What is green living? If you think you have to drastically change the way you live, you would be surprised to hear that even small steps can add have big impacts. Low-impact living is a way for each of us to take responsibility and live smarter to reduce the waste and give the environment a break.

Solutions for sustainable living

  • Building
    Adobe Construction
    a natural building material composed of sand, sandy clay and straw or other organic materials, which is shaped into bricks using wooden frames and dried in the sun.
    Autonomous Building
    a building designed to be operated independently from infrastructural support services such as the electric power grid, municipal water systems, sewage treatment systems, storm drains, communication services, and in some cases public roads.
    Cob Construction
    a building material consisting of clay, sand, straw, water, and earth. Cob is fireproof, resistant to seismic activity, and inexpensive.
    Cradle to Cradle Home Design Winner
    the C2C Home design and construction competition leads to homes being built with a goal of achieving the new standards of sustainability set up in Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things.
    Earth Sheltering
    the architectural practice of using earth for external thermal mass against building walls. This is a passive solar practice.
    Earthbag Construction
    a very strong, very cheap way of creating structures. Polypropylene or burlap bags are filled with earth, or crushed volcanic rock. They are then stacked on top of each other, inter-tied with barbed wire or rebar, and tamped until hard.
    Energy-Efficient Landscaping
    a type of landscaping designed for the purpose of conserving energy. Techniques include planting trees for the purpose of providing shade; planting or building windbreaks to slow winds near buildings; wall sheltering, where shrubbery or vines are used to create a windbreak directly against a wall; and earth sheltering and positioning buildings to take advantage of natural landforms as windbreaks.
    Forest Certification
    Forest certification is a seal of approval for wood products, allowing builders to purchase products that minimize harm to forest ecosystems.
    Green Building EPA Site
    the practice of creating healthier and more resource-efficient models of construction, renovation, operation, maintenance, and demolition.
    Green Buildings
    the practice of increasing the efficiency with which buildings and their sites use and harvest energy, water, and materials; and reducing building impacts on human health and the environment, through better siting, design, construction, operation, maintenance, and removal.
    Green Hotels
    environmentally-responsible hotels that change their practices in order to conserve resources, reduce the use of toxic products, and reduce waste.
    Green Roofs
    a roof of a building that is partially or completely covered with vegetation and soil, or a growing medium, planted over a waterproofing membrane.
    Integrative Design
    building connections and cross-linked support between the engineered, cultural and natural systems in a building project in order to achieve significant efficiencies and natural system regeneration.
    Natural Building
    involves a range of building systems and materials that place major emphasis on sustainability.
    Passive House
    the rigorous, voluntary, Passivhaus standard for energy use in buildings. It results in ultra-low energy buildings that require little energy for space heating.
    Passive Solar Design
    a term referring to those technologies that can be employed to convert natural sunlight into usable heat, to cause air-movement for ventilation or cooling, or to store the heat for future use, without the use of electrical or mechanical equipment.
    Smart Growth
    used by those who seek to identify a set of policies governing transportation and land use planning policy for urban areas that benefits communities and preserves the natural environment.
    Solar Chimney
    a way of improving the natural ventilation of buildings by using convection of air heated by passive solar energy.
    Solar Hot Water Heaters
    heated water achieved through the usage of solar energy.
    Solar Panels
    refers to a photovoltaic array, a collection of solar cells used to generate electricity, or to a flat solar thermal collector, such as a solar hot water panel, used to generate solar hot water or otherwise collect solar thermal energy.
    Solar Pool Heating System
    heating system where a pool's filtration pump circulates water through a large heat exchange surface, usually located on a roof, where it absorbs the sun's energy.
    Solar Roof Shingles
    serve as conventional roof shingles for weather protection, while generating solar electricity.
    Solar Space or Radiant Home Heating System
    home heating system where a water is circulated through a large heat exchange surface, usually located on a roof, where it absorbs the sun's energy.
    Straw-Bale Construction
    a building method that uses straw bales as structural elements, insulation, or both.
    a superinsulated house is intended to be heated predominantly by intrinsic heat sources (waste heat generated by appliances and the body heat of the occupants), without passive solar or large amounts of thermal mass, and with very small amounts of backup heat.
    Sustainable Building Material
    building material that comes from sustainable sources and/or results in sustainable resource consumption.
    Trombe Wall
    a sun-facing wall built from material that can act as a thermal mass (such as stone, concrete, adobe or water tanks), combined with an air space, insulated glazing and vents to form a large solar thermal collector.
    a traditional Persian architectural device used for many centuries to create natural ventilation in buildings.
    Zero Energy Building
    a term applied to a building with a net energy consumption of zero over a typical year.
  • Clothing
    Bamboo Fiber
    a very soft fiber that thrives naturally without the use of pesticides or fertilizers. The fibre is 100% biodegradable. There are questions, however, about the process used to make the clothing fiber.
    Common Threads Garment Recycling by Patagonia
    Patagonia clothing company now recycles used Patagonia products into new garments using a fiber-to-fiber recycling system. This creates a sustainable cradle to cradleprocess for cloth.
    Consignment Stores
    a store which sells used products, for a commission, on behalf of others.
    Ebay Clothing Resale
    online store for reselling used clothing.
    recycled polyester fiber from recycled plastic pop bottles.
    Give-Away Shop
    second-hand stores that are starting to appear in Europe. They are similar to charity shops, only everything is available free at no cost.
    Lyocell Fiber
    also called Tencel. Produced from cellulose, the main material in plant cells. The production process for Lyocell is extremely environmentally friendly – the fibre has all the advantages of a natural material and is 100% bio-degradable.
    Natural Fiber
    overview of fibers made out of plants, animal and mineral sources.
    Öeko-tex (or Oekotex or Oko-tex) Standard 100
    certification process that evaluates and screens for any harmful substances present within processed textiles intended to come into contact with consumers.
    Organic Cotton Fiber
    cotton grown without the use of artificial chemicals such as herbicides or pesticides.
    Organic Hemp Fiber
    hemp is the most durable of natural fibers. It requires no pesticides and needs little water, yet it renews the soil with each growth cycle. It's long roots prevent erosion and help retain topsoil.
    Organic Linen Fiber
    made from the flax plant. Fabrics made out of flax yarn have many benefits, including being absorbent and cool to wear under a variety of climatic conditions. Organic flax is grown without the use of pesticides, herbicides and fungicides.
    Recycled Fabric
    reclaiming used fibers to make new garments and accessories.
    a very durable Japanese fabric made from paper and the plant Kumazasa. The plant is has natural antibacterial and deodorant effects.
    Soy Fiber
    a very soft and durable fiber. If grown organically, could be a new sustainable source for clothing.
    Thrift Stores
    store which sells second-hand goods donated by members of the public for charitable purposes.
    Wet Cleaning and CO2 Cleaning
    environmentally-friendly alternative to dry cleaning.
    Wild Silks
    produced by undomesticated silkworms in the wild. The silkworms are not killed during the collection process. Also, ahisma or peace silk.
  • Communities
    Ahwahnee Principles for Resource-Efficient Communities
    applying the Ahwahnee Principles to the creation of livable, sustainable communities.
    Best Practices Database in Improving the Living Environment
    searchable database contains over 2150 proven solutions from more than 140 countries to the common social, economic and environmental problems of an urbanizing world.
    used to describe an approach to political, cultural, and environmental issues based on naturally-defined regional areas, consistent with the concept of bioregions.
    Clean Elections
    (also called Clean Money or Voter-Owned Elections) is a system of public financing of political campaigns (a form of campaign finance reform).
    a type of collaborative housing in which residents actively participate in the design and operation of their own neighborhoods.
    Community-Based Social Marketing
    provides tools for encouraging individuals in a community to adopt healthy, sustainable lifestyles.
    Department of Peace
    a department that would augment current problem-solving modalities, providing practical, nonviolent solutions to the problems of domestic and international conflict.
    Ecological Footprint for Communities
    depict the amount of land and water area a human population would hypothetically need to provide the resources required to support itself and to absorb its wastes, given prevailing technology.
    Eco-Municipality (or Eco-Town) 
    a local government area that has adopted ecological and social justice values in its charter. Recognizes that issues of sustainability are key to all decisions made by government. Many incorporate the Natural Step into their change processes.
    Environmental Education
    organized efforts to teach about how natural environments function and, particularly, how human beings can manage their behavior and ecosystems in order to live sustainably.
    Environmental Planning
    a relatively new field of study that aims to merge the practice of urban planning with the concerns of environmentalism.
    Gift Economy
    an economic system in which the prevalent mode of exchange is for goods and services to be given without explicit agreement upon a quid pro quo.
    Global Ecovillage Network
    a global association of people and communities (ecovillages) dedicated to living "sustainable plus" lives by restoring the land and adding more to the environment than is taken. Network members share ideas and information, transfer technologies and develop cultural and educational exchanges.
    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.
    Green Procurement Compilation
    the U.S. General Services Administration's compilation of purchasing resources for federal contracting personnel and program managers.
    International Family Planning Programs
    help millions of women by providing reproductive health care that saves lives, preventing unintended pregnancies and offering the opportunity for people worldwide to plan their families using contraception.
    Local Currency
    a currency not backed by a national government and intended to trade only in a small area. These currencies are also referred to as community currency.
    Media Democracy
    promotes a mass media system that informs and empowers all members of society.
    Millennium Project
    eight goals agreed to by all the world's countries and all the world's leading development institutions. Several of the goals would lead to lower birth rates worldwide (including providing universal primary education for girls, promoting gender equality and empowering women, improving maternal health, reducing child mortality, and reducing overall poverty levels - all measures that have been found to reduce family size).
    In communities with pay-as-you-throw programs (also known as unit pricing or variable-rate pricing), residents are charged for the collection of household trash based on the amount they throw away. This creates a direct economic incentive to recycle more and to generate less waste. Also check out Nova Scotia's world-renowned waste reduction strategy.
    Peace, Nonviolence, and Conflict Resolution by Gandhi and MLK
    successful nonviolent approaches to conflict resolution.
    Precautionary Principle
    an important sustainable principle being adopted by local governments around the world.
    Reforming the Media
    efforts to shift the media toward greater fairness and accuracy.
    Resources for Living Economies
    a variety of resources for strengthening local economies.
    Revoking U.S. Corporate Personhood
    efforts to reverse the legal claim by corporations that the 14th Amendment meant they were intended to fully enjoy the legal status and protections created for human beings. A reversal would give local governments greater control over determining development in their communities.
    Smart Growth
    used by those who seek to identify a set of policies governing transportation and land use planning policy for urban areas that benefits communities and preserves the natural environment.
    Sustainable City (or Eco-City)
    a city designed with consideration of environmental impact, inhabited by people dedicated to minimisation of required inputs of energy, water and food, and waste output of heat, air pollution - CO2, methane, and water pollution.
    Solar Community Energy Projects
    an integrated approach to supplying a local community with its energy requirements from renewable energy or high-efficiency co-generation energy sources.
    Sustainable Urban Infrastructure
    infrastructure that facilitates a place or regions progress towards the goal of sustainable living. Attention is paid to technological and government policy which enables urban planning for sustainable architecture and initiatives that promote sustainable agriculture.
    Transition Network (International)
    Builds community resilience in the face of such challenges as peak oil, climate change and the economic crisis.
    Trash Pickup Improvements
    BigBelly solar-powered trash compaction systems are reducing waste pickups - saving energy and tax dollars.
    United Nations Population Fund
    world's largest international source of funding for population and reproductive health programs. The Fund works with governments and non-governmental organizations in over 140 countries with the support of the international community, supporting programs that help women, men and young people plan their families and avoid unwanted pregnancies, undergo pregnancy and childbirth safely, avoid sexually transmitted infections, combat violence against women, promote the equality of women.
    Urban Design
    concerns the arrangement, appearance and functionality of towns and cities. It typically requires interdisciplinary input with balanced representation of multiple fields including engineering, ecology, local history, and transport planning.
    U.S. Voting Reform
    efforts to create an accurate and fair election system so that voters can elect officials that will work toward creating a sustainable community.
  • Energy

    Conservation Actions & Activities

    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.
    Quick & Easy Energy Tip: 
    Take the Zero-Volt Challenge and reduce your energy bill today!
    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. 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
      • 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.
    The following pages provide tips on how to save energy:
    Kitchen Unplugged—ways to conserve energy in the kitchen
    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.
    Carbon Offsets: 
    If you are taking a trip, consider buying carbon emission offsets.
    Home Shade: 
    In hot areas, if you have west-facing windows use window tints, blinds, 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.
    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 power surge protector strips (with multiple electrical outlets) and turn the power off at the strip.
    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).
    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.
    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:
    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.

    Alternative & Renewable Energy

    A form of aquaculture involving the farming of species of algae. Algae may become a great biofuel source.
    Biogas Power Plants
    a system where biogas (produced by the fermentation of organic matter including manure, sewage sludge, municipal solid waste, and biodegradable waste) is used to generate electricity. The gas which is produced via anaerobic digestion is used to drive an electricity generator. By-products of this process are steam and hot water.
    any fuel that is derived from biomass — recently living organisms or their metabolic byproducts, such as manure from cows or the cellulose of plants.
    a gas produced by the biological breakdown of organic matter in the absence of oxygen. Biogas is a type of biofuel. There are two types: one produced by anaerobic digestion or fermentation of biodegradable materials such as biomass, manure or sewage, municipal waste, and energy crops, the second is wood gas which is created by gasification of wood or other biomass.
    biological material which can be used as fuel or for industrial production.
    California Solar Purchase Incentives (Assembly Bill 811)
    passed in July of 2008 allows local governments to form assessment districts that allow property owners to install renewable energy and energy efficiency improvements on their properties and pay for the cost of the projects over time.
    Cap & Trade Alternative: Solid Caps, Strong Laws, Citizen Action, Carbon Fees
    solutions proposed for reducing global warming - instead of using the flawed cap & trade system.
    Carbon Offset: City-Run, Transparent Program
    city run program that collects fees from city agencies for vehicle/air travel (and eventually from the public) and funnels money to pre-approved nonprofits that reduce carbon emissions.
    City-Financed Solar Power
    City program which pays up-front for the cost of solar installation for property owners. Property owner is then taxed over 20 years to pay back the city.
    City Subsidy for Solar Power 
    City program which proposes to provide $3,000 to $5,000 in subsidies to residents and up to $10,000 to businesses who install solar panels. If implemented, this could be the biggest program in the U.S.
    Clean Cookstoves
    efficient cooking stove that is cheap and durable and reduces indoor pollution and climate change emissions.
    Climate Neutral Network
    UNEP intitiative to encourage a proactive response to global warming.
    The use of a heat engine or a power station to simultaneously generate both electricity and useful heat.
    Community Choice Aggregation
    the regionalization of electricity markets. Allows municipalities to aggregate their communities to be served by electric service providers. Can lead to reduced costs for consumers and increased use of renewable energy sources.
    Concentrating Solar Power Systems
    (or high temperature solar thermal energy) uses lenses or mirrors and tracking systems to focus sunlight into a high intensity beam capable of producing high temperatures and electricity conversion efficiencies.
    Copper Indium Gallium Selenide (CIGS) Photovoltaic Cells
    High efficiency photovoltaic cells (CIGS cells) made from a new semiconductor material comprising copper, indium, gallium, and selenium. The PV panels are in the form of polycrystalline thin films.
    Deep Lake Water Cooling Systems
    uses cold water pumped from the bottom of a lake as a heat sink for climate control systems. Because heat pump efficiency improves as the heat sink gets colder, deep lake water cooling can reduce the electrical demands of large cooling systems where it is available.
    Energy Efficient Light Bulbs
    compact fluorescent and the new, even more efficient and mercury-free, LED bulbs significantly reduce the energy consumption of lights and last several times longer than incandescent light bulb designs.
    Energy Conservation
    the practice of decreasing the quantity of energy used while achieving a similar outcome of end use.
    Energy Star
    U.S. EPA program to help businesses and individuals reduce energy consumption. Includes promotion of Energy Star labeled energy efficient appliances.
    Floating Wind Turbine
    floating offshore wind turbine which can be located many miles offshore, away from areas where they cause disruption. This would benefit military radar operations, the shipping industry, fisheries, bird life and tourism.
    Geothermal Power
    the use of geothermal heat for electricity generation. It is often referred to as a form of renewable energy, but because the heat at any location can eventually be depleted it technically may not be strictly renewable.
    Ground-Source Heat Pump
    electrically powered systems that use the earth's relatively constant temperature to provide heating, cooling, and hot water for homes and commercial buildings.
    Gulf Stream Energy
    a field of underwater turbines moored 1,000 ft below the surface in the center of the Gulf Stream could - by drawing from its 8 billion gallons per minute flow rate - become a good energy source.
    Helix Wind Energy
    an elegant small scale wind power solution for home and small business owners using unique and highly efficient vertical blade design.
    Masdar City, United Arab Emirates 
    is a planned city in Abu Dhabi which will rely entirely on solar energy and other renewable energy sources, with a sustainable, zero-carbon, zero-waste ecology.
    Meters for Homes and Businesses
    New meters find power hogs in the home or business and limit how much they use.
    Micro (Home and Small Business) Combined Heat and Power (Cogeneration)
    A heating unit that produces both heat and electricity (which can, in certain areas, be sold back to the power utility company).
    Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion
    a way to generate electricity using the temperature difference of seawater at different depths.
    Oil End Game
    strategy for ending oil dependence by Rocky Mountain Institute.
    Passive Solar Design
    technologies that can be employed to convert natural sunlight into usable heat, to cause air-movement for ventilation or cooling, or to store the heat for future use, without the use of electrical or mechanical equipment.
    Plastic Solar Cells
    lightweight and inexpensive photovoltaic nanochips that can be bonded to almost any surface and harvest energy from visible light. If this technology were combined with technology that can harvest energy from infrared light, it could match the efficiency of traditional solar panels.
    Reducing Standby Power
    a surprisingly large number of electrical products cannot be switched off completely without being unplugged. These products draw power - called "standby power" - 24 hours a day. Efforts are underway to reduce standby power consumption in electrical products.
    Small Scale Hydroelectric Power
    the application of hydroelectric power on a commercial scale serving a small community or medium sized industry.
    Solar Cookers
    a way of harnessing the sun's power to cook. A metal box forms the simplest solar cooker.
    Solar Hot Water, Space or Radiant Home Heating Systems
    heat water through solar energy. Generally composed of solar thermal collectors, a fluid system to move the heat from the collector to its point of usage, and a reservoir to stock the heat for subsequent use.
    Solar Pool Heating System
    pool water circulates through a large heat exchange surface, usually located on your roof, and absorbs the sun's energy.
    Solar Power
    the technology of obtaining usable energy from the light of the sun.
    Solar Power from Photovoltaic (Utility-Scale) 
    A California utility company is building utility-scale photovoltaic solar power plants - the first time such large scale photovoltaic plants are being built in the U.S.. Rates are said to now be competitive with other renewables.
    Solar Power Storage 
    inexpensive, revolutionary discovery for storing solar power - discovered at MIT.
    Solar Thermal Collector
    generally used in solar power plants where solar heat is used to generate electricity by heating water to produce steam and driving a turbine connected to the electrical generator. Some examples includes solar parabolic, solar trough and solar towers.
    Solar Updraft Tower
    a proposed type of renewable-energy power plant where air is heated in a very large circular greenhouse-like structure, and the resulting convection causes the air to rise and escape through a tall tower. The moving air drives turbines, which produce electricity.
    Thin-Film Solar
    thin-film solar modules are cheaper than crystalline modules and produce more energy per unit of installed capacity
    Tidal Power
    a means of electricity generation achieved by capturing the energy contained in moving water mass due to tides.
    increasingly venture capitalists are looking to make money from investing in new renewable energy technology that has a strong chance of grabbing market share in thesix trillion dollar energy market.
    V2G - Electric Vehicle to Grid Power
    electric-drive vehicles, whether powered by batteries, fuel cells, or gasoline hybrids, have within them the energy source and power electronics capable of producing the 60 Hz AC electricity that powers our homes and offices. When connections are added to allow this electricity to flow from cars to power lines, it is called "vehicle to grid" power, or V2G.
    Waste Heat Recovery 
    Recycling the heat that is emitted from industrial smokestacks and turning it into energy.
    Wave Power
    refers to the energy of ocean surface waves and the capture of that energy to do generate electricity.
    Wind Power
    the conversion of wind energy into electricity using wind turbines.

    Keeping Home Clean and Safe

    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).

    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-Cad batteries
    Home-Made Products:
    Suggested recipes for home-made cleaning products:
    Green Certified Products:
    The Eco-labels center evaluates the different eco-label programs so that you can pick your products based on the most rigorous certification processes.
    Dry Cleaning:
    If available, clean your "dry clean only" clothes at a dry cleaning facility that uses nontoxic cleaning techniques. You can also use nontoxic "dry cleaning" products such as Dry Cleaner's Secretfree sample pack to clean your less soiled clothes using your dryer.
    Soap Nuts:
    Check out environmentally-friendly soap nuts (Sapindus) to replace your laundry detergent. It can also be used as a general cleaning soap.
    Avoid purchasing plastic #3, PVC/vinyl. Information: PVC Alternatives Databaseand U.S. facing waste crisis from disposal of PVC.
    Learn about the top plants for removing toxins from the air in your home in the article: Using Plants to Clean Indoor Air Pollutants.
    Books on eco friendly living.

    Building or Remodeling Your Home

    New Home Location:
    If you are considering building a new home, seek out a location that has already been built on in the past (vs. building on "pristine" land).
    Building Materials:
    Building material ideas (no endorsement of any company intended):
    Buy/Sell Green Home:
    If you are looking to buy or sell a green home, check out ListedGreen.
  • Food
    • Switching to a vegetarian diet is a powerful way to help protect our environment and help ensure everyone has enough to eat.
    • The United Nations recently released 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). 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.
    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. You can find local farmer's markets, community supported agriculture, restaurants that cook with regional cuisine, and food cooperatives through Local Harvest.
    Vegetarian/Vegan Diet
    Consider becoming a lacto-ovo vegetarian (no meat but some eggs and dairy products) or vegan (no animal products). Informational sites:
    Healthy School Lunches
    Support efforts to increase healthy food choices in school lunches (US)
    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.
    "Dolphin Safe" Tuna
    Only purchase tuna labeled "dolphin safe".
    Shade-Grown Coffee
    Buy shade-grown coffee to protect desperately needed migratory bird habitats. Many "fair trade certified" coffees are shade-grown. In the U.S., locate a supplier near you on the TransFair Retail Outlets listing.
    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)."
    the science of applying ecological concepts and principles to the design, development, and management of sustainable agricultural systems.
    Allotment Gardening
    a concentration in one place of a few or up to several hundreds of land parcels that are assigned to individual families. In allotment gardens, the parcels are cultivated individually.
    comprises an ecological and sustainable farming system, that includes many of the ideas of organic farming. It is based on the anthroposophical teachings of Rudolf Steiner.
    Community Gardens
    small plots of land allocated to groups of people by some organization that holds title or lease to the land, sometimes for rent, sometimes simply as a grant of land.
    Community Supported Agriculture
    a community of individuals who pledge support to a farm operation with the growers and consumers providing mutual support and sharing the risks and benefits of food production.
    Certified Organic Farming
    relies on developing biological diversity in the field to disrupt habitat for pest organisms, and the purposeful maintenance and replenishment of soil fertility. Organic farmers are not allowed to use synthetic pesticides or fertilizers.
    used in gardening and agriculture as a soil amendment.
    Fair Trade Food Products
    an organized social movement which promotes equitable standards for international labor, environmentalism, and social policy in areas related to the production of labeled and unlabelled goods, which may range from handcrafts to agricultural commodities.
    Farmer's Markets
    are markets, usually held out-of-doors, in public spaces, where farmers can sell their produce to the public. Products at farmers' markets are renowned for being locally-grown and very fresh.
    Food Sovereignty
    a concept advocated by a number of farmers', peasants', and fishermen's organizations, namely the claimed "right of peoples to define their own food and agriculture," in contrast to having food largely subject to international market forces.
    Forest Gardening
    a permaculture food production and land management system based on replicating woodland edge ecosystems, substituting trees (such as fruit or nut trees), bushes, shrubs, herbs and vegetables which have yields directly useful to humankind.
    In Vitro Meat Substitute (a.k.a. Cultured Meat)
    meat produced in vitro, in a cell culture, rather than from an animal. Has the potential to be safer, more nutritious, less polluting, less resource intensive, and more humane than conventional meat.
    Local Food
    a principle of sustainability relying on consumption of food products that are locally grown.
    Millennium Development Goals (MDG) (goal #1)
    eight goals that all 191 United Nations member states have agreed to try to achieve by the year 2015. Goal number 1 is to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger.
    Masanobu Fukuoka's No-Till Grain Cultivation
    one of the pioneers of no-till grain cultivation. His system is referred to as "natural farming", Fukuoka Farming, or the Fukuoka Method.
    Newman's Own Organics 
    North American Vegetarian Society 
    No-Till Farming
    also known as conservation tillage or zero tillage is a way of growing crops from year to year without disturbing the soil through tillage.
    National Systems Agriculture
    the Land Institute is working to create food crops that are perenials instead of annuals that require fewer chemicals and would eliminate tilling that erodes our soil.
    a design system which aims to create sustainable habitats by following nature's patterns.
    Seed Saving
    the practice of saving seeds from open-pollinated vegetables and flowers for use from year to year. This is the traditional way farms and gardens were maintained. The Native Seed Network is a good resource.
    Sustainable Agriculture
    integrates three main goals: environmental stewardship, farm profitability, and prosperous farming communities.
    Urban Agriculture
    the practice of agriculture within or surrounding the boundaries of cities.
    Vegan Organic Gardening
    aims to produce organically grown foods and other crops whilst minimizing (preferably eradicating) the exploitation of, or causing of harm to, any living creature.
    Window Farms
    vertical, hydroponic, modular, low-energy, high-yield edible window gardens built using low-impact or recycled local materials.
  • Gardening

    Gardening Tips

    Native 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.
    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.
    Window Farms: 
    Innovative way to grow food from recycled containers hanging in windows.
    Composting provides important nutrients for your organic garden. Learn more at Wikipedia's Compost page.
    Free Dirt Exchange: 
    Find free soil in your area for your landscaping project or garden through Tons of Dirt.
    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.
    Learn about current toxicity and regulatory information for pesticides in the PAN Pesticide Database.
    How to Build a Rain Barrel 
    Rain barrels recycle rain water for reuse. You can purchase a rain barrel or make your own homemade water collection container.
    Advantages of a Compost Pile 
    Composting is so easy and reduces your household waste, plus it produces a nutrient-rich fertilizer for use in gardening.

    Square Foot Gardening

    Developed by a civil engineer, Square Foot Gardening is the practice of planning small gardens intensively planted in raised beds/containers.The fundamental message of SFG is that you may grow more food in less space and with less resources than with traditional row gardening.

    The practice combines concepts from other organic gardening methods, including a strong focus on compost, closely planted raised beds and biointensive attention to a small, clearly defined area. Proponents claim that the method is particularly well-suited for areas with poor soil, beginning gardeners or as adaptive recreation for those with disabilities.

    Benefits of Square Foot Gardening

    Much less work.
    Conventional gardening requires heavy tools to loosen the soil, whereas in this method, the soil is never compacted and it remains loose and loamy. Weeding takes only seconds to minutes, due to the light soil, raised beds, and easily accessed plants. Harvests per foot of garden are increased due to the rich soil mixture, well-spaced plants, and lack of weeds produced when following Mel Bartholomew's method.
    Water Savings. 
    The soil mixture that is advised has water-holding capacities, so that the garden needs water less frequently, and in much smaller quantities than when using other gardening methods. Water is also spared by hand-watering directly at the plant roots, so that there is very little waste and tender young plants and seedlings are preserved.
    Very little weeding. 
    One benefit of this close planting is that the vegetables form a living mulch, and shade out many weed seeds before they have a chance to germinate.
    Pesticide / Herbicide Free. 
    Natural insect repellent methods like companion planting (i.e. planting marigolds or other naturally pest-repelling plants) become very efficient in a close space and thus, pesticides are not necessary. The large variety of crops in a small space also prevents plant diseases from spreading easily.
    A plywood bottom can be attached to the bottom of a box, which can then be placed on a tabletop or raised platform for those who wish to garden without bending or squatting, or to make gardening easy for wheelchair, cane or walker users.

    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:
    How to Naturescape provides inspiration and information on switching to native plants.
  • House and home

    Saving Energy & Money at Home

    Water Conservation Calculator
    Do you know how much water you use in a typical day? Discover ways to conserve water with some very easy changes.
    How to Build a Rain Barrel 
    Rain barrels recycle rain water for reuse. You can purchase a rain barrel or make your own homemade water collection container.
    Advantages of a Compost Pile 
    Composting is so easy and reduces your household waste, plus it produces a nutrient-rich fertilizer for use in gardening.
    Green Living Tips 
    You’ll find a number of valuable green living tips for low-impact living.
    Green Sustainable Magazines 
    Review this article to find a number of great green living publications.
    Eco-friendly Kitchens
    What can you do to make your kitchen a more environmentally friendly room? You’ll be amazed!
    Earth Friendly Cleaners 
    Out with toxic  and in with healthier, eco-friendly alternatives. It is possible to clean your home without harsh chemicals.
    Low-Impact Living
    This directory provides an A-Z styled index of information and resources for living sustainable, low-impact lives
    Unplug unused electronics
    If an electronic device is plugged into an outlet it can still use electricity whether or not it is turned on. Unplug battery chargers and power adapters when they finish charging, or are not in use. Consider using a power strip that can be turned off when you're done using (or at bedtime) your computers, printers, wireless routers, and other electronics. Source: EPA
    Improve your car’s fuel economy
    Keep your tires properly inflated, avoid excessive idling, remove any unnecessary objects from your car, drive sensibly, and observe the speed limit. For more ideas visit fueleconomy.gov
    Look for Energy-Star approved electronics
    Energy Star products are approved by the government to meet certain energy efficiency guidelines. In particular, many approved devices use less energy when turned off, but still plugged in. Go to the Energy Star website to find out more.
    Manage your computer's power use
    Program inactive monitors and computers to go into a low-power sleep mode and turn off peripheral devices when they are not being used (speakers, scanners, printers, etc.). Source: ENERGYSTAR.gov
    Use your air-conditioning less
    Keep window coverings closed during the day, set the thermostat to 72 degrees in the summer, raise the thermostat when you leave your home, clean or replace filters once a month or as needed, replace incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs, and for long term savings, consider purchasing programmable thermostats, ceiling fans, and Energy Star approved products. Source: DOE
    Today’s digital televisions are bigger and better—and, with almost a hundred channels, DVDs and video games, they’re also on more hours a day. If you’re like most people, your television is an increasingly large part of your electricity bill. Some of the worst power-hungry big-screen TVs use as much energy each year as a new refrigerator. But those electricity-guzzling TVs don't offer better performance than more efficient models.

    Heat & Cool Efficiently

    As much as half of the energy used in your home goes to heating and cooling. So making smart decisions about your home's heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) system can have a big effect on your utility bills — and your comfort. Take these steps to increase the efficiency of your heating and cooling system.

    Change your air filter regularly
    Check your filter every month, especially during heavy use months (winter and summer). If the filter looks dirty after a month, change it. At a minimum, change the filter every 3 months. A dirty filter will slow down air flow and make the system work harder to keep you warm or cool — wasting energy. A clean filter will also prevent dust and dirt from building up in the system — leading to expensive maintenance and/or early system failure.
    Tune up your HVAC equipment yearly
    Just as a tune-up for your car can improve your gas mileage, a yearly tune-up of your heating and cooling system can improve efficiency and comfort.
    Install a programmable thermostat
    A programmable thermostat is ideal for people who are away from home during set periods of time throughout the week. Through proper use of pre-programmed settings, a programmable thermostat can save you about $180 every year in energy costs.
    Seal your heating and cooling ducts
    Ducts that move air to-and-from a forced air furnace, central air conditioner, or heat pump are often big energy wasters. Sealing and insulating ducts can improve the efficiency of your heating and cooling system by as much as 20 percent — and sometimes much more.
    Focus first on sealing ducts that run through the attic, crawlspace, unheated basement, or garage. Use duct sealant (mastic) or metal-backed (foil) tape to seal the seams and connections of ducts. After sealing the ducts in those spaces, wrap them in insulation to keep them from getting hot in the summer or cold in the winter. Next, look to seal any other ducts that you can access in the heated or cooled part of the house.
    Consider installing ENERGY STAR qualified heating and cooling equipment
    If your HVAC equipment is more than 10 years old or not keeping your house comfortable, have it evaluated by a professional HVAC contractor. If it is not performing efficiently or needs upgrading, consider replacing it with a unit that has earned the ENERGY STAR. Depending on where you live, replacing your old heating and cooling equipment with ENERGY STAR qualified equipment can cut your annual energy bill by nearly $200. But before you invest in a new HVAC system, make sure that you have addressed the big air leaks in your house and the duct system. Sometimes, these are the real sources of problems rather than your HVAC equipment.
    Proper Sizing of HVAC Equipment
    Installing the right size equipment for the home is essential to getting the best performance and comfort. Many homeowners believe that bigger is better when buying new heating and cooling equipment. But in reality, a system that’s too large will not keep your home comfortable because of frequent ‘on/off’ cycling. Incorrect sizing can also put stress on system components and shorten the equipment’s life. To ensure proper sizing your contractor should provide a copy of the home's heat gain/loss calculations for your records.
    Sealing Ducts
    To ensure that ducts are properly sealed your contractor should test the leakage rate. If the ducts are very leaky (i.e. more than 20% of the air moving through the system is leaking into spaces you do not want heated or cooled) your contractor should use duct sealant (mastic), a metal-backed (foil) tape or an aerosol sealant to seal the seams and connections of ducts. After the ducts are sealed ask your contractor to wrap them in insulation.
    Proper Refrigerant Charge (Central Air Conditioners and Heat Pumps Only)
    A properly charged system will operate more efficiently and help prolong the life of the heating and cooling system. To ensure the system has the correct amount of refrigerant a contractor must test and confirm that the system is properly charged. If the system is not properly charged the contractor should make the appropriate adjustment by adding or removing refrigerant.
    Optimizing Air Flow
    If air flow in your heating and cooling system is too high or too low, you may confront problems and higher utility bills. A contractor should test air flow and make any needed adjustments for optimal performance.
  • News & media

    Online Newspaper and Magazine Sources

    Consider switching to online news. If you enjoy reading newspapers and/or magazines offline better, consider reading them at a local library. If they don’t carry a newspaper or magazine you like, find out if you can buy a subscription for the library (this is a great way to introduce sustainable/environmental magazines to people in your community).

  • Products, gifts, and stuff

    Green and eco sensitive products

    Eco-friendly Retail Stores 
    With environmental concerns on the rise, retail stores are doing their part by offering eco-friendly products to consumers.
    Green Transportation Products
    Americans drive 30% of the world’s cars but are responsible for almost half of greenhouse gases emitted by automobiles globally. So if you’re going to take a joyride, perhaps consider a vehicle with a higher fuel economy! In this Huddle, you’ll find a variety of efficient cars and powering options. And we know that an 18 MPG hybrid truck probably won’t appeal to the die-hard, dark green folks out there but for those who need baby steps…
    • Fuel Efficient Automobiles
    • Electric Motorcycles & Scooters
    • Electric Bikes
    • Conversion Kits & Components
    Green Cleaning
    You want your home to be safe and clean for yourself and your family. Why not make it safe from harsh chemicals while you're at it? In this Huddle, you’ll find cleaning products that are non-toxic, cruelty-free, biodegradable, or naturally based.
    • Laundry Detergent, Fabric Softener & Dryer Sheets
    • Dish Soap
    • House Cleaners
    • Household Paper & Cleaning Supplies
    • Car Care
    Natural Personal Care
    • Natural Skin Care
    • Natural Hair Care
    • Soaps, Body Wash & More
    • Toothpaste & Mouth Wash
    • Natural Makeup & Cosmetics
    • Feminine Care
    • Nutrition & Health
    Organic Food & Drink
    Many people say you are what you eat. Others say your body is a temple, don't litter. Whatever your catch phrase, organic food, natural food, and healthy food can taste great and be better for you and the planet. In this huddle, you'll find organic food and organic drinks.
    • Beverages, Coffee & Tea
    • Breakfast Foods
    • Prepared Meals
    • Snacks & Sweets
    • Cooking & Baking Ingredients
    Green Babies & Kids
    • Organic Baby
    • Green Kid
    • Toys
    • For Green Moms
    Green Babies & Kids
    • Organic Baby
    • Green Kid
    • Toys
    • For Green Moms
    Green Media & Resources
    • Books
    • Magazines
    • Green Movies & TV
    • Web Resources
    Renewable Energy Systems
    Have you ever dreamed of using less electricity from the grid? Well, maybe now you can! In this Huddle, we include only those devices, systems, and services related to renewable energy.
    • Solar Power
    • Wind Power
    • Hydro Power
    • Carbon Offsets & Renewable Energy Credits
    Eco Friendly Home
    • Lighting
    • Appliances
    • Electrical Supplies & Gadgets
    • Heating & Cooling
    • Plumbing Fixtures
    • Paints & Finishes
    • Eco Friendly Furniture & Decor
    • Eco Cookware & Tableware
    • Organic Bedding & Towels
    • Natural Pet Food & Supplies
    Green Garden & Yard
    There are so many opportunities for conserving and re-using resources around your house - electric mowers and weed-whackers, rain barrels, composts, and more. Find what's right for you to be green while maintaining your green.
    • Mowers, Blowers & More
    • Compost Bins & Tumblers
    • Clotheslines & Drying Racks
    • Rain Barrels & Cisterns
    • Organic Gardening Supplies
    • Solar Lights
    • Solar Ovens


    Eco gifts and eco gift 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.
    Other Eco Gift Ideas:
    Gifts that Give Back:
    • 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 honour of someone you love and post their photo on theRise Against Hunger (World Food Programme).
      • Give the gift of a Mosquito Net to save someone from Malaria.
    Give Fair Trade Gifts that:
    • Fund food for the hungry
    • Fund free mammograms
    • Help underprivileged children survive and thrive
    • Help provide books to underprivileged children
    • Help preserve endangered forests
    • Help feed animals in need
    Give a Gift of Yourself or Your Time
    • Make homemade bread and deliver it every week for a month
    • Collect family recipes and compile in a wooden recipe box
    • Make one dinner a week for a month that you deliver
    • Offer baby-sitting time
    • Offer a monthly lunch date with an elderly relative or friend
    • Offer free lessons in a sport in which you excel
    • Weed a friend’s garden
    • Offer your talents, such as photography, financial planing, or hairstyling
    • Offer yourself as a willing cheerful worker for a day
    • Put together a photo album
    • Make a video of people the gift recipient loves
    • Offer to do a chore for a month that a family member dislikes
    Give a Green Gift that Isn’t a Thing
    • Give tickets—to concerts, sporting events, whale watching trips, etc.
    • Give a pair of weekend tickets to a ski area
    • Giive frequent flyer miles
    • Give a museum pass or membership
    • Give an experience (a day kayaking)
    • Provide a gift certificate for a lesson (tennis, swimming, drums, for example)
    • Provide a gift certificate for a dinner for two
    • Donate something in the name of a friend or relative, in a subject area of interest to them (such as for Literacy Training, or to protect the Rainforest)
    • Give a gift certificate to a used book store
    • Give a plant or a tree
    Give a Gift for the Earth
    Giving a membership to a non-profit organization that does hands-on work to protect a part of the Earth’s ecosystem is giving a gift that gives a gift. Not only do you enrich the life of the person to whom you give the gift, but you help organizations that are trying to make a difference.

    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.
    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:
    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:
  • Recycling
    Earth’s 911
    A comprehensive website with information about recycling programs organized by zip code. 
    Online bulletin boards, organized by city, where you can give away your old stuff to keep it out of a landfill. 
    New York City Recycles
    Lots of information about what and how to recycle in New York City from the Department of Sanitation. 
    Recycler's World
    A world wide trading site for information related to recyclable materials
  • Tips & tricks


    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.

    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. For information on voluntary simplicity, check out Voluntary Simplicity Websites. Learn more through books on voluntary simplicity. The Compact blog (and Yahoo group accessed from blog) supports individuals committed to not buying products for a year.
    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.
    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 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)
    • 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
    • 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.
    Avoid 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.
    Green Hotels: 
    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). Print out and drop off the Sustainable Solutions for Green Hotels environmental tips list. To locate environmentally friendly hotels, search on the Internet under "ecotourism" and/or visit Green Hotels Association.
    Waste-Free Lunches: 
    Pack a Waste-Free Lunch whenever possible.
    Carry a mug with you wherever you go for take out beverages.
    Protect Children: 
    New American Dream offers tips for protecting your children from intrusive and harmful advertising that promotes mindless consumption.
    Zero Waste: 
    Zero Waste America and Zero Waste Alliance provide information on becoming a "Zero Waste" activist. "Waste is a resource in disguise." (quote from Zero Alliance)
    The Compact: 
    Join or form a Compact in your area - groups all across the globe committing for 12 months to not buy any new products (see lower right sidebar for groups).


    The media have 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.
    Switch from disposable to reusable products: food and beverage containers, cups, plates, writing pens, razors, diapers, towels, shopping bags, etc.
    Donate your old:
    • household items - clothes, furniture, dishes, books, sports equipment, magazines, appliances, electronics, business attire, wedding attire, etc. (to charity)
    • computer equipment
    • building material (to companies who specialize in selling used material)
    • cell phones and ink cartridges.
    • 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:
    • Ebay
    • Craigslit provides a great free way to buy/sell/give away used items in your local community (select your community from listings on the right)
    • Recycler's World facilitates buying and selling used products (for home and work)
    • Local second hand stores
    The Freecycle Network provides an online community tool for giving and receiving free stuff.
    thingloop facilitates sharing our belongings with each other.
    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).
    Packing Peanuts: 
    Arrange to 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.
    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 Reuseables: 
    Instead of buying these items new, save and reuse all: paper bags, rubber bands, twisties, boxes, and packaging material. Reuse your plastic bags with a handy bag dryer.
    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.
    University 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.


    Recycle Bins: 
    Create designated holding "bins" for each type of recycled product and place in convenient locations in your home/garage
    Recycling Fact Sheet: 
    Create a local recycling fact sheet for yourself and interested neighbors. The local Yellow Pages, Internet Consumer Recycling Guide and Recycling Resources are great resources. Find out where you can recycle:
    • glass
    • paper products
    • plastic grocery bags (better yet—use cloth bags)
    • 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.
    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).
    Natural Fertilizer: 
    Leave grass clippings on the lawn as fertilizer.
    Start a compost pile with yard trimmings and food scraps. Learn more at Wikipedia's Compost page.
    If you are traveling and no recycle bins are available, pack your recyclables home with you whenever possible.
    Eco-Friendly Burials: 
    For the ultimate in recycling, check out the growing movement in eco-friendly burials and conservation burial.
    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, Ni-Cd batteries
  • Transportation
    The Aptera
    a three-wheeled aerodynamic vehicle made from ultra-light (but super strong) composites. Both a hybrid-electric and electric-only model will be on the roads soon.
    a great, sustainable transportation alternative to the automobile for individuals and businesses.
    an alternative, vegetable-based fuel for diesel engines.
    California Air Resources Board Strict Emissions Standards
    "clean air agency" of the state of California in the United States. It is known for setting extremely stringent standards for air quality. Rules adopted in California oblige automakers to reduce their global-warming emissions by 30 percent, starting in 2009 and culminating in 2016.
    Canada and Carmakers Sign Tough Emissions Pact
    major automakers agreed to voluntarily reduce the global-warming emissions of cars and light trucks sold in Canada by 5.3 million metric tons, or about 25%, by the end of 2010. It could force automakers to adopt similar stringent emissions rules for vehicles sold throughout the United States.
    Car Sharing
    a system where a fleet of vehicles is owned and operated by an organization or individual and is made available for use by members of the carshare group. Find a car sharing organization near you.
    Community Bicycle Program
    program which provides free (or nearly free) access to bicycles for inner-city transport. The goal is to reduce the use of automobiles for short trips inside the city and diminish traffic congestion, noise and air-pollution
    Clean Fleet Guide
    tools to help company fleets make "green" vehicle and fuel decisions.
    Congestion Pricing
    a system of surcharging users of a transport network in periods of peak demand to reduce traffic congestion.
    Dynamic Ridesharing
    also known as online/instant/real-time ridesharing/ridematching or casual carpooling. Combines a high-tech instant rideshare request system with incentives for drivers to invite passengers into their otherwise single-occupant vehicles.
    Electric Vehicles
    a vehicle with one or more electric motors for propulsion. Better Place aims to reduce global dependency on petroleum through the creation of a market-based transportation infrastructure that supports electric vehicles.
    Ethanol - Potential Alternatives to Land/Food-Based Ethanol
    Flexible Fuel Vehicle
    an automobile that can typically alternate between two sources of fuel.
    Hybrid Vehicle
    a vehicle using an on-board rechargeable energy storage system (RESS) and a fueled power source for vehicle propulsion. Hybrids pollute less and uses less fuel.
    Hydrogen Vehicle
    a vehicle that uses hydrogen as its on-board fuel for motive power.
    applying whole system design concepts to the automobile. The hypercars defining features are ultralight construction, low-drag design, hybrid-electric drive, and minimized accessory loads.
    Light Electric Vehicles
    vehicles ranging in size from electric scooters small enough to fit under a bus seat up to one-person cars capable of driving on in freeway HOV lanes.
    Improvement: Liquid Petroleum Gas Vehicles
    a mixture of hydrocarbon gases used as a fuel in vehicles.
    Kite Sails
    large sails that attach to ships to reduce energy consumption by 10-35%.
    Motorized Bicycles
    a bicycle with an attached motor used to assist with pedaling.
    an alternative mode of flexible passenger transportation that does not follow fixed routes or schedules.
    Planning: Bicycle and Pedestrian Friendly Land-Use Codes
    direct land use and transportation development to be convenient for pedestrian, bicycle and transit users.
    Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV)
    a hybrid which has additional battery capacity and the ability to be recharged from an external electrical outlet.
    Public Transportation
    comprises all transport systems in which the passengers do not travel in their own vehicles.
    Reimbursing Bicycling at Personal Auto Use Rate
    great idea - a company is reimbursing their employees for bicycled miles at the standard mileage rate set by the U.S. IRS for automobiles.
    sharing an automobile ride with a stranger within and between towns and cities. Numerous internet sites now make the process convenient.
    innovative company helping to reduce carbon emissions in the UK by matching up companies that need to ship something with couriers that are already making similar trips across Europe.
    Smart Growth
    used by those who seek to identify a set of policies governing transportation and land use planning policy for urban areas that benefits communities and preserves the natural environment.
    Sustainable Transportation Movement
    shifts the emphasis in public spending and actions away from building and supply, to management and demand. The movement focuses on the values of heightened respect of the environment and prudent use of natural resources.
    The Shell Eco-marathon
    the annual marathon challenges contestants to drive as far as possible using the least amount of energy.
    Transit-Oriented Development
    a residential or commercial area designed to maximize access to public transport, and often incorporates features to encourage transit ridership.
    Zero-Emissions Vehicles (ZEV)
    produce no emissions or pollution when stationary or operating.

    Public Transportation in Grand Rapids

    By bus

    The Rapid
    Grand Rapids and surrounding areas are served by Rapid buses of the Interurban Transit Partnership. Rapid buses run seven days a week and include evening hours. Routes originate at the Rapid Central Station, 250 Grandville SW. Located at the corner of Grandville and Cherry Street. Buses stop at marked stops and shelters.
    Call (616) 776-1100 for route information or visit ridetherapid.org.
    Greyhound buses depart from the Central Station terminal located at the corner of Grandville and Cherry Street. 250 Grandville Ave SW
    Grand Rapids, MI 49503
    (616) 456-1709 or (800) 231-2222 or visit greyhound.com.

    By train

    Amtrak's Pere Marquette offers daily rail service between Grand Rapids and Chicago, providing fast and convenient rail connections to many destinations. For information and reservations, visit http://www.amtrak.com or call (800) USA-RAIL

    By air

    Gerald R. Ford International Airport
    Gerald R. Ford International Airport is the primary air transportation facility serving the Greater Grand Rapids area and all of West Michigan. Located within Michigan's second largest metropolitan area, the airport provides a full range of air transportation services. The airport is located at the intersection of 44th Street and Patterson Avenue SE.
    5500 44th St. SE
    Grand Rapids, MI 49512
    (616) 233-6000
    Fax: (616) 233-6025

    Michigan's Public Transit Providers

    Michigan's Department of Transportation maintains a directory of public transport providers. There are 79 transportation agencies serving Michigan residents, including 20 urbanized transit organizations and 59 non-urbanized transit agencies.

    Green Transportation Products
    Americans drive 30% of the world’s cars but are responsible for almost half of greenhouse gases emitted by automobiles globally. So if you’re going to take a joyride, perhaps consider a vehicle with a higher fuel economy! In this Huddle, you’ll find a variety of efficient cars and powering options. And we know that an 18 MPG hybrid truck probably won’t appeal to the die-hard, dark green folks out there but for those who need baby steps…
    • Fuel Efficient Automobiles
    • Electric Motorcycles & Scooters
    • Electric Bikes
    • Conversion Kits & Components
  • Water

    Water Conservation Actions & Activities

    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
    • Determine a baseline to start reducing from.
    • Chart the number of gallons of water used in the last 12 months (for comparison to each month this year)
    • 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
    • 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)
    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.
    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.
    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.
    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. If you buy a new appliance, switch to a water-conserving model (e.g., front loading washer).
    Dish Washing: 
    Use your dishwasher and don't rinse dishes beforehand (for an average 20 gallon savings).
    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.
    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.
    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.
    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: 
    Organization that is working on international water shortage issues:

    Related Resources

    Water Conservation Calculator
    Do you know how much water you use in a typical day? Discover ways to conserve water with some very easy changes.
    100 Ways to Conserve  
    Best Practices Database in Improving the Living Environment
    searchable database contains over 2150 proven solutions from more than 140 countries to the common social, economic and environmental problems of an urbanizing world. Do a Database Search on 'water'.
    Composting Toilet
    use biological processes to deal with the disposal and processing of human excrement into organic compost material. Composting toilets do not require water.
    Greywater Recycling
    wastewater generated from processes such as washing dishes, laundry and bathing and reused typically for irrigation.
    Local Resources
    Millennium Development Goals (MDG)
    (goal #7)
    eight goals that all 191 United Nations member states have agreed to try to achieve by the year 2015. Goal number 7 includes a commitment to reduce by half the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water.
    Rainwater Harvesting
    the collection and storage of rain from roofs or from a surface catchment for future use. The water is generally stored in rainwater tanks or directed into mechanisms which recharge ground water.
    Reclaimed Water
    wastewater (sewage) that has been treated and purified for reuse, rather than discharged into a body of water.
    Soap Nuts (Sapindus)
    an environmentally friendly laundry detergent and general cleaning soap made from soap nut berries.
    Solar Desalination
    the desalination of water using solar energy.
    Sustainable Water Filtration Systems
    award winning inexpensive and sustainable water filtration systems for developing countries.
    Water Conservation
    using technology and water-conserving practices to minimize wasting water.
  • Workplace

    Actions & Activities

    Recycling Program: 
    If a recycling program has not already been started at your company, start one yourself (or improve the program already in place).
    Recycled Material: 
    Encourage the office/purchasing manager to purchase products containing recycled material (paper, plastic, etc.).
    Materials Exchange: 
    You can find exchange programs at Recycler's World and State-specific Materials Exchange Programs (U.S.)
    Product Design: 
    Better by Design helps in designing environmentally friendly products.
    Green Purchasing: 
    Learn about green purchases through:
    Energy Reduction: 
    Schedule an energy audit through your local energy provider to determine how to reduce energy use.
    Environmental Policy: 
    Strategic Planning resources for defining your company's environmental policy:

    Related Resources

    Green Meetings and Conventions: 
    A growing number of businesses are greening their meetings and conventions.
    Green Building: 
    Encourage your company to look into building or leasing space in a "green" building. The EPA can provide information through their Business Improvement program.
    Whenever possible, choose environmentally-friendly packaging material. If your company uses pallets to ship boxes stabilized with stretch wrap, strapping, or corner boards, look into switching to more environmentally-friendly unitizing systems such as Lock n' Pop (no endorsement intended).
    Junk Mail: 
    Check into ways to reduce business junk mail.
    Buy refurbished computers for less. Also consider donating used computer equipment. If you purchase new equipment, the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool and Guide to Greener Electronics can help you make greener choices.
    Zero Waste: 
    EPA: Zero Waste and Zero Waste Alliance provide information on shifting your business toward producing zero waste.
    Reusing Ink Cartridges: 
    Cartridge World will refill your printer cartridges at half retail price.
    Paper Use: 
    Use both sides of each piece of paper—for note taking or printing documents from your computer (at home or work). Create notepads by stapling together once-used paper.
    Pack a Waste-Free Lunch whenever possible.
    Break Room: 
    Ask co-workers to bring their unwanted cups, mugs, plates, cloth napkins, and silverware to work to replace disposable items in the break room.
    Green Hotels: 
    Encourage your company to use the Green Hotel Initiative’s Best Practices Survey to determine which hotels to book traveling employees or visitors at.
    Environmental Career: 
    Looking for an environmental job? Check out: