General Question

spendy's avatar

How do you live "green"?

Asked by spendy (1446points) April 18th, 2008

What’s your favorite tip or idea for eco-friendly living? What things have you changed or started doing? What are some of your favorite “green” items or eco-friendly replacement products?

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20 Answers

wildflower's avatar

Carbon-footprint seems to be the buzzword here at the moment…...and I do try to walk whenever possible, reserving car use for shopping and longer journeys.
Only run the dishwasher when it’s really full, only switch lights on when you need it, adjust the timer on the heating…..
Generally saving on energy where possible. But I don’t give up any comforts to live greener, I have to admit.

Also, recycling of any kind possible, including dropping old clothes to charity shops instead of in the bin.

Schenectandy's avatar

Lately I’ve been trying to bike to work as often as I can- but that may be more of a $110+ barrel of oil thing than a green thing.

isb3's avatar

Getting those eco-friendly light bulbs is a really easy way to make a significant impact on energy conservation. it also saves you money in the long run.

Also if you’re going to go to the effrot of recycling, it’s important to pay attention to the items you buy to make sure they are recyclable in your city (there should be number the bottom of plastic items but that doesn’t tell you if your city recycles that type, you’ll need to find that out elsewhere)

To conserve water in the shower, you can turn off the flow while you suds up, wash your hair or shave, and then turn it back on to rinse.

Also buying a few of those reusable bags is a fantastic idea (instead of paper or plastic since neither of them are environmentally friendly)-but if you do use those they can also be recycled

It’s also great to limit the amount of diposable silverware, dishes, storage containers (like ziploc) as much as possible. These are things that when thrown into landmines simply rot for years and years, baking in the sun, and creating noxious smells and chemicals that are harmful to the often poor communities that surround them.

The last thing I can think of that hasn’t been mentioned is to start a compost pile. If your resources allow you this luxury it’s a fantastic way of efficiently using waste and keeping it out of landfills.

Note: These are mostly things a aspire to do. Knowing is the first step.

8lightminutesaway's avatar

@isb3, all great stuff :)
The only thing I would add is unplugging things when they are not being used. Things like stereos, tv’s, and anything really, suck up a lot of juice even when they are turned off, a lot more than you would expect. If you have surge protector, flip the switch on it. I know one company that sells surge protectors with a remote to turn it off so you don’t have to reach all the way back to do it, but I can’t think of the name of the company.
Also, if you’re trying to save gas/emissions, drive slower. Cars are generally get the most mpg at ~60–65 mph I think, and it quickly drops off once you go faster. Accelerating is where you use a bunch of fuel, so accelerate slower instead of burning out at every stop light.

spendy's avatar

Can anyone thing of a great alternative to Ziploc baggies? My husband uses about 3 per day in his lunch (2 sandwiches, chips, etc.). Any ideas?

wildflower's avatar

A re-useable lunchbox, maybe…I usually use re-useable containers, a la tupperware for lunches or bringing food.
Otherwise, baking-parchment is a good way to wrap sandwiches.

spendy's avatar

He uses a re-useable lunchbox (like a very small cooler box w/frozen insert), but I pack 2 sandwiches for him + chips (all 3 in baggies) each day he works. We’ve sidestepped the packaged pudding cups by purchasing a small set of glass jars (intended for a yogurt machine), so they’re the perfect size for a portion of pudding and I whip up some instant instead…but the baggies are still driving me nuts. I could put the sandwiches in parchment, as you said, or a re-useable sandwich box would work (but they’re all plastic…still better than baggies tho I suppose). But what can I do about that daily baggie for chips? It just irks me.

wildflower's avatar

If it all goes in to a larger, solid, container (i.e. it doesn’t get smashed if not careful), you could wrap the chips in parchment or other paper too…...but even if you can’t find a suitable alternative for them, you’ll be down to 1 bag instead of 3, which is a considerable reduction.
Of course, could always use environment as an excuse to make him adopt a healthier diet and cut out the chips ;)

spendy's avatar

I’ve been pushing for that one…no go. :) He’s a devoted chip lover, and the immediate response is “I also work out 3x week and do rigorous manual labor…so I can afford (and maybe even need) the calories.” lol He’s a chip nut…what every he can say to justify it.

spendy's avatar

edit: ...whatever he can say…

8lightminutesaway's avatar

you know, you can still use ziplocs but just bring them home and wash them. Thats what my mom does, its sanitary. After a bunch of uses we throw them away, but its way better than just one use and should help with you chip problem!

occ's avatar

Hi Spendywatson,
there are a lot of great tips on the Sierra Club’s green life blog, here
or in their advice columnist, Mr. Green’s new book (it’s a really fun book with lots of green living tips, and just went on sale last week) here
also, Sierra Club Radio has green tips every week – you can listen online through their website or via podcast.
finally, here’s a link to sign up for a daily green tip—you’ll get a new one sent to your inbox every day: daily green tip

occ's avatar

p.s. If every American family just replaced five lightbulbs with compact flourescents, it would be the energy equivalent of getting 10 million cars off the road. For real. It will also save you an estimated $65 a year on your energy bills.

occ's avatar

Ah yes, I forgot one more thing. You can go here to download a 1-page checklist for what you can do to save energy in every room in your house.

spendy's avatar

@8lightminutesaway – thanks for the idea, I usually wash the gallon-size bags but the smaller ones didn’t occur to me (not sure why).

@occ, great links. :) We’ve changed every lightbulb in our home, including closets (even the basement, which isn’t even finished and only has the washer/dryer + storage). At about 30 lightbulbs, we figure maybe we’re pulling up slack in the neighborhood. :) I also signed up for an eGreeting membership and emailed my family members to let them know they’ll no longer be receiving paper greeting cards (which everyone just pitches anyway). I’m familiar with most of the standard ideas/tips, but do you have any tips or ideas of your own? I’m kind of just looking for special little things that people come up with (off the beaten “green” trail) or maybe even stumble on by chance.

I’ll definitely be signing up for the weekly tip though. :)

occ's avatar

Sure, here are some little tips many people don’t know about…
do you use a dishwasher? Dishwashers can be more efficient than washing by hand, but it’s important to turn off the little button that says “auto dry.” If you let the dishes air dry instead, you save a lot of energy. With your clothesdryer, make sure to clean the lint filter after each load. cleaning the lint out greatly increases the efficiency of the machine, so you’ll save energy. And don’t forget that a huge percentage of home energy costs go to heating water. The best thing to do is upgrade your water heater to an energy-star appliance…if you can’t do that, try to reduce your hot water usage- wash most of your laundry in cold (it works just as well for most loads) and cut your shower time if you can.
Another small thing—all your electrical appliances that are plugged in (Microwave, toaster oven, etc) continue to draw power from the outlet even when not in use—- especially appliances like microwaves that have a digital display—it is drawing power to display the time on the microwave’s clock. Plug all your appliances into a power strip, and when you’re not using them, shut off the power strip so that they’re not using energy.

Also, my biggest pet peeve is bottled water. It’s ridiculous to pay literally a thousand times more for water that is basically the same as tap water, and then throw away that plastic bottle. Drink tap water, or if your tap water tastes bad, get a britta filter. You can even buy a super fancy water filter that gets installed directly into your sink at home, and it will cost you less than 2 months of bottled water for your family.

My personal take on all of this is, if you want to make a big impact, it’s great to start with small lifestyle changes, but the best thing to do is really to get involved in some organization or group that is working for bigger change—greening your city, or working to hold public officials accountable. We all have a part to play, and that means that business and government need to do their part to. They won’t do it, though, unless people are organized and hold them accountable. The best thing you can do in terms of small easy things is to vote for candidates who support and protect the environment. It’s important to make sure that polluters don’t shift the discourse so that people think that individual lifestyle errors are responsible for our environmental problems. Sure, we can do our part, but the big pollution problems really come from irresponsible corporations who are putting their profit above the health of our children.

spendy's avatar

I’m switching my dishwasher off “auto dry” as we speak. :) Good one. Unfortunately, I can’t do anything about the microwave (it’s built in), but we use power strips on almost everything else or just leave it unplugged. Vampire power is not cool. :)

occ's avatar

I forgot this one- here’s another great link. You can watch these do-it-yourself videos and learn how to install a low-flow shower head, programmable thermostat, or water-heater insulation blanket:

TheGreenBrideGuide's avatar

…and don’t forget about greening important occasions – like all of these couples did when they had green weddings:

In fact, Time Magazine ranked having a green wedding number 28 on the list of 51 things you can do to save the earth. It does make a big difference.

And why not make other symbolic events green – green birthday parties, green bar mitzvahs, green mother’s days. (BTW – I have collected lots of green gifts for moms and have posted them here: I think when we make special occasions green we pave the way for other changes in our daily lives. Go green!

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