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The Green Ideas Handbook: Your Ecotips Guide to Sustainable Living

Welcome! Dive into our extensive collection of ecotips and embrace the art of living green – transforming everyday actions into powerful steps towards restoring our planet.

SECTIONS: reduce, reuse, recycle, refuse, rot, food, energy, water, out in nature, home & finances, garden, work, eco gifts

First: Reduce (of Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Refuse, Rot)

Reduce in Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Refuse, and Rot

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.
  • Simplify: Simplify your life as much as possible. Only keep belongings that you use/enjoy regularly. 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, Carbon Footprint, 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 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 make your decision. This will eliminate impulse buying.
  • Observe an Eco-Sabbath: For one day, afternoon, or an 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., razors, 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:
  • Make Your Own: Whenever possible, make your products to cut down on waste and control the materials used. Here are some great inspirations: pinterest DIY projects and apartment therapy household cleaning recipes and a great homemade toothpaste recipe.
  • Borrow From Friends: If you only need something temporarily, ask if a friend or neighbor would lend 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
    • Replace 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 or drawer in your kitchen and just wash and reuse
    • Install a tree-saving bidet and supplement it with bleach-free, 100% post-consumer recycled toilet paper
    • If you print documents, print on once-used paper and/or bleach-free, recycled paper with the highest post-consumer waste content available
    • Switch to a digital organizer for tracking your to-do's and grocery lists. A few free suggestions.
    • 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 notepads from once-used paper
    • Leave messages for family members/roommates on a reusable message board
    • Make your cards/letters from once-used products or handmade paper or buy at thrift stores
    • If you will be doing construction on your house, here are some green building choices (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 reusable containers. Many health food stores have bulk bins where they sell everything from grains to cereal to cleaning products. Here's a great international bulk item store locator. Additional ideas for "precycling".
  • 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 eco-friendly bags. 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: Tips for Packing a Waste-Free Lunch.
  • 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 Eco-Friendly Hotel Ideas. To find environmentally friendly hotels, go to (filter on "Travel Sustainable" or "Sustainability"), (filter on "Eco-certified"), or Google Travel (filter on "Eco-certified" - and also "EV charger" in Amenities).

Second: Reuse

Reuse of Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Refuse and Rot

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):
  • Buy/Sell Used Items: Buy and sell your items on sites such as:
  • Freecycle: Freecycle provides an active online community tool for giving and receiving free stuff.
  • Community Swap: Organize or find a community swap program.
  • Lending Library: Visit a local lending library or start your own through My Turn.
  • Repair Cafe: Visit a local repair cafe or start your own. Detailed repair instructions for fixing just about anything can be found at iFixit (or YouTube).
  • Packing Peanuts: Drop off at a local packing, shipping or moving store.
  • Replace Plastic Bags: With 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 or Used Book Store: Pick up books from your local library or used book store (online, cheap used books are listed at comparison shopping sites ADDAll and and through Google Shopping). The library is also many times a great place for finding magazines, CDs, books-on-tape, and videos. Look for little free libraries in your neighborhood - or be the first to add one!
  • 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. Solar powered battery rechargers are available online. Donate spent batteries near you.

Third: Recycle

Recycle of Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Refuse and Rot
  • Responsible electronics recycling: Consumer Reports' How to Recycle Old Electronics.
  • Recycle your Plastic Bottle Tops: Plastic bottle recycling can now handle recycling plastic bottle tops - keep the lids on. Better yet, switch to thrift store reusable 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 local recycling center's website, create a local recycling sheet which includes hard to recycle items. Post it on your fridge and share it with your neighbors/on social media/in little free libraries. Recycle Nation is a great resource for creating a local recycling sheet and lists many recyclable items. Terracycle offers lots of free mail-in recycling programs. Storing hard-to-recycle items in a separate container makes it easier to recycle all at once.
  • 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!)
  • Recycling 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.
  • 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 unbleached paper that has been recycled using a minimum of 50% post-consumer waste.
  • Grasscycling: Leave grass clippings on the lawn as fertilizer and to reduce the amount of yard trimmings disposed in landfills.
  • Composting: Recycle your food scraps into fertilizer by starting a compost pile. Learn more at WikiHow's Composting Basics and Building a Compost Bin.
  • Pack-it-Out: If you are traveling and no recycle bins are available, pack your recyclables home with you whenever possible.
  • Compostable Produce Labels: Encourage your local health food store to switch to laser labels or compostable labels.
  • Eco-Friendly Burials (aka Natural or Green Burials): For the ultimate in recycling, check out the growing options for eco-friendly burials and conservation burials. Learn more through the Green Burial Council and the Conservation Burial Alliance.
  • Eco-Jewelry: If shopping for wedding rings or other jewelry consider buying used (or, if new, synthetic diamonds and gemstones or eco-gold jewelry).
  • Hazardous Waste: The other key aspect of dealing with waste effectively is to dispose of toxic products at a local 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

Fourth: Refuse

Refuse of Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Refuse and Rot
  • Refuse Packaging and Bags: Bring your own bags and containers when shopping and buy from the bulk and produce sections of the grocery store. Minimize or eliminate other types of purchases that generate waste. Bea Johnson is a a zero-waste advocate who offers tips and inspiration for creating a zero-waste household.
  • Refuse Single Use Products: Instead, choose reusable products or consider doing without. Avoiding plastic single use items is especially important because of their toxic load and long life. These can include food and beverage containers, cups, plates, straws, writing pens, razors, diapers, towels, shopping bags, etc.
  • Refuse Give Aways: When offered 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 info sheets. This not only saves the company or individual money, but it keeps resources from being consumed unnecessarily (even if it is recyclable).

Fifth: Rot

Rot of Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Refuse and Rot
  • Composting: Start a compost pile with yard trimmings and food scraps. Learn more at WikiHow's Composting Basics and Building a Compost Bin.
  • Worm Composting: Learn about worm composting (vermiculture) at Earthworm FAQ.
  • 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.

Tips for Greening Your Diet

Vegan Organic Produce at a Farmers Market

Switching to a animal-free, vegan diet is a powerful way to help protect our environment, help ensure everyone has enough to eat and improve your health. The United Nations concludes that livestock products are responsible for more greenhouse gases emissions than most other food sources. Emissions are caused by feed production, enteric fermentation, animal waste and land use change. Livestock supply chains account for 7.1 GT CO2, equivalent to 14.5% of global anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. It produces 65% of human-related nitrous oxide (which has 296 times the climate change potential of CO2). Livestock emissions – from manure and gastroenteric releases – account for roughly 32% of human-caused methane emissions (which is 23 times as warming as CO2). It 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.:
    • find local farmer's markets, community supported agriculture, restaurants that cook with regional cuisine, and food cooperatives through Local Harvest. Find a wide variety of local food establishments through Eat Well.
    • take the locavore challenge! Try to eat only foods raised within about 100 miles from home.
  • Veganic Growing: Support and use veganic growing practices which are not only organic, but also uses alternatives to animal by-products (such as bonemeal, blood meal, manure) to fertilize the soil.
  • Vegan Diet: beginner guides from Dr. McDougall, PETA, The Vegan Society,, and VegNews
  • Vegan Restaurants: Restaurant locators:
  • Reducing Food Waste: If food waste was a country, it would be the world’s 3rd largest emitter of greenhouse gases- roughly 1/3 of food produced every year gets lost or wasted - roughly 1.3 billion tons. Here are some great solutions: Ways to Prevent Wasted Food at Home and Food Freezing Guide.
  • 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: Food Scores (click on Categories)).
  • Healthy School Lunches: Support efforts to increase healthy food choices in school lunches (US)
  • Non-GMO: Whenever possible, buy non-GMO products to reduce health risks.
  • Unprocessed Food: Eat unprocessed/unpackaged food whenever possible.
  • Shade-Grown or Bird Friendly Coffee: Switching to shade-grown and bird friendly coffee helps protect dwindling bird habitats.

Energy Conservation Tips

LED Lighting and Climate Change

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 support energy conservation efforts and and increase renewable 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)
    • Make specific changes in products used and family member habits: buy energy saving products where needed (see resources below) and 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).
    • 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)

Time to Replace Your Refrigerator? Click to Find Out!
  • Bring back the clothesline!: Using a clothesline to dry your clothes whenever possible is a great way to reduce carbon emissions.
  • Carbon Footprint: The Carbon Footprint Calculator or Personal Emissions Calculator help 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.
  • Draught-Excluder for Chimneys: Even with a damp, a lot of heat flows up chimneys in the winter. Check out the Chimney Sheep to save on heating and reduce uncomfortable drafts.
  • 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. Here are several certified Gold Standard offset projects.
  • 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.
  • Insulation: 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 How to Optimize Power Management Settings for Savings
  • 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.
  • Cold Water: When turning on a water faucet, unless you need warm water choose the coolest water setting.

Energy Conservation - Reach for the Cold One
  • 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's Renewable Energy guide and:
  • 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.

Water Conservation Tips

leaking toilet flapper

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 2.5% 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: Here are top 5 and 45+ Ways to Conserve Water in the Home and Yard
  • Water-Conserving Products: Find products that save water and protect the environment at WaterSense (U.S.)
  • 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.
  • Fix 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. Learn about Water-Saving Toilets That Won’t Flush Away Your Money. Flush your toilet only every other time or when it has solid waste.
  • 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.
  • Grey water System: Find out if creating a greywater system would work for you.
  • Water Pollution: Protect our water supply by following the steps outlined in Six Practical Ways to Reduce Water Pollution at Home.
  • 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.

Tips for Protecting and Restoring Nature

Protect and Restore Nature Volunteer

Tips for Greening Your Home and Finances

Green Your Home and Finances - Green Personal Care Products

Create a nontoxic, 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 certified nontoxic and biodegradable ingredients.

Nontoxic Home

  • Hazardous Waste: Find green alternatives for hazardous products whenever possible. 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 - batteries, 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 - acids and corrosive chemicals, pool chemicals, compact fluorescent light bulbs (mercury), mercury thermometers, batteries
  • Home-Made Products: Suggested recipes for home-made cleaning products:
  • Free 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.

Spider in Home as Natural Bug Repellent

Natural Body Products

Building or Remodeling Your Home

Personal Finances

Tips for Creating a Sustainable Garden

Greening Your Garden - Native Plant 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 reducing collisions.

Gardening Tips

  • Organic Gardening: Go organic!! - here are some basics.
  • Food Garden: Jump into the food gardening craze!
  • Native Garden: Learn about the benefits of creating a Native Garden from Audubon. Get to know the specific ecosystem your home is located in (e.g., Oak Woodland, Grasslands) and select plants native to this ecosystem. Did you know that native plants often support 10 to 50 times as many native wildlife species as non-native plants?
  • Naturescape: Live in harmony with nature by naturescaping provides inspiration and information on switching to native plants.
  • Xeriscape: Tips on how to grow an environmentally friendly garden can be found at the Xeriscape.
  • Leave the leaves!: The National Wildlife Federation is encouraging people to not rake their leaves and instead leave them to provide critical habitat for local wildlife such as butterflies, salamanders, chipmunks, box turtles, toads, shrews, and earthworms.
  • 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.
  • Switch from Gardener to Guardian: promotes transitioning as much of your yard as possible back to it's wild state to support native plants and animals.
  • Rain Garden: Create a rain garden on your property to reduce runoff into storm drains and mimic the natural water cycle.
  • Veggies in Containers: Tips on growing great vegetables in containers.
  • Composting: Composting provides important nutrients for your organic garden. Learn how at WikiHow's Composting Basics and Building a Compost Bin.
  • Backyard Bats: How to add bat-friendly features and plants and a bat house to your garden.
  • Worm Composting: Quick and easy way to convert food into great nutrients for your garden.
  • 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 carbon calculator.

Tips for Greening Your Workplace

Tips for Greening Your Workplace - the UN's Sustainable Development Goals

Sustainable Business Strategies

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

  • BSI Standards: several standards support reaching sustainable goals - 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. (videos explaining process and implementation at Interface). 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 by product 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 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.
  • Corporate Climate Leadership: 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 Framework: 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Sustainable Manufacturing: Sustainable manufacturing is the creation of manufactured products through economically-sound processes that minimize negative environmental impacts while conserving energy and natural resources. Sustainable manufacturing also enhances employee, community and product safety.
  • 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.
  • 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

  • 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 (aka Cap and Trade): an administrative approach used to control pollution by providing economic incentives for achieving reductions in the emissions of pollutants.
  • United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals: a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity by 2030. There are 17 goals in total and they provide a framework for businesses to align their operations and strategies with global priorities for sustainable development.

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:

  • Biomimicry and 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. 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.

  • 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.
  • Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) Criteria: the FSC principles and criteria 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.
  • 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).
  • 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 Best 30 Eco-Friendly Packaging Manufacturers, 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. See also the EPA's Ecolabel listing.
  • C2C 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.
  • 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.

Zero Waste and Pollution Prevention

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

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: tips for reducing water use at work.
  • 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

  • CBD: a non-profit which runs the global disclosure system that enables companies, cities, states and regions to measure and manage their environmental impacts.
  • 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.

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
  • Impact Assessment: used to identify the Environmental, Social and Economic impacts of a proposed development prior to decision making.

New Sustainable/Cleantech Business Ideas and Concepts

  • Fair Trade Business: what to think about when starting a fair trade business. And here's a another step-by-step guide with estimated costs.
  • 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).
  • Impact Hub: one of the world’s largest networks focused on building entrepreneurial communities for impact at scale — home to the innovators, the dreamers and the entrepreneurs who are creating tangible solutions to the world’s most pressing issues.

Sustainable Business News and Terms

Public Support for Environmental Practices

Sustainability Education and Careers

Eco-Friendly Gift Ideas for the Whole Family

Eco-Friendly Gift Ideas - Homemade Gift Basket

  • Gift Giving Discussion: Discuss with your family and friends what kinds of gifts you would like to give and receive going forward. Topics: types of gifts based on age (children vs. adults), what values you would like to uphold through gift giving such as how the gift impacts others and the planet, what kinds of gifts each person would like to receive.
  • The No-Gift Gift: Offer/ask for gifts that don't involve buying anything. For example, time together, a back rub, baby sitting, offer to teach something you know how to do, donation to charity, certified carbon offsets, seeds from your garden, tickets to an event(musical, lecture series, play, concert, etc.), nontoxic house cleaning service, gift certificates for spas, movie or music downloads, etc. More ideas at: Non-Consumer Gift Ideas.
  • Kiva Gift Cards: Give the gift of Kiva (a gift card that keeps on giving - it lets the recipient support low income individuals from around the globe through repaid micro loan)!
  • Virtual Gifts: Give a virtual gift that brings hours of entertainment or education without using resources. Giving a subscription to an ecard service is also a wonderful eco-gift.
  • Renewables: Consider purchasing gifts from companies focused on providing products which use renewable energy sources (i.e., solar powered radio or outdoor lighting).
  • Eco-Art: Eco-Artware promotes gifts made from upcycled materials.
  • Pre-Loved Gifts: Shop for gifts at antique stores, estate sales or flea markets.
  • Gift Basket or Stocking Stuffers:
  • Gifts for Someone on a Tight Budget: (these gifts will free up money all year long)
  • Gifts that Give Back:
  • Where to Find Gifts: Green Pages Online or local alternative gift fairs offer great gift ideas.
  • Responsible Shopping: Whenever possible, shop at socially and environmentally responsible stores (ideally local businesses)
  • 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%. Much better - buy solar Christmas lights!
  • 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.
  • Declutter Gift: Give the gift of helping to reduce junk mail or other clutter in a loved ones home.
  • Gift Exemption Voucher: For someone you no longer want to exchange gifts with, print out and send them the Gift Exemption Voucher (PDF) (JPG version).
  • Alternative Gift Registry: If you have a wedding, baby shower, or office holiday party coming up, register for gifts through the sokind registry for an eco-friendly celebration.
  • Green Wedding: Great ideas for creating a sustainable, charitable, socially conscious wedding celebration. Sokind registry is free and easy to use.
  • Holiday or Greeting Cards: If you're sending out cards, consider checking thrift stores for unused gift cards, subscribe to an online ecard service, or buy tree-free holiday or greeting cards.
  • 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:


Sustainable Transportation Guide: Top Resources for Greening Your Commute

Sustainable Transportation Guide: Top Resources for Greening Your Commute

Advice for Saving Energy

Introducing the Zero-Volt Challenge!: How to Quickly and Permanently Reduce Energy Use

Fair Trade Shopping Hub: Discover Ethical Online Directories and Stores

Fair Trade Shopping Hub: Discover Ethical Online Directories and Stores

Support Green Hotel Practices

How to Champion Eco-Friendly Lodging

Top 20 Ways to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

Top 20 Ways to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

How to Stop Junk Mail at Home and Work

How to Stop Junk Mail at Home and Work

Sustainable Clothing Hub: Resources for Building a Greener Wardrobe

Sustainable Clothing Hub: Resources for Building a Greener Wardrobe

How to Create a Sustainable Lifestyle

How to Create a Sustainable Lifestyle: Three Essential Steps

Tips for Packing a Waste-Free Lunch

How to Pack a Waste-Free Lunch