Home & Garden  | March 1, 2014

10 Ways To Go Green

Each of us leaves a carbon footprint on the earth — the measure of greenhouse gases that we’re responsible for creating. In fact, the Encyclopedia of Earth estimates that North Americans produce about 20 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent each year, compared to four tons per person for the planet as a whole.

 

It’s not that we set out to create it. We can’t help it. In fact, many of the things we do in normal day-to-day living create greenhouse gases through things such as heating and cooling our homes, transportation, waste production, recycling practices, and even diet.

 

While we can’t help the fact that we leave a footprint, we can work to minimize its size. Here are 10 ways you can do your part to go green.

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It’s in the (canvas) bag

How many times have you been asked if you prefer paper or plastic when you check out at the grocery store? Your answer can be “neither” when you bring your own canvas bag. You’ll have a reusable resource that is stronger than plastic or paper, reducing demand for new bag production and fewer “stray” bags cluttering the environment.

 

Cleaning can be green

Many of the cleaning products sold and used today are filled with chemicals damaging to the environment. You can buck the trend by using non-toxic cleaning materials such as banking soda, vinegar, soap and lemon.

Unplug electronics from the trash

Every electronic device that hits the trash also hits the environment with harmful chemicals and pollutants. Take advantage of local collection centers to properly dispose of discarded electronics.

 

Dispose of disposable water bottles

Travel any road in America and you’re likely to find a discarded water bottle. Do your part by using a glass or permanent water bottle whenever possible.

Recycle for results

It doesn’t take long to make a difference while you make recycling a habit at your home. Keep a box or bin handy in a high-traffic area of your home (such as the kitchen) where you can deposit all of those empty cereal boxes, discarded paper, metal cans and more that can be recycled.

 

Power down

It takes natural resources to produce the electricity that powers all of your homes appliances. You can cut the amount you use — and waste — by turning appliances off and unplugging them while you’re away.

Cloth over paper

Do you use paper towels when you dry your hands? If you do, you’re putting a lot of excess paper into the garbage that, in turn, clutters the environment. Instead, consider using a hand towel.

 

Here comes the sunlight

Light at the flick of a switch is a reflex luxury. Next time you’re entering a room on a sunny day and find yourself reaching to turn on the light, reach for the drapes to open the view to more environmentally friendly light.

Do fewer (but bigger) loads

The gallons of water and electricity (or gas) you use to wash and dry each load of laundry can really add up. One way to conserve resources and reduce environmental impact is by doing fewer loads of laundry and waiting until you have a full load before you “start the wash.”

 

Change your landscape

Many of us use landscaping aids that can actually pollute the environment in the long run — like landscaping fabric and rubber liners that fight weeds and produce barriers between the flower bed and the yard. Instead, use rock for borders and naturally based herbicides and pesticides.

How big is your carbon footprint?

 

Find out now at the Nature Conservancy's carbon footprint calculator.

Credits // Author: Dave Danielson

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