Go Green Initiative Essays

April 18, 2006

How can we live lightly on the Earth and save money at the same time? Staff members at the Worldwatch Institute, a global environmental organization, share ideas on how to GO GREEN and SAVE GREEN at home and at work. To learn more about Worldwatch's efforts to create am environmentally sustainable society that meets human needs, sign up here for weekly e-mail updates.

Climate change is in the news. It seems like everyone's "going green." We're glad you want to take action, too. Luckily, many of the steps we can take to stop climate change can make our lives better. Our grandchildren-and their children-will thank us for living more sustainably. Let's start now.

We've partnered with the Million Car Carbon Campaign to help you find ways to save energy and reduce your carbon footprint. This campaign is uniting conscious consumers around the world to prevent the emissions-equivalent of 1 million cars from entering the atmosphere each year.

Keep reading for 10 simple things you can do today to help reduce your environmental impact, save money, and live a happier, healthier life. For more advice, purchase State of the World 2010 - Transforming Cultures: From Consumerism to Sustainability, a report from 60 renowned researchers and practitioners on how to reorient cultures toward sustainability.

  1. Save energy to save money.

    • Set your thermostat a few degrees lower in the winter and a few degrees higher in the summer to save on heating and cooling costs.
    • Install compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) when your older incandescent bulbs burn out.
    • Unplug appliances when you're not using them. Or, use a "smart" power strip that senses when appliances are off and cuts "phantom" or "vampire" energy use.
    • Wash clothes in cold water whenever possible. As much as 85 percent of the energy used to machine-wash clothes goes to heating the water.
    • Use a drying rack or clothesline to save the energy otherwise used during machine drying.
  2. Save water to save money.

    • Take shorter showers to reduce water use. This will lower your water and heating bills too.
    • Install a low-flow showerhead. They don't cost much, and the water and energy savings can quickly pay back your investment.
    • Make sure you have a faucet aerator on each faucet. These inexpensive appliances conserve heat and water, while keeping water pressure high.
    • Plant drought-tolerant native plants in your garden. Many plants need minimal watering. Find out which occur naturally in your area.
  3. Less gas = more money (and better health!).

    • Walk or bike to work. This saves on gas and parking costs while improving your cardiovascular health and reducing your risk of obesity.
    • Consider telecommuting if you live far from your work. Or move closer. Even if this means paying more rent, it could save you money in the long term.
    • Lobby your local government to increase spending on sidewalks and bike lanes. With little cost, these improvements can pay huge dividends in bettering your health and reducing traffic.
  4. Eat smart.

  5. Skip the bottled water.


    • Use a water filter to purify tap water instead of buying bottled water. Not only is bottled water expensive, but it generates large amounts of container waste.
    • Bring a reusable water bottle, preferably aluminum rather than plastic, with you when traveling or at work.
    • Check out this short article for the latest on bottled water trends.
  6. Think before you buy.


    • Go online to find new or gently used secondhand products. Whether you've just moved or are looking to redecorate, consider a service like craigslist or FreeSharing to track down furniture, appliances, and other items cheaply or for free.
    • Check out garage sales, thrift stores, and consignment shops for clothing and other everyday items.
    • Watch a video about what happens when you buy things. Your purchases have a real impact, for better or worse.
  7. Borrow instead of buying.

    • Borrow from libraries instead of buying personal books and movies. This saves money, not to mention the ink and paper that goes into printing new books.
    • Share power tools and other appliances. Get to know your neighbors while cutting down on the number of things cluttering your closet or garage.
  8. Buy smart.

    • Buy in bulk. Purchasing food from bulk bins can save money and packaging.
    • Wear clothes that don't need to be dry-cleaned. This saves money and cuts down on toxic chemical use.
    • Invest in high-quality, long-lasting products. You might pay more now, but you'll be happy when you don't have to replace items as frequently (and this means less waste!).
  9. Keep electronics out of the trash.

    • Keep your cell phones, computers, and other electronics as long as possible.
    • Donate or recycle them responsibly when the time comes. E-waste contains mercury and other toxics and is a growing environmental problem.
    • Recycle your cell phone.
    • Ask your local government to set up an electronics recycling and hazardous waste collection event.
  10. Make your own cleaning supplies.

    • The big secret: you can make very effective, non-toxic cleaning products whenever you need them. All you need are a few simple ingredients like baking soda, vinegar, lemon, and soap.
    • Making your own cleaning products saves money, time, and packaging-not to mention your indoor air quality.
  11. Bonus Item!

Thanks to members of SustainUS, the U.S. youth network for sustainable development, for contributing their ideas on how to go green and save green at home and at work.


You may also be interested in: 

Green has become quite a popular colour in recent years. It seems everywhere you look people are talking about going green. From advertising campaigns to operational strategies, companies worldwide have been implementing “go green” initiatives to catch up to the change in consumer demand. Green is now as ubiquitous as black, but with all the hype, what does it really mean to go green?

Simply put, going green is a way of being environmentally conscious and acting responsibly. By becoming aware of the issues plaguing our environment we arm ourselves with the tools necessary to sustain life on our planet.

To shift our thinking towards being green, we first need to educate ourselves about how to adopt green living practices. Going green can have a positive impact on the environment and at the same time can be affordable, simple and greatly improve the quality of our lives. There are numerous ways to go green. Here are but a few:

Minor lifestyle changes

Conserving energy – Reducing the way we consume energy is another way to go green. By conserving energy, not only are we acting in the best interests of our planet, we also save ourselves lots of money. Reducing energy consumption can be as simple as turning off lights when we leave a room or upgrading home insulation and windows.

Reducing energy demand – The first step to reducing energy demand is to conserve energy wherever we can, but for most people there’s only so much that can feasibly be conserved without completely altering their lifestyles. So, another way to reduce energy demand is to switch to renewable energy. If purchasing a new home, opt for an energy-efficient one that was built using green building techniques or install solar panels on top of your current home. Choose from a growing number of low-carbon-emitting vehicles on the market that burn less fossil fuel and produce less hazardous gases than their conventional counterparts. Visit our renewable energy section for more.

Recycling – This no-cost, simple way to go green prolongs the lifespan of natural resources. Recycling also reduces the effect that harmful waste products have on the environment. By recycling, we can decrease the amount of pollution that we breathe and limit the hazardous gases that afflict the Earth’s atmosphere. Recycling allows products to become reusable, requiring less energy and fewer resources to produce than new products.

Major lifestyle changes

Voluntary simplicity – One surefire way to go green is to choose voluntary simplicity, a lifestyle that advocates living simply with less material possessions. Not only is the impact on environment favourable, but simple living leads to a higher quality of life. According to this lifestyle, the quality of material possessions need not be cheap. In fact, higher quality items last longer and are favoured as a means of reducing carbon footprints. Visit our voluntary simplicity section to read more about this inspiring way to live.

Permaculture – By working with nature rather than against it, permaculturists incorporate sustainable human settlements and agricultural systems into one whole ecosystem. They do this through natural, organic farming techniques such as agroforestry (integrating the benefits of the forest with livestock and crops) and design techniques such as renewable energy technologies and green building. Visit our permaculture section for more.

Community – Forming an intentional community with others wanting to live sustainably is a wise way to go green. If working with the right people, a community can do much more to benefit the environment than any individual can. Visit our community building section for more.

With 7 billion people on Earth and counting, humankind’s impact on the environment is immense. Thankfully, there are increasingly more ways to go green. Companies are designing less energy-intensive versions of their current products and awareness of environmental issues has never been greater. If we unite in adopting environmentally-conscious lifestyles, we can significantly reduce our impact on the environment. The Earth is a great ecosystem that we can bring back into balance.

So go green and be responsible for the environment!

by Manny Ojigbo

image: steve p2008 via Compfightcc


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