54 Ways to Save the Planet: At Home

Little things you can do at home that make big impacts on the environment.

Ride your bike or walk Money Saver!

When you don't have far to go, try riding your bike or walking instead of getting a ride in a car. You'll help save energy, lessen the amount of air pollution, and you'll keep healthy and fit, too!

Primitive? Nah - Energy saving! Money Saver!

Avoid using electrical appliances for things you can easily do by hand, such as opening cans.

Steer away from disposable cups - and B.Y.O.C./M. Money Saver!

Hide the throw-away cups, and train people to use their washable coffee mugs. Use washable mugs for meetings too. Be sure to Bring Your Own Cup/Mug and set a good example!

If you can't get them to switch to washable mugs, make sure the disposable cups they are using are paper instead of styrofoam.

Go Solar! Money Saver!

For an investment of about $10,000, you can convert your home to solar energy. That seems like a lot, but think about your electric bill every month, and you can see how quickly the savings can add up.

You can go strictly solar or convert your home so that solar is the primary source, but you still have electricity in a pinch, For more information on converting your home to solar power, visit Green Living Tips.

Install low-flow toilets Money Saver!

You'll use 1.6 gallons per flush compared to a standard toilet which used 3.5 gallons. For an investment of about $145-$165, you'll see big long-term savings on your water bill.

If you're not ready to take that step yet, put a few bricks in the tank of your toilet to reduce water used.

The average American household generates 75,000 gallons of waste water every year. According to the Rocky Mountain Institute, much of what we consider as wastewater from sinks, showers, baths and dishwashers could safely be reused in toilets. Since as much as 45 percent of the water we use is flushed down the toilet, this could significantly reduce household water consumption.

Source: A primer on Sustainable Building, Rocky Mountain Institute

Small adjustments to your water heater add up to big savings Money Saver!

Set your water heater to 115° and use an insulating blanket on older water heaters.

Join the Road Hog Reduction Campaign Money Saver!

Personal vehicles presently account for nearly one-quarter of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Visit the EPA website for important information about SUVs and light trucks.

Use rechargeable batteries Money Saver!

Disposable batteries are expensive and wasteful. Although rechargable battery sets can be slightly more expensive up-front, you'll save a lot of money in the long-term. You can save up to $1200 a year!

Get trendy with home décor

Natural fibers and flooring are in fashion! Look for interior design items made from recycled and natural materials.

Unleash the power of the pen

Write to your legislators about issues that affect the environment and our health

Put your money where your mouth is

Donate to charities that have positive impacts on the environment. Check with your employer to see if they will match your donation to make your money go even further.

Plan a community event

Coordinate an event at work, at your school or within your community that helps raise awareness about environmental issues such as recycling, waste reduction and conservation.

Reduce water waste Money Saver!

Turn off the water when brushing your teeth and when “making bubbles” while washing your hands.

Pick up trash

If you see trash on the street or neighborhood, pick it up! Even if it's not your garbage, its still your planet!

Avoid running dishwasher if its not full Money Saver!

You'll save water and electricity, and an estimated 100 lbs of CO2 per year. Letting your dishes air dry instead of using heat will save an additional 700 lbs of CO2 per year!

Be pro-active in hunting down energy problems Money Saver!

Perform an “energy inventory” on the house. Identify areas where energy is being wasted and work on correcting them. The energy savings will pay off in your monthly bills! A home energy audit can save 1000 lbs of CO2 per year!

If it isn't dirty, don't wash it Money Saver!

Wear certain articles of clothing a second time if they are not dirty. You'll reduce the amount of laundry you need to do, which cuts down on water usage, and the use of chemicals in your laundry detergent.

Use a water filter and refillable water bottle Money Saver!

Americans spend millions of dollars a year on bottled water, which adds to the amount of plastic containers thrown away every day. By purchasing a refillable water bottle and using fiiltered water, you can greatly reduce waste and save yourself a bundle!

Never flush “flushable” applicators

While the manufacturers may say it's flushable, what they mean is that it won't clog your toilet - but every year, tens of thousands of applicators wind up on the shores of our beaches.

Turn your trash into crafts!

Okay, so that doesn't really rhyme- but use popsicle sticks, newspapers, used office paper, etc. for craft projects.

Volunteer instead of watching TV

Instead of watching TV, spend an hour or two a week volunteering for your favorite cause.

Use phosphate-free soap for car washes

Whether you're just washing your car at home, or doing a full-scale group fundraising car wash event, be sure to use phosphate free soap. At your fundraising car washes, be sure to advertise that your car wash is eco-friendly to spread awareness.

Sponsor an endangered species

Ask that your holiday or birthday present be the adoption of an endangered species.

Close drapes or blinds in warmer months Money Saver!

This will keep the sunshine from overheating your house. Do the opposite in the colder months to give your thermostat a break.

Recycle/refill printer cartridges Money Saver!

If you use inkjet printers, buy replacement ink and refill them when they are empty. There are also several programs that will allow you to send in your empty ink and laserjet printer cartrdiges for recycling.

Also check out:

Cut your vampire power! Money Saver!

Vampire Power: Not Dracula, but the home electronics we leave on standby: TV, printer, DC re-chargers and converters… they cost you and the country almost $100 million worth of WASTED electricity each year.

Add air-cleaning plants

Plants not only brighten up a room, they help keep the air clean! Shoot for at least one 4-5 ft plant per 100 square feet.

Donate unused clothing and other items

Rather than throwing away unused clothing and items that are in good shape, consider donating them to your local church, Goodwill, or other charity. Many charities will even work with you to schedule a pick-up time.

Install low-flow aerators to your faucets and shower heads

Aerators are inexpensive, easy to install and reduce the amount of water wasted. Low-flow shower heads can save an estimated 350 lbs of CO2 per year!

Install energy efficient A/C and heating Money Saver!

Look for heating and cooling units and systems with a high Energy Star rating. You'll prevent wasted electricity and benefit from big decreases in your monthly energy bills.

Shop green! Buy shade-grown, organic coffee

Shade coffee provides habitat for birds, bats, butterflies and other wildlife in tropical countries.

Sponsor a child in a developing country

Wash your clothes in cold or warm water Money Saver!

Avoiding the hot cycles will save an estimated 350 lbs of CO2 per year and will save you money on your energy bills!

Never litter, even when peers do it

Teach your children never to litter, even if they see their friends littering. Encourage them to be proud of keeping the environment clean!

Caulk and weather-strip

Poor insulation leads to huge amounts of energy - and money - going out the window (and through the walls, etc.) Caulking and weather-stripping can save an estimated 650 lbs of CO2 per year!

Windows can account for as much as 25 percent of home heat loss. Sealing the windows properly can prevent about half that loss. The remaining loss is as a result of the direct flow of heat from the panes of conventional windows.

Source: Canadian Green Consumer Guide

Replace your windows with energy-saving models Money Saver!

New, energy efficient windows can save an estimated 1000 lbs of CO2 per year!

Insulate your walls Money Saver!

Insulating your walls and ceilings can save an estimated 2000 lbs of CO2 per year, and up to 25% of your monthly bills!

Don't overheat or overcool Money Saver!

You'll save an estimated 350 lbs of CO2 and $20 each year per 2 degrees!

Check the numbers on the bottom of plastic products

On the bottom of every plastic product, (including body lotion bottles, soda and water bottles, contact lenses, etc.), there is a number printed that corresponds to the kind of plastic used. If there is no number, the item isn't recyclable.

Look for the small triangle (or recycling logo) with the number inside.

These numbers are used by recycling centers to tell you what kinds of items they can accept. Avoid buying items without a number on the bottom, and write to the manufacturers explaining that you will not buy their product until they use recyclable containers.

Buy fish that are caught in an environmentally responsible manner

If you choose to eat fish, you can help keep the marine ecosystem healthy, without compromising freshness and taste by making smart buying choices.

Recycle everything you can! Money Saver!

You benefit either directly or when local taxes are kept lower by reduced disposal costs.

Use eco-friendly laundry detergents

Look for phosphate-, petroleum-, and chlorine-free products, and use only as much as needed for a given load. If you have hard water, you may need to use more detergent than the packaging suggests.

Buy unbleached brown coffee filters

They are going to turn brown anyway, right?

Consider cloth diapers over disposable Money Saver!

18 billion disposable diapers are thrown in landfills each year, taking as many as 500 years to decompose. Disposable diapers make up the third largest source of solid waste in landfills, after newspapers and food and beverage containers.

"Although a diaper service seems like a luxury, in fact it can cost considerably less than using disposables-and home-laundered cloth diapers are, of course, the cheapest alternative of all.

Each week, many parents think nothing of buying a pack of disposables, whose cost is often hidden in the grocery bill. But when you add it up over the entire diapering period, the costs are substantial. The figure, of course, depends on the number of diaper changes a day and the age at toilet training. But assuming an average two and a half-year diapering period, and an average of eight to ten diaper changes a day (based on every hour for newborns, every two hours for toddlers) this translates to 7,000 to 9,000 diapers over the diapering period.

At an average price of $.24 per disposable diaper (premium diapers cost closer to $.33 apiece), the price tag for disposable diapering is around $2,000, plus several hundred dollars for garbage disposal costs of an additional can per week.

By contrast, diaper services charge anywhere from $10.00 to $15.00 a week, depending on the part of the country you're in. This works out to $1,300 to $2,000 over two and a half years, for clean diapers delivered to your door each week, the use of wraps in whatever size you need at the time, and a diaper pail. If you have more than one child in diapers, the price drops considerably (usually by 75 percent) for the second child.

Home diapering, on the other hand, can be done for as little as $400, or as much as $1,200, depending on the type of products you buy. Well-made products should last for subsequent children. Diapers can range anywhere from $20.00 a dozen for diaper service-quality prefolds, up to $60.00 or even $100 a dozen for fitted, contoured diapers with snaps or organic cotton diapers. You'll need somewhere between three and five dozen. Covers range from $4.00 to $18.00 apiece, depending on the quality and material, and you'll need up to 25 (about five in each size range). Figuring in detergents and energy costs of about $.60 per load, the average parent will spend well under $1,000-usually more like $500-for home diapering. " (See The Joy of Cloth Diapers)

Choose a computer maufacturer with a recycling policy

According to a recent study by the National Safety Council's Environmental Health Center, approximately 20.6 million personal computers became obsolete in the U.S. in 1998. Of that number, only 11 percent, or about 2.3 million units, were recycled.

Disposal of old computers could become one of the biggest solid waste issues in the coming years. While the outer case of the computer hard drive and monitor can oftentimes be used again, the inside of the computer, the part that becomes obsolete, contains hazardous materials such as lead, cadmium and mercury. The fear is that it will end up in landfills not designed to accept contaminated material.

For a list of manufacturers that offer a recycling program, such as Dell, Gateway and Micron, visit the Ecomall website.

Turn off your monitors Money Saver!

If your computers are on a network or need to be left on for remote access and can't be shut down at night, turn off the monitors.

Clean/replace your air filters

Check your air filters on your ventilation system every month. If you clean them regularly, you won't have to replace them often.

Load it up! Money Saver!

By running your dishwasher with full load only will save 100 lbs. of carbon dioxide and $40 per year.

Strip it good! Money Saver!

By using caulk and weather strips on your doorways and windows could save 1,700 lbs. of carbon dioxide and $274 per year.

Use 100% post consumer recycled printer paper Money Saver!

... you'll save 5 lbs. of carbon dioxide per ream of paper!

Buy locally grown food and locally made products when possible

Locally grown food tastes and looks better. The crops are picked at their peak, and farmstead products like cheeses and are hand-crafted for best flavor.

Livestock products are processed in nearby facilities and typically the farmer has direct relationship with processors, overseeing quality - unlike animals processed in large industrial facilities.

And local food preserves genetic diversity. In the modern agricultural system, plant varieties are chosen for their ability to ripen uniformly, withstand harvesting, survive packing and last a long time on the shelf, so there is limited genetic diversity in large-scale production. Smaller local farms, in contrast, often grow many different varieties of crops to provide a long harvest season, an array of colors, and the best flavors. Livestock diversity is also higher where there are many small farms rather than few large farms.

Steer-clear of flushable wipes

They can cause severe issues in septic systems, and as they fragment, they will release microscopic fragments of plastic. These join an estimated 86 tonnes of microplastics released into the environment every year in the UK from facial exfoliants alone.

The Marine Conservation Society has seen a 400% increase in wet wipes found along the British coast over the past decade. Source: The Guardian

There are "eco" wet wipes which claim to be compostable however it's best to use these sparingly, as you don't want to overload a normal compost bin.

In the end, "flushable" bathroom wipes are usually anything but (puns intended).

Find ways to re-use plastic packaging, bags, etc Money Saver!

Hopefully you're using re-usable shopping bags, but sometimes you just can't avoid plastic.

If you ended up with a plastic bag (maybe you forgot yours, or maybe they didn't give you the choice), or you find yourself with plastic packaging, find ways to re-use it. Bought a bag of cat food? Use it to hold your catbox cleaning remnants.

No plastic bag in your house should have to be thrown away empty. If it can't be recycled, at least put it to good use! You'll end up using fewer trash bags.

Compost what you can

Composting can sound daunting if you've never done it before, and many people believe it smells bad. Not true!

Check out this beginners guide to composting to see just how easy it is! Added bonus: if you have a garden, you can use the "juice" from the compost to super-charge your soil.