Tuesday, May 26, 2009

10 quick ways to be green at home or in the car

I know, I know, I promised this post a few days ago...but then there was the breaking story about Ford converting their SUV plant into a green car plant, and then I had a cool guest blogger show up and...

But here it is! Finally! 10 quick (15 minutes or under!) and cheap ways to go green at home or in your car. Ready? Set....

1) Get a clothes line and hang up the big stuff. No, you do not need to hang every sock or your undies on the line for all the neighbors to see. And no one wants crispy towels! But hanging out those big or hard to dry things like sheets, blankets, hoodies and jeans will make a big difference in your energy use, especially if you use an electric dryer. Time to hang one load a day; 10 minutes

2) Plan your day's drive. Buy or print a map of your city and laminate it. Buy a dry erase marker. Before you head out to do your weekend or daily errands, mark your destinations on the map and connect the dots to find the route with the least overlap and waste. Do your errands in that order. If you have an appointment as one of your stops, mark that first and then plan the rest of the stops around that. Grocery shopping in hot weather? Take a cooler and ice packs to keep perishable cool or plan that for your last stop. Time to plan the day's drive: 5 minutes

3) Skip the drive-through and take a drink. If you typically stop at a fast food window for a beverage, take a cold drink with you instead. You will save the gas you'd spend sitting in line, as well as reduce the waste from paper or plastic disposable cups, straws and wrappers. Time to put a drink in a reusable bottle: 5 minutes

4) Clean up the green way. Instead of using paper towels to wipe up spills or dust the furniture, cut up worn out towels or cotton clothing to make rags. By the time it gets too worn out or stained to use, one small rag can save you from buying more than 7 rolls of paper towels! Just toss them in with a same-color wash load, and you won't be using more energy to clean them either! Time to cut up old stuff into rags: 5 minutes

5) Try water. When it comes to cleaning stoves, sinks and counter tops, skip the expensive and toxic cleaners and try water! Manufacturers have convinced us that clean only comes in a spray bottle, but the fact is some water and a non-abrasive cleaning pad will usually do the trick. It just might take a minute or two more. If you need a little more omph, sprinkle some baking powder on the surface. Scrub and wipe dry with a rag (see number 4, above.) You'll save money, reduce chemicals in the environment and have less plastic bottles to throw away. Time to scrub a bit: 1-2 minutes per surface

6) Start slow, stop slow. There's a concept called hypermiling that can increase your gas mileage no matter where you drive. Some people have taken the idea to extremes and advocate dangerous driving habits to save gas. But just two simple changes -- starting out slowly from the traffic light, and slowing down as you approach a red light (or an old green -- one that is about to change) by taking your foot off the gas, can increase your gas mileage by 1-2%. Maybe more, depending on where you drive and your old driving habits. You won't sit at stop lights as long, so the time will balance out. Time to drive and save: 0 minutes.

7) Get a bathroom timer. Everyone knows what a kitchen timer is, but a bathroom timer? If showers run long in your house, get a cheap wind up style timer and set it for 10 minutes. Make it a house rule that showers (from the time the water is turned on to the time it is turned off) cannot exceed the buzzer time. You'll save water, energy for water heaters and reduce waste water, too. Time to set a timer: 1 minute

8) Cut back on newspapers. If you receive a daily paper, switch to a weekend only paper delivery schedule and get your news online the rest of the week. You'll save paper, reduce landfill and cut costs all at once. Time to change your newspaper subscription: 5 minutes

9) Use the leftover containers for leftovers and other fun things. If you get food to go or take home leftovers from your favorite restaurant, reuse those containers at least once after the food is gone. Plastic or foam boxes work well as paint trays for kids or when you're doing touch-ups, as a lightweight portable doggie water dish on an outing, or as a place to put the screws and other small bits when you're putting together or taking apart furniture, electronics or car parts. Time to rinse and put containers away for later: 2 minutes

10) Go solar outside. Instead of powering exterior lights along your driveway or path, let the sun do it for you. Solar landscaping lights are very reasonably priced, and only require that you stick them into the ground wherever you want light. What could be easier? Time to install 10 solar lights: 10 minutes


Quiet Paths said...

This is a wonderful post. So many great tips and ideas; some of which I do already but some I hadn't thought of yet! Thank you. Wish I'd discovered your blog sooner. Thanks for leaving a comment on mine to let me know you are here.