10 Painless Ways To Go Green

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two children green field

Looking for a way to go green that doesn’t require much time, effort or money? We’ve got you covered with these 10 ways to go green right now.


Want to go green? Many of us want to do the best for the environment — and of course, for our bank account — but we are completely intimidated by the cost of solar panels, electric cars and even tankless water heaters. Fortunately, there are ways to go green that are easier than you think. Simply look back to the days of the Great Depression, and this motto to live by: “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.”

These are ten utterly painless ways to go green, save a bit of money, and help the environment at the same time. It’s a winning situation from every angle.

1. Unplug everything.

If you aren’t using it, unplug it. Period. “Vampire power” keeps items on standby so they are ready to use at the flick of a switch. Even if you don’t use them that often, standby mode is always pulling some electricity from your outlet, and every little bit adds up. Remember that the biggest culprit is your satellite or DVR, so unplug it if you can. A good rule of thumb is that if it has a glowing light somewhere on it, it is pulling power.

2. Make use of old containers.

When you start to pay attention to just how many containers you throw away, you might be shocked at how much reusable plastic and cardboard goes out of your home and into the landfills. Find creative ways to repurpose those containers, especially the strong plastic ones. They can turn into everything from pots for plants to holders for trinkets to candleholders that light up the walkway when you have a party. With a little imagination, the decor options are endless.

3. Invest in recyclable batteries.

If you have teenagers who love to use handheld electronics, this might be the perfect solution to keep dozens of batteries out of the environment each year. A simple recharging station can usually handle at least four batteries at a time, and a good rechargeable will last for a very long time.

4. Implement “leftover” night.

If you’re anything like me, you put leftovers in the fridge with the best of intentions, then forget about them until it’s too late. Once a week, have a “leftover” dinner. Pull out those leftovers, heat them up, and let the family dig in. Everyone is sure to find something they like, and you have just saved a bundle on food that would have gone to waste.

5. Replace your showerhead.

Put a one-gallon bucket in your shower and turn it on. Does the bucket fill up within 20 seconds or so? Then your showerhead is out of date and needs to be replaced. A low-flow showerhead should give you 1.5 gallons every minute, and you won’t feel the difference, but your bank account will.


6. Lower your water heater temperature.

Most water heaters are set at a standard 140 degrees, which is way too hot. Lower it to 120 degrees to save not only on your utility bills, but on the longevity of your hot water heater. The lower the temperature, the less corrosion you will have on the inside, and that means the heater will last much longer.

7. Invest in nice drapes.

Tired of running the air conditioning non-stop during the summer? Make your house cooler and add something substantial to your home decor with long, flowing drapes. Pull them closed over the windows during the hottest part of the day, using them to block the sun and thus lowering the temperature inside your home.

8. Consider buying second-hand.

Always hit up thrift stores, secondhand shops, yard sales and even auctions before you think about bringing something brand-new into the home. If everyone bought less new stuff, the environmental hazards would start to drop. Besides that, second-hand is just as good and much cheaper.

9. Change a lightbulb.

Yes, CFL lightbulbs cost more, and they take longer to “warm up” than traditional incandescent bulbs. But the money savings and the environmental impact is long-term, because CFLs — and their new sister on the block, the LED bulb — use 75 percent less energy and last up to 10 times longer.

10. Change your lawn view.

Step outside to make a really green change that starts with your grass. Keep your grass at least two inches long to allow it to absorb more water and create deeper root systems. When you do cut the grass, leave the clippings on the lawn to provide added fertilizer without the harsh chemicals.

Doesn’t have to be a hassle

Going green doesn’t have to be a hassle. With these small changes, you can make an environmental impact — and help your bank account — without going out of your way to do so. Later, you can ramp up your efforts. For now, just focus on that awesome glow of doing something good.

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Shannon Dauphin Lee

Shannon Dauphin Lee is a journalist and occasional novelist with a serious weakness for real estate. When she's not writing, she and her husband are taking road trips to explore covered bridges, little wineries and quaint bed-and-breakfast inns in their beloved Pennsylvania.