Green up your life

 

You can make a difference to the planet - right here and now

This site aims to put together many of the most practical ways of changing the way you impact on nature and your fellow creatures. The goal is to link you to the very best and most practical  and most essential links to guide your choices, or to find programs and suppliers, near where you live. Currently the site covers the USA, we hope to expand it to other countries (volunteers needed.)

If you support the goals of this page, please suggest it as a link to any "green and simple" sites you visit.

You must be the change you wish to see in the world.

Mahatma Gandhi

Make this your home page

Email friends about this page

Jump to Actions

Audit your lifestyle  -  Check your area  - Offset pollution  Green energy  - Transport - Appliances - Building - Food - Gardening - Workplace  -  Get Action Alerts

Planet Earth and all her inhabitants are showing signs of severe stress from human numbers and ways of life. The task of halting and restoring the damage seems enormous.

And yet, what happens to the environment is the sum of all individual actions.  You don't have to wait till the entire body politic changes direction. You don't have to wait till the majority agrees with you.
You know that you can change your own choices. You can make a difference now.

Changing your lifestyle so you live in closer harmony with the present and future health of the planet  is not a snap thing. It will take time. Choose your priorities. Take things one at a time. Every move in the right direction makes a difference. Show and tell others what you are doing and multiply the effect of what you do. Gradually the whole momentum will shift direction till one day we will find ourselves once more as good citizens of the earth.
Suggestions are welcome at harr...@dircon.co.uk.
Paul Harrison    United Nations Environment Programme Global 500 laureate

Click for charity

These are the most productive and well-managed links we know of. By clicking, you can effortlessly help both people and the environment in small but meaningful ways.

How does it work?

When you click you are shown small ads from sponsors whose checks pay the frontline charities to save land, feed the hungry and so on.

The links

The Hungersite: 1.1 cups food
Ecology Fund: 87 sq ft habitat; make sure to first register and join the WPM group
Rainforestsite: 11 sq ft forest
Animal Rescue: 0.6 bowls food
RedJellyFish [Register first]: 0.5 bowls food for chimps + 26.5 sq ft forest

Something is better than nothing
I am only one.
I cannot do everything.
But still I can do something.
Edward Everett Hale
The Star Thrower

A young man was walking along a beach. The tide was on its way out, and the beach, for as far as he could see, was covered in starfish. Ahead he saw a woman, picking up starfish and throwing them into the ocean one by one.
“Good morning!&rquo; he said as he neared her. &lquo;Do you mind if I ask why you’re doing that?”
"The tide’s going out and the sun is burning hot. If I don't throw them in they'll die," the old lady answered.
"But there are miles of beach covered with starfish. It’s hopeless. What difference can you make?"
The old lady bent down, picked up another starfish and threw it into the sea.
"Well, it sure made a difference for that one."

Adapted from Loren Eisley

ACTIONS

  BACKGROUND

Audit your lifestyle

How huge is your Ecological Footprint?
Are you overweight? Check your BMI
Fat & Calorie Burn calculators
How's your heart? Check your risk
Check your Risk of Major Diseases

Check life expectancy . Will you reach 100?
Most people in rich countries are using resources at an unsustainable rate, and Americans have a bigger average impact on the planet than any other nation. With only 5% of the world's population, we pump out 25% of the greenhouse gases, an average of over 20 tons per person. That's a responsibility - and an opportunity too: Americans who reduce their impact significantly can have a bigger than average impact.
Our overconsumption is also reducing the quality of our lives and killing us.

Checkout your home area

Pollution Report Scorecard
   for your zipcode
    Environmental Protection Agency
   multiple checks

 

Find out if you are living near a toxic waste site, check your local air quality, pinpoint your local polluters.

Offset your pollution - Go Climate Neutral

Calculate your carbon debt
How many trees per year
should you get planted?


    Plant trees
  National Arbor Day -
   order trees and plant them

    Sponsor tree planting or
forest restorati
on
     American Forests One dollar a tree!
Adopt an acre for $75
    Protect orangutans in Asia

We can offset the impact of carbon dioxide we cause to be emitted, by planting trees or paying for trees to be planted or protected. A typical growing tree can absorb a third of a tonne of CO2 per year. A typical adult American would need to plant or get planted 80 or more trees a year.
Trees have many other benefits: beauty, shade, improvement of local climate, increased water infiltration, lower soil erosion, protectiion of biodiversity. Here are 29 reasons to plant trees.
One hectare (2.5 acres) of rainforest may contain 700 types of tree and 1500 of plants. A single tree in Peru housed 43 different species of ant. [Rainforest Facts]

TIPS:  
Make sure you order trees native to your soils & climate.
Make sure you plant at the right time & place.
Plant at least one tree every year. Plant a tree in memory of anyone who dies. Plant fruit and nut trees for free food.

 

Green up your life

 

Energy

Reducing our use of fossil fuels is the major priority. One approach is to reduce our total energy use (20 Things You Can Do to Conserve Energy) through efficient products (see below) and good practice.
Another is to increase our use of renewable energies. Both efforts combined will improve our air quality, slow global warming, and reduce our dependence on Middle Eastern oil.
TIP: Checkout subsidies available from your state, city or utility for energy-efficient products, and home-generated solar and wind power.

Transport & Travel

EPA Fuel-economy data by year

   Green Hotel cards
Control wasteful pamperings
   Ecotourism
The average American drives about 8,500 miles per year, the typical car about 17,000 miles. While average fuel economy standards have been improving in most of the world, in the USA they fell from 26.2 mpg in 1987 to 24.4 mpg in 2001, largely due to the spread of SUVs. Choosing the most fuel-efficient vehicles in a class can save the owner at least $1,500 in fuel costs. You can also green your travels and eco-tour. Own a hotel? Get your guests to re-use towels and sheets.

Living - appliances etc

Energy Star Qualified Products
Find your nearest supplier
 
Energy Star certified products, in over 40 categories from dishwashers to air conditioning, use less energy and water, save money, and help protect the environment. Last year alone, Americans, with the help of Energy Star, saved $8 billion in utility bills and enough energy to power 20 million homes - and avoided greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to those from 18 million cars.

Reduce

 Simple Living
Seeds Of Simplicity
Simplicity Circles: find one near you

    Re-use
How to donate a computer
Non-profit computer recyclers
Recycle your mobile phone
Recycle your phone and help victims of domestic violence


    Recycle
Find a recycling center near you 

Shopping
     
Responsible Shopper -
   company social/environment rating
        Find Green Products/Businesses

Liberate yourself from your possessions
We don't own our possessions - often they own us. We are "stuffocating" under an avalanche of products and models. We buy far more than we need, wasting resources and adding to pollution. Every year each American throws away 1670 lbs of garbage - ten times our average weight, which is also ballooning as we eat more and exercise less.
We need to practice the "3Rs" - reduce, re-use and recycle. In that order. Reducing our consumption has the greatest impact. Re-using things, or giving them to others to re-use, is better than putting them in the recycling bin. Recycling must be done carefully. Finally, waste disposal must ensure that toxic products are properly disposed of.
We can also try to ensure that the things we do buy are produced with least environmental damage over their lifecycle.
By simplifying we can usually improve the quality of our lives physically and spiritually.
Books: The Circle of Simplicity - Cecile Andrews
      Voluntary Simplicity - Duane Elgin
Earthship house
 

Recycled glass

Green grow your garden

      Backyard Wildlife Habitat
Nature-oriented gardening
      Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program
      Green Golfing
The typical US yard size is about 13,000 sq ft. Yet we manage this land badly, growing alien flowers and water-hungry lawns, killing or excluding "pests" and "weeds"  - usually the native species of our area. The least we can do is make our gardens hospitable to native plants and animals.
The National Wildlife Federation runs an excellent advice and certification scheme. From the Natural Resources Conservation Service you can get support and up to 75 percent cost-share to create or improve wildlife habitat.

Green your cuisine

What you eat affects your own body as well as the natural environment. We are poisoning ourselves as well as the planet, bloating our bodies and burdening ourselves and society with massive health problems.

Find good food near you
   Farms & farmers' markets
Community-supported agriculture farms
Sustainable seafoods -
   An overview from Whole Foods
 

Eat lower on the food chain. One pound of grain eaten by humans is one pound of grain. Meats require far more grain and other inputs - 1 lb of feedlot beef requires 10lb of grain to produce. 1 lb of pork needs 5lb of grain, 1lb pound of chicken needs 2-3lb of grain.
Buy local. Foods are shipped across increasing distances as the world globalizes. Out-of-season flowers and vegetables are flown from the southern hemisphere to the northern. One study in Iowa found that typical supermarket produce travelled almost 1500 hundred miles - against only 56 miles for local produce on farmers' markets. Buying local reduces pollution, and stimulates employment in your area.
Eat organic. Organic produce is grown or reared naturally without chemicals, hormones or antibiotics, with benefits for nutrition, soil health, animal welfare and wildlife diversity.
Eat humanely. If you eat meat and dairy products, choose ones that have been reared organically, humanely, and in ways that allow animals' natural instincts to be satisfied.




Building/Improving your home

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design: Find an environmentally qualified architect
 Energy Star Building
  Energy Star Home Improvement
  Building Green -
Guides and suppliers
  Sustainable Building - professionals,
materials, primer
Building a home probably has a greater environmental impact than any other action of a person's life. It is an opportunity to change the rules by which you and future generations live. Some homes such as Earthships are almost self-sufficient in water and energy. Strawbale houses have extreme thermal efficiency. Green roofs provide insulation and room for nature. Even if you're just refurbishing, you can get subsidies to install low-flush toilets. You can "grow" solar power on your roof and make money exporting your surplus to utility companies.

Green up your workplace

      Audit your office
  and get tips for improvement
      Combat light pollution
      Energy Star Business Improvement
 
Offices and factories create many forms of waste and pollution - and there are many ways to change that. Turning off equipment at night, using renewable energy, conserving water, recycling paper, other supplies, and used equipment and furniture, using recycled products, having a workplace transport plan.
Frequently neglect of green workplace issues affects workers' health. Leaving office and car park lights on all night also adds to light pollution which is blotting out the night sky for a growing majority of humans.

Sign up for Environmental Action Alerts

Redress the balance: people before money
In a country where money and big business influences policy heavily, many environmental and social organizations have now made it easy for concerned individuals to send email and letters to their local representatives.  Politicians do take note.

TIP: Vary the wording - don't  look like a robot spammer.
 

Other Links

The Energy Guy- Comprehensive Energy Solutions
Global Stewards - advice and action