The first step in reducing your carbon footprint is becoming more aware of the impact your actions have on the environment. Take some time to brainstorm and create an action plan to change some of your habits that have a negative effect on the environment. Reducing your wasteful habits can also have a positive effect on your wallet! If you are having a hard time getting started this list should be able to get your started on the right foot.

Help Save the Environment by Conserving Energy Use


1. Turn off your computer at night. You can save up to 40 watt-hours every day simply by shutting your computer down instead of putting it to sleep.

2. Insulate your home to prevent unnecessary loss of heat and energy.

3. Have weather stripping installed on your windows and doors.

4. Replace all old windows with energy efficient models.

5. Limit your use of water, make sure you don't leave taps/hoses running when not necessary.

6. Never use the dishwasher without a full rack.

7. Don't rinse dishes before you put them in the dishwasher.

8. Keep all your outdoor lights on a timer.

9. Turn off all unnecessary electrical equipment before you sleep and turn them on only when you return from work.

10. If you use a thermostat, try to keep it at 68 degrees in the winter.

11. In the summer, keep the thermostat at roughly 78 degrees.

12. Use less energy consuming equipment and appliances. Most modern appliances will have an Energy Star label indicating more efficient use of energy.

13. Set the refrigerator between 36 and 38 degrees Farenheit. This is low enough to prevent food from spoiling and high enough to prevent freezing.

14. Set the freezer between 0 and 5. Anything too low is a wasteful consumption of energy.

15. Do not open the refrigerator door for extended periods of time. If you need to make multiple trips, close the door each time. It takes 10 to 15 minutes for the refrigerator to return to an ideal temperature every time you open it.

16. Make use of your microwave instead of your oven of stove whenever possible. An oven takes a long time to warm up and consumes vats of energy in comparison to a microwave.

17. When using an oven, try not to open the door. As the case is with refrigerators, an oven can lose up to 25 to 30 degrees of heat each time you open it.

18. Use energy efficient light bulbs like CFLs in lieu of traditional fluorescent ones.

19. Don't leave the lights on when departing a room, even if it is only for a short period.

20. A water heater can be wrapped in an insulated blanket during the winter.

21. Shut off or turn down the water heater when you are out on vacation.

22. Use your air conditioner less. Try using a fan, opening the windows or spending extremely hot days out in the park or shade.

23. If you can't go without your air conditioner, be sure clean out the air filters at least once a month. This will enhance its efficiency and save energy.

24. If you have central air conditioning, be sure not to close any vents in unused rooms.

25. Make sure air conditioners set to a timer are turned off during an extended leave.

26. If you have an outdoor air conditioner, try to shade it with an awning or tree to help increase efficiency.

27. Reverse your ceiling fans during hot days.

28. Wash all your clothes with cold water. If you must, use the warm setting for whites instead of hot.

29. Every time you dry a load of clothes, be sure to clean the lint filter so it requires less energy.

30. Limit your use of energy appliances. If there is an alternative, such as drying your clothes outside, then you can save both money and energy doing so.

31. Unplug appliances you rarely use. Also known as energy vampires, many appliances suck up small amounts of energy even when they are not being used. While it may be a hassle to unplug commonly used appliances at night, the same is not true for others.

32. Plant trees to shade your home and consume carbon dioxide.

33. Buy green electricity produced by a local wind farm or solar energy farm.

34. Buy carbon credits to balance out your carbon footprint.

35. Donate or purchase energy saving technologies.

36. Buy a fuel efficient car such as an electric or hybrid.

37. Consume less meat. Methane gas from cattle is responsible for a large amount of carbon emissions into the atmosphere. Eating a more balanced diet will not only improve your health but also the environment.

38. Paint your car white. A white roof or a white car can reflect much of the sun's harmful energy back into space.

39. Paint your walls with whiter, brighter colors. Dark colors absorb energy, making your lighting less efficient.

40. Watch less TV. When coupled with a receiver, stereo system, lighting, air conditioning, and gaming device, the mere act of sitting in front of the television or computer can be damaging to the environment. Try to engage in more outdoor or social activities.

Help Save the Environment by Consuming Less Water


41. Take shorter showers and limit your baths. Finding economical ways to maintain good hygiene will help preserve water and the environment.

42. When you wash the dishes, only use the faucet when you have to. Don't leave it running.

43. As it is with energy, doing only full dishwasher loads can save water.

44. Wash only full loads of laundry as well.

45. Buy and install a low-flow shower head.

46. Old toilets can often consume a lot of water, the act of flushing requiring close to 2 gallons per flush. If you can, replace any outdated toilet with a new one that uses less water.

47. Make sure to check for any water pipe leaks in your home and fix when appropriate.

48. Before you go to bed, check all the faucets to make sure they are turned off.

49. You can also shut off your washing machine's water supply valve when not in use to prevent accidental leakage.

50. Always follow the water use restrictions, conservation tips, or guidelines laid out by your community.

51. Outdoor soil and mulch that has been disturbed should be re-vegetated as quickly as possible.

52. Never dump garbage down a storm drain. Protecting our water supply is just as valuable to conservation as using less of it.

53. Make sure all outdoor hoses are turned off.

54. Have your septic tank pumped and the overall system checked regularly.

55. Keep your car well maintenanced. Oil or other fluid leaks can damage the water supply.

56. Recycle your motor oil.

57. Take your car to a car wash in lieu of washing it yourself. Most of these systems are far more proficient at conserving water than a hand wash.

58. Learn about your local watershed or drainage basin.

59. Don't drink bottled water. Use a filtration system if you can.

60. Shower with your partner. This can be a fun and exciting way to help save the environment.

Help Save the Environment by Reducing Toxicity in the Home and the Yard

Credit: The U.S. Army via Flickr

61. You can eliminate mercury exposure in your home by disposing of all old thermometers and mercury laden items at the appropriate facility.

62. Try to use household cleaners that do not make use of hazardous chemicals.

63. Get a carbon monoxide detector to ensure no leaks are in the house.

64. Review labels not just of household cleaners, but anything you make use of.

65. Try cleaning with baking soda, water, or other non-invasive materials. Often times a stain or piece of dirt can be wiped away with a little bit of extra effort.

66. If no alternative for a toxic item exists, use the less harsh item.

67. Never buy paint in excess of what you need for the job.

68. If you live in an older home, have it tested for radon.

69. Test the walls of your old home for lead-based paint.

70. If your home has lead-based paint, cover it up with wallpaper.

71. Use traps for rats and insects instead of poisons.

72. Use aromatic herbs or cedar chips in lieu of mothballs.

73. When landscaping, avoid using leaf blowers or toxic and energy consuming equipment.

74. If you must use a lawnmower, make sure to use an electric one instead of a gas powered machine, as the fumes can further increase the noxious chemicals in the air.

75. Do not burn off leaves or grass clippings.

76. Leave natural debris in the yard, as they decompose and nourish the soil with nutrients.

77. If the debris is too much, take it to a recycling plant rather than burning it off or putting it into a compost bin.

78. Make use of recycled wood chips instead of conventional mulch. They can prevent weeds from arising while maintaining moisture and preventing erosion.

79. Never use more than the minimum amount of fertilizer required.

80. If you have a garden, avoid pesticide use whenever possible.

81. When pests are involved, research natural ways to ward them off. Sometimes a simple plant or naturally aromatic can divert insects away from your garden.

82. Plant a yard that is conducive to wildlife and nature.

83. Water your grass in the mornings.

Help Save the Environment by Conserving Paper and Plastic in the Home and Office

Bottled Water
Credit: stevendepolo via Flickr

84. Whenever possible, make copies on both sides of the paper.

85. Print on both sides of the paper as well.

86. Reuse folders and envelopes.

87. Use electronic options whenever possible. Send an email instead of a fax, or jot down notes on an electronic device.

88. In the office, use mailer sheets rather than an envelope for interoffice mail.

89. Set up a whiteboard in the house instead of post-it notes or memos.

90. Buy and use recycled paper.

91. Purchase items that are in recyclable packages.

92. Use your computer whenever possible. Set up your bills for online statements. Buy E-Tickets instead of paper ones. Download software instead of asking for a disc.

93. When you need scrap paper, use paper that has been discarded instead of a fresh sheet.

94. Use soy-based inks when printing documents which are less harmful for the environment.

95. Bring a mug to work instead of using a disposable cup.

96. Do not use paper towels. An old washcloth or worn clothing can be used a number of times and thrown in with the wash.

97. Use cloth napkins instead of paper.

98. Use a handkerchief in lieu of tissues.

99. Conserve toilet paper if feasible.

100. When shopping at the market, bring a reusable bag for the groceries instead of using the plastic ones available at the store.

101. Recycle all your plastic bags and bottles.

102. Recycle all your electronic waste at the appropriate locations.

Help Save the Environment by Reducing Air Pollution

Credit: madiko83 via Flickr

101. Do not use a fireplace or wood stove, especially when the quality of air in the area is poor.

102. Avoid burning objects or debris in your yard.

103. If you must burn wood, try seasoned wood as it burns cleaner than green wood.

104. If you have a wood stove, be sure it was sold after 1990. Federal emissions standards were put in place that year to ensure cleaner and more efficiently burning stoves.

105. Use renewable energy sources whenever possible for heating.

106. Try installing solar panels on your roof. Many states have rebate initiatives to help save on the cost of solar powering your home.

107. Use water based or low volatile organic compound(VOC) paints, as well as stains, paint thinners, or wood finishes.

108. Recycle all printer cartridges.

109. Make sure that when you leave the office that all electrical equipment is shut off.

110. Report any smoking vehicles to the regional air agency.

111. Maintain the efficiency of your car with radial tires.

112. Always make sure your tires are inflated properly to maintain peak efficiency.

113. Whenever possible, walk or ride a bike instead of driving.

114. Join a carpool.

115. Ask your employer about telecommuting options, if applicable.

116. Use public transportation whenever you can.

117. If you must drive, try to limit all your errands to a single trip.

118. When you drive, maintain a steady speed and use cruise control.

119. Replace your car's air filter regularly.

120. Purchase products from suppliers that are carbon neutral.

121. Don't buy products that use aerosol spray cans.

Help Save the Environment by Making Less Trash

Credit: D'Arcy Norman via Flickr

122. Cut down on junk mail. There are many services available to help you rid yourself of paper soliciting.

123. Skip the coffee stirrer, or bring your own reusable one.

124. Use cotton swabs with a paperboard swindle instead of plastic.

125. Buy items in bulk to reduce the overall packaging.

126. Avoid purchasing products with excess or unrecyclable packaging. Roughly 1/3 of our waste is from packaging alone.

127. Avoid electronic products that require separate batteries.

128. If the item does require separate batteries, use rechargeable ones.

129. Recycle all electronic waste. Electronic waste contains serious contaminants, such as lead and cadmium.

130. Instead of always buying new products, try repairing old ones.

131. Limit your purchase of things you want but don't necessarily need.

132. Use old items creatively. Instead of buying a new trash bin, craft one out of old junk.

133. Research products to make sure they are durable and easily repaired.

134. Reuse containers whenever possible.

135. If you put a plastic bag over your trash bin, reuse the bag by dumping the trash only into your dumpster.

136. Use tupperware or reusable containers to store your food instead of plastic wrap or aluminum foil.

137. Use a canvas bag wherever you shop, whether it be a clothing shop or a bookstore.

138. Reuse packages and cardboard boxes for shipping or moving.

139. If you have no old boxes, try visiting a sporting goods or clothing store and ask them when they get a shipment of goods in. Most of the time they will have plenty of cardboard boxes which are thrown out that can still be used.

140. Compost all your vegetable scraps.

141. Buy used clothing.

142. Buy used furniture. Check out garage sales or advertisements on the internet.

143. If you are replacing furniture, try giving it away for free. Post an advertisement on the internet and see if one man's trash is truly another man's treasure.

144. Use cloth or environmentally friendly diapers. A child can run through anywhere from 5,000 to 8,000 diapers before they are toilet trained.

Loud Speaker
Credit: altemark via Flickr

145. One of the most powerful tools you have at your disposal is your vote. Support politicians that are strong on the environment.

146. Write to your representative in Congress and ask them to write legislation that increases funding for green technologies.

147. Vote for legislation that increases public transportation options, carbon caps for polluters, and supports environmental measures.

148. Share your knowledge with others in the community.

149. Encourage businesses and grocery stores to provide discounts for canvas bag use.

150. Volunteer for environmental awareness events.

151. Organize tree planting or community rallies in your area.

152. Encourage education and environmental literacy in local schools.

If you liked this article, please share this with your friends on Facebook! (or other network of choice)