Cheap Ways to Be Greener Today

Building sustainable practices into your everyday routines improves the health of the planet and the wealth in your wallet. To lighten your carbon footprint and save some green, try these low- or no-cost practices:

Most communities in the United States provide a way to recycle cardboard, newspapers, magazines, paper, glass, plastic, cans, and clothes. (If yours doesn’t, start a recycling program yourself.) All you need are some boxes or bags and the time and the will to get ’er done.

2

Bring your own bags

Instead of accumulating or even recycling the paper or plastic bags that consume untold resources to manufacture, and, in the case of plastic, literally never decompose, carry purchases in your own cloth bags.

3

Turn off the tap

Water is the most precious of natural resources, yet it’s often taken for granted. Turn off the tap while brushing your teeth and lathering your hands or face. Collect the cold water that would otherwise head down the drain while you wait for the water to get hot.

4

Attach low-flow showerheads

Inexpensive and easy to install, a low-flow showerhead can reduce your home water consumption and your energy costs as much as 50 percent without sacrificing water pressure.

5

Make your toilets lower-flow

Fill a two-liter bottle (or a couple of smaller bottles if the big one doesn’t fit) with water and put it in your toilet tank. You'll save two liters of water with every subsequent flush.

6

Wash full loads

Whether you’re running the dishwasher or the clothes washer, wait until you have a full load to make the most of the water and energy expenditure.

7

Dry your clothes outside

Impart a completely natural fresh-air scent to your clothes by drying them on a clothesline. Even Energy Star–rated dryers consume a lot of energy that the sun provides for free.

8

Turn off and unplug

Turn off the lights in empty rooms. Unplug cellphone chargers, coffeemakers, and televisions when they’re not in use. Switch off power strips when you’re not using the computer and appliances they power.

9

Drive less . . . and less

Plan your driving schedule to cut down on the use of your vehicle. If you have to pick up the kids from school, do your shopping on the way there or back. Join a carpool. Ride the bus. Cycle. Walk.

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