23 tips for earth-friendly living

Find green living tips to lessen your impact on the environment with small, easy changes you can make at home and at work.

By Crissy Trask

Tips for work and the bathroom

In her book It's Easy Being Green (Gibbs Smith, 2006), Crissy Trask shows busy people that they can make a difference today and help the planet by making small adjustments in their daily lives. Try these 23 easy tips for changes at work and at home.

At work
1. Ask your employer to consider implementing a policy for compressed work weeks and/or telecommuting. Working four ten-hour days or working from home one or more days a week reduces commuting and traffic, leading to fewer automobile emissions.

2. Consider buying a laptop. Laptops use 50 percent of the energy used by a typical desktop PC when plugged in and just 1 percent of the energy when running on batteries.

3. If your copier, printer and fax have a sleep or stand-by mode, make sure it is selected. From the sleep mode, it will automatically wake up when you go to use it.

4. When using the copier at work, always make two-sided copies. If your printer also has a double-sided feature, use it.

5. If your office provides disposable cups for beverages, eliminate the need for them by bringing in extra glasses and mugs from home. Post a note in the lunch/break room requesting that your coworkers do the same. Keep the mugs in the lunchroom for anyone to use.

6. Use suppliers who will take back their recyclable or reusable products at the end of their life for proper disposal, recycling or remanufacturing.

Bathroom
7. If you have a nonconserving toilet (a 3.5 gallon flush or greater), retrofit it with a water-saving device. Fill a one-quart plastic bottle with water for each nonconserving toilet in your home, and submerge one bottle in each toilet tank. You will save one quart of water per flush and thousands of gallons a year.

8. Fix all leaks. To check for leaks, turn off all water in the house. Next, read your water meter, wait one hour (make sure no water is turned on during this period), and read the meter again. If the meter does not read exactly the same, there is a leak.

9. Take short showers. With water flowing up to five gallons per minute from a nonconserving showerhead, showers consume about one-fifth of water used indoors.

10. Turn off the water while brushing your teeth. Fill a cup with water and use it instead of running water. This applies to shaving as well. Partially fill the sink bowl to rinse your razor instead of running the water.

11. Buy a shower curtain that will far outlast cheap plastic ones; a shower curtain made of hemp will naturally resist mildew and is machine washable.

12. Use a strainer on all drains to catch hair and prevent drain clogs. If you do get a clog, use a metal snake to work the clog loose, not toxic drain cleaners.

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