Green Eco Tips for Sustainable Living

Environment Friendly Living

Green Eco Tips for Sustainable Living

First: Reduce

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


  • Go Zero Waste:

    The ultimate goal – learn how at

    Zero Waste Home


  • Simplify:

    Simplify your life as much as possible. Only keep belongings that you use/enjoy on a regular basis.
    Waste Basket
    By making the effort to reduce what you own, you will naturally purchase less/create less waste in the future

  • Determine Your Impact:


    Eco Footprint




    Water Footprint

    calculators give you a great way to determine how you are impacting the environment.

  • 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. The free, downloadable

    Wallet Buddy

    from The

    Center for a New American Dream

    is a great constant reminder to make sustainable purchases (including avoiding unessentials).

  • Observe an Eco-Sabbath:

    For one day, afternoon or hour a week, don’t buy anything, don’t use machines, don’t switch on anything electric, don’t cook, don’t answer your phone and, in general, don’t use any resources. (



  • Replace Disposables:

    Wherever possible, replace disposable products with reusable ones (i.e., razor, food storage, batteries, ink cartridges (buy refill ink), coffee filters, furnace or air conditioner filters, etc.).

  • Buy Used:

    Buy used products whenever possible. Some sources:

Second: Reuse

The media has 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!

Third: Recycle

Fourth: Refuse

  • Refuse Products that Create Waste:

    If available, instead of buying processed food, bring your own bags and containers and buy from the bulk and produce sections of the grocery store. Minimize or eliminate other types of purchases that generate waste. The Johnson’s are a

    zero-waste family

    who offer


    and inspiration for creating a zero-waste household while creating a far more satisfying and affordable lifestyle.

  • Avoid Single Use Products:

    Instead, choose (or bring) reusable products or consider doing without. Avoiding


    single use items is especially important because of their toxic load and, if landfilled, exceptionally long life. These can include food and beverage containers, cups, plates, straws, writing pens, razors, diapers, towels, shopping bags, etc.

  • Refuse Give Aways:

    When a business or individual offers you a free give away that you don’t need, politely refuse. This can be anything from a straw in a restaurant to promotional gifts to paper handouts. This not only saves the company or individual money, but it keeps resources from being consumed unnecessarily (even if it is recyclable).

Fifth: Rot

  • Worm Composting:

    Learn about worm composting (vermiculture) at

    Earthworm FAQ


  • Composting:

    Start a compost pile with yard trimmings and food scraps. Learn more at

    Wikipedia’s Compost page


  • Grasscycling:

    Leave grass clippings on the lawn

    as fertilizer and to reduce the amount of yard trimmings disposed in landfills.

  • Mulching:

    Mulching mowers are available which will convert cut grass into a natural fertilizer.

Your Food

Switching to a animal-free, vegan diet is a powerful way to help protect our environment, help ensure everyone has enough to eat and improve your health. The United Nations report

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).
CO2 emissions by cows
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.

“The world is producing the wrong kind of food, by a process that leaves millions of people landless, homeless, cashless, and unable to feed themselves.” Anita Roddick

Conserve Energy

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.

  • 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. Print the

      energy and water consumption chart

      and post in a visible spot in your home. 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)
    • Washing Machine Cold Setting
      Make specific changes in products used and family member habits:

      • buy energy saving products where needed
      • read

        Alternative Transportation and Fuel Efficiency Tips
      • 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)

Conserve Water

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.

Out in Nature

Your Home and Finances

Create a


, 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


Nontoxic Home

Natural Body Products

Building or Remodeling Your Home

Personal Finances

Your Garden

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:

  • Protecting Birds:

    The greatest danger to birds in your yard is window collisions (up to 1 billion collisions annually in the U.S. alone). Audubon provides

    tips for minimizing collisions


  • Resources:

    How to Naturescape

    provides inspiration and information on switching to native plants.

Gardening Tips

Green Your Work

Sustainable Business Strategies

The following programs provide an overall approach and/or concepts for integrating sustainable practices into your business:

Regulatory Concepts or Systems

  • Extended Producer Responsibility


    environmental protection strategy to reach an environmental objective of a decreased total environmental impact of a product, by making the manufacturer of the product responsible for the entire life-cycle of the product and especially for the take-back, recycling and final disposal of the product.

  • REACH (Registration, Evaluation and Authorization of Chemicals)


    legislation by the European Union that forces industries doing business in Europe to register chemicals and submit health and safety data, and replace the most hazardous ones with safer alternatives. The law, which took effect in 2007, is impacting businesses worldwide and over time will result in a significant reduction of toxic chemicals released into the environment.

  • Emissions Trading


    an administrative approach used to control pollution by providing economic incentives for achieving reductions in the emissions of pollutants.

Green Purchasing

The following resources provide information and directories for green product purchases.

Green Product Design

The following programs, tools and materials facilitate greening your product design process:

Green Product Labels

Green label programs to help design and promote your green products:

  • Eco-Labels Directory


    the Consumers Union’s useful guide to environmental labels across a wide variety of industries. Examples of labels:

    Design for Environment

    , and

    Green Seal


  • Cradle to Cradle Certification
    C2C Certification


    Cradle to Cradle Certification provides a company with a means to tangibly, credibly measure achievement in environmentally-intelligent design and helps customers purchase and specify products that are pursuing a broader definition of quality.

  • Environmental Technology Verification


    Environmental Protection Agency program which verifies the performance of innovative technologies that have the potential to improve protection of human health and the environment and provides a list of verified products to the public.

  • Fair Trade Labeling


    a brand designed to allow consumers to identify goods which meet agreed fair trade standards. Typically standards cover labor standards, environmental standards, and stable pricing.
    The program is overseen by an international umbrella organization, the Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International (FLO).

Zero Waste and Pollution Prevention

Tools and information for creating a zero waste, non-polluting business.

Green Building Tools and Programs

  • BEES (Building for Environmental and Economic Sustainability) Software

    : helps with selecting cost-effective, environmentally-preferable building products.

  • LEED


    green building certification program.
  • Building
    Material Donations:

    in the US and Canada, Habitat for Humanity has hundreds of local donation centers (


    ) where unused building material can be donated. Alternatively, try returning excess materials to the the point of purchase.

Water Conservation

  • Water Conservation Guide


    100 Ways to Conserve

    for additional ideas.
  • Native Plants:

    by switching your landscaping to drought- tolerant native plants a company can save a large amount of water (up to 550 gallons of water can be saved per year from just one plant).

Energy Conservation and Renewable Energy

Reporting and Measurement

  • Carbon Disclosure Project


    a non-profit which holds the largest database of corporate climate change information in the world (obtained from responses to CDP’s annual Information Requests). The gold standard for carbon disclosure methodology and process.

  • ClimateCounts


    Climate Counts lets consumers see how serious companies are about stopping climate change – and how they compare to their competitors.

  • Environmental Management Accounting (EMA)


    the identification, collection, estimation, analysis, internal reporting, and use of materials and energy flow information, environmental cost information, and other cost information for both conventional and environmental decision-making within an organization.

  • Global Reporting Initiative


    a multi-stakeholder process and independent institution whose mission is to develop and disseminate globally applicable Sustainability Reporting Guidelines.

  • Greenhouse Gas Protocol


    international accounting tool for government and business leaders to understand, quantify, and manage greenhouse gas emissions.

  • Corporate Social Responsibility


    a comprehensive set of policies, practices and programs that are integrated into business operations, supply chains, and decision-making processes throughout the company and includes responsibility for current and past actions as well as future impacts. The goal is to help companies achieve commercial success in ways that honor ethical values and respect people, communities, and the natural environment.

  • Resource Productivity


    Resource Intensity


    key concepts used in

    sustainability measurement

    to maximize resource productivity while minimizing resource intensity.

Other Green Business Practices

Support Systems

  • Eco-Industrial Parks


    a community of manufacturing and service businesses located together on a common property. Member businesses seek enhanced environmental, economic, and social performance through collaboration in managing environmental and resource issues. Components of this approach include green design of park infrastructure and plants (new or retrofitted); cleaner production, pollution prevention; energy efficiency; and inter-company partnering. An EIP also seeks benefits for neighboring communities to assure that the net impact of its development is positive.

  • Environmental Health and Safety Freeware


    freeware that provides information and tools to help business achieve environmental excellence.

  • Environmental Businesses Directory


    global online marketplace and information resources for the environmental industry

  • Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)


    used to identify the Environmental, Social and Economic impacts of a proposed development prior to decision making.

  • Environmental Protection Agency Partnership Programs

New Sustainable/Cleantech Business Ideas and Concepts

  • Fair Trade Business


    what to think about when starting a fair trade business.

  • Social Entrepreneurship


    the work of social entrepreneurs. A social entrepreneur recognizes a social problem and uses entrepreneurial principles to organize, create and manage a venture to achieve social change (a social venture).

  • Cleantech Accelerator:

    Funding for “cleantech” businesses can be found through cleantech accelerator programs. One organization that supports cleantech startups is

    The Hub


Sustainable Business News and Terms

Public Support for Environmental Practices

Enironmental Education and Careers

Green Eco-Friendly Gift Ideas for the Whole Family

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