Going Green at Home

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Better Homes and Gardens recently listed 10 Easy Ways to Go Green in a slideshow on their website. While the ideas are accompanied by classy pictures, none of them are especially novel or revolutionary. However, they are excellent ideas, and most of them can save money around the house. (BHG details just how much with each slide.) Here are their suggestions, written by Kelly Tagore, along with my comments:

10 Easy Ways to Go Green

  1. Change a Light Bulb

    BHG recommends changing your light bulbs to compact fluorescent lights (CFLs). We changed all of our light bulbs well over a year ago, and have already reduced our energy cost. They have extra bonus features: they light gradually, reducing the chance of being momentarily blinded when you switch on the light. Also, they last much longer than regular bulbs, so you don't have to climb into awkward spots nearly as often.
  2. Unplug Things That Glow

    From lighting things up to powering them down: BHG suggests unplugging any device with a light-emitting diode (LED) when it isn't use. Plugging your DVD player and other devices into a power strip can make turning off multiple devices more convienent. (Ok, in that case, I want a power strip with a remote control. Saving the environment is at its best when it involves laziness.)
  3. Recycle Your Electronics

    I'm probably not the only one who has been doing a little spring cleaning lately. If you come across those piles of electronics (used keyboards, cell phones, etc.) that you haven't used in years, send them in to be recycled. According to BHG, you can get paid up to $35 for recycling an old cell phone. (I lied. Saving the environment is at its best when it involves easy money.)
  4. Audit Your Energy

    I haven't tried this one, but I would like to. Have your electric company audit your energy use. They'll tell you where your money is leaking out the windows, most literally.
  5. Support Local Farmers

    Viva la Farmer's Market! It is that time of year again, when little booths pop up all over our urban areas, bringing the best of the rural areas right outside of town. Locally grown vegetables are generally tastier, cheaper, fresher, and most importantly, don't have to be shipped 1,500 miles to your shopping basket. (I use a picnic basket when I go, by the way. It's easy to carry, looks nice, and eliminates bags and boxes.) Visit a Farmer's Market near you!
  6. Fix That Drip

    I write fairly often about water shortages here in the west. Nothing drains this precious resource faster than a leaky faucet.
  7. Let Your Grass Grow

    Let it grow, let it grow... This saves energy, both in gasoline and pure labor. I love long grass, myself... even though I'd rather not have any. A rock garden with some native shrubs and wildflowers looks far more classy, in my humble opinion.
  8. Look for the Label

    The EnergyStar label: hopefully, you'll find these stuck on electronic devices throughout your home. If not, think about an upgrade. (Who doesn't like a new appliances?) If your old appliance was an electricity hog, it'll pay for itself eventually.
  9. Do Full Loads

    BHG points this out:

    The average American family of four washes about 540 loads of laundry a year, which consumes up to 21,000 gallons of water, and more than 150 loads of dishes, which uses about 1,500 gallons.



    Yikes. While I think I do less laundry than that, I only have a family of 3. I'm pretty sure we do more loads of dishes than that, though. The trouble is, they're typically full. Perhaps they ought to suggest "use less kitchen gadgetry" ...but that might not coincide with their advertising.

  10. Work the Critters

    Ah, last but not least, we have the mighty little guys: animals which prey on insects, reducing the need for insecticides. As BHG puts it, "Your backyard ecosystem is as intricate as any wild patch of land, and it pays in many ways to enlist its creatures on your side." I couldn't have said it better myself.

Photo and list via BHG.com.

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That remote control power strip idea is a good idea.

I have read that using your dishwasher uses less water than hand washing, because of the way it recycles water through the system -- blasting that same soapy water over your dishes several times before the rinse. So don't just eliminate the gadgetry and think that will be better! Use your gadgetry wisely.

@bc, I owe you an apology... for some reason, your comment was held up in moderation, and I didn't see it right away. Regarding the power strip, I do have a remote which toggles a single outlet for those awkward lights (like the fishtank and china cabinet) but it really doesn't work very well. With the complexity of some remotes today, you'd think it would be a simple technology to figure out.

Molly, I can assure you, the dishwasher is one gadget I won't easily part with. I seem to have the biggest problem with gadgets that chop... I've bought maybe a dozen different devices over the years, and not one of them works as well as a good knife. At any rate, thanks for the tip!

I can really pinpoint which is the biggest crowdsourcing website (in terms of brand recognition). There are always seem to be a new one popping up which I've never heard. This time it's Crowdflower. The learning continues...