grassy feet

40 ways to go greener at home …besides just recycling

by Tsh Oxenreider

Tsh is the founder of this blog and just finished traveling around the world with her husband and 3 kids. Her latest book is Notes From a Blue Bike, and believes a passport is one of the world's greatest textbooks.

Being intentionally eco-wise is about celebrating the Creator’s creativity, being good stewards with what we’re given, and passing on those values to the next generation.

The thing I love most about practicing good green green habits in our home is that nine times out of ten, they’re also the more frugal option.  And I love being frugal. Being environmentally-friendly is just good economics—in our home and budget, and with the earth.

There are tons of little things we can do in our homes to play a small part in reducing landfill waste, cleaning the air, and preserving the natural landscape. But we double our efforts when we get our kids involved, helping them understand the why to our what.

When they get it, it’ll be second nature when they’re adults—and that much easier to pass it down to their children.

Here are some small, easy, green choices we can make in our homes. Choose three that you’re not already doing, and make them a habit this year.

40 ways to go greener at home (besides recycling)

40 easy ways to go greener at home—besides recycling

1.  Plant an herb garden.  It’s good to have a reminder around of where our food originates, and this one is super easy.

2.  Switch all your lightbulbs to CFLs (or at least switch a few).

3.  Create a homemade compost bin for $15.

4.  Switch one appliance to an energy efficient model (look for the “energy star” label).

Photo from Flip & Tumble

5.  Stop using disposable bags. Order some reusable bags—my favorites are Flip & Tumble. Or, make your own—they’re insanely easy.

6.  Buy an inexpensive reusable water bottle, and stop buying plastic disposable bottles (my favorite is the Kleen Kanteen with the sport cap.  Then watch The Story of Bottled Water, a short movie about the bottled water phenomena.

7.  Wash laundry in cold water instead of hot.

8.  Turn off lights when you leave the room.

9.  Don’t turn on lights at all for as long as you can—open your curtains and enjoy natural light.

10.  Drive the speed limit, and combine all your errands for the week in one trip.

Photo by Kamyar Adi

11.  Better yet, walk or ride a bike to your errands that are two miles or closer.

12.  Support your local economy and shop at your farmer’s market.

13.  Turn off your computer completely at night.

14.  Research whether you can sign up for green power from your utility company.

15.  Pay your bills online. Not only is it greener, it’s a sanity saver.

A massive collection of resources, one ridiculous price.

Several times a year, there’s a massive collection of e-books about things like homemaking, DIY, healthy living, and more. These things tend to value at over $1,000 dollars yet are priced around $30, making it a no-brainer for you to purchase even if you’re only interested in three or four of the items. Head here to read why I like these bundle sales, even with a minimalist approach to life, and sign up here to find out when the next one releases.

16.  Put a stop to unsolicited mail—sign up to opt out of pre-screened credit card offers.  While you’re at it, if you’re in the U.S., go ahead and make sure you’re on the “do not call” list, just to make your life more peaceful.

17.  Reuse scrap paper.  Print on two sides, or let your kids color on the back side of used paper.

18.  Conduct a quick energy audit of your home.

19.  Subscribe to good eco-friendly blogs—I dig Keeper of the Home, Kitchen Stewardship, and Live Renewed.

20.  Before buying anything new, first check your local Craigslist or Freecycle.

21.  Support local restaurants that use food derived less than 100 miles away, and learn more about the benefits of eating locally.

22.  Fix leaky faucets.

23.  Make your own household cleaners.  I’ve got quite a few recipes in my first book, Organized Simplicity.

Photo by Kasia

24.  Line dry your laundry.

25.  Watch The Story of Stuff with your kids, and talk about the impact your household trash has on our landfills (I don’t love some of their politics, but I can overlook it when watching).

26.  Learn with your kids about another country or culture, expanding your knowledge to other sides of the world.

28.  Lower the temperature on your hot water heater.

29.  Unplug unused chargers and appliances.

30.  Repurpose something. It’s fun.

31.  Collect rainwater, and use it to water your houseplants and garden.

Photo by Lori Ann

32.  Switch to cloth diapers – or at least do a combination with disposables. Even one cloth diaper per day means 365 fewer disposables in the landfill each year.

33.  Switch to shade-grown coffee with the “Fair Trade” label.

34.  Use a Diva Cup for your monthly cycles. At the risk of TMI, I’ve been using mine for more than five years now. (Update: Eight years and counting.)

35.  Use cloth instead of paper to clean your kitchen. Be frugal, and make these rags out of old towels and t-shirts.

36.  Use cloth napkins daily instead of paper.

37.  Read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, and be utterly inspired.

38.  Repurpose glass jars as leftover containers and bulk storage, especially in the kitchen.

39.  Watch the myriad documentaries on Netflix about the food industry and environment. Some of my favorites are Food Inc., Amazing Planet, Discovery Atlas, and Food Matters. My daughter was totally mesmerized with that last one—it’s insanely important that our kids understand where our food originates.

40.  Donate to—and shop at—thrift stores.  You’ll be recycling perfectly usable items, you’ll be supporting your local economy, and you’ll be saving money.

Which of these do you already do?  Which ones are you going to focus on this next year?  And what can you add to the list?

Join the Conversation
top photo source

Like This? Subscribe for free and have it delivered to your inbox.

Prefer to subscribe via RSS?


  1. Fruits, vegetables, seafood, grains, lean various meats and water.
    Apericena’ (vibrant smorgasboard with typical treats).
    With no blood sugar, mobile metabolic process
    can not ensue and ATP (adenosine triphosphate), the cell’s energy
    unit, can not be manufactured.

  2. avatar
    Shirley Greenwood says:

    Make STOP to all those GLOSSY magazines & Journals printed on expensive paper.
    Make STOP Services Company e.g. Virgin/SKY /Gas/Electric Company etc .sending OUT un welcome/un wanted Junk mails printed on
    glossy brochures to houses. Instead of wasting money on it they could cut the prices in their services.
    Make news paper less pages (Metro/Evening Standard/Sunday Papers – (full of Junk mail)
    Make less packaging for take away food & drink
    Make Super market freezers cover-up doors. Not exposed The energy wasted are obvious.
    Make Re-cycle bin more available .and accessible..
    Everybody is talking about it how to go green but no encouragement/support from & local Council..

  3. avatar
    Menaka Ramakrishnan says:

    Awesome stuff, especially like the emphasis on switching to more eco-friendly material. And walking is always a great answer! There is a great article I came across which really helped me be more eco-friendly at work, you should check it out!

  4. 40 ways! Wow, this is so amazing.

  5. Going green is in these days. I’m proud to say I am slowly getting there.

  6. Thanks for sharing all these great green tips. My cleaning service always offers great tips on this one too.

  7. Turn off computer at night I am trying, always forgot.

  8. Great article. I’m printing it for my daughter’s elementary school for Earth Day. FYI: Number 27 is missing.

  9. I love these and we do most. I am switching to cloth diapers late in the game as i have 6 kids and the ones in diapers are almost done with diapers but feel even if its only 6 months of diapers notin the landfill i am helping some. I am proud that my family of 8 only needs the smallest garbage can our garbage service prvides, which holds only 3 13 gallon bags. Most is diapers so i know it will get better with cloth diapers. Waste management also has recycle and compostservices so we use them. Our only problem with the compost is the flies and we even had a rat once but we got rid of it and the flies are controlled because we started using an old diaper pail to put compost in. Works great especially with biobags

Add Your Thoughts