Easy Ways to Reduce, Reuse
By Mara Strom
Want to live a greener life, but don't know where to start? It's simple -- practice the three Rs! Reduce, reuse and recycle.
Reduce is the first R because it's the best, most efficient way to help the planet: The less you consume of a particular item, the less natural resources go into producing, transporting and storing that item. Of course, reduce it is also the hardest of the three Rs to practice because it requires us to downsize our cultural belief that newest is nicest and bigger is better.
But don't worry. Reducing consumption doesn't mean you have to lead an aesthetic lifestyle. Simply commit to some or all of these 25 small changes to net big green results.
1. Turn off the water while you brush your teeth or soap up your dinner dishes.
2. Line dry one load of laundry each week. (Or go hog wild and line dry them all!)
3. Read your favorite newspaper or magazine online.
4. Get a library card � and start using it rather than your credit card.
5. Choose energy efficient models of new appliances and cars.
6. Replace your burned out light bulbs with compact fluorescent ones.
7. Re-heel your winter boots rather than buying a new pair. While you're at it, have your watch repaired when it stops ticking and learn some basic sewing skills to mend hems and replace buttons.
8. Invest in some nice cloth napkins and ditch the disposables.
9. Use old washcloths rather than paper towels. Even if you have to buy two new packs of washcloths, you will significantly reduce your paper consumption in just a few weeks.
10. Make your own household cleaners rather than buying store-bought, petroleum-based scrubs and sprays.
11. Download your favorite music from iTunes instead of buying the latest CDs.
12. Purchase perishable items with minimal packaging. Shop the outer aisles of your grocery store for foods that are not only healthier and cheaper, but also significantly less packaging-intensive.
13. Paper or plastic? Neither! Bring cloth bags when you shop. Most large chain stores now discount your bill by a nickel or more per bag.
14. Invest in a set of good rechargeable batteries, so you don't have to constantly buy alkaline disposables.
15. Before you impulse buy, ask yourself: Do I really need this or want it? Can I make-do with something I already have at home?
16. Commit to a no-spend week or even just one day. Doing it once a month will help raise your awareness about your level of consumerism.
17. When you shop, select locally made goods whenever possible. Their net cost to the environment is significantly less in terms of transportation and storage.
18. Turn down your heat in the winter by just a degree or two; when no one is home or everyone is sleeping, lower the thermostat by five or six degrees. Reverse the process in the summer, when you run your air conditioning.
19. Stick to the speed limit. When you drive too fast, you cut into your car's gas mileage by 7-25%.
20. Only run your washing machine when you have a full load. You can further reduce energy consumption by using cold water rather than hot. With proper stain treatment, even your whites will gleam after a cold water wash.
21. Bring your own travel mug to your favorite coffee spot.
22. Buy a reusable water bottle so you can ditch the bottled water habit for good.
23. Opt out of junk mailings and catalogues. Sure you can recycle them, but isn't it better not to have to?
24. Unplug cell phone chargers when not in use and keep your home computer on an energy saving power strip.
25. Cook one meal a week in the crockpot or slow cooker -- it uses considerably less energy than the oven.
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