Green Living Tips


1. Food is God. Don’t waste food

  • Every time we eat – at home, at the office, at the dining hall, or in restaurants – think about how many people there are and how much food we really need. And think of all the resources that went into producing the food. It is no longer considered generous to waste food.

2. Buy locally grown and seasonal food

  • Food that had to be grown in greenhouses and brought to your local market from far away is rarely as fresh as local produce, and the energy used in transport is a precious resource.
  • Fruit, vegetables, and milk produced closer to home rack up fewer “petroleum miles” than products trucked cross-country to your table.
  • Search by ZIP code for farmers’ markets, greengrocers and food co-ops in your area. The
  • website, which includes handy contact information in its directory listings, also identifies restaurants that specialize in regional and seasonal
  • ingredients.

3. Buy organic food products

Products that have been processed in an ecological, environmentally friendly way are called “organic food” if they:

  • Do not contain chemical fertilizers, chemical pesticides, growth regulators or food additives (those proven to be harmful to human health).
  • Do not contain GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms), of which the full possible effects to human health are not yet known.
  • Organic food is tasty, healthy, and environment friendly. Conventional agriculture is very short-sighted. It tends to use substantial amounts of fertilizers and pesticides to increase production. Their residues pollute soil and water, causing a steady degradation of the ecosystem and making a sustainable, long-term use of the soil impossible.

4. Carry and store food in reusable and recycle containers

  • Plastic containers and reusable lunch bags are great ways to take your lunch to school or office without creating waste. Use silverware and dishes instead of disposable plastic utensils and plates.
  • Store food in reusable plastic containers, and then reuse the containers.
  • Take along washable cups or travel mugs instead of disposables; a lot of restaurants and convenience stores will be glad to fill or refill your mug.
  • Many of the items we use every day, like paper bags, soda cans, and plastic milk cartons, are made out of materials that can be recycled.
  • In addition to recycling the things you buy, you can help the environment by buying products that contain recycled materials. Many brands of paper towels, garbage bags, greeting cards, and toilet paper, to name a few examples, will tell you on their labels if they are made from recycled materials.

5. Carry your own water bottle made of steel or BPA free plastic

  • Americans buy 28 billion single-serving water bottles each year. Supplying this plastic requires more than 47 million gallons of oil, equivalent to 1 billion pounds of CO2 released into the atmosphere.
  • For a lessened environmental impact, spring water can be purchased in bulk and then poured into smaller containers.

6. Try to avoid takeout

  • So much waste is produced when you order takeout; in addition to all the containers, there are stacks of paper napkins and half a dozen knives and forks that you do not need. The U.S. population tosses out enough paper & plastic cups, forks and spoons every year to circle the equator 300 times.
  • When you order takeout, advise the restaurant attendant that you want your order to be “ECO TO GO” – that is you want the food in its container in a bag, no extras, as you have all you need at home (you may need to educate the attendant).

7. Freshly prepared food saves the energy used at the processing plant, packaging and transportation costs on canned and frozen food

8. Buy whole fruits and vegetables to avoid unnecessary trays and wraps

9. Buy large economy sizes (less packaging per pound of product)


10. Say no to plastic bags

  • Globally, we use 1 million new plastic bags/minute. This uses 2.2 billion gallons of oil each year. Every year, more than 500 billion to 1 trillion plastic bags are used worldwide. Less than 3% of those bags are recycled.
  • The plastic bags can be eaten by animals, which confuse them with food. Each year at least 100,000 birds, whales, seals and turtles die as a result of choking on plastic!
  • They are typically made of polyethylene and can take up to 1,000 years to biodegrade in landfills that emit harmful greenhouse gases.

11. Use a cloth bag (or one made of biodegradable plant-based materials) instead of wasting plastic ones. Bring your own bag for your next trip to the grocery store.

12. When you have just 1 or 2 items, say “No bag, thanks.”

13. Borrow an item if you are not going to use it very often.

14. Choose items that contain the least amount of packaging

15. Decrease dependence on paper products.

  • The U.S. consumes an average of 800 pounds of paper per person per year – 200 billion pounds. A huge amount of this ends up in landfills. 40% of our garbage is paper. More than 30 million trees are cut down to produce a year’s supply of newspapers.
  • Paper products are bleached with chlorine or chlorine derivatives to maintain the white color. These bleaching practices release dioxins, known carcinogens and endocrine disruptors, into the environment.

16. Buy products which are recyclable and/or made from recycled materials

  • Look for the recycling symbol when purchasing items made from paper and plastic. You can also buy automotive parts, motor oil, and tires made from recycled products.
  • Also look out for household furnishings and gardening tools made from recycled material.

17. Buy in bulk or multi-packs

  • Buying more items at once reduces packaging waste. But – be on the lookout for those multi-packs that contain products that are already packaged, group them together, then add additional packaging to hold the bunch together.
  • You can also buy items with packaging that can be reused or recycled.

18. Buy heavily used items in the largest container possible (just make sure they can be used before the expiration date, if there is one), such as detergent, oil and rice. Bring your own container to reduce the use of plastic bags/ packaging.

19. Combine bags. When you’re at the mall, don’t get a new shopping bag for every item—combine bags or put them in your backpack.

20. Buy energy-efficient items

  • Look for the ENERGY STAR® logo when buying electronics such as TVs, CD players, DVD players, and computers.
  • ENERGY STAR® is a voluntary labeling program designed to identify and promote energy-efficient products to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.


21. Turn down the heat and air conditioning

  • Turning down thermostat 1 degree in winter saves 1000 lbs CO2/yr and approximately $15 per year
  • Setting thermostat up 3 degrees in the summer saves 3000 lbs CO2/yr and approximately $32 per year
  • Rule of thumb: every degree change saves 3% on your energy bill
  • A programmable thermostat allows you to automatically turn down the heat or A/C at night and during day and can yield annual savings of approximately $40-80

22. Replace incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs

  • Lighting is 10% of electric bill for average house
  • Compact fluorescent bulbs use 25% less electricity and last 10 times as long.
  • If every U.S. household replaced all its incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescents, electricity use for lighting could be cut in half. Doing so would lower our annual CO2 emissions by about 62.5 million tons.

23. Prevent Air Leaks

  • Caulk and weather-strip around windows and doors; saves 1,700 lbs CO2/year
  • Add insulation to attic, basement, ducts if needed; insulating saves 2,000 lbs CO2/year
  • Replace windows if necessary. Seal leaky ducts and install insulating shades to windows

24. Turn off the power

  • Turn off lights, fans, computer, TV, etc. promptly when finished with them. If you reduce your usage by one hour a day, you can save 1000 lbs of CO 2/yr.
  • Avoid using electric and gas appliances when you can, e.g. leaf blower, lawn mower, electric can openers, hair dryers

25. Unplug appliances when not in use – televisions, stereos etc. with remote controls, computers, telephone answering machines and appliances with clocks use electricity even when off.

  • Unplugging these would reduce the machine’s CO2 emissions by 83%.
  • Cost savings is approximately $3 a year per appliance
  • Turn off computer’s surge protector to really turn it off. A screen saver is not an energy saver.
  • Make sure the Energy Star setting is turned on for computers and monitors with Energy Star label (manufactures and retailers do not have the setting on
  • by default)

26. Use less water

  • Turning off the tap saves water, energy, and money. The average household spends as much as $500 per year on its water and sewer bill. If all U.S. households installed water-efficient appliances, the country would save more than 3 trillion gallons of water and more than $17 billion dollars per year!
  • Turn off the tap while brushing your teeth in the morning and at bedtime. The average bathroom faucet flows at a rate of 2 gallons per minute. Letting your faucet run for 5 minutes uses about as much energy as letting a 60-watt light bulb run for 14 hours.
  • When washing dishes by hand, don’t leave the water running for rinsing.
  • Don’t let the faucet run while you clean vegetables. Just rinse them in a stoppered sink or a pan of clean water.
  • Don’t use the toilet as an ashtray or wastebasket. Every time you flush a cigarette butt, facial tissue or other small bit of trash, 5 to 7 gallons of water is wasted.
  • Minimize use of kitchen sink garbage disposal units. In sink ‘garburators’ require lots of water to operate properly
  • If you can’t replace your toilet with an efficient model, put plastic bottles in your toilet tank. Just put an inch or two of sand or pebbles inside each of two plastic bottles to weigh them down. Fill the bottles with water, screw the lids on, and put them in your toilet tank, safely away from the operating mechanisms. This may save ten or more gallons of water per day. Be sure at least 3 gallons of water remain in the tank so it will flush properly.

27. Fix that water leak 

  • Leaky faucets that drip at the rate of one drop per second can waste up to 2,700 gallons of water each year. If you’re unsure whether you have a leak, read your water meter before and after a two-hour period when no water is being used. If the meter does not read exactly the same, you probably have a leak.
  • A leaky toilet can waste about 200 gallons of water every day. To tell if your toilet has a leak, place a drop of food coloring in the tank; if the color shows in the bowl without flushing, you have a leak.

28. Take a shower instead of a bath

  • saves water and 1,000 lbs CO2/year
  • A full bath tub requires about 70 gallons of water, while taking a 5 minute shower uses 10 to 25 gallons. If you take a bath, stop the drain immediately and adjust the temperature as you fill the tub.
  • Shorter showers – 5 minutes less in the shower saves ~$23 per year

29. Wash clothes in cooler water and make it a full load

  • The average washing machine uses 40.9 gallons of water per load. High-efficiency washing machines use less than 27 gallons of water per load. To achieve even greater savings, wash only full loads of laundry or use the appropriate load size selection on the washing machine.
  • Wash clothes with cooler water. Detergents (except special detergents like Woolite) require at least warm water to function effectively. Diapers and sick bed clothes should be washed in hot water.
  • Horizontal axis washers (front loaders usually) use far less water and soap and get clothes cleaner. Yearly savings of ~$65
  • Line dry clothes if possible; saves 700 lbs CO2/year

30. Use less hot water and reduce the temperature setting

  • Turning the hot water heater thermostat down to 115oF –120oF saves ~$13 per year
  • Insulating the hot water heater saves ~$20 per year and 1000 lbs CO2/year

31. Run the dishwasher on full load and avoid pre-rinse of dishes

  • Running dishwasher on full load saves water and ~200 lbs CO2/year
  • Don’t pre-rinse dishes before putting them in newer dishwashers – this can waste up to 20 gallons of water per load and doesn’t get them any cleaner!

32. Recycle aluminum cans, glass bottles, plastic containers and paper.

  • Most local municipalities provide separate containers to drop aluminum, glass, and plastic products.
  • One recycled aluminum can saves enough energy to power a television or computer for 3 hours or a 100-watt light bulb for 20 hours
  • Recycling one glass bottle saves enough energy to light a 100-watt light bulb for 4 hours.
  • Recycling a one-gallon plastic milk jug will save enough energy to keep a 100-watt bulb burning for 11 hours
  • Recycling a one-foot high stack of newspapers saves enough electricity to heat a home for 17 hours

33. Reduce use of products made from oil or other mined minerals

  • Most of the very toxic consumer products are made from oil or mined minerals such as mercury

34. Reduce use of disposable plastic items such as plastic utensils, bags, and wraps

  • Using 1000 throwaway plastic teaspoons consumes over 10 times more energy and natural resources than making one stainless steel teaspoon and washing it 1000 times!

35. Eliminate use of Styrofoam cups and plates – biodegradable alternatives exist for plates, cups, bowls, cutlery etc. and prices are getting competitive

36. Cancel unused magazine and newspaper subscriptions

  • 100 million trees are chopped down every year for junk mail sent to American homes; the typical American household receives about 70 pounds of junk mail a year
  • Register at to opt-out of receiving catalogs.
  • Some of the junk mail can be stopped by contacting the following: For Advertising: Mail Preference Service, c/o Direct Marketing Association P.O. Box 9008, Farmingdale, NY 11735-9008 (this takes several months to go into effect)
  • For pre-approved credit card and loan solicitations: 1-888-567-8688
  • Ask for online instead of paper catalogs, bills, magazines, etc.
  • Recycle all paper allowable in your area and use recycled paper products. You can recycle most types of paper, including newspaper, cardboard, junk mail, and high-quality papers like printer and notebook paper.

DID YOU KNOW?: Producing one ton of paper from recycled pulp saves 17 trees, 390 gallons of oil, and conserves 4,200-kilowatt hours of energy – enough to heat a home for half a year

  • Avoid excessive packaging whenever possible.
  • If you must buy, buy used books or textbooks. 12.4 million tons of carbon dioxide were emitted by the book business in 2006.
  • Use a computer or e-readers like Kindle or Nook! Read newspapers and magazines online instead of buying the paper versions.
  • Print out only what you need. Everything you print that you don’t really need is a waste of paper.
  • Use both sides of the paper.
  • Use paper grocery bags to make book covers rather than buying new ones.

37. Keep things maintained

  • Clean or change filter in furnace monthly
  • Vacuum coils on refrigerator annually
  • Gas stove should have a blue flame; if not, it needs servicing

38. Miscellaneous kitchen tips

  • Cover or wrap food items in refrigerator (water vapor from uncovered food makes the refrigerator motor work harder)
  • Cover pots when cooking to avoid heat loss.
  • Turn off cooking items a few minutes before final cooking time and let residual heat finish the cooking.
  • Use range hood only as needed. This fan and the ventilation fan in the bathroom suck out all the heat or AC in a house in one hour.
  • Use microwave, toaster oven or other small appliance to cook small amounts of food
  • Use pressure cookers for foods that cook a long time. It can cut the energy use by 50-75%
  • Use plastic containers with lids instead of aluminum foil, plastic bags or plastic wrap
  • Use sponges instead of throwaway wipes. Sterilize or replace sponges monthly.
  • Use cloth napkins instead of paper. Cut up old clothes for rags instead of using paper towels.

39. Buy products in their non-aerosol form.

  • The propellants used in aerosol cans of hair spray, deodorants and household products contribute to ozone depletion. Buy pump or trigger spray bottle products instead.

40. Paint with water-based paints

  • Drying paint releases many pollution-forming compounds. Oil-based paints contain three to five times more solvents than water-based, latex paints.
  • Close lids tightly. An open gallon of paint can emit up to three-and-a-half pounds of volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) that contribute to smog.
  • Paint to be discarded is considered hazardous waste. (Check to find your local recycling center for information on how to dispose of it)

41. Dispose of household hazardous waste properly

  • Do not pour it down the toilet or sewer drain or put it out with the regular trash. Improperly disposed waste can cause physical injury to sanitation workers, environmental damage to plants and animals, pollution of soil, air, and water, disruption of septic tanks, and wastewater treatment facilities. Chemicals that are used to kill pests are extremely toxic and often end up in waterways.
  • Hazardous items can pose a threat to children and animals in the home if they are not stored in a safe manner. Never store hazardous products in food containers; keep them in their original containers and never remove labels.
  • Do not throw used batteries away; one battery can contaminate 60,000 liters of water. When leftovers remain, never mix household hazardous waste with other products. Incompatible products might react, ignite, or explode, and contaminated household hazardous waste might become un-recyclable.
  • Follow any instructions for use and disposal provided on product labels.
  • Call your local environmental, health, or solid waste agency for instructions on proper use and disposal and to learn about local household hazardous waste drop off programs and collection days.


42. Turn off copiers, office printers, and all office lights at the end of the workday,

43. Use the sleep mode in the computer

  • It save up to 70% electricity and more efficient than using a screen saver.

44. Install motion lights, or turn off all lights when you leave the office for more than 1 hour.

45. Print less

  • Use recycled printer/copier paper and double-side whenever possible.
  • Download reference materials and save and/or transmit them electronically; print out only the necessary pages.
  • Don’t make extra copies, or more copies than you need; save files and print them when needed.
  • Use spell-check and grammar-check before you print out a draft. Use redline and strike-out functions to edit electronic drafts to avoid printing out and marking paper drafts.
  • Change the margins on documents from the standard 1.25 inches to the more modest .75 inches. If everyone in the nation did it, we’d save a little less than a Rhode Island’s worth of trees every year.

46. Reuse binders and folders

  • Consider donating them to Sai Spiritual Education classes or local schools.

47. Donate and/or recycle used electronics products

48. Recycle printer and toner cartridges

  • It takes up to 3 liters of petroleum oil just to produce the plastic found on one toner cartridge. When you recycle, you reduce the wasted materials from filling up our landfills, while simultaneously cutting the need for new raw materials required for production.
  • Printer toner cartridge recycling expands the lifecycle of each unit, allowing for refill and remanufacture.


49. Drive a fuel efficient car

  • There are now hybrids to match almost any need: two-door, four-door, SUV, luxury sedan. They get better mileage than their conventional counterparts, have cleaner emissions, and save money on gas.
  • If a hybrid isn’t in your future, try for a car with the best MPG you can find; and remember that hybrids aren’t always the most efficient option, either.
  • Biodiesel can now be found in almost any state in the US. This clean, domestic, veggie-based, carbon-neutral fuel will run in any diesel car or truck with little or no modification to the engine.
  • Straight vegetable oil is an option for the more ambitious green driver and can make fueling up almost free.
  • Affordable, practical electric cars and plug-in hybrids aren’t too far off.

50. Drive less

  • The average car in the U.S. releases about 1 pound of CO2 for every mile driven. Avoiding 20 miles of driving per week would eliminate about 1,000 pounds of CO2 emissions per year.
  • Drive wise and minimize unnecessary miles by doing multiple errands in one trip, getting good directions, and calling ahead.

51. Reconsider the driving technique

  • Driving technique has a lot to do with your fuel economy. Avoid sudden starts and stops and go the speed limit. Not only does speeding and herky-jerky driving kill your MPG, it’s dangerous.
  • Keep your engine speeds between 1,200 – 3,000 rpm’s. Those with standard transmissions should up-shift between 2,000 – 2500 rpm’s. Moderate speeds and non-aggressive driving can increase your MPG by 37%.
  • Slowing down from 70 to 60 mph improves average fuel efficiency by 17.2%; slowing down from 75 to 55 mph improves fuel efficiency by a 30.6%.

52. Use cruise control

  • It can result in up to 14% savings in gas usage.

53. Turn-off engine when idling

  • If you are stopping longer than 1 minute, shut off the engine. Letting your engine idle for more than 1 minute burns more fuel than turning off the engine and restarting it.
  • Up to 19% savings in gas usage.

54. Decrease the impact of vehicle emissions

  • Limit daytime driving if possible. (why?)
  • Try to avoid congested periods.

55. Perform periodic tune-ups

  • Getting regular tune-ups and keeping up on your car’s maintenance, things like regular oil changes, air-filter changes, and spark plug replacements can increase your MPG up to 25%, pollute less, and prevent car trouble down the line.
  • Pump up: if every American’s tires were properly inflated we could save around 2 billion gallons of gas each year! Underinflated tires use 5-6% more fuel. (Check your manual for optimal pressure).
  • Get the junk out of the trunk! All that extra weight is sapping your fuel economy.

56. Carpool

  • Find coworkers, neighbors, and fellow students headed the same direction. Get a ride–sharing network going at work. Start with one shared trip per week. Sites such as and allow users to find car mates based on detailed profiles.
  • Look into car sharing programs like FlexCar and ZipCar.

57. Leave the car at home

  • For shorter adventures, walk, take public transit, ride your bike (regular, electric-assisted), skateboard, roller-blades, or even look into an electric scooter.

58. Drive part of the way

  • If getting where you’re going by bike or public transit alone isn’t going to happen, consider driving part of the way and then jumping on public transit or your bike (a “folder” would be perfect). A great way to beat traffic!

59. Go easy on the air conditioning

  • Use the windows to help keep the car cool.
  • Use an electric or solar fan.
  • Park in the shade and use a reflective windshield shade to keep your car cooler when parked, meaning it takes less to cool it off when you get back in.
  • If you car is new, however, let it air out. That new car smell is not friendly stuff.

60. Conserve water

  • Wash your car at a commercial car wash. They recycle the water.

61. Pack Light

  • According to the Department of Energy, a loaded roof rack on your car can decrease fuel economy by approximately 5%.
  • Also, every 100 pounds you carry in a car reduces a typical car’s fuel economy by one to two percent. So, when you go on vacation or a long car trip, put everything you can inside your vehicle, and pack light.

62. Telecommuting

  • With instant messaging, video chat, teleconferencing, and other world- shrinking technologies, making the rush-hour trek to work and back might not be that necessary. Ask your boss or offer your employees a teleconferencing day once a week. Hey, it works for 44 million Americans.

63. Take public transit

  • With transport accounting for more than 30% of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions, one of the best ways to reduce them is by taking public transit. Public transit saves an estimated 1.4 billion gallons of gas annually, which translates into about 15 million tons of CO2, according to the American Public Transportation Association.

64. Aspire to “carelessness”

  • Going car-less is not for everyone, and will entail a shift in thinking, but living car-free might be more within reach than you think. Living closer to work and school is a big part of it. Walking, biking, public transport, car sharing, car borrowing, and teleconferencing are a strong arsenal of tools to help reduce the need for a car.

65. Consider Sharing

  • Rather than buy a new car, sign up for membership with a car-sharing program such as Flexcar or Zipcar. These programs allow you to reserve and drive cars by the hour — and they cover the cost of the vehicle, insurance, gas, parking, and maintenance.

66. Erase your carbon footprint

  • First, use a “carbon footprint” calculator ( ) to find out your individual annual carbon dioxide emissions (the average American is responsible for 10 to 24 tons). Then, purchase carbon offsets to make up for your emissions.
  • Offsets are available from nonprofit groups and companies such as Native Energy, The Conservation Fund ( ),, TerraPass ( ), Solar Electric Light Fund ( ), and Sustainable Travel International (
  • The money you spend purchasing the offsets is channeled to clean-energy projects such as wind, solar and methane capture, planting trees and other energy-saving initiatives.

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