Helping to change the world isn't that hard. It begins with small acts that become habits. As they gain momentum, soon you're not doing just one thing; you're revolutionizing your life in a way that can, in fact, save the planet.
Two-thirds of all the electricity used in the residential sector of the United States powers lights and appliances. Considering that electricity production generates more than 1.9 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions a year, a simple flick of the switch is a good start.
While a meat-centered diet deepens our ecological footprint and contributes to pollution, a plant-centered diet requires fewer resources and supports long-term health. But you don't have to go completely veggie to reap the benefits; try gradually shifting the emphasis of your meals from animal-based proteins to plant-based ones, such as soy foods and beans.
As many as a third of Americans have an adverse reaction to common household chemicals. Safer products can save you money, too. While furniture polish will set you back about $4, cleaning with 1/4 cup of distilled white vinegar and a few drops of olive oil costs mere cents.
Many retailers provide in-store drop-off bins for recycling cell phones, while items such as clothing, toys, and computers are great for local shelters and rescue missions. Through donations you not only relieve pressure on landfills, you contribute directly to your community.
Environmental stewardship is grounded in love rather than anger, says John Passacantando, executive director of Greenpeace USA and nature's ultimate ambassador. Once you find the place that motivates you, spend time there regularly. Let it remind you of what's at stake.
The paper-or-plastic dilemma may someday be obsolete. But paper is an only slightly better alternative. The greenest option? Look in your closet and drawers for a strong, durable, reusable bag, and take it with you to the supermarket, mall, or your favorite takeout place.
From the production of petroleum-based fertilizers to the cross-country distribution of seasonal fruits and vegetables, the modern food system accounts for 10 percent of U.S. energy consumption. And yet at least 30 million acres of abundant front lawns remain idle. Try turning a small patch into your own personal produce section.
School districts across the country are making the transition from processed cafeteria foods to meals based around fresh produce. If your child's isn't one of them, there are still things you can do. We have four tips to follow, and more online resources to consult, to make your school nutrition dreams a reality.
Minimizing your carbon footprint -- the amount of greenhouse gases you're responsible for releasing each year -- is a good way to reduce your impact on the health of the planet. Use an online calculator to determine your personal number -- and to get ideas for how to shrink it.
If you're looking to save water -- a precious resource we should all conserve -- taking a shower rather than a bath is a good place to start: A typical bath takes 30 to 70 gallons of water, while the average eight-minute shower uses only 17 gallons. You can also install brand-new efficient faucets and toilets -- if you've got the cash for these major home improvements. We have three quicker, less expensive ways to use less of the wet stuffs.
The major appliances -- the refrigerator, water heater, and clothes dryer -- can together account for a big chunk of all the energy a household uses. With a few quick tune-ups, you can reduce the electricity these power-hungry amenities consume, in turn reducing your carbon footprint -- and your energy bill.
Variety is the spice of life -- and the key to getting more of the nutrients our bodies need from natural sources. Your efforts to eat a varied diet full of different fruits and vegetables also goes a long way to promoting biodiversity -- and delicious meals and snacks, too. If you need ideas for what to try when, our seasonal produce schedule can point you in the right direction, no matter the time of year.
It's no surprise that a rooftop bakes in the summer heat. What can be surprising, though, is the 20 percent you can lop off your power bills simply by using a little elbow grease -- and white paint to reflect the sun's light and heat.
Whole Living's editor in chief, shown here, painted the roof of her Brooklyn brownstone last summer to beat the heat. Find out the simple steps you can take to make a major difference in your energy efficiency.
You can add some green to your environment, expand your living space -- and give your place plenty of curb appeal -- just by cultivating the public space around your home or block. Find out how to "adopt" the curbside turf near you, and get tips for what plants do best in this until-now-neglected no-man's land.
Aerosols, batteries, old computers, paints, pesticides -- these and other solvents and household items can accumulate in garages or spare drawers, but it is always environmentally unsound (and often illegal) to dispose of them as you would plain old trash. Find out how to get these odds and ends out of your life -- and off of your conscience.
You'd be surprised how much closet space you have -- once you purge it of the years-old power suits, bridesmaid dresses, and seemed-like-a-good-idea-at-the-time blouses you never wore. Find out how to hold a yard sale with your neighbors, or how to sell or swap your trash for someone else's (underappreciated) treasure.
Recycling paper, CDs, bottles, and other materials in the workplace isn't just a good green idea: In many towns and cities, it's the law. Find out how to discover if your company is in compliance, and how to help your company to implement an effective recycling program.
So you're already separating your plastic, metal, and glass from your household trash for recycling. How about returning your organic refuse -- nonglossy paper, fruit and vegetable peels and scraps, clean eggshells, coffee grounds, tea leaves, and more -- back to the earth they came from? Composting is as elemental as recycling gets -- and it's easier (and less stinky) than you might think.
Take a sizeable chunk out of your summer water bill -- about 40 percent of which goes to watering your lawn and garden -- and reduce storm-water runoff by capturing rainwater to use around your yard. Get a tip on an aesthetically pleasing rain barrel, and learn the best place to position it to catch the most H20.