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100 Tips to Go Green at Home and at Work

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I’m doing my year-end blog early. Not that I won’t be writing again. Just that I wanted to get a head start on the new year. Now, don’t be put off by this rather long list — it’s all about doing what you can. Even if everyone made a few small changes, it all adds up. I’ve included both the small and big projects that you can do to go green. They are in no particular order but I did try to group them by category. And most apply both at home or at work. Here goes:

  1. Seal leaky heating and cooling ductwork. Use mastic rather that duct tape, which doesn’t offer enough sealing.
  2. Install a programmable thermostat to save up to $100 in energy costs per year.
  3. Heat your home to 68 degrees F, cool to 72 degrees F. Reduce both at night. For each two degrees, save 6%.
  4. Upgrade appliances and electronics with EnergyStar certified equipment. Both at home and at work, including copiers, printers, computers and accessories.
  5. Use smart plugs to shut off power to appliances and unplug chargers and other stand-alone appliances. The U.S. spends about $4 billion annually on stand-by energy alone.
  6. Use timers for indoor and outdoor lights.
  7. Use power-saving settings on your computer. Set them to power down after 2-3 minutes of inactivity.
  8. Flat-screen monitors or laptops are far more energy-efficient than CRTs.
  9. Seal cracks using expanding foam and caulk. Look anywhere that pipes or wires come into the house, doors, windows. Experts estimate that if you added up all the cracks in the average home, you would have a 2-foot square hole.
  10. Weatherstrip doors and windows.
  11. Wrap your water heater with an insulation blanket. About $20 at Lowe’s.
  12. Upgrade your water heater. A solar system can meet 2/3 of a household needs. Or go with a tankless model. If neither works for you, go for an EnergyStar version.
  13. Wrap your hot water pipes with pre-formed, pre-fit insulating tubes.
  14. Vacuum your refrigerator coils, which helps it operate more efficiently.
  15. Keep your freezer full for optimal power use.
  16. Use the microwave whenever practical. It is far more efficient than the stove or oven.
  17. Take 5-minutes showers and skip the bath. Any longer than 5-minutes and you’re wasting water.
  18. Turn off the tap. While brushing, while shaving, while washing dishes.
  19. Run a full dishwasher rather than cleaning dishes by hand. Yes, it actually uses less water.
  20. And set your dishwasher to the energy saving mode and no dry heat modes to save even more.
  21. Install aerators on your faucets to use less water.
  22. Fix leaky faucets and toilets.
  23. Replace older toilets with newer, low-flow models.
  24. In public bathrooms, install motion sensor faucets and hand towel dispensers.
  25. Filter your shower water. You can purchase a filter that attaches to the head for about $50.
  26. Use cold water for your laundry. Today’s soaps are designed for cold water washing.
  27. Use front-loading washers and dryers. Look to replace your old set with these newer models when it’s time.
  28. Insulate your attic and basement to save as much as 20% on your heating and cooling costs.
  29. Install a solar-powered attic fan to draw out hot air in the winter.
  30. Use ceiling fans to cool down rooms in summer and push down hot air in winter.
  31. Plant trees to buffer homes from wind and to help shade air conditioning units and windows that get a lot of sun.
  32. Keep insulating shades and curtains on southern facing windows drawn in summer and open in winter.
  33. Upgrade your heating and cooling equipment. This along with hot water, accounts for 30% of homeowner energy use.
  34. Change the air filters on your heating and cooling system regularly.
  35. In the office and at home, regularly maintain HVAC systems.
  36. Replace at least 5 of your most-used bulbs with compact florescent.
  37. Shut all lights when leaving a room, saving about 5% on energy bills annually.
  38. Shut down your computers and monitors every night.
  39. Use motion sensor lights in offices and other areas if infrequent occupancy, like office restrooms.
  40. Offices are often over-lit. Reduce overhead lighting by removing overhead bulbs. Replace with task lighting.
  41. Replace traditional exit signs with LED signs.
  42. Check with your local electric utility about purchasing green power. Many consumers have this option now.
  43. If green power is not available in your area, purchase green tags or RECs to offset.
  44. Check with your utility about any energy saving incentives it may offer.
  45. Your state may subsidize energy savings and alternative power.
  46. Get an energy audit for your home or a green office audit for your work.
  47. Use an environmentally responsible bank. Many banks are working to address global warming.
  48. Invest in green. There are many good mutual funds and stocks available.
  49. Don’t choose between paper and plastic — shop with reusable bags. Costco sells a sturdy set for $3.
  50. Recycle your electronics and computer equipment.
  51. Safely dispose of hazardous materials, like batteries, CFLs, and chemicals. Check locally or online for resources.
  52. Opt-out of junk mail.
  53. Pick a green dry cleaner that doesn’t use perchloroethylene, a known carcinogen. Or better yet, don’t buy clothes that need to be dry cleaned.
  54. Recycle everything possible. Glass, metal, plastic, paper, cardboard (don’t forget junk mail!) and more. And participate in special item recycling days, such as for paints or electronics.
  55. Donate used items rather than trashing them. Most places will even take worn clothes for rags. Or Freecycle them.
  56. When on the go, use a reusable water bottle. Metal, #2HDPE, #4LDPE, or #5PP are safest. Avoid those with phthalates or BPA.
  57. Don’t use anti-bacterial soaps or other cleaners. They work no better than regular soap and water and may cause health problems.
  58. Green your cosmetics.
  59. Use green cleaning methods. Vinegar, lemon juice, baking soda, Borax, and regular dish soap are all you really need for the majority of your household cleaning. Don’t want to mix it yourself? There are plenty of green alternatives.
  60. Use Integrated Pest Management for bugs or vermin. There are companies that specialize in this.
  61. Reduce your grass exposure. Plant shrubberies and other groundcover to replace this high-demand monoculture.
  62. Use natural lawn care. And when using any chemicals or fertilizers, carefully follow recommended application rates.
  63. Plant native plant species, which are better suited to your climate and will require fewer chemicals and water.
  64. Create a compost heap and enrich your garden. You can compost most food waste and yard waste.
  65. Water your lawn less frequently and more deeply and at night in most areas, to avoid evaporation.
  66. Filter your water rather than using bottled. Not only is it cheaper, but you reduce the bottles in circulation.
  67. Eat less meat, which causes the most environmental harm than any other type of food production.
  68. Choose your fish carefully.
  69. Eat lower on the food chain. The higher up you go, the greater the environmental impact. That means more grains and produce. Besides, it’s better for you anyway.
  70. Buy certified organic food or locally grown. Less chemicals, less impact from transportation and delivery, respectively.
  71. Whenever practical, walk or ride your bike. For trips less than 2 miles, it actually takes less time to bike it.
  72. Combine car trips. Instead of several smaller trips, make one larger trips and run all your errands at once. Or join forces with a neighbor or two!
  73. Use public transportation whenever possible. Or just try to commit to one day per week in your commute.
  74. Work from home! See if your employer might be willing to allow work at home days for employees.
  75. Or try car-pooling to work one day a week. If it works for you, add more.
  76. Never let your car idle. If you’re not driving or stopped at a light, shut the engine.
  77. For business travel, try to combine trips and take direct flights to reduce your impact.
  78. Try using a web conference to replace in-person meetings that require air travel whenever possible.
  79. Use post-consumer, recycled content products, such as paper, napkins, toilet paper, tissues, and more.
  80. Use reusable plates, cups and utensils. And no styrofoam. Encourage others to do the same.
  81. Get your coffee cup refilled rather than getting a disposable cup each time.
  82. Print double-sided both at home and at work.
  83. Making smart paper choices has become easier. Use certified or unbleached paper, or both.
  84. Recycle those printer cartridges.
  85. Use rechargeable and reusable office products, like batteries, pens, storage devices.
  86. Don’t flush your medications down the drain. Follow safe disposal practices.
  87. Same goes for other personal care products. Safe use and disposal will help keep them out of our water.
  88. Use safer alternatives whenever possible. Read labels and learn more about what your using. Just because they’re selling it doesn’t guarantee that it’s safe.
  89. Don’t use artificial air cleaners or plug-ins. They’ve recently been found to emit harmful chemicals.
  90. House plants can help clear the air. Peace plants and philodendron are particularly well suited to eliminating many common air pollutants.
  91. When available purchase organic cotton products. Cotton is one of the most pollution-producing crops in the U.S.
  92. Buy certified carpeting, furniture, and other household goods. FSC, SFI, GreenGuard, GreenSeal and more, all certify products produced with less harmful chemicals and sustainable manufacturing processes.
  93. When purchasing a new car, look for the most energy efficient model you can. Hybrids are great, but may not work for everyone.
  94. Regular maintenance on your current vehicle can save on gas. Replacing filters and keeping tires properly inflated are particularly important.
  95. Select low VOC paint for your next remodeling job. And look for low-emissions products for any sealing work.
  96. Use doormats at all doors to keep particulates, dirt, and pollutants out of your home.
  97. Reduce consumption. Do you really need that new shirt? Clothing is the top contributor to environmental impacts of consumer product purchases.
  98. Patronize companies that are making efforts to become more environmentally sustainable. From consumer products to services, your dollar can make a difference.
  99. Buy consumer goods that are produced in a more environmentally sustainable manner and with less packaging.
  100. Don’t forget to pass it on. Share these tips and your own tips with others. That’s part of the responsibility that comes with going green. And remember, a little bit can make a big difference.

Elizabeth Striano
Consultant and writer on sustainability and the environment
www.agreenfootprint.com

Helping you leave a green footprint on the world…

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Author: Elizabeth Striano

Elizabeth Striano is a science writer and editor and owner of A Green Footprint LLC, which provides communications and sustainabiilty consulting services to environmental consulting firms, nonprofits, and a variety of businesses and organizations.

3 thoughts on “100 Tips to Go Green at Home and at Work

  1. Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post… nice! I love your blog. 🙂 Cheers! Sandra. R.

  2. Excellent post. I think you gave some very good tips. I personally consider myself a Green person but found various tips here that i did not even thought about like the antibacterial soap or even the meat….. don’t know why I guess cuzz we kill less animals???? But definitely reducing my meat intake. Thanks again.

  3. Hey there, I just wanted to let you know that your site is excellent. I’m a frequent reader. I think it is so great, that I’ve actually gone ahead and linked to your site (dofollow) from here: http://waterpoweredcar.org/blogs-we-luv

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