The ABCs of Being Green

It's back-to-school time. So, here's a quick refresher on the ABCs of Being Green to help you make this upcoming school year the greenest yet.

Always remember the three Rs . . . Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Every piece of advice about being green resonates back to at least one of these basic tenets.

Bike or ride the Bus instead of driving.

Clean green with homemade cleaning solutions made from simple and natural ingredients like vinegar, baking soda, and hydrogen peroxide.

Donate goods you can’t recycle or sell. Freecycle is a great online nonprofit that helps you to donate to people in your community.

Eat produce from the Environmental Working Group’s 15 Cleanest Fruits and Vegetables in place of produce from the Dirty Dozen list.

Filter your tap water with a home filtration system instead of buying bottled water.

Go outside! Turn off the TV and video games and let your kids explore outdoors. Check out state and national parks in your area and the variety of family friendly activities most of them offer.

Hit the local library or used book store for books, CDs, and DVDs instead of buying them new.

Install timers to automatically adjust your thermostat when you’re sleeping and out of the house.

Juice up your cell phone with a car charger. Or, when using the computer, charge your phone using the USB port. Both options will save energy compared to using a wall plug.

Keep rain water for a variety of non-potable uses, such as watering plants or washing your car, by installing a rain barrel.

Launder your clothes with ½ to ¾ of the manufacturer’s suggested amount. You’ll cut down on waste and get your clothes cleaner.

Make the most of each car trip by combining as many errands as you can. Save time and gas.

Nurture your skin with personal care products that are safe for your health and the environment.

Opt for energy-efficient compact fluorescent light bulbs instead of incandescent bulbs.

Purchase energy-efficient appliances to replace your old ones as they wear out.

Quit topping off your gas tank. It’s bad for your health and the environment.

Recharge your batteries (you’ll, of course, have to buy the rechargeable kind) instead of using disposable batteries.

Shower instead of taking baths. Try to keep it to 5 to 10 minutes.

Toss food scrapes and yard refuse into a compost bin to make your own organic, nutrient-rich fertilizer.

Utilize what you already have before buying anything new. Don’t just “shop your closet”. Shop your entire home. Go a step further and organize a swap (of clothes, shoes, and accessories; or home goods; or kid toys; or books and movies) with your friends.

Visit farmers’ markets in your area and support local farmers while getting super-fresh, locally-produced food.

Wash with fragrance-free soap. Opt for fragrance-free body wash, hand soap, shampoo, and moisturizer to avoid chemicals that are harmful to your health and the environment.

X April 22nd on your calendar. It’s Earth Day. Volunteer for events organized in your community. Can’t find any organized volunteer opportunities in your area? Get together with friends for a community clean-up of your own.

Yank out your stash of reusable shopping bags whenever you go shopping.

Zap away less energy by unplugging appliances, like toasters and coffeemakers, when they’re not in use. “Standby usage” accounts for anywhere from 6% to 26% of a homes' electricity use.

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