Install compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) when the older incandescent bulbs burn out; they use less energy and last ten times longer.
Wash clothes in cold water whenever possible. As much as 85 percent of the energy used to machine-wash clothes goes to heating the water.
Install a low-flow showerhead. They don't cost much, and the water and energy savings can quickly pay back your investment.
Bring a reusable water bottle, preferably stainless steel or aluminum rather than plastic, with you when traveling or at work.
Wear clothes that don't need to be dry-cleaned. This saves money and cuts down on toxic chemical use.
Use cloth napkins, rags and hand towels that can be washed and reused rather than using disposable napkins and paper towels.
When buying, select products (cleaners, shampoos, detergents, etc.) made from plant-based materials, such as oils made from citrus, seed, vegetable or pine. By doing so, you are selecting products that are biodegradable and generally less toxic. These products also provide the additional benefit of being made from renewable resources. Ask for plant-based products at your local grocery or retail store.
Seek out locally grown food; farmers' markets and co-ops are good options. The average produce travels 1500 miles from farm to market, so buying locally cuts down on fuel and emissions from transporting the food and it supports local farms.
Use a backyard compost bin to compost food scraps and yard waste. Not only will you decrease the amount of garbage thrown into landfills or incinerated, but the end result will be nutrient rich dirt that can be applied as a soil amendment or mulch to gardens and lawns.
When mowing the lawn, keep it to a minimum height of 2.5 – 3". This will encourage deeper root systems, better absorption of moisture and nutrients, and better stress tolerance during heat and dry conditions. This will allow you to water and fertilize less.
Consider using a rain barrel, system that collects and stores rain water. Connect the downspouts directly into the barrel and use what would otherwise be storm water runoff to water the lawn and garden during dry periods.
When shopping, bring a reusable bag along instead of using new paper or plastic bags from the stores. Some retail locations even offer a discount on your bill when you use a reusable tote.
Buy in bulk when possible to cut down on packaging waste; 30% of residential trash is packaging. Items like grains, pasta, cereals, coffee, spices and snacks are often available in bulk at the grocery store.
Remember that recycling can happen throughout the home, including in the bathroom. Toilet paper rolls, toothpaste and soap boxes, medicine boxes, toiletries/cosmetic boxes, shampoo/conditioner and body wash bottles can all be recycled.
Use green cleaners at home and at work to avoid toxic chemicals and save money. You can make a simple one with dish soap, white vinegar and borax that makes a great multipurpose cleaner. Baking soda also works well to clean sinks, tubs and toilets, and it leaves drains fresh.
Make sure litter, leaves and other yard waste stays out of the street and out of storm sewer drains. These drains go directly into lakes and rivers, causing pollution. Excessive leaves and other organic material decompose and lower the oxygen available for aquatic life.