Whether you’ve just moved to a new home or are looking to redecorate, consider a service like craigslist or FreeSharing to track down furniture, appliances, and other items, rather than buying them new. Check out garage sales and thrift stores for clothing and other everyday items.
Use your creativity in gift giving (http://www.newdream.org/holiday/giftideastaff.php), including making homemade gifts, donating to a good cause, or even regifting. (And gift green, in general.)
Your purchasing habits have a real impact, for better or worse. When making new purchases, make sure you know what’s “Good Stuff” (http://www.worldwatch.org/taxonomy/term/44) and what isn’t.
Think twice about new electronics:
E-waste from discarded cell phone and computers is a growing environmental problem. Mounds of electronic refuse are being shipped abroad illegally for ‘disassembly’ by workers with little
protection against the mercury (http://www.worldwatch.org/node/3997) and other toxic substances they contain.
Keep your electronics as long as possible and dispose of them responsibly when the time comes.
Buy higher-quality items and don’t give in to ‘psychological obsolescence’ marketing campaigns.
Recycle your cell phone and support good causes (http://www.collectivegood.com/donate1.asp) at the same time!
Ask your local government to set up a responsible recycling and hazardous waste (http://www.epa.gov/epaoswer/non-hw/muncpl/hhw.htm) collection event.
Make your own cleaning products:
Using simple ingredients such as baking soda, soap, and vinegar, you can make cheap, easy, and non-toxic cleaning products (http://www.worldwatch.org/node/1484) that really work! Save money, time, and your indoor air quality.
Save on energy:
Setting your thermostat a few degrees lower in the winter and a few degrees higher in the summer can translate to substantial savings on your utility bills.
Install low-flow showerheads and take shorter showers to save water and the energy used to heat it. Or, consider eventually installing a solar hot heater on your property.
Wash clothes in cold water whenever possible and use a drying rack or clothesline.
When incandescent bulbs burn out, replace them with longer-lasting, low-energy compact fluorescent bulbs.
With the money you save from making these changes, consider buying wind energy from your local utility or purchasing renewable energy offsets (http://www.eere.energy.gov/greenpower//about/index.shtml) Renewables offer our best hope for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, as well as a host of other pollutants. In some cases, “green energy” options can be cheaper then electricity from conventional sources!
For more ways to be green, visit: http://www.nrdc.org/cities/living/gover.asp