There are many small steps that you can take to make your life greener and put a little more fat in your wallet. Being green does not have to mean being broke. To the contrary, it is about being more efficient with the resources under your control.
Steps to be green
1. Make a compost pile - take all of those holiday meal scraps and put them into a compost bin. You can buy these bins cheap. They start at about $50 or you can build one yourself. All you need is a few boards and some chicken wire or other sort of thin fencing to wrap around the boards after they are firmly planted in the ground.
2. Recycle - this one should seem obvious by now, but many places in the U.S. do not have curbside recycling. In this case, you can press for your city to get curbside recycling and make it much more convenient to be green. Recycling and composting are important because when we put organic material (anything that comes from a plant) in the landfill it is not exposed to the vital oxygen it needs to break down (via bacteria) and turn back into productive soil. It basically sits there in the landfill along with all the manmade materials and takes up space that could be used for wildlife or human habitat.
3. Share your vehicle - this has become a more popular option in larger cities like San Francisco these days, but even people in more rural areas can take advantage of this trend. Sharing your vehicle saves gas ($$$) and you might even make a new friend!
4. Turn your lights and appliances off when you are not using them – it sounds foolishly simple, but there are still many people and businesses that leave on lights unnecessarily. This will save you lots of money over the long run.
5. Use rainwater to water plants - rain barrels are fairly inexpensive and they are easy to install. Residential water use accounts for nearly half of all water use in some areas of the country. We can save huge amounts of water by installing rain barrels and using this water to refresh our plants and lawns.
6. Shop vintage - many cities now have loads of consignment and vintage clothing shops with great finds. The amount of clothing that we go through is amazing and buying second-hand saves both our wallet and the environment. Buying in cosignment shops uses less petroleum than shipping new clothes to department stores, fewer toxic chemicals than making new clothes and employs local people in small businesses.
7. Plant native plants - Native plants are plants that have adapted to local climate conditions over thousands of years and are thus experts at making the most of the amount of moisture available . They require less watering. They prevent erosion and provide habitat for other native species such as birds, bees and mammals. They also regulate the flow of water into the ground, which manages our human water supply. If you do not know what plants are native to your area, the USDA plants database is a fabulous place to start.
8. Take a hike - hiking is a fun activity that keeps you in shape and uses almost no resources (other than maybe a little bit of gas to get there). We often associate exercise with going to the gym, but we have millions of acres of beautiful natural space to exercise in so let’s take advantage of it.
9. Pee outside - this one is fun and green! This is one of my favorites. Sorry ladies, guys have a leg up on you in this catergory, but this does not mean that you cannot do it, too. An average toilet uses between 1.5 and 6 gallons per flush. If you use the bathroom five times per day that is up to 30 gallons of water to flush the toilet!!! So find a tree and take care of business. Most soils are capable of filtering our wastes and rendering the liquid harmless by the time it reaches the groundwater.
10. Be creative with your junk - it is amazing how much stuff we accumulate in our attics and garages. You will often find that a lot of this stuff can be used to repair things around the house or make art.
So go green and be happy!