April 22 marks the 40th anniversary of Earth Day. You don’t need to make grand gestures to celebrate the day (but if you want to – that’s fine). You just need to be more mindful and do things a little bit differently to make a big difference. Here are 40 small things. If you do just a few of them consistently, you’ll make a difference.
In the Kitchen
1. Use rags instead of paper towels.
2. Use cloth napkins instead of paper napkins.
3. Don’t leave the water running constantly in the sink if you’re washing dishes by hand.
4. Collect water in a pitcher when running it to get it hot. Keep the pitcher in the refrigerator for cool drinking water.
5. Use the cooking water from vegetables, beans, or pasta (but never meat) to water indoor and outdoor plants. Make sure the water cools first.
6. Go meatless one day a week.
7. Compost your food scraps.
8. Cook small items in the toaster oven instead of the large oven.
9. Save your bread ends in a bag in the freezer, and make fresh or dry breadcrumbs when you’ve accumulated a bunch.
10. Eat leftovers for breakfast so they don’t go to waste. There’s no law that says breakfast has to be cereal or pancakes.
In the Garden
11. Grow a row for someone else. Donate your extra garden produce to a food shelter.
12. Start your seeds in containers you would otherwise throw away like yogurt cups or butter tubs.
13. Water early in the morning so the water doesn’t burn off quickly and get wasted.
14. Put up a fence to keep out the critters – don’t use harmful chemicals to keep the bunnies away from your parsley.
15. Save seeds from your best plants to use for next year.
In the Bathroom
16. Install a low flow shower head.
17. Fix leaky faucets.
18. Buy toilet paper made from 100% recycled material.
19. Turn the water off in the sink when you’re brushing your teeth or shaving.
20. Keep your showers down to five minutes.
In the Laundry Room
21. Use cold water only in the clothes washer.
22. Change the amount of water based on the size of each load.
23. Switch to an eco-friendlier laundry detergent.
24. Recycle your detergent containers.
25. Use a cup of hydrogen peroxide instead of bleach in the laundry to whiten and disenfect clothes.
26. Hang you laundry outside to dry.
27. Figure out exactly how long it takes you to dry certain loads in the dryer, then use only the needed amount of time.
28. Clean out the lint trap regularly and change the hose twice a year for better energy efficiency.
29. Ditch the dryer sheets.
30. Wear clothes until they are actually dirty before you launder them.
In the Home Office
31. Plug all electronics into a power strip and turn everything off when not in use.
32. Recycle paper after using both sides.
33. Change the lightbulbs in the office to CFL’s.
34. Reuse file folders, rubberbands, paper clips, and other office supplies.
35. Donate or sell working old electronic equipment so it doesn’t go unused and dispose of unusable electronics (e-waste) properly.
With Your Entertaining
36. Send out e-vites instead of paper invitations.
37. Serve beer from a keg instead of disposable cans or bottles.
38. Don’t throw plastic knives, forks and spoons away. Wash and reuse.
39. Serve some in-season, local foods and support your local farmer.
40. Make recycling easy for your guests with easily accessible, clearly marked receptacles.