Walk the Walk: More Green Living Tips
Throughout April's Green Issue you'll find a running list of everyday ways you can chip away at issues like global warming, and water pollutioneven while contributing to your family's health. Here are 21 more hassle-free ways to make a difference.
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1. Buy a new sports ball online at Fair Trade Sports. The Seattle-based company forgoes petro-based synthetic leather, using Fair Trade-certified latex from a rubber-tree forest in India. All after-tax profits go to children’s charities around the world. Its soccer balls, volleyballs, rugby balls, footballs, and basketballs are stitched by adults getting fair wages and working in healthy conditions. Donate your used ball to World Vision’s Get a Kick Out of Sharing Program (worldvision.org) and they’ll ship it to a needy athlete in a developing country. fairtradesports.com.
2. Hit the beach with a mission on September 15, International Coastal Clean-up Day. Last year, volunteers bagged more than 500,000 pounds of trash and 50,000 pounds of recyclable materials in California alone. oceanconservancy.org
3. Find a community garden near you. Growing food and greening up the neighborhood diminishes stress, improves nutrition, reduces crime, and saves money. communitygarden.org
4. Support local environmental efforts when you travel. Case in point: the Kiwayu island villagers, off the coast of Kenya, who pick up old flip-flops on the beach and turn them into jewelry and other products. africa-interactive.net.
5. If you must chainsaw . . . please try a bio-based bar-and-chain lubricant like the ones made by Montana Gold, GemTek, and International Lubricants. The soy- or vegetable-based products are nontoxic and biodegradable and lengthen the life of your equipment.
6. Try vermicomposting. The clean, indoor, less odoriferous way to compost employs a small colony of red worms ($15-$30 per pound; topline-2000.com). Let them set up shop in a neatly self-contained bin and they’ll go to work on those scraps you’ve been shoving down the disposal (as well as old newspapers). Come springtime, you have free, rich soil.
7. Take the bus, train, or subway. According to the American Public Transportation Association, public transit saved the country 1.4 billion gallons of gas last year, and households that go public can save $6,200 per year. Bonus: The free time means you can finally read all of Moby-Dick.
8. Carry your own coffee mug and skip the disposable cups and lids. If you drink five lattes a week, you’ll save more than 16 pounds of trash over the course of a year.
9. Sign up with OrganicVolunteers.com and take a working vacation to help organic farmers with seasonal harvesting. You’ll learn sustainable farming methods to boot.
10. Protect the oceans. The Monterey Bay Aquarium, originator of the handy Seafood Watch wallet card, also has extensive information on its Web site about the sustainability and health factors of hundreds of species. mbayaq.org.
12. Don’t toss those used batteries; they contain metals like mercury and cadmium that leak from landfills into soil and groundwater. Your community likely has several free recycling centers; find the nearest one at rbrc.com.
13. Give old-school style by donating clothes and used gear to your local Salvation Army or Goodwill. You won’t get anything back, except for that good feeling in your gut. salvationarmyusa.org, goodwill.org
14. Buy recycled paper towels instead of virgin rolls. If every household in the country did this just once, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council, we’d save 544,000 trees. nrdc.og
15. Sip Fair Trade, organic tea. You’ll find dozens of varieties at SerendipiTea.com, and a portion of the company’s profits goes to environmental nonprofits.
16. Bring your own shopping bag to the grocery store or farmers’ market; the hip totes from Alchemy Goods are individually made from salvaged seat belts and recycled bike tubes. $30; alchemygoods.com
17. Go vegan for a week and play your part in reducing the more than 200 billion gallons of animal waste that are pumped each year into U.S. farmlands and waterways. Find recipes and tips at veginfo.org.
19. Move closer to the office. You’ll reduce carbon emissions and commute time (24 minutes is average for Americans)-and catch a few more Z’s in the process.
21. Read more about the issues. Hell and High Water; Global Warming-the Solution and the Politics-and What We Should Do, by Joseph Romm (William Morrow, $25), is a compelling argument for immediate action. The Ten Minute Activist: Easy Ways to Take Back the Planet, edited by M. Ryan Hess (Nation Books, $13), is filled with dozens of take-charge ideas.