50 Ways to Go Green

Contrary to the lyrics sung by my favorite muppet, Kermit the Frog, it IS easy being green. There are plenty of small ways you can make a big impact on the environment, so be sure to add "going green" to your list of yearly goals. Here are 50 easy ways to get started.  

Set a Green Example

Teach your children to establish green habits early on with these activities. 

  1. Start a family "go-green fund." Review your previous water, gas and electric bills. Motivate the family to use fewer of these resources by tracking the savings together. Spend the money you save on a fun, family activity.
  2. Create your own wrapping paper or gift bags out of magazines, scrap cloth or newspaper.
  3. Make it a contest. Give everyone their own trashcan for a weekend, and the family member who creates the least amount of trash wins!
  4. Plant trees together.
  5. Adopt a road or park, and pick up litter.
  6. Build a compost bin together. Keep a smaller one in your kitchen for easy disposal of food scraps.
  7. Plant a garden. Even a small container garden will help save on trips to the store and packaging materials. Make sure to buy low-maintenance plants that don't need lots of water.
  8. Join a CSA — Community-Supported Agriculture — to purchase fruits and vegetables from local farmers and reduce emissions used to transport produce. Bring your kids to the farm for pickup.

Use SignUpGenius to organize a green event for the neighborhood. SAMPLE.

Strive for Second Place

Refinish, reuse, repurpose, and strive to be the second owner when it comes to items around the home. Here are some items to look for secondhand, as well as items you should consider donating. 

  1. Wooden furniture — a fresh coat of paint or stain gives what's old a new look. (With chalk paint, you don't even need to sand!)
  2. Containers — repurpose containers for planters, office storage or kitchen storage.
  3. Frames — leave them vintage or spray paint for a new look.
  4. Building materials such as doors and windows — turn a door into a desk or tabletop.
  5. Found objects — with a little creativity, any found object can become decorative art in your home. 
  6. School supplies — donate to camps, schools or local nonprofits.
  7. Outgrown toys — pass down your old bike, skates and other toys or donate to a local charity.
  8. Books — donate to the library, used bookstore or neighborhood children. There are also a lot of fun crafts you can try with worn versions.
  9. Outgrown clothes — give to a friend with smaller children or donate to a charity.
  10. Household items — donate hygiene products to a local shelter.
  11. Pet supplies — give to your local animal shelter.
Genius Tip: Decrease paper waste with online sign ups for planning school activities, sports carpools, snack sign ups and more. 

Online carpool volunteer sign up form

Go Green at Home

Work these earth-friendly habits into your household routine. They're good for the environment — and many will save you money! 

  1. Choose cloth napkins instead of paper.
  2. Pack leftovers in reusable containers rather than a throwaway wrap. For school lunches, make your own waterproof sandwich bags.
  3. Skip the rinse step before using the dishwasher.
  4. Wash clothes in cold or warm rather than hot water. Skip the dryer sheet.
  5. Make your own detergent, and store in reusable containers.
  6. Dry clothes on a clothesline or drying rack.
  7. Use a timer to take shorter showers.
  8. Don't use the tap for shaving. Try a cup of warm water instead.
  9. Clean with what you have in your pantry — you'd be surprised what lemon juice, baking soda and vinegar can do.
  10. Bring the car to a professional car wash that uses recycled water.
  11. Water wisely —If you must water plants, do it early in the morning before the sun causes evaporation. Collect and use rainwater for your garden.
  12. Assess your house every fall for drafts. Replace or winterize doors. 

Use SignUpGenius to organize a neighborhood yard sale or donation site. SAMPLE.

Organize a Greener Office

These ideas will make your place of business a greener place to work. 

  1. Officer Green — elect a representative to lead your office in earth-friendly practices.
  2. Consider telecommuting options for certain days of the week if it makes sense for your employees.
  3. Install motion sensors that automatically turn off lights when areas aren't occupied.
  4. Think before you print — only when truly necessary. Use both sides of the paper whenever possible.
  5. Power down — turn off computers and other equipment when not in use.
  6. Replace outdated light fixtures with energy-efficient lighting.
  7. Opt out — put a stop to any unnecessary paper mail you receive.
  8. Add a recycling bin to the break room.
  9. Carpool — find out where your co-workers live and share the ride.
  10. Buy consumables in bulk, so you don't have to restock the coffee creamer as often — or go through as much packaging.
Genius Tip: Use SignUpGenius so that each co-worker can sign up for a different green responsibility

Be Green on the Go

Traveling often increases our carbon footprint. Planning ahead will help you avoid that tendency. 

  1. Map errands — accomplish the most by traveling the fewest miles.
  2. Pack drinks in a thermos or reusable water bottle.
  3. Bring your own shopping bags. (Don't forget them in the car.)
  4. Create a recycling container for your vehicle for bottles and cans.
  5. Stay close to home. Choose shopping and dining destinations that are nearby whenever possible.
  6. Replace an evening out with an evening in. Try this for date night or family dinner once a month, and you may start a new, earth-friendly tradition.
  7. Use public transportation when possible. One less car on the road saves gas and cuts back on air pollution.
  8. Ride a bike — it's great exercise and great for the environment!
  9. Hit the gym with a workout partner and either carpool or, better yet, walk, run or bike to the gym and skip the drive altogether.
Genius Tip: Using SignUpGenius will make it easy to organize your carpool. Even implementing a few of these easy tips will help make the world a greener place. That's one step closer to leaving Earth better than you found it! 

Stacey Whitney is the mother of two teenagers and owner of WordsFound, a content company.