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Thankfully,  much of the developed world is adopting “green” approaches to everything from construction, to business models, to energy, to job creation, to utilities operation and so on. Because of this movement (even I have a degree in environmental engineering), people are always eager to implement their own green techniques in order to do their part to conserve our precious home-world (if not to just have the smug Al Gore-esque satisfaction). What I have outlined below (with help from various websites) are 100 ways to personally help the environment. Do your part!

Your Home – Conserve Energy

  1. Clean or replace air filters in your air conditioning unit at least once a month.
  2. If you have central air conditioning,  close vents in unused rooms.
  3. Lower the thermostat on your water heater to a reasonable temperature like 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
  4. Wrap your water heater in an insulated blanket.
  5. Turn down or shut off your water heater when you will be away for extended periods.
  6. Turn off unneeded lights or when leaving a room.
  7. Set your refrigerator temperature at a level that will maintain freshness without sacrificing energy (36 to 38 degrees and your freezer at 0 to 5) .
  8. When using an oven, minimize door opening while it is in use; it reduces oven temperature by 25 to 30 degrees every time you open the door.
  9. Clean the lint filter in your dryer after every load so that it uses less energy to remove said lint (eliminate blockages).
  10. Unplug seldom used appliances, even an unused power strip uses energy while plugged in!
  11. Use a microwave whenever you can instead of a conventional oven or stove.
  12. Wash clothes with warm or cold water instead of hot water.
  13. Reverse your indoor ceiling fans for summer and winter operations as recommended (utilizing the rising and settling of air).
  14. Turn off lights, computers, and other appliances when not in use.
  15. Purchase appliances and office equipment with the Energy Star Label; old refrigerators, for example, use up to 50% more electricity than newer models.
  16. Only use electric appliances when you need them (i.e. you don’t need the lights on to walk down your hallway every time).
  17. Use compact fluorescent light bulbs to save money and energy.
  18. Keep your thermostat at temperatures that will minimize equilibrium re-heating such as 68 in winter and 78 in summer.
  19. Keep your thermostat higher in summer and lower in winter when you are away.
  20. Insulate your home as best as you can.
  21. Install weather stripping around all doors and windows.
  22. Shut off all electrical equipment in the evening when you leave work.
  23. Plant trees to shade your home (helping cooling costs).
  24. Shade outside air conditioning units by trees or other means.
  25. Replace old windows with energy-efficient ones.
  26. Use cold water instead of warm or hot water when possible.
  27. Connect your outdoor lights to a shut-off timer.
  28. Buy green electricity – electricity produced by low or even zero-pollution facilities

    In Your Home-Reduce Toxicity

  29. Eliminate mercury from your home by purchasing items without mercury, and dispose of items containing mercury at an appropriate drop-off facility when necessary (e.g. old thermometers).
  30. Learn about alternatives to household cleaning items that do not use hazardous chemicals.
  31. Buy the right amount of paint for the job (where do you think all that unused paint goes when you dump it?)
  32. Review labels of household cleaners you use. Consider alternatives like baking soda, scouring pads, water, or a little more elbow grease.
  33. When no good alternatives exist to a toxic item, find the least amount required for an effective, sanitary result.
  34. If you have an older home, have paint in your home tested for lead. If you have lead-based paint, cover it with wall paper or other material instead of sanding it or burning it off.
  35. Use traps instead of rat and mouse poisons and insecticides.
  36. Have your home tested for radon.
  37. Use cedar chips or aromatic herbs instead of mothballs.

    In Your Yard

  38. Avoid using leaf blowers and other dust-producing equipment.
  39. Use an electric lawn-mower instead of a gas-powered one.
  40. Leave grass clippings on the yard-they decompose and return nutrients to the soil.
  41. Use recycled wood chips as mulch to keep weeds down, retain moisture and prevent erosion.
  42. Use only the required amount of fertilizer.
  43. Minimize pesticide use.
  44. Create a wildlife habitat in your yard.
  45. Water grass early in the morning, taking advantage of low-flow/demand hours for water.
  46. Rent or borrow items like ladders, chain saws, party decorations and others that are rarely used.
  47. Take actions that use non hazardous components (e.g., to ward off pests, plant marigolds in a garden instead of using pesticide).
  48. Put leaves in a compost heap instead of burning them or throwing them away. Yard debris too large for your compost bin should be taken to a yard-debris recycler.

    In Your Office

  49. Copy and print on both sides of paper.
  50. Reuse items like envelopes, folders and paper clips.
  51. Use mailer sheets for interoffice mail instead of an envelope. Use mailer sheets for interoffice mail instead of an envelope.
  52. Set up a bulletin board for memos instead of sending a copy to each employee.
  53. Use e-mail instead of paper correspondence.
  54. Use recycled paper.
  55. Use discarded paper for scrap paper.
  56. Encourage your school and/or company to print documents with soy-based inks, which are less toxic.
  57. Use a ceramic coffee mug instead of a disposable cup.

    Ways To Protect Our Air

  58. Ask your employer to consider flexible work schedules or telecommuting (to reduce driving pollution).
  59. Recycle printer cartridges.
  60. Shut off electrical equipment in the evening when you leave work.
  61. Report smoking vehicles to your local air agency.
  62. Don’t use your wood stove or fireplace when air quality is poor.
  63. Avoid slow-burning, smoldering fires. They produce the largest amount of pollution.
  64. Burn seasoned wood – it burns cleaner than green wood.
  65. Use solar power for home and water heating.
  66. Use low-VOC (volatile organic carbon) water-based paints, stains, finishes and paint strippers.
  67. Purchase radial tires and keep them properly inflated for your vehicle (increasing fuel efficiency).
  68. Paint with brushes or rollers instead of using spray paints to minimize harmful emissions.
  69. Ignite charcoal barbecues with an electric probe or other alternative to lighter fluid.
  70. If you use a wood stove, use one sold after 1990. They are required to meet federal emissions standards and are more efficient and cleaner burning.
  71. Walk or ride your bike instead of driving, whenever possible.
  72. Join a carpool to get to work.

    Ways to Use Less Water

  73. Check and fix any water leaks.
  74. Install water-saving devices on your faucets and toilets.
  75. Don’t wash dishes with the water running continuously.
  76. Wash and dry only full loads of laundry and dishes.
  77. Follow your community’s water use restrictions or guidelines.
  78. Install a low-flow shower head.
  79. Replace old toilets with new ones that use less water.
  80. Turn off your washing machine’s water supply when not in use to prevent leaks.

    Ways to Protect Our Water

  81. Re-vegetate or mulch disturbed soil as soon as possible.
  82. Never dump anything down a storm drain.
  83. Have your septic tank pumped and system inspected regularly.
  84. Check your car for oil or other leaks, and recycle used motor oil.
  85. Take your car to a car wash instead of washing it in the driveway.
  86. Learn about your watershed

  87. Create Less Trash

  88. Buy items in bulk from loose bins when possible to reduce the packaging wasted.
  89. Avoid products with several layers of packaging when only one is sufficient. About 33% of what we throw away is packaging.
  90. Buy products that you can reuse.
  91. Maintain and repair durable products instead of buying new ones.
  92. Check reports for products that are easily repaired and have low breakdown rates.
  93. Reuse items like bags and containers when possible.
  94. Use washable cloth napkins instead of paper ones.
  95. Use reusable plates and utensils instead of disposable ones.
  96. Use reusable containers to store food instead of aluminum foil and cling wrap.
  97. Shop with a canvas bag instead of using paper and plastic bags.
  98. Buy rechargeable batteries for devices used frequently.
  99. Reuse packaging cartons and shipping materials. Old newspapers make great packaging material.
  100. Compost your vegetable scraps.
  101. Buy used furniture – there is a surplus of it, and it is much cheaper than new furniture.