Ten Ways You're Already Going Green
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Earth Angel1 of 11
By Natasha Burton
While we'd certainly like to become more eco-friendly, we don't always have the time—or the money—to completely "go green." But instead of feeling guilty for not composting, driving a hybrid or being up on the latest vegan fashions, we're giving ourselves a big pat on the back. And you should too! Read on to find out ten easy peasy eco-friendly habits that you may already be doing.
Nuke It2 of 11
If you ever microwave your dinner instead of whipping something up from scratch, then you're not lazy; you're saving the environment! Zapping your dish shortens cooking time and saves operating costs, allowing you to conserve energy and avoid overheating your house—which is especially important come summer months, when many of us start cranking up the AC.
Jean Theory3 of 11
If you re-wear your favorite jeans a second or third (or, OK, fourth) time before washing them, then you're not dirty—you’re eco-savvy! According to jean manufacturer Levi Strauss, you can reduce your energy use by 40 percent and your water use by 35 if you wash your jeans once a month instead of once a week. Just be sure to do the sniff test first.
Shower Power4 of 11
If you prefer showering to rub-a-dub-dubbing in your tub, then you're using 50 percent less water than your bath-taking counterparts. To be a go-green overachiever, try to shorten your shower time by just 12 seconds: According to Wire&Twine, if everyone in the country did this, then we would collectively conserve twice the amount of freshwater taken from the Great Lakes each day.
Paper Trail5 of 11
According to a 2007 study performed by Javelin Strategy & Research, we'd save 16.5 million trees each year if every household in the U.S. switched to paperless bills. So, if you receive your bank statements, electricity bills or other monthly notices via email, then you're already contributing to cutting back on our carbon footprint. (If not, then it's super easy to sign up, as most banks and utilities companies feature the option in bold letters on their homepages.)
Slam Junk6 of 11
On a similar note, if you've signed up to stop receiving junk mail, then you're not just avoiding the annoyance of an overcrowded mailbox—you're also doing Mother Earth a favor: Over 100 million trees are cut down each year to manufacture these often-discarded fliers. (If you haven't opted out but want to, then see this site to help you get started. You can also pick and choose the catalogs you want to receive here.)
Green Thumbs-Up7 of 11
If you've done any landscaping in your backyard by putting in trees and other plant life, then you're both adding value to your house and minimizing the effects of global warming (trees in particular trap CO2 emissions). Shade from tall plants and trees can also cool down your home, reducing energy costs.
Grin & Bag It8 of 11
If you ever bring those handy reusable bags with you to go food shopping, then you're reducing waste in a major way. Roughly 4 billion plastic bags—like the kind used for groceries—end up in our landfills each year, and while these bags can be recycled, less than 3 percent of them actually are. (Some cities, like Santa Monica, Calif., have banned plastic bags in grocery stores, making bringing your own a must.)
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Don't Spray It9 of 11
If you use shaving lotions and good old roll-on or stick deodorants rather than aerosol versions, then you're automatically reducing your carbon footprint, according to Scientific American magazine. While aerosol cans no longer have CFCs, which infamously depleted the ozone layer, they may still contain hydrocarbons or compressed gases, both of which are known to cause global warming. Every spurt of a spray bottle contributes to climate change, even if just slightly.
Food For Thought10 of 11
If you visit your local Farmers Market, then you've earned part-time locavore status. According to Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, the average fresh food item travels 1,500 miles to get to your kitchen. If the state of Iowa, for example, grew just 10 percent more produce for local consumption, then this would save between 280,000 and 346,000 gallons of fuel each year. While Farmers Market fare may be pricier than the same items in the grocery store, you can feel good knowing that the farmers you buy from keep about 85 cents for every dollar you spend.
Hitch A Ride11 of 11
If you work with local parents to help shuttle your kids back and forth with a carpool, or if you're simply that friend who always needs (or gives) a ride, then you're doing a heck of a lot of good for the environment. Ride-sharing can reduce pollution and greenhouse gases—not to mention save you some green on gas (which means more money for the Farmers Market)!