Yesterday I wrote about what I see as some of the simpler ways to go green. They still take commitment, but don’t really take a lot of extra effort.
Today I’m covering some still fairly simple things that do take a bit more effort.
1. Drive less.
This is a tough one for many families. Then again, my family has made it about one year on just one car. I work at home, which makes that much more possible. But it was Christmastime last year that my car died and we decided that replacing it was not in the budget and not necessary at this time. It has meant some sacrifices, since that makes it too hard to do many activities with the kids, but it has overall been worth it.
Look at what you do. Can riding a bike, walking or taking public transportation replace the use of your car at times? Google has a service in beta that includes transit itineraries for many areas. It’s pretty interesting and a great resource if you aren’t yet familiar with what’s in your area. Not all areas are covered yet, but they’re working on it.
This one is not possible for a lot of people, but if you can do telecommute, consider yourself lucky and take advantage! You waste less time on the road and save the money you would have spent on gas.
This can be a bit tougher if you live in an apartment, but there are indoor composting systems that are reported to control the odors. Composting means that food scraps don’t rot in the landfill. They make great natural fertilizer, even if all you ever do is plant an indoor herb garden.
Anything from a little herb garden on a kitchen counter to a serious backyard garden can be a wonderful idea. It means you can get fresh produce that you know has been grown the way you like it.
Take the time to learn about natural pest control. For example, ladybugs are pretty easily available at many garden centers, and are quite good at controlling certain pests.
And of course the aforementioned compost means you don’t have to spend money on chemical fertilizers.
Alternatively or along with this, join a food co-op. Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is very popular right now. It’s a wonderful way to get local produce more easily. Local Harvest has some good resources to help you find a CSA in your area.
4. Decrease your energy consumption.
Changing light bulbs to CFLs works, although there are concerns about the mercury in the bulbs. But there’s more you can do.
Consider plugging your television, stereo and such into a power strip, so that you can shut them down completely when you turn them off. These can use a significant amount of “ghost power”. But you will want to consider, if you have TiVo or a similar service, finding a way to allow that to have a different power strip so you can leave it on if it is going to be recording while you aren’t watching television.
Also be sure to unplug chargers when not in use. Cell phone chargers are often left plugged in, and they don’t stop using power just because you take your cell phone with you.
Similarly, unplug electric toothbrushes and the like. My electric toothbrush is plugged in about one day a week and holds a good charge that long easily.
5. Install a clothesline.
Putting in a clothesline takes some effort, as does hanging the laundry out on it when the weather is warm enough to dry your clothes quickly. Clothes dryers use a significant amount of energy. But even beyond that, there are few things like clothes dried outdoors. Some people give their towels a quick turn through the dryer at the end so that they don’t feel stiff.
6. Get an energy audit.
Many local power companies offer these for free or at a discount, or you can hire a company to do one for you.
An energy audit tests your home, to see where energy is being wasted and how you can solve the problem. Little things like leaks under a door or through a window can cause significant heat loss in winter, for example. Just be sure you take action on the recommendations.