Simple ways to clean up your act

By Published On: February 1st, 2011

Saving the planet doesn’t have to be an all or […]

Saving the planet doesn’t have to be an all or nothing venture. There are dozens of small changes you can integrate into your daily routine that will leave you feeling like being good to Mother Nature has finally become second nature.
Watch your water
From gestational guzzling to baby bathing, there’s no question about it: Water plays a major role in your life. Maximize your conservation capabilities by keeping these H2O-saving suggestions in mind.

  • Turn off the faucet while brushing your teeth. This change alone can save hundreds of gallons of water a month!
  • Take a 5-minute shower. We’re all guilty of loitering while we loofah from time to time, but speedier suds sessions can really save on water (and money!). Use a timer to remind yourself to get clean quickly.
  • Water indoor plants with rainwater. You know those empty pots you’ve been meaning to plant something in? Put them to use by leaving them outside to fill with precipitation, then use the collected water to give your living room ficus a nice long drink.
  • Skip the predishwasher plate rinse. Save both water and time—the ultimate win-win situation!
  • Replace your showerhead. Typically less than $50, low-flow showerheads are great water-savers. Pick one up at your local hardware store and install it yourself, like the do-it-yourself do-gooder you are.

Create something from nothing
Growing your own food may seem like a daunting task, especially if you don’t have much of a green thumb. But even with opposing digits black as night, you can be successful at harvesting your own herbs. Not only are herbs low-maintenance, they also take up almost no space (so apartment-dwellers can have homegrown basil in their spaghetti sauce too!). Once you have herbs down, consider branching out to other easy-to-grow foods, such as tomatoes. A small garden can reap incredible benefits for your health, your wallet and your planet.
After you’ve grown it and enjoyed it, consider composting it. There are hundreds of resources available in books and on the web about creating your own compost. Some systems involve nothing more than a plastic garbage can, a wooden crate and a few screws. After you’ve begun turning your food scraps into soil, you’ll have an endless supply of rich nutrients for your newly planted garden.
Simple switches
To keep your goals manageable, focus on one or two changes at a time until they become established parts of your routine, and then slowly add more. Here are a few to try:

  • Incandescent lightbulbs … to compact fluorescent bulbs
  • Paper towels … to tea towels
  • Paper checks … to online bill pay
  • Electric dryer … to clothesline
  • Plastic bags … to reusable bags
  • Regular batteries … to rechargeable batteries
  • Disposable diapers … to cloth diapers

Links to greener living
If you need more motivation, it’s just a mouse-click away.
Find a carpool buddy from your area to share your commute. You can save gas, reduce wear and tear on your car, and lower your stress levels in one fell swoop.
Ever wonder just what’s in that foundation you slather on your face each day? Search this cosmetic safety database to see which of your beauty products get the green light.
Local, sustainable eating is closer than you might expect. Enter your zip code at this site to find local farms, Community Supported Agriculture (CSAs), grocery co-ops, farmer’s markets and more.
Waste: Before you lob it, look it up! Earth 911 contains a comprehensive list of all the materials (and all the nearby places) you can recycle.
Looking to decrease the overall environmental impact of your home and daily life? Visit the Low Impact Living website and use their Impact Calculator to see how you rank next to typical homes in your region. Then use their Review Green Home and Lifestyle Project resources to set goals toward decreasing your number.
The average person gets over 41 pounds of paper junk mail delivered to her house per year. Catalog Choice can help you reduce unwanted mail and save natural resources for free.
Available in 54 U.S. cities, Freepeats is an online baby, kid and maternity gear swap site. Registration is free and gives you access to local lists to post to and browse for free gently used baby and maternity stuff.