Almost everyone is familiar with the most common ways to help save the environment. Recycle. Turn off the lights when you leave a room. Use energy-saving appliances. Trade in your SUV for a hybrid. Et cetera, et cetera. But there are many less common ways to be green. Here are a few of them:
- Use an eco-friendly laundry detergent, such as Seventh Generation. The company claims that we could save 233,000 barrels of oil “if every household in the U.S. replaced just one bottle of 50 oz. 2X concentrate petroleum-based laundry liquid” with its plant-derived product of the same size and concentration. Also, while you're at it, don't forget to wash with cold or warm water rather than hot. And, if you really want to make an impact, line dry instead of using the dryer.
- Sure, from newspapers to junk mail, you recycle all paper that comes your way, and that's great! But why not discourage companies from sending you so much unwanted mail in the first place? Contact the Direct Marketing Association, and, for only a single dollar, be removed from a variety of mailing lists. Also, check out Tonic Mailstopper (formerly GreenDimes) for a way to take an even more aggressive stance against junk mail (albeit for an annual fee.)
- Cut down on canned foods. Buy fresh products instead because the process of canning consumes much more energy than picking fresh fruits and vegetables. The same goes for canned fish. Water and edible fish are also wasted when fish is canned. Besides, fresh food tastes better!
- Switch to a programmable thermostat. Most are easy to install, and many are surprisingly affordable (less than $30). Most importantly, you'll save money and energy.
- Likewise, purchase and install a water-efficient shower head. As with the programmable thermostats, these are affordable, and you'll save in the end (around $110 per year according to one company which specializes in making the product).
- Use the dishwasher if you have one. Seriously. Using a machine — especially if it has earned Energy Star status — is much more energy-efficient (and less time-consuming) than washing by hand. Conversely, it's recommended that you turn off “heated dry” when running your dishwasher.
So, go ahead. Expand your planet-saving repertoire. Sure, it requires a little work and dedication. But don't forget: Not only are you being an environmentally-conscious citizen and helping future generations, but you're also helping yourself when you consider that many earth-friendly practices also save money!