Global Stewards - Green Tips for a Healthy Planet

green tips for creating a healthy planet

Pinterest Twitter Facebook Email This Page Link To a Friend
 

Green Tips for a Healthy Planet







Separate page: Environmental Solutions for Getting Around Town


Back to Top


First: Reduce


The critical first step of waste prevention has been overshadowed by a focus on recycling. Please help to promote a greater awareness of the importance of the "Reduce" part of the Reduce-Reuse-Recycle mantra. For a great overview of how raw materials and products move around the world, see the video The Story of Stuff.

  • Go Zero Waste: The ultimate goal - learn how at Zero Waste Home.
  • Waste BasketSimplify: Simplify your life as much as possible. Only keep belongings that you use/enjoy on a regular basis. By making the effort to reduce what you own, you will naturally purchase less/create less waste in the future
  • Determine Your Impact: The Eco Footprint, Greendex and Water Footprint calculators give you a great way to determine how you are impacting the environment.
  • Reduce Purchases: In general, think before you buy any product - do you really need it? How did the production of this product impact the environment and what further impacts will there be with the disposal of the product (and associated packaging materials)? When you are thinking about buying something, try the 30-Day Rule -- wait 30 days after the first time you decide you want a product to really make your decision. This will eliminate impulse buying. The free, downloadable Wallet Buddy from The Center for a New American Dream is a great constant reminder to make sustainable purchases (including avoiding unessentials).
  • Observe an Eco-Sabbath: For one day, afternoon or hour a week, don't buy anything, don't use machines, don't switch on anything electric, don't cook, don't answer your phone and, in general, don't use any resources. (source)
  • Replace Disposables: Wherever possible, replace disposable products with reusable ones (i.e., razor, food storage, batteries, ink cartridges (buy refill ink), coffee filters, furnace or air conditioner filters, etc.).
  • Buy Used: Buy used products whenever possible. Some sources:
  • Borrow From Friends: If you only need something temporarily, ask if a friend or neighbor would loan it to you.
  • Share With Friends: Share things like books, magazines, movies, games, and newspapers between friends and neighbors.
  • Tree-Free Home: As much as possible, create a tree-free home:
    • replace paper napkins with cloth napkins
    • Paper Towelsreplace paper towels with a special set of cloth towels/napkins (or cut up old t-shirts for great towels) - store the used ones in a small container in your kitchen and just wash and reuse
    • purchase bleach-free, toilet paper that is made from the highest post-consumer waste content you can find (80% minimum)
    • if you print documents, print on once-used paper and/or bleach-free, recycled paper with the highest post-consumer waste content available (or hemp/alternative-source paper, if you can afford it)
    • switch to a digital organizer for tracking your to do's and grocery lists. A few free suggestions: Wunderlist, Remember the Milk, GroceryIQ
    • reuse envelopes, wrapping paper, the front of gift cards (as postcards) and other paper materials you receive wherever possible
    • read books, magazines, and newspapers from your local library or online (many have email newsletters)
    • create and use note pads from once-used paper
    • leave messages for family members/roommates on a reusable message board
    • make your own cards/letters from once-used products or handmade paper or buy at thrift stores
    • if you will be doing construction on your house, search out alternatives to using newly cut wood (no endorsement of any company intended):
  • Bulk Purchases: Avoid products that are packaged for single use (i.e., drinks, school lunches, candy, cat and dog food, salad mixings, etc.). Instead, buy in bulk and transfer the products to your own reusable containers. Many health food stores have bulk bins where they sell everything from grains to cereal to cleaning products. For additional ideas, read the Precycling information page.
  • Buy Only What You Need: Buy only as much as you know you'll use for items such as food, cleaning supplies, and paint.
  • Avoid Creating Trash: Avoid creating trash wherever possible: when ordering food, avoid receiving any unnecessary plastic utensils, straws, etc. (ask in advance), buy ice cream in a cone instead of a cup, don't accept "free" promotional products, buy products with the least amount of packaging, etc. Every little bit of trash avoided does make a difference!
  • Shopping Bags: While shopping, if you only buy a few products skip the shopping bag. For larger purchases, bring your own. Learn about pollution caused by plastics.
  • Junk Mail: For ideas on how to stop junk mail at work and home, check out:
  • Waste-Free Lunches: Pack a Waste-Free Lunch whenever possible.
  • Mug-to-Go: Carry a mug with you wherever you go for take out beverages.
  • Address Early Consumption Habits: New American Dream offers tips for protecting your children from intrusive and harmful advertising that promotes mindless consumption.
  • Encourage Hotels to Reduce Waste: When staying at a hotel, motel, or bed and breakfast let the management know that you like to support businesses that adopt environmentally responsible practices (including reducing waste). Give hotels a link to Environmental Solutions for Green Hotels. To locate environmentally friendly hotels, search on the Internet under "ecotourism" and/or visit Green Hotels Association.

Back to Top

Second: Reuse


The media has done a wonderful job of selling us on the attractiveness and benefits of buying "new", "improved", "special", etc. products. However, we already collectively own so much that we could all survive for quite a while on the existing products - if we just reused them a few times!

  • Garage Sales: Shop at and hold garage sales - this is a great way to reuse products.
  • Reusables: Switch from disposable to reusable products: food and beverage containers, cups, plates, writing pens, razors, diapers, towels, shopping bags, etc.
  • Donations: Donate (and buy used):
    • household items - clothes, furniture, dishes, books, sports equipment, magazines, appliances, electronics, business attire, wedding attire, etc. (to charity)
    • women's business attire (to Dress for Success)
    • computer equipment
    • cell phones, cameras, iPod/MP3 Players, laptops, PDAs (to Recycling for Charities)
    • cell phones and ink cartridges (to Cure Recycling - profits from reuse of items support the CURE Childhood Cancer organization. Free postage. Another place to donate cell phones is Collective Good). If you would like to start your own recycling program, check out Wireless Recycling. Learn how to erase cell phone data with this free data eraser.
    • building material (to companies who specialize in selling used material). One organization: Habitat for Humanity
    • eyeglasses (to Lions Club, For-Eyes, Pearle, or Lenscrafters)
    • extra hangers (to your local dry cleaners)
    • art materials (to a school or cultural organization)
    • unwanted boxed/bagged/canned food (to homeless shelters, food banks, or soup kitchens)
    • etc.
  • Buy/Sell Used Items: Buy and sell your items on sites such as:
  • Freecycle: The Freecycle Network provides an online community tool for giving and receiving free stuff.
  • Share: thingloop facilitates sharing our belongings with each other.
  • Throwplace: Throwplace.com lets you list items online that you would like to give to nonprofit organizations, businesses, or individuals.
  • Community Swap: Organize a community swap program (i.e., designate a place where people can leave unwanted items for others to use).
  • Fixers Collective: Create or join a fixers collective in your community to get together once a month or so to help each other repair broken appliances and other household items.
  • Packing Peanuts: Drop off at a local packing, shipping or moving store.
  • Wash and Reuse Plastic Bags: With either a wooden bag dryer or in the washing machine. Better yet, replace them with reusable glass, ceramic or metal storage containers.
  • Buy Durables: Buy products that will last and take care of them.
  • Teach Thrift: Teach your children the value of being thrifty (the wise economy in the management of money and other resources; frugality).
  • Frugal Printing: Use both sides of each piece of paper -- for note taking or printing documents from your computer (at home or work). Create note pads by stapling together once-used paper.
  • Kitchen Reusables: Instead of buying these items new, save and reuse all: paper bags, rubber bands, twisties, boxes, and packaging material. Switch from plastic bags to reusable ceramic, glass or metal containers.
  • Library: Pick up books from your local library or used book store. The library is also many times a great place for finding magazines, CDs, books-on-tape, and videos.
  • Share with Neighbors: Join in with neighbors to purchase infrequently used products such as lawn mowers, ladders, etc.
  • Refurbished Computers: Buy refurbished computers for less
  • Rechargeable Batteries: Purchase rechargeable batteries and a battery recharger (some battery rechargers will also recharge regular alkaline batteries). Solar powered battery rechargers are available online.
  • College Reuse: Dump and Run is a nonprofit organization that organizes the collection of college students' castoff items in the spring, so they can be sold to incoming students in the fall. The proceeds are then donated to nonprofits.

Back to Top

Third: Recycle

  • Recycle your Plastic Bottle Tops: Plastic bottle recycling is transitioning to recycling bottle tops (left on the plastic container)! Contact your local recycling center first to confirm they are recycling bottle tops. Better yet, switch to reusable glass or metal drinking bottles and skip the plastic bottles all together.
  • Recycle Bins: Create designated holding "bins" for each type of recycled product and place in convenient locations in your home/garage
  • Recycling Fact Sheet: If one isn't available on your recycling center's website, create a local recycling directory for yourself and interested neighbors. The local Yellow Pages, your local recycling center, Internet Consumer Recycling Guide and Recycling Resources are great resources. Here is a great example. Find out where you can recycle the following locally:
    • glass
    • paper products
    • plastic grocery bags (better yet - use cloth bags)
    • plastic - including 1 - 7 identification codes
    • aluminum
    • cardboard
    • tin cans
    • scrap metal
    • motor oil (one quart of oil can kill fish in thousands of gallons of water)
    • ink cartridges
    • household appliances such as refrigerators
    • computer equipment and other electronic devices
    • aseptic packaging (square boxes used for liquids)
    • styrofoam
    • tires
    • athletic shoes (contact a local sporting goods or athletic shoe store - some donate used shoes, others recycle them)
    • etc.
  • Help Launch Sustainable Packaging!: As a customer, you have enormous power to help launch the sustainable packaging movement. Many companies are now exploring ways to maximize nontoxic recyclable and compostable packaging content. Please email the companies you purchase products from and ask them to consider switching to 100% sustainable packaging - the Sustainable Packaging Coalition is a great resource to suggest as a starting point. Most companies really listen to their customers - you'll be surprised how many respond (and you may receive some great coupons for your trouble!)
  • Energy Reduction from RecyclingRecycling Rechargeable Batteries and Cell Phones: It's easy to recycle rechargeable batteries and cell phones in the US and Canada- just go to call2recyle and find a nearby free drop off center.
  • Recycling CDs and DVDs: Several CD, DVD (and Hard Drive) recycling centers are now available.
  • Recycled Content: Ask your local retailers to stock more products made from recycled materials and buy products made from the highest recycled content whenever possible.
  • Green Paper: In general, try to buy products/containers made from recycled material as often as possible to support the recycled product market. When purchasing paper products (toilet paper, etc,), look for paper that has been recycled using a minimum of 50% post-consumer waste. Also, purchase from companies that do not use chlorine to bleach their paper products (which creates dioxin waste).
  • Grasscycling: Leave grass clippings on the lawn as fertilizer and to reduce the amount of yard trimmings disposed in landfills.
  • Composting: Start a compost pile with yard trimmings and food scraps. Learn more at HowToCompost.org.
  • Pack-it-Out: If you are traveling and no recycle bins are available, pack your recyclables home with you whenever possible.
  • Eco-Friendly Burials (aka Naural or Green Burials): For the ultimate in recycling, check out the growing movement in eco-friendly burials and conservation burial. Also, eco-friendly recycled paper coffins are becoming available. Learn more through the Green Burial Council.
  • Recycled Gold: If you are shopping for wedding rings or other jewelry consider buying recycled gold jewelry and synthetic diamonds and gemstones.
  • Hazardous Waste: The other key aspect of dealing with waste effectively is to dispose of toxic products at a hazardous waste facility. Products requiring special handling include:
    • Building Materials - paint , varnish, paint thinner, solvents, rust remover, wood preservatives and driveway sealer
    • Automotive products - gasoline, transmission oil, brake fluid, kerosene, charcoal lighter fluid, power steering fluid, used motor oil,used oil filters, used antifreeze
    • Household cleaners - spot removers, rug cleaners, metal cleaners, bathroom cleaners, oven cleaner, drain cleaner
    • Pesticides - insect killers, weed killers, flea products, moth crystals, fertilizers with weed killer
    • Miscellaneous - photographic chemicals, acids and corrosive chemicals, pool chemicals, compact fluorescent light bulbs (mercury), Ni-Cd batteries

Back to Top

Fourth: Refuse

  • Refuse Products that Create Waste: If available, instead of buying processed food, bring your own bags and containers and buy from the bulk and produce sections of the grocery store. Minimize or eliminate other types of purchases that generate waste. The Johnson's are a zero-waste family who offer tips and inspiration for creating a zero-waste household while creating a far more satisfying and affordable lifestyle.
  • Avoid Single Use Products: Instead, choose (or bring) reusable products or consider doing without. Avoiding plastic single use items is especially important because of their toxic load and, if landfilled, exceptionally long life. These can include food and beverage containers, cups, plates, straws, writing pens, razors, diapers, towels, shopping bags, etc.
  • Refuse Give Aways: When a business or individual offers you a free give away that you don't need, politely refuse. This can be anything from a straw in a restaurant to promotional gifts to paper handouts. This not only saves the company or individual money, but it keeps resources from being consumed unnecessarily (even if it is recyclable).

Back to Top

Fifth: Rot

  • Compostable or Washable Fruit, Vegetable LabelWorm Composting: Learn about worm composting (vermiculture) at Earthworm FAQ.
  • Composting: Start a compost pile with yard trimmings and food scraps. Learn more at Wikipedia's Compost page.
  • Compostable Fruit and Veggie Labels!: Encourage your local fruit and vegetable farmers to switch to compostable or dissovable labels.
  • Grasscycling: Leave grass clippings on the lawn as fertilizer and to reduce the amount of yard trimmings disposed in landfills.
  • Mulching: Mulching mowers are available which will convert cut grass into a natural fertilizer.
  • Resources: Links to great sites on everything from worm composting (vermiculture) to organic farming can be found at Useful Links.

Back to Top

Your Food


Switching to a animal-free vegan diet is a powerful way to help protect our environment, help ensure everyone has enough to eat and get healthy. The United Nations report Livestock's Long Shadow–Environmental Issues and Options, which concludes that the livestock sector (primarily cows, chickens, and pigs) emerges as one of the top two or three most significant contributors to our most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global. It is one of the largest sources of greenhouse gases - responsible for 18% of the world's greenhouse gas emissions as measured in CO2 equivalents. By comparison, all transportation emits 13.5% of the CO2. It produces 65% of human-related nitrous oxide (which has 296 times the climate change potential of CO2) and 37% of all human-induced methane (which is 23 times as warming as CO2). CO2 emissions by cowsIt also generates 64% of the ammonia, which contributes to acid rain and acidification of ecosystems. In addition, the enormous amounts of grain required to feed livestock reduces the amount of food available for the world's hungry. Buying organic, locally grown food also reduces climate change emissions and helps protect the environment.

"The world is producing the wrong kind of food, by a process that leaves millions of people landless, homeless, cashless, and unable to feed themselves." Anita Roddick

  • Organic: The What is Organic? page explains what organic produce is and how it is certified.
  • Local: Buy food (and drink - ideally tap - water) from local companies whenever possible. Each pound of local food you purchase prevents a quarter pound of climate change (C02) emissions. Support your area's Farmer's Market. If possible, grow your own fruits and vegetables using organic gardening practices. In the U.S.:
  • Vegetarian/Vegan Diet: Consider becoming a vegetarian or vegan (no animal products). Informational sites:
  • Vegetarian/Vegan Restaurants: Restaurant locators:
  • Responsible Food Shopping: Whenever possible, shop at farmers markets, food co-ops, local health food stores, and socially and environmentally responsible chain stores (research tools: better world shopper and good guide).
  • Healthy School Lunches: Support efforts to increase healthy food choices in school lunches (US)
  • Green Calculator: Learn about the effect your diet is having on the environment with the Eating Green Calculator. Also see how your food choices impact climate change.
  • Non-GMO: There are many organizations that are working to protect our food supply from genetically engineered produce. Please get involved in any way you can. Whenever possible, buy products containing non-GMO soy, cotton, and corn. Ask your local supermarket to carry non-GMO products and ask your friends to also make this request - have faith that your requests will get back to the growers and store headquarters. This trend will only turn around when customer demand non-GMO products. Your pocketbook is your most effective voice.
  • Unprocessed Food: Eat unprocessed/unpackaged food whenever possible.
  • Smart Seafood: If you purchase seafood, consult a seafood choices chart to select environmentally smart seafood. Also, learn more about avoiding mercury in your seafood at NRDC.
  • Shade-Grown Coffee: Buy shade-grown coffee to protect desperately needed migratory bird habitats. Many "fair trade certified" coffees are shade-grown.
  • Free-Range: If you eat meat, buy "free-range" raised animals. According to the EPA, "there are approximately 450,000 AFOs (Animal feeding operations - livestock-raising operations, such as hog, cattle and poultry farms, that confine and concentrate animal populations) in the United States. About 6,600 of these operations fall into the largest category and are referred to as Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs)."

Back to Top

Conserve Energy


Please do not wait to start conserving as much energy as you can to reduce your climate change emissions! And please ask your elected representatives to push for strong legislation to move toward overall reduced energy usage and increased alternative energy production.

  • Set Goals: To reduce your energy consumption:
    • Set specific energy reduction goals (for electricity, gas, and gallons of fuel consumed in your car(s)) -- for example, commit to using 20% less per month
    • Determine a baseline to start reducing from. Print the energy and water consumption chart and post in a visible spot in your home. Updates:
      • for your car(s): chart the number of miles you drive each month
      • for your home/office: chart the gas "therms" and/or electric kilowatts per hour (kWh) used in the last 12 months (for comparison to each month this year)
    • Washing Machine Cold SettingMake specific changes in products used and family member habits:
      • buy energy saving products where needed
      • read the Environmental Solutions for Getting Around Town page for ideas on reducing mileage/increasing mileage efficiency
      • get your family involved by asking for specific changes in everyone's habits (e.g., tape signs to light switches reminding family members to turn out lights when they leave a room, tape a sign to your car dashboard reminding the driver to check tire pressure during the first week of each month, assign someone to turn out all lights and cut power to unused appliances (to reduce standby power usage) each night)
      • look for additional ideas below
    • Once a month, add the new usage information to the charts and make adjustments as needed to reach your goals
    • Use the money saved to do something fun with your family (if you have children, increase their allowances by the amount saved to encourage them to get involved in finding new ways to conserve)
    • Join the Carbon Conscious Consumer program by New American Dream to receive new ideas monthly.
  • Buy Green Energy: If possible, choose a utility company focused on renewable energy. If you live in a deregulated state in the U.S., Green-e provides information about certified "clean electricity" providers for your state. In the U.K., visit Green Helpline.
  • Time to Replace Your Refrigerator? Click to Find Out!Resources: The following pages provide tips on how to save energy:
  • Know Your Appliances: Great list of typical energy use per appliance to help prioritize your approach to saving energy. When/if replacing appliances look for energy saving (i.e., Energy Star) or, better yet, hand-powered models (consider used older models which have proven longevity).
  • clotheslineBring back the clothesline!: Using a clothesline to dry your clothes whenever possible is a great way to reduce carbon emissions. In the U.S., you can sign the right2dry.org petition to support legislation to void clotheseline bans by homeowner's associations.
  • Carbon Footprint: The Carbon Footprint Calculator helps you to determine your carbon dioxide emissions from major sources: home energy consumption and transportation by car and plane. This information can be tracked over time, allowing you to gauge the impact of actions you take to reduce your carbon footprint.
  • Self-Learning Thermostat: Check out The Nest for potentially large savings in heating and cooling.
  • Carbon Offsets: If you are taking a trip, consider buying carbon emission offsets. One Green-e certified company is ClimateSAVE. TerraPass is another well respected company.
  • Home Shade: In hot areas, if you have west-facing windows use window treatments such as blinds, tints, deciduous trees or trellises to help keep out heat from the summer sun. In general, you will lower your summer air-conditioning bill by planting trees and bushes along the west side of your home.
  • Paint Colors: Paint your home a light color if you live in a warm climate and a dark color if you live in a cold climate.
  • Residential Energy UseInsulation: Insulate your hot water heater (a tank that is warm to the touch needs added insulation), as well as hot water pipes and ducts located in unheated areas.
  • Standby Power: Reduce "standby power" (the energy used while an appliance is switched off or not performing) at home and at work. The easiest way is to unplug appliances that are not being used. You can also plug your appliances into bye bye standby or smart meters so that they are powered down completely when turned off.
  • Lights Off: Whenever possible, keep lights off during the day. Consider installing a well insulated skylight if more light is needed. Encourage family members to get in the habit of turning off lights when they leave a room (taping small reminder notes to light switches can help).
  • Power-Saving Features: Learn about easy ways to reduce energy use by your computer with the Power Management for Computers guide
  • Location of Home: Choose a place to live that reduces the need to drive (easy access to public transit, easy biking routes, close to work and stores, walk able community, etc.).
  • Solar Cooker: Consider using a solar cooker to cook some of your meals.
  • Cool Water: When turning on a water faucet, unless you need warm water choose the coolest water setting.
  • Energy Efficient Mortgages (U.S.): EEM's let you borrow extra money to pay for energy efficient upgrades to your current home or a new or old home that you plan to buy.
  • Renewable Energy Certificates (REC): If you don't have the ability to switch to renewable energy, consider buying an REC which let's you essentially purchase renewable energy without switching electricity suppliers.
  • Invest in Energy: Investing in renewable energy production is the same as investing in a home or office building. Buying energy from a utility, on the other hand, is like renting - at the end of fifteen years you don't have anything to show for it - and you are left vulnerable to the fluctuating costs of energy. One investment option is solar panels which can produce energy for 40 years or more - far longer than it takes to pay off the installation costs (currently around 15 years for homeowners and only 7 years for businesses). Wind power, where available, has a far quicker payback period. For more information on renewable energy, check out:
  • Dark-Sky: Change outside light fixtures so that light does not shine up into the sky. The International Dark-Sky Association works to educate individuals and communities about the use of energy-efficient, properly designed lighting that allows for good night sky viewing. The Fatal Light Awareness Program educates individuals about how urban lights harm migratory birds.

Back to Top

Conserve Water


Freshwater degradation is a looming crisis that we must face head on with strong and effective actions. Please do your part to protect this precious resource and call upon your elected representatives to take action today to protect not just future generations but our own future by adopting sustainable water practices. Only 3% of the earth's water is freshwater - we must protect this critical resource. In addition, water-related energy consumes a large amount of energy. In California, for example, water use consumes 19% of the state's electricity, 30% of it's natural gas, and 88 billion gallons of diesel fuel annually.

  • Set Goals: To reduce your water consumption:
    • Set specific water reduction goals -- for example, commit to using 20% less per month. To determine your overall water footprint, use the Water Footprint Calculator.
    • Determine a baseline to start reducing from. Print the energy and water consumption chart and post in a visible spot in your home.
    • Chart the number of gallons of water used in the last 12 months (for comparison to each month this year) (if water consumption is listed by CCF (hundred cubic feet), one CCF equals 748 gallons.
    • Make specific changes in products used and family member habits:
      • buy water saving products where needed
      • get your family involved by asking for specific changes in everyone's habits (e.g., place signs near water outlets reminding family members to reduce consumption (e.g., shorter showers, turning the faucet off when not needed, only watering outdoor plants in the morning or evening))
      • look for additional ideas below
    • Once a month, add the new usage information to the charts and make adjustments as needed to reach your goals
    • If you have children, increase their allowances by the amount saved to encourage them to get involved in finding new ways to conserve
  • Resources: You'll find several water conservation ideas at H2ouse Water Saver Home including a Top 5 Water Savers page and 10 Ways to Save Water.
  • Water Consumption: Each time you turn on a water faucet use the lowest pressure necessary. Keep the water turned on only while it is needed. For drinking water, keep a pitcher in your refrigerator so you don't have to let water run to cool.
  • leaking toilet flapperFix Leaks Promptly!: It is estimated that 13.7% of household water is wasted by leaks. Check your water meter when no one is using water in the house. If it's moving there's a leak. A running toilet can waste 2 gallons a minute. Check by adding food coloring to the tank without flushing. After 10 minutes, look for leaks indicated by color in the bowl. This is most likely a worn flapper valve that can easily be replaced.
  • Low Flow Toilets: One of the best ways to avoid wasting water is to switch to low flow or dual flush toilets. Visit Terry Love's consumer toilets report for a great review on available low flow toilets. Flush your toilet only every other time or when it has solid waste. LeakAlerter notifies you if your toilet is leaking.
  • Showers: Replace existing shower heads with the lowest flow product you can find. Shower heads with a mist setting let you reduce water flow even further. Shower instead of taking a bath. Time your showers - try to keep them to 5 minutes. If taking a bath, limit how high you fill the tub.
  • Aerators: Install flow restrictor aerators inside all faucets for a savings of 3 to 4 gallons per minute.
  • Full Loads: Always run full loads of laundry and dishes. Choose the short cycle at low water levels whenever possible. Set the clothing washer at the lowest possible temperature needed and for single rinse only.
  • Dish Washing: Use your dishwasher and don't rinse dishes beforehand (for an average 20 gallon savings). If you buy a new washing machine, choose a "high efficiency" model.
  • Native Plants: Fill your yard with native plants. This will cut down significantly on watering requirements and, in the process, provide much needed food and shelter to local wildlife.
  • Mulching: Mulch your gardens to reduce water evaporation around your plants (this also reduces weeds and builds healthy soil).
  • Drip Irrigation: Install a drip irrigation system to water your plants more effectively
  • For Your Hoses: Buy a squeeze nozzle for all of your hoses. However, if you're watering plants, use a watering can to reduce water waste.
  • Best Time to Water: Water at night to minimize evaporation.
  • Leftover Water: If you have house plants, whenever possible water them with leftover or unused water from drinking, cooking, and showering. Keep of water pitcher near your sink or bathtub and collect unused water running from the tap (waiting for cooler or warmer water).
  • Car Wash: Take your car to a car wash that recycles water. If you wash it yourself, use a bucket and sponge and rinse sparingly.
  • Greywater System: Find out if creating a greywater/waste water system would work for you.
  • Water Pollution: Protect our water supply by following the steps outlined in How to Clean Up Our Water: 12 simple actions to help stem the tide of polluted runoff.
  • Tap Water: Make the switch back to environmentally-friendly tap water instead of bottled water.
  • Cooking Vegetables: Steam rather than boil your veggies to save a quart or more of water. Better yet, try giving vegetables a quick rinse, placing them in a covered bowl, and microwaving them for a minute or two.
  • Drinking Water: In the U.S., learn more about your drinking water at EPA's Ground Water and Drinking Water site.
  • Water Shortage Issues: Organizations that are working on international water shortage issues include:

Back to Top

Out in Nature

Back to Top

Your Home and Finances


Create a non-toxic, safe home for your family and pets. Gather up all products in your house or garage that contain unsafe chemicals and drop off at your local hazardous waste facility. Switch to alternatives containing nontoxic and biodegradable ingredients (some products labeled 'green' aren't really safe - look for green certification labels).

Nontoxic Home

  • Hazardous Waste: Dispose of the following products at a hazardous waste facility:
    • Building Materials - paint , varnish, paint thinner, solvents, rust remover, wood preservatives and driveway sealer
    • Automotive products - gasoline, transmission oil, brake fluid, kerosene, charcoal lighter fluid, power steering fluid, used motor oil,used oil filters, used antifreeze
    • Household cleaners - spot removers, rug cleaners, metal cleaners, bathroom cleaners, oven cleaner, drain cleaner
    • Pesticides - insect killers, weed killers, flea products, moth crystals, fertilizers with weed killer
    • Miscellaneous - photographic chemicals, acids and corrosive chemicals, pool chemicals, compact fluorescent light bulbs (mercury) , mercury thermometers, Ni-Cd batteries
  • Home-Made Products: Suggested recipes for home-made cleaning products:
  • bug repellentFree Bug Control!: Invite a spider into your home! For the price of a few cobwebs in a ceiling corner, they'll minimize unwanted bugs in your home.
  • Green Certified Products: Two eco-label programs that can help you find environmentally-friendly products are the GoodGuide and GREEN SEAL.
  • Responsible Shopping: Whenever possible, shop at socially and environmentally responsible stores (ideally local businesses) (research tools for chains: better world shopper and good guide)
  • Dry Cleaning: If available, clean your "dry clean only" clothes at a dry cleaning facility that uses wet cleaning techniques. Or, safer yet, avoid purchasing clothes that require dry cleaning.
  • Clothing: Whenever possible, buy clothing made from organic cotton and/or hemp. Locate a store that sells organic cotton products through the International Organic Cotton Directory.
  • Soap Nuts: Check out environmentally-friendly soap nuts (Sapindus) to replace your laundry detergent. It can also be used as a general cleaning soap.
  • PVC: Avoid purchasing plastic #3, PVC/vinyl. Information: PVC Alternatives Database and waste crisis from disposal of PVC.
  • Plants: Learn about the top plants for removing toxins from the air in your home in the article: Using Plants to Clean Indoor Air Pollutants
  • Sustainable Cat Litter: Ideas for sustainable cat litter. "Use a natural litter sold in minimal or recycled packaging and compost it in your backyard."

Natural Body Products

Building or Remodeling Your Home

Personal Finances

Back to Top

Your Garden

Create a Backyard Wildlife Habitat


As people take over more and more of the land, we need to provide food, water, and shelter to the animals that are now relying on us for their survival.

  • Backyard Wildlife Habitat: A backyard wildlife habitat or "naturescape" can be created in your own backyard. A miniature version can even be created on your patio or deck. Basic elements include fresh water (i.e., a bird bath and, if in a yard, water low to the ground); plants and feeders that provide nourishment for birds, insects, etc.; and rocks, trees, bushes and/or bird houses for shelter and nesting. Purchase plants that are native to your area. The National Wildlife Federation has an excellent program: The Backyard Wildlife Habitat Program which provides some helpful, detailed examples.
  • Attracting Animals: Learn how to attract:
  • Protecting Birds: The greatest danger to birds in your yard is window collisions (up to 1 billion collisions annually in the U.S. alone). Audubon provides tips for minimizing collisions.
  • Resources: How to Naturescape provides inspiration and information on switching to native plants.

Gardening Tips

  • Organic Gardening: Go organic!! - here are some basics.
  • Food Garden: Jump into the food gardening craze!
  • Native Plants Support Local Native WildlifeNative Garden: Learn about creating a Native Garden from eNature. Get to know the specific ecosystem your home is located in (e.g., Oak Woodland, Grasslands) and select plants native to this ecosystem.
  • Xeriscape: Tips on how to grow an environmentally friendly garden can be found at the Xeriscape.
  • Keyhole Garden: How to create a garden with a raised bed, lasagna garden, composting, and recycling system all rolled into one. The design creates a garden that uses recycled materials, less water and maintenance, and can be made handicap-accessible.
  • Get a Great Workout While Gardening Sustainably: Replacing gas and water guzzling equipment with traditional tools is a great way to work up a sweat while creating a beautiful, sustainable space around your home:
  • Climate-Friendly Gardens: Learn about becoming a climate-friendly gardener from UCS.
  • Rain Garden: Create a rain garden on your property to reduce runoff into storm drains.
  • Veggies in Containers: Tips on growing great vegetables in containers.
  • Window Farms: Innovative way to grow food from recycled containers hanging in windows.
  • Composting: Composting provides important nutrients for your organic garden. Learn more at Wikipedia's Compost page.
  • Backyard Bats: How to add bat-friendly features and plants to your garden.
  • Free Dirt Exchange: Find free soil in your area for your landscaping project or garden through Tons of Dirt.
  • Worm Composting: Learn about worm composting (vermiculture) at Earthworm FAQ.
  • Mulching: Mulching mowers are available which will convert cut grass into a natural fertilizer.
  • Carbon Debt: Work off your carbon dioxide "debt" by planting trees! Find out how much you need to work off with the Climate Change Calculator.
  • Pesticides: Learn about current toxicity and regulatory information for pesticides in the PAN Pesticide Database.
  • Resources: Links to great sites on everything from worm composting (vermiculture) to organic farming can be found at Useful Links.

Back to Top

Green Your Work

Sustainable Business Strategies

The following programs provide an overall approach and/or concepts for integrating sustainable practices into your business:

  • ISO 14000: environmental management standards that help organizations minimize their impact on the environment; comply with applicable laws, regulations, and other environmentally oriented requirements; and continually improve on the above. See also British Standard 8900 and AccountAbility 1000.
  • Natural Step: a science and systems-based approach to organizational planning for sustainability. It provides a practical set of design criteria that can be used to direct social, environmental, and economic actions. (video). Promotes four system conditions that lead to a sustainable society:
    1. nature is not subject to systematically increasing concentrations of substances extracted from the Earth's crust;
    2. nature is not subject to systematically increasing concentrations of substances produced as a byproduct of society;
    3. nature is not subject to systematically increasing degradation by physical means;
    4. people are not subject to conditions that systematically undermine their capacity to meet their needs.
  • Natural Capitalism: a new business model that synergizes four major elements: radically increase the productivity of resource use; shift to biologically inspired production (Biomimicry) with closed loops, no waste, and no toxicity; shift the business model away from the making and selling of "things" to providing the service that the "thing" delivers; and reinvest in natural and human capital.
  • B Corporations: a new type of corporation which uses the power of business to solve social and environmental problems.
  • Climate Leaders: U.S. EPA program that works with companies to develop comprehensive climate change strategies.
  • CERES Roadmap for Sustainability: designed to provide a comprehensive platform for sustainable business strategy and for accelerating best practices and performance.
  • Cradle-to-Cradle (Closed Loop Systems): system in which all the things we make, use, and consume provide nutrition for nature and industry—a world in which growth is good and human activity generates a delightful, restorative ecological footprint. Also see Regenerative Design.
  • Eco-Efficiency: to create more goods and services while using fewer resources and creating less waste and pollution.
  • Environmental Conscious Manufacturing (ECM): focuses on the most efficient and productive use of raw materials and natural resources, and minimizes the adverse impacts on workers and the natural environment. In its most advanced form, a product's entire life cycle is considered, from design, raw material and natural resource use to end use and disposal.
  • Environmental Management Systems (EMS) or Integrated Management System: a set of management processes and procedures that allows an organization to analyze, control and reduce the environmental impact of its activities, products and services and operate with greater efficiency and control.  
  • Environmental Profit and Loss: a company’s monetary valuation and analysis of its environmental impacts including its business operations and its supply chain from cradle-to-gate.  PUMA released the first ever EP&L.
  • Full Cost Accounting (aka True Cost Accounting): the process of collecting and presenting information — about environmental, social, and economic costs and benefits/advantages (collectively known as the "triple bottom line") - for each proposed alternative when a decision is necessary.
  • Green Plans (a.k.a. strategic environmental management plans): comprehensive and integrated strategies for the deliberate pursuit of sustainable development. Government, business, and NGO sectors are all involved as partners in developing and implementing the plans.
  • Precautionary Principle: states that when an activity raises threats of harm to human health or the environment, precautionary measures should be taken even if some cause and effect relationships are not fully established scientifically. In this context the proponent of an activity, rather than the public, should bear the burden of proof.
  • Total Quality Environmental Management (TQEM): a management philosophy and a set of accompanying quality improvement techniques that has been adopted by many American corporations. By applying TQM philosophy and techniques, businesses undertake continuous improvement across all operations by seeking to discover the reasons for poor quality performance and customer service and implementing methods to reduce and/or eliminate the causes of poor quality. Waste or pollution can be viewed as an inefficiency or defect within a process that results in poor environmental performance for a company. With TQEM, the tools and philosophies of TQM are used to improve environmental performance by eliminating the waste or reducing its impact.
  • Triple Bottom Line: accounting framework that goes beyond the traditional measures of profits, return on investment, and shareholder value to include environmental and social dimensions.
  • Whole Systems Thinking: a process through which the interconnections between systems are actively considered, and solutions are sought that address multiple problems at the same time. Some refer to this process as the search for "solution multipliers."

Regulatory Concepts or Systems

  • Product Stewardship: a product-centered approach to environmental protection. It calls on those in the product lifecycle - manufacturers, retailers, users, and disposers - to share responsibility for reducing the environmental impacts of products.
  • Extended Producer Responsibility: environmental protection strategy to reach an environmental objective of a decreased total environmental impact of a product, by making the manufacturer of the product responsible for the entire life-cycle of the product and especially for the take-back, recycling and final disposal of the product.
  • REACH (Registration, Evaluation and Authorization of Chemicals): legislation by the European Union that forces industries doing business in Europe to register chemicals and submit health and safety data, and replace the most hazardous ones with safer alternatives. The law, which took effect in 2007, is impacting businesses worldwide and over time will result in a significant reduction of toxic chemicals released into the environment.
  • Emissions Trading: an administrative approach used to control pollution by providing economic incentives for achieving reductions in the emissions of pollutants.

Green Purchasing


The following resources provide information and directories for green product purchases.

Green Product Design

The following programs, tools and materials facilitate greening your product design process:

  • Biodegradable Plastic: looks, feels and acts like traditional plastic, but breaks down later into organic components. Crops such as corn and potato have been used to make these non-petroleum alternatives. Unfortunately, many biodegradable plastics cannot be composted.
  • Biomimicry and AskNature.org: Biomimicry is a new science that studies nature's models and then imitates or takes inspiration from these designs and processes to solve human problems, e.g., a solar cell inspired by a leaf. AskNature.org is an online searchable database of nature-based solutions to common everyday problems. Biomimicry encourages sustainable design based on how nature operates:

    Nature runs on sunlight.
    Nature uses only the energy it needs.
    Nature fits form to function.
    Nature recycles everything.
    Nature rewards cooperation.
    Nature banks on diversity.
    Nature demands local expertise.
    Nature curbs excesses from within.
    Nature taps the power of limits.

  • Dematerialization: to identify opportunities to provide equal or greater functionality to consumers while using less energy and material per unit function.
  • Design for Environment (DfE)/Design for Sustainability: supports product developers in reducing, already at the development phase of a product's life cycle, the environmental impact through enhancing the product design. This includes reducing resource consumption, both in material and energy terms, and pollution prevention.
  • Eco-Efficiency: to create more goods and services while using fewer resources and creating less waste and pollution.
  • Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) Standards: the FSC standards represent the world's strongest system for guiding forest management toward sustainable outcomes.
  • Green Chemistry: the design of chemical products and processes that reduce or eliminate the use and generation of hazardous substances. See also Green Chemistry Resource Exchange, Univ. or Oregon, and EPA.
  • Industrial Ecology: focused on optimizing the use of energies and materials, minimizing wastes and pollution, and creating an economically viable role for every product of a manufacturing process. The end result would be that industrial activity would be environmentally sustainable on a global level.
  • Life Cycle Analysis and Assessment: involves making detailed measurements during the manufacture of the product, from the mining of the raw materials used in its production and distribution, through to its use, possible re-use or recycling, and its eventual disposal. Enables a manufacturer to quantify how much energy and raw materials are used, and how much solid, liquid and gaseous waste is generated, at each stage of the product's life. See also ACLCA and ISO 14040.
  • Life Cycle Thinking: addresses life cycle generated impacts through the use of different approaches aiming at minimizing them such as: Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), Life Cycle Management (LCM), Life Cycle Costing (LCC) and Design for the Environment (DfE).
  • Service or Functional Economy: at a company level, a structure where revenues come from leasing of equipment with long-life; continuing maintenance and service; major upgrading of systems; parts and supplies; service provider training and licensing.  Or the company might simplify the transaction by offering one, use-based fee. If the company is compensated on the basis of service provided, its employees will have strong incentives to minimize materials and energy used in the systems that deliver the service to the customer.
  • Sustainable Packaging (aka Responsible Packaging, Eco Responsible Packaging): the development and use of packaging which results in improved sustainability. A number of organizations and programs, such as the Sustainable Packaging Coalition and UPS' Eco Responsible Packaging Program, have formed to support companies in transitioning to sustainable packaging. Example of compostable packaging from Eco Vision.

Green Product Labels

Green label programs to help design and promote your green products:

  • Eco-Labels Directory: the Consumers Union's useful guide to environmental labels across a wide variety of industries. Examples of labels: GoodGuide, Design for Environment, and Green Seal.
  • Cradle to Cradle CertificationC2C Certification: Cradle to Cradle Certification provides a company with a means to tangibly, credibly measure achievement in environmentally-intelligent design and helps customers purchase and specify products that are pursuing a broader definition of quality.
  • Environmental Technology Verification: Environmental Protection Agency program which verifies the performance of innovative technologies that have the potential to improve protection of human health and the environment and provides a list of verified products to the public.
  • Fair Trade Labeling: a brand designed to allow consumers to identify goods which meet agreed fair trade standards. Typically standards cover labor standards, environmental standards, and stable pricing. The program is overseen by an international umbrella organization, the Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International (FLO).

Zero Waste and Pollution Prevention


Tools and information for creating a zero waste, non-polluting business.

  • Zero Waste: expresses the need for a closed-loop industrial/societal system. Waste is a sign of inefficiency. Includes "Zero Solid Waste", "Zero Hazardous Waste",  "Zero Toxics" and "Zero Emissions". The London store Unpackaged is a great example of zero waste-inspired business. Here are Four Steps to Get You on the Path to Zero Waste.
  • Zero Waste Business Principles
  • Zero Waste Benefits: identify specific benefits (also see WasteWise and Zero Waste Alliance) to your company of reducing waste. If needed, the EPA provides the Waste Reduction Model (WARM) tool to determine GHG emission reductions from waste reduction.
  • Zero Waste Success Stories: learn about success stories at other businesses (WasteWise, Zero Waste Network, StopWaste.org, GrassRoots Recycling Network, CalRecycle and Sustainable Connections).
  • Go Zero Waste! Waste Reduction SolutionsWaste Audit: conduct a waste audit (see also WasteWise and sample forms). Follow the flow of each type of waste from source to landfill and the business need behind each type of waste. The better each process is understood, the more likely improved, zero waste solutions can be found.
  • WasteWise: EPA program which provides great online resources. Also see Pollution Prevention Plan which could be applied to all types of waste.
  • Reducing Specific Types of Waste: Specific solutions at Zero Waste Network and Substitution Support Portal (to find alternatives to more toxic chemicals).
  • Material Exchange: a network "service" that helps to redirect unwanted equipment, overruns, rejects, and other materials from businesses to other businesses, not-for-profits, schools, community groups, and others that need the materials. These material exchanges usually have a catalog or computer listing of materials wanted and materials available and often have a staff available to help facilitate the exchange of materials. This term is often used synonymously with "waste exchange."
  • Pollution Prevention: a strategy of material use, processing, and management that reduces or eliminates the creation of pollutants and waste at the source--prior to recycling, treatment or disposal. Also referred to as source reduction.
  • Reusable Transport Packaging: replaces one-time (and limited-use) pallets and boxes with reusable totes, bins, and pallets.
  • Recycling Program: information on how to start a recycling program. Find local recycling services through Earth 911, Environmental Yellow Pages and e-Stewards.
  • Industrial Materials Recycling: EPA information on the recycling and beneficial use of industrial materials
  • Create a Paperless Office: effective steps for creating a paperless office while increasing productivity.
  • eCycling: the EPA provides resources for donating or recycling your old electronic equipment.
  • Extending the Life of Equipment: helpful PDF guide on how to extend the life of electronic equipment. Also see PDF guide on improving the operation and maintenance of electronic equipment.
  • Reducing Junk Mail: steps for reducing business junkmail.
  • Office Supplies: Create a used supplies drawer and ask employees to place any unwanted office supplies from work or home in the drawer for reuse.
  • Waste-Free Lunch: encourage employees to pack a waste-free lunch.
  • Break Room: Ask co-workers to bring their unwanted cups, mugs, plates, cloth napkins, and silverware to work to replace disposable items.
  • Source Reduction: a product that results in a net reduction in the generation of waste compared to the previous or alternate version and includes durable, reusable and remanufactured products; products with no, or reduced, toxic constituents; and products marketed with no, or reduced, packaging.

Green Building Tools and Programs

  • BEES (Building for Environmental and Economic Sustainability) Software: helps with selecting cost-effective, environmentally-preferable building products.
  • LEED: green building certification program.
  • Building Material Donations: in the US and Canada, Habitat for Humanity has hundreds of local donation centers (Restore) where unused building material can be donated. Alternatively, try returning excess materials to the the point of purchase.

Water Conservation

  • Water Conservation Guide: tips for reducing water use at work. Also see 100 Ways to Conserve for additional ideas.
  • Native Plants: by switching your landscaping to drought- tolerant native plants a company can save a large amount of water (up to 550 gallons of water can be saved per year from just one plant).

Energy Conservation and Renewable Energy

Reporting and Measurement

  • Carbon Disclosure Project: a non-profit which holds the largest database of corporate climate change information in the world (obtained from responses to CDP's annual Information Requests). The gold standard for carbon disclosure methodology and process.
  • ClimateCounts: Climate Counts lets consumers see how serious companies are about stopping climate change - and how they compare to their competitors.
  • Environmental Management Accounting (EMA): the identification, collection, estimation, analysis, internal reporting, and use of materials and energy flow information, environmental cost information, and other cost information for both conventional and environmental decision-making within an organization.
  • Global Reporting Initiative: a multi-stakeholder process and independent institution whose mission is to develop and disseminate globally applicable Sustainability Reporting Guidelines.
  • Greenhouse Gas Protocol: international accounting tool for government and business leaders to understand, quantify, and manage greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Corporate Social Responsibility: a comprehensive set of policies, practices and programs that are integrated into business operations, supply chains, and decision-making processes throughout the company and includes responsibility for current and past actions as well as future impacts. The goal is to help companies achieve commercial success in ways that honor ethical values and respect people, communities, and the natural environment.
  • Resource Productivity and Resource Intensity: key concepts used in sustainability measurement to maximize resource productivity while minimizing resource intensity.

Other Green Business Practices

Support Systems

  • Eco-Industrial Parks: a community of manufacturing and service businesses located together on a common property. Member businesses seek enhanced environmental, economic, and social performance through collaboration in managing environmental and resource issues. Components of this approach include green design of park infrastructure and plants (new or retrofitted); cleaner production, pollution prevention; energy efficiency; and inter-company partnering. An EIP also seeks benefits for neighboring communities to assure that the net impact of its development is positive.
  • Environmental Health and Safety Freeware: freeware that provides information and tools to help business achieve environmental excellence.
  • Environmental Businesses Directory: global online marketplace and information resources for the environmental industry
  • Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA): used to identify the Environmental, Social and Economic impacts of a proposed development prior to decision making.
  • Environmental Protection Agency Partnership Programs

New Sustainable/Cleantech Business Ideas and Concepts

  • Fair Trade Business: what to think about when starting a fair trade business.
  • Social Entrepreneurship: the work of social entrepreneurs. A social entrepreneur recognizes a social problem and uses entrepreneurial principles to organize, create and manage a venture to achieve social change (a social venture).
  • Cleantech Accelerator: Funding for "cleantech" businesses can be found through cleantech accelerator programs. One organization that supports cleantech startups is The Hub.

Sustainable Business News and Terms

Public Support for Environmental Practices

Enironmental Education and Careers

Back to Top

Green Eco-Friendly Gift Ideas for the Whole Family

  • Ideas: Offer/ask for gifts that don't involve buying anything. For example, time together, a back rub, babysitting, offer to teach something you know how to do, donation to charity, seeds from your garden, tickets to an event (musical, lecture series, play, concert, etc.), nontoxic house cleaning service, gift certificates for spas, music downloads, movie downloads, etc. More ideas at: 25 Great, Consumer-Less Gift Ideas.
  • Other Eco Gift Ideas:
  • Gifts that Give Back:
    • Ask for/give the gift that keeps on growing -- a tree!.
    • Make it a Fair Trade Holiday! Buy gifts through Online Fair Trade Shops.
    • Give alternative charity gifts (check out the great online alternative gifts at the bottom of the page). Another resource: Charity Christmas Gifts.
    • Feed a child in honor of someone you love and post their photo on the Wall Against Hunger (World Food Programme).
    • Give the gift of a Mosquito Net to save someone from Malaria.
    • Give Gifts that Give More
    • If you are a school teacher, consider asking your students to bring in items that can be donated to a local charity that is distributing holiday gifts for underprivileged children.
  • Find Gifts: Green Pages Online and the List of Alternative Gift Fairs in the U.S. can help you locate great gifts.
  • Responsible Shopping: Whenever possible, shop at socially and environmentally responsible stores (ideally local businesses) (research tools for chains: better world shopper and good guide)
  • Light Up with LEDs: If you are installing Christmas lights, consider purchasing more energy efficient Light-Emitting Diodes (LEDs). They have an average life span of 100,000 hours (vs. 1,500) and reduce energy consumption by up to 80-90%.
  • Gift Giving Policy: If you have a big family/lots of friends, come up with a plan to reduce the overall number of gifts given. One way is to randomly assign to each person only one other family member/friend to buy an eco gift for. Another (fun) example is for each person to buy and wrap one nice eco gift and then hold a party where everyone takes turns selecting their gift from the unselected (and already selected) gifts.
  • Gift Exemption Voucher: For someone you no longer want to exchange gifts with, print out and send them the Gift Exemption Voucher.
  • Alternative Gift Registry: If you have a wedding, baby shower, or office holiday party coming up, register for gifts through the Alternative Gift Registry for an eco-friendly celebration.
  • Fair Trade Wedding GuideFair Trade Wedding: Great ideas for creating a fair trade wedding celebration.
  • Holiday Cards: If you are sending out holiday cards, you can find eco-friendly ones at Conservatree. Thrift stores also carry donated Holiday cards during the holiday season. As an alternative to standard greeting cards, look into sending electronic greeting cards (check out tree e-greetings to plant a tree with each e-card) or making your own from waste paper.
  • Greeting Cards: Great information and suggestions at Greeting Card: Go Green or Go Online.
  • Wrapping Paper: To reduce resource consumption from using new wrapping paper, you can find donated wrapping paper at thrift stores during the holiday season. Alternatively reusable gift bags, usable cloth (e.g., nice dish rags), old maps, decorated paper bags, any colorful pieces of material, home-made gift bags, or the Sunday comics can substitute for store-bought wrapping paper.
  • Decorating Your Table: Consider decorating with soy candles and items from nature or seasonal fruit and vegetables in a bowl.
  • Less Waste: The following sites provide great ideas for creating less waste during the holiday season: