Updated: 4 December, 2004
Things You Can Do Today...
...to help keep a healthy, beautiful home on planet Earth
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- Use effective family planning methods. If you already have children, give serious thought to vasectomy or tubal
ligation. If you have no children, plan for no more than two -- zero is an option. Adoption can help in many ways. This is the single greatest contribution you can make to the quality of life for all children of the future.
- Join a conservation organization.
- Read books and articles on wildlife and environmental issues. Novels with ecology themes, like Ishmael by Daniel Quinn
(ISBN 0-553-56166-9), are great starting points. Or check out the selection at Eco Books
- Eat less meat -- zero is an option. The folks at ar-news
report that every quarter pound of hamburger we eat destroys 55 square feet of rain forest.
- Volunteer your time to conservation projects.
- Register to vote. You might also consider registering as a member of your local Green Party. Each additional registration of a Green voter increases the pressure for elected politicians (of any party) to address environmental issues.
- Give money to worthy conservation / environmental causes.
- Make sure your local zoo respects and protects the health and well-being of the animals living there. Find out who does what to bring those animals to your zoo. Did someone make money by killing the animals' parents or destroying their natural habitat?
- Watch nature programs on TV.
- Subscribe to conservation or environmental publications. Purchase them as gifts for others.
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In your home...
- Recycle everything you can: newspapers, cans, glass, aluminum containers and foil, motor oil, scrap metal, etc.
- Seek out local recycling centers that take items your curbside recycling service will not pick up (scrap paper, plastics, appliances, etc.).
- Save your kitchen scraps for the compost pile.
- Use phosphate-free laundry and dish soaps.
- Avoid the use of household pesticides. Fly-swatters work very well.
- Clean your windows with vinegar and water instead of chemical products.
- Use cold water in the washer unless it's really necessary to use warm or hot.
- Make a habit of turning on the cold water tap, rather than the hot one, whenever possible. Significant fuel is wasted when you turn on the hot water for a small job and then turn it off before the flowing water heats up.
- Make sure water faucets don't drip. A dripping tap can waste two gallons of water (nine litres) every minute. Do-it-yourself faucet repair kits are very inexpensive.
- Check your toilets for leaks by putting a little food coloring dye in the water tank. If the color shows up in the toilet bowl without flushing, there's a leak. A leaking toilet can waste over 7,000 gallons (33,000 litres) of water every month!
- Use washable rags, not paper towels, for cleaning up spills and other household chores.
- Crumpled-up newspapers are great for washing windows.
- The plastic in disposable diapers doesn't break down in landfills. But washing cloth diapers uses a lot of water. So pick the diaper that is least damaging to your region: Use cloth
diapers where water is in good supply. Use disposable diapers where water is more at risk than landfills.
- Don't put hazardous substances down your drain or in your trash (paint, bleach, paint thinner, furniture polish, gasoline, etc.).
- Cut up those plastic six-pack holders for drink cans before recycling or throwing them away. They can kill birds and marine life.
- Don't use electrical appliances for things you can easily do by hand.
- Re-use brown paper bags to line your trash can instead of plastic liners. Re-use bread bags, butter tubs, etc.
- Store foods in reusable containers rather than plastic wraps and foil.
- Minimize the amount of unwanted paper mail you receive from companies.
EcoFuture has quite an extensive web site on
Eliminating Junk Mail, Telemarketers, and Spam.
- Save used greeting cards for children's art sessions, party invitations or book markers.
- Save bottles and jars after use for storing small household items (pins, rubber bands, thread,) hardware (nails, screws, bolts,) or office supplies (staples, pencils, paper clips, etc..)
- Save your coat hangers and return them to the cleaners.
- Take unwanted, reusable items to a charitable organization or thrift shop.
- Don't leave any water running needlessly. Wash dishes with a basin of water rather than under a running faucet. Turn off the faucet while you brush your teeth. Use a bucket rather than
a hose for washing the car.
- Install a water saving shower head.
- Set your water heater at 130 degrees Fahrenheit / 54.4 Centigrade
- Always wait until you have a full load before using the washing machine.
- Keep the fireplace damper tightly closed when not in use.
- Turn the heat down and wear a sweater.
- In the summer, a five degree higher temperature setting conserves energy when you're away during the day.
- Make sure your refrigerator is not set colder than it necessary. If it is set just 5 degrees Fahrenheit / 2.8 Centigrade too cold, that will use 25% more electricity than necessary.
- Turn the lights and TV off when you're out of the room.
- Use low wattage light bulbs where possible. The lower the wattage, the less energy used.
- Don't use halogen bulbs. Use energy-saving cool flourescent bulbs with electronic ballasts,
designed to replace standard incandescent lamps.
- Burn only seasoned wood in your woodstove or fireplace.
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In your yard...
- Start a compost pile.
- Plant native shrubs and trees in your yard. Trees not only provide food and animal shelter for birds and other creatures, they also provide shade and filter the carbon dioxide in the
air. Native trees will live on rainfall without extra watering. If you have room, plant several.
- Feed the birds.
- Put up bird houses and baths.
- Pull weeds instead of using herbicides.
- Learn about natural insect controls as alternatives to pesticides.
- Landscape with plants that aren't prone to insect and fungus problems.
- Ignore caterpillars and most native leaf chewing insects. Let birds and insect predators take care of them.
- Use beer traps for slugs instead of baiting with poisons.
- Use organic fertilizers. Simple manure helps condition your soil and fertilizes at the same time.
- If you use pesticides, herbicides or fungicides, don't throw leftovers in trash, down your drain or into a storm sewer.
- Compost your leaves and yard debris or take them to a yard debris recycler. Burning them creates air pollution and putting them out with the trash is a waste of landfill space.
- Use mulch to conserve water in your garden.
- Plant things that don't require so much water.
- Take extra plastic and rubber pots back to the nursery.
- Large expanses of lawn are not good habitat for other creatures and they usually must be maintained with chemicals and extensive watering. Dig up some of your grass and plant native
shrubs or trees instead.
- Plant short, dense shrubs close to your home's foundation to help insulate against cold.
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- In the winter, turn down the heat and turn off the water
heater before you go on vacation.
- Carry reusable cups, dishes and flatware.
- Make sure your plastic trash doesn't end up in the ocean.
- Don't pick flowers or collect wild creatures for pets. Leave animals and plants where you find them.
- Don't buy souvenirs made from wild animals.
- Watch out for wildlife. Give consideration to all living things you see crossing the road.
- Build smaller camp fires.
- Stay on the trail.
- "Take only photographs. Leave only footprints."
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In your car...
- Whenever possible use alternatives to the private automobile: use public transit, ride your bike, or walk instead.
- Use carpools when public transportation is not available (work commuting, children's schools, shopping, entertainment events, etc.). Call your city's carpooling service for
- Drive sensibly. Slower speeds and gentle acceleration are not only safer, they avoid wasting gasoline.
- Keep your car tuned up and your tires inflated properly to save gasoline.
- Make sure your car air conditioner does not leak freon. Ask your mechanic to check if you're not sure.
- When you buy your next car, choose a more fuel-efficient model.
- Recycle your engine oil.
- Keep your wheels in alignment to save your tires.
- Don't litter.
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At your business...
- Start an office recycling program for office and computer paper, cardboard, etc.
- Use scrap paper for informal notes to yourself and others.
- Use recycled paper for printing, photocopies, stationery and business cards.
- Print and photocopy only when necessary, only the number you really need, using both sides of the paper.
- Turn on PC printers only when needed and turn them off after completing the task.
- When using computers, use less paper. Get into the habit of seeing and proofing everything on-screen before you print.
- Turn off PCs when leaving the area for an extended time, especially at the end of the business day.
- Buy only toner cartridges (for printers and photocopiers) that are recyclable and never throw those away. Many toner manufacturers give a rebate for returned and recycled toner cartridges.
- Use smaller paper for smaller memos.
- Save and reuse whatever packaging material comes with your computer boxes and accessories.
- Minimize use of plastic styrofoam. It takes over 500 years for styrofoam to break down in a landfill.
- Re-use manila envelopes and file folders.
- Hide the disposable cups and train people to bring reusable mugs to meetings and lunch. Many beverage vending machines will also accept a reusable mug in place of the machine's cups.
- Route things around the office or post less urgent communications on bulletin boards rather than making multiple copies.
- Use the stairs instead of the elevator.
- Most businesses use fluorescent lights which do save energy, but they often leave them on when not needed. Switch off lights whenever they are not needed. Take advantage of natural
daylight whenever possible.
- Keep lights off in copier rooms, conference rooms, and storage areas until light is actually needed.
- Clean or replace air conditioning filters once a month.
- Office air conditioners are often set too cold. If there is a controllable thermostat in your work area, set it for minimum energy use -- 68 degrees Fahrenheit / 20 Centigrade in the winter; 78 degrees Fahrenheit / 25.6 Centigrade in the summer.
- Don't open outside windows for more than a few minutes when the outside temperature will trigger heating or cooling.
- Switch off your computer monitor when not in use or at lunch time.
- Use electronic mail instead of paper.
- Minimize travel and meetings wherever practical by using electronic mail, telephone, voice mail, and fax. (Small amounts of fax paper are often less destructive than burning gasoline.)
- Help your co-workers learn how to carpool to work, and when using company cars or company-rented cars.
- Put a plastic beverage container filled with water in your toilets' water tanks to save water and money. (People have used bricks for the same purpose but some bricks will erode and harm your plumbing.) Adjust the size of the container until the right amount of water is flushed.
- Arrange for your office cleaning people to use environmentally friendly cleaning products.
- Tinted glass, venetian blinds and curtains will save energy and reduce air conditioning costs.
- Office building landscape need not be limited to sterile lawns and bedding plants. Plant trees and shrubs that birds will like.
- Put a bird feeder outside your office window. It's a great conversation piece.
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When you're shopping...
- Don't buy food or household products in plastic or styrofoam containers if there's an alternative (milk and egg cartons, vegetable oils, butter tubs, etc.). They can't be recycled and
they don't break down in the environment.
- Avoid buying anything 'disposable'. Paper plates and towels, styrofoam cups, etc. are extravagant wastes of the world's resources.
- If you must buy disposable items, buy paper products rather than plastics and styrofoam. The manufacture of styrofoam depletes the Earth's ozone layer.
- Buy products that have no more packaging than necessary; Refuse extra plastic bags. When you buy clothes that are already wrapped, ask the sales clerk to pin the receipt rather
than using another layer of wrapping.
- Buy durable products and keep them a little longer. Cheap furniture, clothes and appliances often have short life spans.
- Ask questions. Don't buy products that are hazardous to the environment or that were manufactured at the expense of important animal habitat.
- Buy locally grown food and locally made products when possible. This saves transportation fuel and reduces packaging.
- When you go to the grocery store, take along a reusable net bag. They take up very little space on your way to the store and allow you to avoid taking home either paper or plastic bags.
- Shop with merchants who offer environmentally friendly products and services. Let them and your friends know why you are shopping there.
- Don't buy products that come from endangered animals.
- Don't buy "exotic pets".
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Spread the word...
- Convert by example. Your good examples will encourage your family, friends, co-workers and neighbors to save resources too.
- Complain to merchants about excess packaging, use of plastics, etc.. Write letters to the companies who make over-packaged products.
- Write your legislators when you have an opinion about pending legislation on environmental, land use and other issues.
- Teach children to respect nature and the environment. Take them on a hike. Help them plant a tree or build a bird house. Buy them a nature book or a subscription to a wildlife magazine.
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If you would like to have a more complete tool for measuring the impact of your actions on the earth, check out
Donald W. Lotter's low-cost workbook, EarthScore: Your Personal Environmental Audit & Guide. This tool teaches which earth-friendly actions
give the most benefit, and allows us to compare the damage done in
some areas (like poor automobile maintenance) with the benefits we build up in other areas (like careful shopping and recycling). This sort of "trade-off" awareness is very important because it helps focus our actions where they are most likely to do the most good.
EarthScore is a hardcopy workbook printed on recycled paper with soy-based ink, available for USD $4.50 plus shipping/handling from Lafayette, CA: Morning Sun Press,
email jdhowell at ix dot netcom dot com,
1993, 36 pages, ISBN 0-9629069-6-4.
Much of the information on this web page started from three sources:
- The Dallas Zoo's leaflet, "101 Things You Can Do to Help Save Animals and Animal Habitats," reproduced by the Dallas, Texas Zoo with permission of the Washington Park Zoo, Portland, Oregon and printed on recycled paper by The Dallas Morning News
- The WWW page, "40 Tips to Go Green" by the Singapore-based environmental group, Jalan Hijau of the Malayan Nature Society. (Here's the California version).
- The WWW page, "Saving the
trees -- how to become an environment-friendly computer user" also by Jalan Hijau.
Wayne L. Pendley
transcribed these materials and adapted them for HTML navigation on 15 March 95.
Over time, Wayne added other items from many sources and revised/updated several
of the original items. He adapted the images on this page from royalty-free originals
marketed by Corel Professional Photos on CD-ROM, and by
PhotoFinish V3.0 from WordStar International, Inc.