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?

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  1. God’s creativity, being wise with what He’s given us, and passing on those values to the next generation than it does with pressing some government agenda.

  2. avatar
    emily whiting says:

    love it, it helped me with a school project

  3. Go green to make your life green. Not only it is your life which will be effected but also the life of every people on earth will be benefited.

    Save energy to keep the world habitable. Here are some tips:

  4. I always find your take on sustainability issues fascinating. I have recently found a great eco resource for green jobs check it out for great job leads in the environment, renewable energy and clean technology jobs!

  5. Your site is incredible, especially for beginners like myself. I really appreciate this!

  6. Very good and informative tips on how to go green in the house….since as the saying says green starts at home….

    about a year ago i had taken an initiative to replace all my home lights and tube lights to a low VOC ones.
    i noted the reading before the replacement and then noted after the replacement that i had saved about 50% of electricity.
    Because of this encouragement i started share my experience and people were really stating to get keen.

    after that i also made a rule that the household waste should be segregated and that as far as possible all wet wastes should be recycled and reused as manure or compost.
    All wet waste i had in the household, i would keep it inside the plant pots and that also was a great success.

    because of these success and similar small success i created my own blog and have written and still writing many articles on how people can contribute and make our planet more clean, green and sustainable.

    do visit my blog at


  7. As time goes on I find myself becoming more aware of how to recycle, repurpose and go green. It’s great when you can find a way to re-use old items, intsead of throwing them old. Also, any tips on conserving energy is always a big help. Great tips here. Thanks for sharing.

  8. Wow it’s amazing that some of these things I have been doing forever and never knew how ecofriendly they were. I loooooove going to thrift stores and repurposing things. Blame the artist in me and with supplies being rather expensive, I have learned to save, salvage or find whatever I can.

    I read a good book about where tomatoes come from in American grocery stores. It’s called Tomatoland. Also a good documentary about the fishing Industry is end of the line. The DVD even came with a little card which tells what types of fish are most sustainable to keep in your wallet for a reminder in resturants.

  9. my name is charlie from united kingdom i had a problem with my wife sometimes ago but never knew what the problem was,i tried to asked her but she refused to tell,me what it was as time goes on i discovered she was having an affair with a friend of mine that happens to be my best friend,i was so sad that i never knew what to do next,during my search for a way out i met a friend of mine who had similar problem and introduced me to a man who helped him with his situation,on getting to the man i discovered he was
    a spell caster i was shocked because i have not had anything to do with a spell caster in my entire life so i tried to give this man a chance cos i never believed in spell casting as i thought it will not work for me but to my surprise i got positive results and i was able to get my wife back from him even after the spell caster did all i discovered my wife fell much more in love with me on like before so i was so happy that i never know what to do for him so i am using this opportunity to tell anyone on this blog having
    similar problem visit,and your problems shall be solved……Good luck.

  10. Yikes. Making a switch to cloth diapers sounds like a bit much for me. I’m all for going green especially as a part of a green environmentally friendly Phoenix house cleaning service, but I think I personally draw the line at diapers. I’ll just keep telling myself we’re imperfect beings.

  11. Go Green !!! Nothing tough, Its very easy , we just need to take some simple initiative to make our surrounding to be green. In my country (Bangladesh) , We take some initiative to save our environment and go GREEN. Our Govt. banned plastic bag and pull up the eco friendly Jute shopping bag instead of that.

    Nice artice, Thanks for share :)

  12. I’m not sure if this has been mentioned in the comments above, as I didn’t read through all of them. Just wanted to mention the debate on CFL lightbulbs. They might save energy but there are some serious environmental impacts and health issues. More information can be found on wikipedia:
    ‘In 2008, the European Union approved regulations progressively phasing out incandescent bulbs starting in 2009 and finishing at the end of 2012. By switching to energy saving bulbs, EU citizens will save almost 40 TW·h (almost the electricity consumption of 11 million European households), leading to a reduction of about 15 million metric tons of CO2 emissions per year. (wikipedia)’
    Now it’s impossible to buy normal light bulbs. It’s so frustrating that governments and citizens get brainwashed by multinational corporations. The pressure is so high and now we’re stuck with these toxic light bulbs.

  13. I have just started my own Green Quest and am finding it a bit daunting! I was happy to read that some of the items on your 40 tips list I have already been doing without even notice of how Green they are. I will definately try out some of the tips that I haven’t embraced yet (love the t-shirt grocery bags…make a great gift idea too! and have never thought of collecting rain water!) Thanks for keeping me motivated!

    Eco Virgin

  14. Great list! You had some simple ideas that I have not thought about. I am trying to go green little by little. The next step in my green journey is trying the home energy audit kit from JEA to get ideas how to decrease my energy consumption at home.

  15. Absolutely loved this article! :)
    Going to be tweeting this to our followers…just too good an article not to! :)
    Will be tweeting from:
    Have a fab day everyone!

  16. Great tips! If everyone would follow them, we would be on a good track to living greener here in the U.S. However, most of us are too busy to make too much change, at least at once. Because of that, we provided five easy tips to be green, so that we can all make a difference easily:

  17. It’s hard at times – especially when you are exasperated by being up at night or, like me, too early in the morning – but diapers are the third most common item found in landfills. It is estimated that babies need upwards of 6,000 diapers before they are potty trained, and each disposable diaper takes between 250-500 years to bio degrade. But if you can use cloth diapers – or at least environmentally friendly ones – that would make a tremendous difference.

  18. Hello, my name is chuck.Welcome To The greenest place on Earth!Green earth free offers is on a mission to help our planet restore the millions of trees that are lost each year.Trees For The Future is a charity that has been responsible for planting millions of trees all over the world.With your help our goals will continue and grow. Please visit our free offers website at http;// thanks chuck

  19. Hello, my name is chuck.Welcome To The Greenest Place On Earth!Green Earth Free Offers is on a mission to help our planet restore the millions of trees that are lost each year.Trees For the Future is a charity that has been responsible for planting million of trees all over the world.With your help our goals will continue to grow well into the future.Please visit our free offers website at Thanks.chuck.

  20. This certainly a great article to read in order for every mom or anyone to make their house an environment friendly one. Come to think of it, we usually do this things before until technology set in and make our lives easier, though it somehow has a bad effect in our environment.

  21. What an awesome gathering of all the little things that really can add up to make a big difference. We always re-use scrap paper, and have probably saved a few trees over the last decade of so. Thanks for the inspirational post!

  22. Love the tips — I have to put as much of these as I can into action at home! I got a compost bin for free from a friend a few months ago, but I’ve yet to start it! I have to figure out how to get it started!

  23. Really i feel proud that iam doing many of the things in my daily life. But Some are i yet to follow like collecting rain water and use it for gardens and plants. I really like it. I Immediately implement for this coming rainy season

  24. Excellent tips. Few points like 2, 5, 18 and 29 were damn good. I’m gonna share this list to encourage people to be green at home.

  25. Great selection of tips and links. Really inspirational even for city people.

  26. Thanks for sharing, I was greatly helped by this article

  27. I repinned this today from Pinterest. Good list! I have employed much of this, but I didn’t want to spend $15 on a kitchen composter. I found a better solution on Pinterest, which is a plastic coffee can, holes drilled in lid, cat box filter glued inside the lid: $1.25.

  28. oops. I was writing about a KITCHEN composter. Not the one in the backyard.

  29. avatar
    Amr Albiumi says:

    Thanks for sharing these tips. Very Helpful :)

  30. i feel so stupid for not thinking of using canning or sauce jars for storage instead of tupperware! Thanks! :)

  31. cool

  32. These are such amazing tips on how to go green. Environmental awareness is paramount if we plan on enjoying this beautiful planet for many more years. There is something for everyone here, thank you. :)

  33. nice tips

  34. Some brilliant tips there,the great thing is these tips will not only help the environment they will actually save you money as well,brilliant!

  35. Use Solar Pool Heater as your pool heating system. Don’t use heaters who leave carbon footprints to the environment such as Electric or Gas powered heaters.

  36. Please change the one from using CFLs to using LED lights. CFLs are not eco friendly, they contain toxic mercury!

  37. #41 don’t breed, adopt! One less consumer in the world.

  38. Very useful tips, I didn’t know a lot of them, so thank you! I thought about tips to save the environment too the other day. I try not to use plastic bags as well, but I also try to lower the room temperature for example. Have a look at my website if you are interested about it…

  39. Going green in an apartment can be of a more difficult task for some. Most of these can be done, but not all. If you live an apartment and are looking to go green there are definitely some good articles, including this one, on how to do so. I did find this;

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  43. 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..

  44. 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!

  45. 40 ways! Wow, this is so amazing.

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

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

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

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

  50. 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

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