissions and our dependence on petroleum products. The physical benefits are clear, too. Enjoy a stronger, healthier body when you switch from a car to a bike. Thanks to Marisa Vines Gray for this one.
- Wash Clothes In Cold Water. It takes energy to heat up the water. Save your energy bill and save the planet at the same time. Thanks, Cookie Cinquemano.
- And Hang Your Clothes Out To Dry. Robert Louis Osborn and Teresa Kelly wrote in with this one. Hanging your clothes out to dry is less abrasive for your clothes (so you have to replace them less often) and also saves on costly electric bills.
- Share More! Living communally not only builds community but reduces consumption. Thanks Nicole Celaya for the great tip.
- Switch From Plastic to Biodegradable Coffee Stirrers. Tom Winter suggests switching from plastic coffee stirrers to wood ones, and if you work in an office, encourage your employer to do so. This is a simple way to help the environment by thinking about the what everyday products are made of and their environmental impact.
- And Give Up Disposable Coffee Cups. If you really NEED that daily latte, at least bring your own travel mug instead of taking a paper one each day. Thanks, lorakolodny.
- Eat What’s In Season. Whenever possible. If your food is not in season locally, you’re not supporting local farmers and the environment pays the price for shipping fresh produce from wherever it was grown.
- Shop at Farmer’s Markets. Know your food, know your farmer. It’s the next best thing to growing your own, and you support your local community and economy as well. Maria LeMay Erlandson and Tanya LaMothe wrote in with this tip.
- Join A CSA. A great way to reduce your food miles and support local farmers. Even better, encourage local food service providers to buy multiple shares. Thanks Daniel Green!
- Become A Locavore. “You’ll save much more than just your local economy by eating what grows near you,” says Murdoc.
- Think Before You Buy. suggests Ritamayi. You’ll consume less if you stop and consider whether you really need to buy all of the items on your shopping list, helps you save money too by avoiding impulse buying.
- Go Organic. Less pesticides, less herbicides, better for the planet. Cary Cuevas Fardal writes, “Walk or ride my bike to the local New Season’s grocery store to buy local and organic foods!”
- Learn To Preserve The Harvest. “Growing your own food, or going to u-pick farms in your local community, and then using that through to the next harvest supports local farms, lets you eat organically (by controlling what goes on your garden) and allows for more healthful eating.” says Tracey Wilson. Need help? Earth Eats has you covered.
- Turn out lights during the day. Turn down thermostat at night. Thanks Emily H!
- Educate yourself. Jeri’s best tip for going green is to read about all the ways you can help the environment.
- Sign up for Electronic Bank Statements and E-bills: A great way to avoid wasting paper. Thanks for the tip Elaine!
- Count Your Trash Bags: Aaron Clanke says that his family is down to one trash bag a week. How many trash bags do you produce a week? It’s a good indicator of whether you are over-consuming.
And finally (I know this is the one you’ve been waiting for) a signed copy of Michael Pollan’s “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” goes to Justin Huhn, who writes:
Let go of whatever society-induced guilt you might be carrying for turning on the lights or driving your car. do what you can to educate yourself on ways of simplifying your life to the extent that this culture allows. if you have knowledge, share it! grow as much food and medicine as you can, and teach those who want to learn.
Congratulations Justin! and thanks again everyone for all the great tips. If you try any of these out, let us know! Leave a comment and tell us what you’re doing to make this year the greenest yet!