Casaubon's Book

10 Ways to Go Seriously Green

Ok, I’ve always hated those “Top 10 Ways to Green Your Apartment/Cat/Sex Toys/Shaving Equipment” articles, and yet they do serve a sort of purpose (at least the ones that aren’t total rubbish) – narrowing things down and prioritizing is helpful. So for those of you teetering on the edge of joining the new Riot for Austerity, check out the real 10 ways to make a big difference – I promise this is the only “Top 10 Green” List I’ll ever make you read!

1. Buy a lot less stuff. So much of what’s out there focuses on replacing one consumer need with a marginally less toxic or awful option. This is a lousy way to make substantial reductions in your energy usage. What makes a huge difference is reducing consumer spending radically – that is, cutting back on everything from lumber to underpants. When you do buy things, but them used. This is really hard for most people – but the reality is all those dollars operate like votes – they say “make another one, and make more packaging for it, and run the factory a little longer.” Not buying stuff is one of the most powerful tools we’ve got.

2. Structure your life so that it is easier to be green than not. Most of us have a limited mount of self-discipline – we are a little lazy. So if there’s a choice between a mile and a half walk or just hopping in the car, we find that despite our best intentions, we just didn’t get going in time to walk. Well, the harder you make all that stuff for yourself, the better. That means disconnect the appliances you don’t want to use, and put them up on a high shelf so it is easier to do without. Don’t have a car, or don’t have second car, so that if you want to go to the library you have to walk, bike or take the bus.

3. Take a Sabbath or a no-use day and enforce it. Try and establish at least one day a week in which you don’t drive, don’t turn on the computer and don’t shop. The value of this is that a. it gives you the gift of what we all say we want anyway, time with family and friends, quiet time, etc… But it also prevents us from constantly powering things up. Turn stuff off – start with one day, try and add more if you can. What’s amazing about this is how much of a pleasure this comes to be – but it is hard to disconnect.

4. Pick the low hanging fruit. You probably have some really obvious ways that you are wasting energy. For example, not putting your tv and vcr on a powerstrip allows them to continue drawing power when you aren’t using them. Eliminating this “phantom load” is a pretty easy step. Or perhaps you don’t meal plan so you’ve been running out to the store two or three times a week. But it isn’t really hard to to shift to doing it once, while doing other errands. You’ve been meaning to stop your junk mail, and you don’t really like it, but you haven’t gotten around to it. Just do it.

5. Do things that are just as easy with human power with human power. Got a little postage stamp of a lawn? Well, get a push mower. By the time you change your oil and get the thing out of the garage, you will have used more of your own energy than simply running a good push mower (if you’ve never used a new, light one, don’t assume it will be too hard) over that bit of lawn. Want to start baking your own bread, but assuming you need a bread machine? Get a book that shows no-knead recipes that rise overnight – you can have better bread for breakfast with less effort. We tend to assume that labor-saving devices save labor – we assume it so strongly that we often don’t check, and it turns out, they don’t.

6. Eat appropriately to your place and season. What grows well there? What’s in season? What’s local? What’s in your backyard? No one should eat as much meat as the typical American does, and often recommendations on diet focus on not eating meat or as much. This is important, but the kind of meat matters too – what grows well naturally near you? What do local farmers have. Did you know that meat, eggs and mil are seasonal as well? What is ready now? What can you get inexpensively? Can you preserve some of what is abundant now for the time when it won’t be? Local diets are really local – the food you’d eat in Nebraska and the food you’d eat in coastal Maine are not the same, and shouldn’t be.

7. If it is the end that matters – change your means. Consider household heating for example – most of us want to be warm enough to be comfortable at home. There are lots of ways to accomplish this, however, including wearing more clothes, putting on a hat, heating a rice bag or hot water bottle and placing it strategically, using space heaters or radiant heaters, adapting to cooler temperatures early in the season, heating the whole house, etc… Focus on achieving your goal (being comfortable) and on finding new ways to do it – you can focus on heating you, rather than the entire house. You want to have tea or coffee available all day? Ok, try a thermos, instead of running the coffee pot all morning. You need enough light to read by? What about an LED book light? You want the kids to look like their friends? How about finding a nice consignment shop, or organizing a clothing swap with friends? Sometimes we mix up ends and means, and assume that the means are the point – that what we care about isn’t being warm, but having the house be 70.

8. Go at the big hogs. The things that are probably your biggest energy costs are heating, cooling, refrigeration, transport and your meat consumption. So when you try and figure out how to make an impact, start there. Find that carpool. Try the bus. Make more vegetarian meals. Replace your fridge with a smaller model. Put jugs of water in fridge and freezer since it runs more efficiently full. Reinsulate. Run the a/c only when it is above 82 in the house.

9. Cut things in half. Nobody enjoys giving things up, so consider halving them instead. Use half as much detergent, shampoo, conditioner – those measures on the bottles are meant to sell things. Spend half as much on movies and treats. Wash towels and sheets half as often. Try and walk or bike half the time. Try and waste only half the food you have been. Remember, things don’t have to be 100% – and often, the impact of doing something half the time includes you recognizing that we could do it even less.

10. We do like things to be easy, but not everything we like is easy. For all that it is important that people not feel befuddled and overwhelmed by the idea of reducing energy usage, it is possible to get people involved by the creative, fun and engaging elements of doing this. That is, even if it never is as simple as rolling off a log, people are engaged by complex things when they derive a sense of artfulness, accomplishment and pleasure from them. That is, you can get people to try and navigate a local diet, even if that’s more complex than “don’t eat X” if you can convince them that really local diets taste better and offer opportunities for creative expression. It may not be easy to figure out how to make your own, mend your own or do without things – but if people get to be pleased and proud that they learned something new or accomplished something difficult, they may do it anyway. Making the hard stuff interesting goes a long way to making people forget that it can be hard.

Comments

  1. #1 Anisa
    April 25, 2011

    Love it! Sharing!

  2. #2 Isis
    April 25, 2011

    Sharon, I have to say that I bulked at your suggestion that I buy fewer underpants. ;-) I know you know this, but it bears saying explicitly: unless you consume waaaaaaaaay less than your typical First World person, those underpants make a pretty tiny part of your carbon footprint. A person who owns a thousand pairs of underpants but has no TV is consuming less than the person who doesn’t wear underwear but just bought a brand new flat screen TV. (Not to mention that not wearing underpants is not terribly hygienic and watching TV messes with your head. Just sayin’.) So by all means, be reasonable about your underwear, but you’ll accomplish a lot more by eschewing as many gadgets as possible. :-)

  3. #3 Don
    April 25, 2011

    Good advice!

  4. #4 DW
    April 25, 2011

    I am bookmarking this for future reference.

    The other thing I do is air dry my clothes. It takes little effort and they’re already hung up when I need them.

  5. #5 Brad K.
    April 25, 2011

    Isis,

    I think you might have missed the underpants emphasis. I think what Sharon is saying is not to replace underpants because they were bought more than four weeks ago, but replace them because they cannot be reliably mended any more.

    And I think that implies buying underpants – or shoes – that are intended to be mended, and then mending when wear and tear making mending appropriate.

    Besides, just walking through Wal-Mart, I have to wonder at how much hygiene factors into some of the bikini and thong and other ‘stylish’ versions. Not to mention the see-through (leak-through?) versions.

    Growing up, when I needed new jeans for school, they were only used for school and special occasions. When too worn for school, they became the ‘best’ pair of chores pants. When well-patched and worn, they became the chores pants I wore when there wouldn’t be any neighbors around and no trips to town. Something similar with shirts. I don’t see much of that anymore.

  6. #6 annette
    April 26, 2011

    I buy 95% of my clothes used, but I draw the line at used underpants!

  7. #7 ozoderm
    April 26, 2011

    (Not to mention that not wearing underpants is not terribly hygienic and watching TV messes with your head. Just sayin’.) So by all means, be reasonable about your underwear, but you’ll accomplish a lot more by eschewing as many gadgets as possible. :-)

  8. #8 rork
    April 26, 2011

    11) Vote, and know what you are doing when you do vote.
    Changing the rules can change the behavior of millions of people. Don’t think it’s only your personal choices that matter.

  9. #9 tarynkay
    April 26, 2011

    Re: underpants- you can also make these out of old t-shirts. There are many tutorials online.

    I LOVE those lists, and I love this list, which is like a meta-list. But I love even the stupid lists, because people really do pick things up that way- my mother started using reusable shopping bags because she read about it in a doctor’s office waiting room. You might scoff and say, “So what? Reusable shopping bags, who cares?” But I tell you, reusable shopping bags are a gateway drug. Next thing I know, my folks were planting cabbages in their yard, installing a ‘solar-powered dryer’ (clothesline), and pining after bike lanes so they could stop driving to work.

  10. #10 Isis
    April 26, 2011

    Brad, oh please, buy normal, whole-behind-covered, cotton underpants; all the other stuff was quite clearly intended to be a torture device. ;-) But anyway. I think Sharon’s point was to buy as little as possible across the board, with underpants being just a colorful example. ;-)

    I guess the reason for my balking was that, well, I balk every time someone suggests (or even seems to seem to suggest ;-) ) that I ought to sacrifice personal hygiene for the purposes of, well, anything. And underwear is associated with hygiene. For the record though, I don’t buy underwear (or clothes for that matter) until the old stuff starts showing some serious signs of wear. (The fact that I absolutely cannot stand shopping for clothes as an activity helps keep me in check in this regard. ;-) )

    BTW, is it really true that an average American owns nine pairs of jeans? I remember reading this on Sharon’s blog once, and I still find it hard to believe. Let’s see, if you wear jeans a lot, you reasonably need two pairs of jeans (that’s how many I have). If you’re fashion-conscious (which I’m not), then maybe four. But NINE??

  11. #11 pysar
    April 26, 2011

    It’s a nice post but there are a few items that have not been thought through. For instance, if you wash your towels and sheets half as often, you’d probably have to purchase replacements twice as often. It’s hard to get out all the dirt that has been accumulating for a while. So, you will get permanent stains much quicker especially if you use half of the detergent. You can probably save much more energy if you stop using the dryer.

  12. #12 John F
    April 26, 2011

    This is a great post and these ideas will work if you can get more people to follow it. I think you will have a problem getting this idea across, but if you can it will help some. We all need to think of our own way to be green.

  13. #13 Dakota T
    April 26, 2011

    These are very great ideas on truley going green.Im not sure people even care to be honest. If you could get people to actually particapate in this then that would be great but people dont even do simple things like recycle cans like come on you even get money for doing that! and in school there are recycle crates for paper right by the trash cans but people still throw paper in the trash can! So this would work but if people would realize ho simple it actually is maybe they would particapate.

  14. #14 dalton s
    April 26, 2011

    Hey i liked the post about the 10 ways to go seriously green. i liked number 2 on the top 10 list. I agree there is a lot of people that are a little lazy and i am to at times. people should walk instead of drive. Driving also causes pollution.

  15. #15 conner w
    April 26, 2011

    This was a very interesting post. I really enjoyed reading it! I would most likely use #3. This would be very easy to do with planning.

  16. #16 Debbie Todd
    April 26, 2011

    Great list and it’s obviously got people thinking about this. @paysar – as for washing sheets and towels half the amount, they won’t wear out quicker because the dirt will be harder to get out. In fact, the opposite is true. Clothes and household linens wear out quicker from going in the washing machine which gives them a bit of a battering. If you hang towels to dry after use, they will last a lot longer between washes than if you fold them and let them remain a bit damp. Likewise, if you turn back the bed clothes and air the bed for a couple of hours after getting up, the bedding will stay fresh for longer.

    As for shampoo, conditioner, washing detergent, etc, I tend to use half the amount recommended and have done so for years with no ill effects.

    Another way of going greener is to try to use natural solutions for cleaning as much as possible – less harsh synthetic crap going into the water system. I recently had to clean out a refrigerator that had been inadvertently turned off and left for a couple of months. When it was opened, it was covered in mould. After scraping of the mould and giving it a bit of a scrub, it was left with stains on the plastic interior. I cut a lemon in half and rubbed it all over the interior and then washed with a rag soaked in hot water and the stains had all disappeared.

  17. #17 Cheyenne R
    April 26, 2011

    I love this post there is so many ways you can go green. This is a very cool thing. I think everyone should go green and recycle and do a lot of these things on this post and help the world.

  18. #18 Nikiah J
    April 26, 2011

    I really enjoyed this post. But most people just don’t understand what is going to happen to the world if we don’t start taking care of it. All of the world’s animals are suffering as well as the people on earth. So everybody needs to try to change things so the earth will be a more environmentally friendly place.

  19. #19 Bre H
    April 26, 2011

    I really liked reading this post. I never knew you could go green in many ways. But I think people need to start paying more attention to the environment and start caring. We need to recycle more! Good post.

  20. #20 Derek G
    April 26, 2011

    That is a very good comment #9! Everyone I am sure could cut back in something in there life just like you said. I can think of many things in my life that I could cut back like excessive amounts of soap, wasting food to often, and throwing away to many recyclable products. Thanks for sharing this post. It really makes you think before the next time you through to much stuff away!

  21. #21 Shania J
    April 26, 2011

    I really liked this list that you posted. I think that you have very useful information and that if more people follow these things, it would help out. You have to think about it, if everyone does even the littlest thing it can help A LOT! I think that everyone should at least think about going green, because we are going to see an enormous change in this world if we don’t!

  22. #22 Kyriana M
    April 26, 2011

    I like your comment number 18 because your right. People soesn’t know what the world is coming to and what it’s going to be like if we don’t keep the earth clean. I think nobody cares about cleaning it up because they think what the scientists say about the earth sinking or becoming to polluted is going to make something bad happen…everybody thinks its a myth.

  23. #23 kayla K
    April 26, 2011

    This list is very useful. This is a great thing to remember for the future. I really liked number 2! People are way to lazy now days. We should walk or bike to places we need to go. I also like #9. I take very long showers and use a ton of shampoo and conditioner. It would be a great thing to cut back on everything and use less. I really likes this post.

  24. #24 Tanner M
    April 26, 2011

    This blog has some really good points. One is that you don’t have to go all out the first day you start. All you need to focus on is reducing your usage on electronics. Also, our usage on a few of these items such as television don’t need to be in our daily routine in the first place!

  25. #25 Derek G
    April 26, 2011

    Post #5 is awesome! I think more people should read this comment. People depend on machine powered products when really most of the time you don’t even have to use them. Many people don’t use dryers to dry there clothes, because you don’t have to, you can use the natural wind to dry them. You really don’t need the power of car to get to half the places you need to go a bike would work just as good and it is better for you. This world would be much better if we have always done more buy are self’s!

  26. #26 bomoore
    April 26, 2011

    It would be better to know how much energy it takes to produce, ship, sell, and dispose of categories of items than to guess, which everyone is doing. I doubt that new underwear is equal to the devastation caused by plastic bottles and bags, and indeed, plastic in general. BOYCOTT plastic goods. How hard is it to buy a metal or glass water bottle and fill-it from a faucet? Drinking water from plastic bottles is a crime against the environment.

  27. #27 Diane Richards
    April 26, 2011

    We also need policy that rewards this behavior — I’m with #8, informed participation at the ballot box is essential.

  28. #28 Claire
    April 26, 2011

    Well, at the risk of getting the underwear debate going again … and yes, I agree with you, Isis, it was just a colorful example (thought maybe not so colorful if the underwear is white) … I have and wear used underwear. Got it from my aunt and from my MIL. Both women wash in hot water and use bleach. I have no sanitary issues at all with the underwear, in fact I’m proud to be wearing it!

  29. #29 Karla Dawson
    April 26, 2011

    I totally agree with everything that you are saying. If we all worked on these things our world would be alot greener. I agree with the person that said when you bought pants you used them in different stages until they were well used up. We live in a disposable world, it is a shame. We need to teach our children the way we were raised. Buy used and reuse until you can no longer use it,our landfills would be less full. http://www./crazymountainheaters.com

  30. #30 Brad K.
    April 27, 2011

    @ Derek G.,

    “could cut back . . ., and throwing away to many recyclable products”.

    I am of two minds about throwing away recyclables. On the one hand,there is no recycling without federal tax money subsidies – and there is a carbon burden for every tax dollar spent. Tax dollars represent government employees and there families, the schools and cars and coal fired power plants that serve them and their offices. The only recyclable that is actually cost effective – that would persist if the government went broke and stopped subsidizing recycling – is glass. And there is less money to be made in glass today than in previous decades.

    On the other hand, using recyclable or recycled materials and products authorizes and encourages big business to continue producing the plastics and throw-away consumer goods. (I consider recycling just an energy-intense version of throwing something away.)

    Buying something intended to be reused, and then reusing it makes a lot of sense to me. For instance, old mason jars can be used to legally dispose of burned out CFL bulbs (with the mercury content, they too would likely need to be shipped to Mexico – and back – for recycling). Nothing else is actually legal.

    @ Isis,

    About the jeans. I think you are looking at the jeans issue as if they were every day or work attire.

    Corporate cultures often require the appearance of affluence – such as not wearing the same clothes two days in a row. And not to wear work clothes to go shopping. If you do laundry every week, that is going to take nine or more pairs.

    In some circumstances, it is unfair to criticize – if you want the work, you have to meet the requirements. Calling the boss or the rules stupid seldom assures job continuity. Building your own workplace, or finding one with better values is about the only option. That or apply to Wal-Mart or McDonalds, or the local restaurant that pays well below minimum wage. When you have lots of money in your pocket, the choices are sometimes less painful.

  31. #31 Isis
    April 27, 2011

    Brad,

    But this was about jeans. If you have a job that requires wearing different clothes to work every day, then you’re not gonna be wearing jeans to work anyway; and if you can wear jeans to work, then your job probably doesn’t require wearing a different pair every day.

  32. #32 Sharon Astyk
    April 27, 2011

    Note to self – never again mention underwear ;-). I do think that an astonishing number of people I know whose underwear drawers I have seen (not a huge category, grant you) seem to have more than they need, but far be it to define that for anyone ;-).

  33. #33 Kolton H
    April 27, 2011

    This was a great blog. All of those things were relativly easy to do. Plus they all helped the enviroment. They could also be more healthy than other decisions like walking instead of driving. You still get there but you got some exercise and still get there. Great blog!

  34. #34 JacobD.
    April 27, 2011

    Their are some very helpful things too saveing our planet earth. In my class we watched a mopvie called “WALLE” It is funny but it also shows how the earth can be if we don’t take care of the place we live. I wish everyone would atleast try to go green.

  35. #35 Ciera O
    April 27, 2011

    I truly do think going green is a good idea. Some things are harder to give up then others though I will admit. For example, cell phones we all know them and love them. We use them all the time in our everyday lives. Some people use them more then others but most people do use one. At least unplug your charger when you’re not using it or only charge your phone when you need to because it doesn’t need to be charged for eight hours while you’re asleep. So think about little simple ways to go green like unplugging your cell phone charger, turning off the water while your brushing your teeth, turning off lights when your not in a room, or even reading a book instead of watching T.V. sometimes. There are many more little things so just think about it.

  36. #36 Devin
    April 27, 2011

    I believe in the statement on number nine because people us way to much of some things its wasting a lot of materials that we could use to make other more important objects that may save lives just throwing that out there

  37. #37 Francino
    April 27, 2011

    I agree with most of what is here. Plus :

    Your No 9 has been put to a lot of use in my house : having lived on a small sailboat on an inland lake, I have learnt and I use it at home as well : use a small liquid soap dispenser and start by diluting the orginal product 50/50 with water. One teaspoon of the mix in two cups of hot water will wash a lot if you make it a game of getting it done. A little soapy rag dipped in the mixture and rinsed in a second container during the job… You will be amazed at how much can be done with so little.

    Use hot water only if you need hot water that is, if you have grease to get rid of. All the rest is cold water soluble and most of the time, no soap needed either!

    Sheets an towels and clothes : I wash them when they really need to be washed and before and I am a very clean person. I have a very efficient Miele Energy star washer and I am very happy with it.

    But! But… every single piece of cotton (coming from really unusable sheets, towels or clothes) in my house turns out into 4X4 inches small rags that are used all around the house for small chores. The dirty bunch gets washed twice a year. Dusting wiping… I have them at hand everywhere. I’m the «I hate cleaning type» so it has to be really easy and quick.

  38. #38 Maddy M
    April 27, 2011

    I agree with your 10 ways to go more green. I think people need to start realizing how much the environment changes everyday and learn to respect it, considering we live on it. We should be doing everything we can to help the environment stay strong and keep resources going. Loved the post!

  39. #39 james c
    April 27, 2011

    I get what you are getting at but that is an awful lot to change. In my opinion i think you should have told people to gradually ease in to these don’t jump right into it.

  40. #40 John D
    April 27, 2011

    I agree that we all need to do something to help the environment. Like most of these items say if you can ride a bike to work or school as much as possible that would save a lot of gas and money.

  41. #41 Elijah M
    April 27, 2011

    I agree with #9 everybody could stand to cut down on something like cigarettes the butts from those things are polluting everything, if they could cut down a little each day the pollution would not increase as fast. I thought this was a very informative article and I enjoyed reading it.

  42. #42 Ashley P
    April 27, 2011

    I think that this post is a very good way to get “going green” out there. We do need to go green; we are going to end up killing the whole earth. We should really start conserving of the things we have or else it will all be gone before we know it.

  43. #43 Cammi S
    April 27, 2011

    I think this article gives a lot of information to give to people who would like to become “green”. I think it would be a hard thing to stick with but it would be worth it. Im not sure if everyone would want to do this but if you are dedicated then you should try it.

  44. #44 Emily W
    April 27, 2011

    I really didn’t know that even though my cell phone wasn’t plugged into it’s charger that it would still pull electricity. I totally agree that if someone is not using a charger or electric object that they should unplug the charger so we could conserve electricity. Without all the chargers plugged in without use, we could save so much energy!

  45. #45 Claire
    April 27, 2011

    I definitely agree about how we should drive less when it’s not important. A lot of people drive for the heck of it and it affects the environment. My family and some family friends of ours carpool all the time to church events and other things, and it definitely saves money. Riding bikes is good too, except I can understand not doing that so much in my town because we are all so spread out. Over all, I enjoyed reading that post!

  46. #46 Katie W.
    April 27, 2011

    This is a great article. I agree with a lot of these things. These are also great solutions to many of our problems. Most people complain about Global Warming, but do they ever try to do anything about it? Hardly. So the people who want to stop pollution can do these things to do their part in making this world cleaner.

  47. #47 Annie
    April 27, 2011

    Isis, I own nine pairs of jeans! While I understand that sounds excessive, many women struggle with weight fluctuations and have wardrobes that reflect that. In my case, in the past two years I’ve run two marathons (skinny!) and had two babies (not so skinny!). While I don’t intend to add to that jean collection, I wanted to point out that sometimes other people’s ridiculous sounding choices are grounded in circumstances that aren’t apparent to outsiders. (And I wear jeans to an office job.)

  48. #48 GeekQueen
    April 27, 2011

    Patagonia decided that one of the worst things it could do to the environment was to ship their product by plane. Planes and cars are terrible for our carbon footprint.

    Start using video presence. It saves tons. We are not Patagonia but we do use ooVoo.com to do our first sets of interviews and it truly saves a lot of money and time.

  49. #49 Jadehawk
    April 27, 2011

    ok, just what exactly is unhygienic about going commando? do y’all shit and piss in your underwear, or what?

    anyway, I’m a horrible slob, so “using half of everything” in terms of cleaning already applies. There is, after all, no real reason to throw out a kitchen towel just because it’s gone from “white as driven snow” to a variety of brown-tones, as long as it’s not greasy and not full of bacteria (best solution: use dark-brown kitchen towels in the first place :-p )

  50. #50 Vance
    April 28, 2011

    Really nice article. There is a lot of information for the people who would love to go green. Hope you keep up the good work.
    http://garageheatershop.com

  51. #51 Lenticulate
    April 28, 2011

    No, not interested in changing my lifestyle. Thanks anyway.

  52. #52 Jen29
    April 28, 2011

    Jadehawk asked what is unhygienic about going commando…well, your pants won’t be any more or less dirty than your underwear. But if you wear underwear they are easier to wash, and you can go longer before you need to wash your pants, I think.

  53. #53 Rebekah W
    April 28, 2011

    Dear Sharon,
    This article is very good, and if people start to do at least most of these things, we can be living a very green life. I think number three is a good idea, especially for those who have religion and sometimes feel a little bit bad about not having much of a Sabbath day. Even for those who don’t have a religion they follow, like you said, they have a day to relax and spend time with family. Also, like you said in number four, there are tons of ways by just doing simple things that take very little time that we can do to save energy. Charging your cell phone only when it needs it is also a good way to save energy, because most cell phones don’t take the entire night to charge. Planning meals for at least a week ahead is a good idea too. I never thought of something like that, but it will save energy if you only have to go to the grocery store once every one to two weeks. Doing simple things, like push mowing your small yard, if you have one, is also another possibility that I have never considered to save energy. And it has benefits because if you are someone who is trying to lose weight, push mowing would be a better way to walk than using a treadmill. (And probably uses less energy also, and you are getting something accomplished too!) The last thing I am going to comment on is about cutting things in half. I agree most things like what you mentioned can easily be cut back. In fact, I have recently discovered that when liquid hand soap gets to about half or a fourth of the container left, filling it up with water to the top lasts you a long time without putting more soap in it. And it cleans just as well!

  54. #54 write
    April 29, 2011

    in my opinion, is it really true that an average American owns nine pairs of jeans? I remember reading this on Sharon’s blog once, and I still find it hard to believe.

  55. #55 Bruce Dog Walker
    April 29, 2011

    a GREAT article and many good suggestions. I just find that many people seem to overcomplicate it. Our council enforces green waste and metal and plastic recycling. We insulate our home and drive economically.

    I have found the two biggest things our house could do is to buy solar panels for the roof (but the rebates arent very good from the govt so cant afford) and to convert our car to gas (but its engine is small already and payback on gas takes quite a few years).

    If the govt grants for these two things made it in reach of everyone, a large amount of carbon would not be released. Ever.

  56. #56 Aidan M
    April 29, 2011

    This is helping me change the way i live, these step are much easier (and make more sense) than most other articles

  57. #57 Mike Mellor
    April 29, 2011

    In the line at the store, the cashier told the older woman that plastic bags weren’t good for the environment. The woman apologized to her and explained, “We didn’t have the green thing back in my day.”

    That’s right, they didn’t have the green thing in her day. Back then, they returned their milk bottles, Coke bottles and beer bottles to the store. The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and refilled, using the same bottles over and over. So they really were recycled. But they didn’t have the green thing back in her day.

    In her day, they walked up stairs, because they didn’t have an escalator in every store and office building. They walked to the grocery store and didn’t climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time they had to go two blocks. But she’s right. They didn’t have the green thing in her day.

    Back then, they washed the baby’s diapers because they didn’t have the throw-away kind. They dried clothes on a line, not in an energy gobbling machine burning up 220 volts wind and solar power really did dry the clothes. Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing. But that old lady is right; they didn’t have the green thing back in her day.

    Back then, they had one TV, or radio, in the house not a TV in every room. And the TV had a small screen the size of a pizza dish, not a screen the size of the state of Montana . In the kitchen, they blended and stirred by hand because they didn’t have electric machines to do everything for you. When they packaged a fragile item to send in the mail, they used wadded up newspaper to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap.

    Back then, they didn’t fire up an engine and burn gasoline just to cut the lawn. They used a push mower that ran on human power. They exercised by working so they didn’t need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity. But she’s right; they didn’t have the green thing back then.

    They drank from a fountain when they were thirsty, instead of using a cup or a plastic bottle every time they had a drink of water. They refilled pens with ink, instead of buying a new pen, and they replaced the razor blades in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull. But they didn’t have the green thing back then.

    Back then, people took the streetcar and kids rode their bikes to school or rode the school bus, instead of turning their moms into a 24-hour taxi service. They had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances. And they didn’t need a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 2,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest pizza joint.

    But that old lady is right. They didn’t have the green thing back in her day.

  58. I have found the two biggest things our house could do is to buy solar panels for the roof (but the rebates arent very good from the govt so cant afford) and to convert our car to gas (but its engine is small already and payback on gas takes quite a few years).

  59. #59 Nicole
    May 3, 2011

    Sorry Isis, I totally agree about the underwear but Brad K. is right about the jeans. Just because you wear jeans to work (and I do) doesn’t mean the corporate culture isn’t firmly in place. I compromise on 3 pairs of go-to-work jeans so I only have to wear them twice in a week and 2 pairs of jeans demoted to work-work. But then there are the jeans that I am too fat for right now and one pair (hooray!) that’s too big. 9 pairs doesn’t sound excessive at all if you wear them every day.

  60. #60 herky stubby
    May 11, 2011

    Clearly an eye opener! This should be shared to all human beings around the globe! Seriously, :)