There are a number of changes—both subtle and significant—that you can make each day to help fight climate change. It all starts which adjusting your habits, behaviors, and preferences.
To live a green life doesn’t necessarily mean you have to change your lifestyle (although you can certainly change something as significant as your diet for an even bigger impact!). There are plenty of ways to get what you’re used to getting while at the same time reducing your ecological footprint.
Find out how you can green your:
Foods: Diet + Drink Preferences
- FREE! When making tea, don’t boil more than you need. Use your mug or a measuring cup to take out the guesswork.
- NO/LOW COST! Buy shade-grown coffee. Shade-grown coffee contributes to the health of natural ecosystems.
- NO/LOW COST! Try local and organic wines and beers. These beverages often travel long distances.
- NO/LOW COST! Use reusable beverage containers. Eliminate plastic water bottle and paper coffee cup waste by investing in a reusable container.
In North America, ingredients travel an average of 1,500 miles from farm to plate. -Joanna Yarrow, in How to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint
- FREE! Grow your own food in a backyard or community garden. Coordinate with neighbors so you’re not all growing the same crop.
- NO/LOW COST! Shop at local farmers markets or join a local Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program.
- NO/LOW COST! If you shop at a supermarket, look for organic produce. Organic farming offers an alternative to conventional farming practices which use chemical-based pesticides, fertilizers, or antibiotics.
- NO/LOW COST! Buy food when it’s in season. Get the freshest, tastiest food
- NO/LOW COST! Buy your favorite foods in bulk when they’re in season to enjoy them year-round. Use these foods to make jam, jellies, and relishes, or for canning and jarring.
- NO/LOW COST! Support locally-owned restaurants that buy from local farmers. Baltimore is fortunate to have a number of “farm-to-table” restaurants!
- FREE! Cut back your meat consumption altogether. The meat industry generates almost 20% of global GHG emissions and contributes to pollution in our waterways. The average cow releases around 7 oz. of methane each day, and methane is approximately 21x more potent than carbon monoxide!
- FREE! If you eat meat and fish, eat it in moderation and choose carefully. Use the money saved by consuming less meat to buy more local and organic meat.
- FREE! Consume less dairy.
The average American could do more to reduce global warming emissions by becoming a vegetarian than by switching to a hybrid car. -Joanna Yarrow, in How to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint
- FREE! Eat before you go grocery shopping. Shopping on an empty stomach could lead to impulse and excess purchases.
- FREE! Bring reusable bags. Many grocery stores will give customers money back for each reusable bag. If you do get paper or plastic, be sure to recycle the paper at curbside pickup and return the used plastic bags to the store.
- NO/LOW COST! Support local fresh markets. Avoid corner and convenience stores. Choose health food stores and locally-owned markets.
- $ Grocery delivery services are often a more environmentally friendly alternative than your trip to the store. One delivery truck making rounds is less fuel-intensive than each family driving to the store.
- NO/LOW COST! Buy nonperishable items in bulk. Buying in bulk can reduce packaging, buying dry goods with your own container is even better.
- NO/LOW COST! Choose products sold in reusable containers. Reuse tubs and jars for leftovers and storage.
- NO/LOW COST! Avoid buying items sold as single-servings. Cut back on waste by purchasing the largest available size, or buying in bulk.
- NO/LOW COST! Brown bag it! Save money and eat healthier by packing your own lunch in reusable containers.
- NO/LOW COST! Avoid styrofoam (polystyrene) containers. Avoid buying food in styrofoam containers and carry a collapsible food container for restaurant leftovers. Save styrofoam you do receive and bring it to one of Baltimore’s styrofoam recycling facilities.
- Find more tips for How to Waste Less Food.
- FREE! Cook in batches to get multiple meals out of the time you spend in the kitchen. Use leftovers throughout the week, or cook enough to freeze portions to use throughout the year.
- FREE! Use the smallest possible pot or pan, and match the pan size to the burner.
- FREE! Keep the lid on it! Pots and pans will get hotter faster if you keep the lids on during heating time. Similarly, avoid opening the oven door as much as possible until the dish is finished.
- FREE! Don’t preheat the oven. Unless you’re making pastry, bread, or a souffle, the oven should get hot quickly enough to not affect cooking times or quality.
- FREE! Turn off the heat a few minutes before the food’s finished. Residual heat will continue cooking the food.
- FREE! In the winter, after you’re done using your oven, leave the door open to let heat into the room. [It’s important, however that you do not use your oven as a heater any other time!]
- FREE! Reduce foil use. Use foil sparingly, and reuse it when possible. When finished, rinse the foil and add it to recycling.
Local Food Delivery and Pick-Up Programs
Stuff: Shopping + Consumer Choices
- NO/LOW COST! Be a concerned, conscious consumer. Use your purchasing power as a consumer to tell the market that you’d like to see more environmentally friendly products. As an added bonus, the more environmentally friendly products there are out there, the more competitive their prices will be!
- NO/LOW COST! Be prepared for last minute errands by carrying a compact, reusable bag. Sometimes, shopping trips and errands aren’t planned. Be prepared with reusable shopping bags. Remember, their use isn’t limited only to grocery stores!
- NO/LOW COST! Buy items used as much as possible. Avoid unnecessary resource consumption by purchasing products secondhand.
- $ Buy durable. Choose items that will last—this goes for everything, from clothing to appliances. Investing in higher quality, durable goods is the more affordable option in the long run.
- NO/LOW COST! Don’t toss, fix. When something breaks or shows wear, try to fix it yourself or take it into a repair shop, which can cost much less than replacement.
- NO/LOW COST! Avoid disposables. Buy reusable items instead of disposable products. For example, use washable cloths instead of paper towels and napkins, or reusable food containers instead of plastic wrap.
- FREE! Live simply. Try living without so much “stuff.” You may find that you are happier and less stressful without everything weighing you down. Sell unwanted items on sites like eBay, Craigslist, or at consignment shops and yard sales.
Luxuries & Non-Essential Purchases
- NO/LOW COST! Buy and legally download media (music, video, literature, etc.) online instead of getting a hard copy. You’ll never need to buy a CD or DVD again, saving you a trip to the store and reducing waste. If you love the feel and read of an actual book, look for books used in a local shop, or use services like Amazon’s used collection to find precisely what you’re looking for.
- FREE! Get a library card.
- NO/LOW COST! If you have a pool, fill it with filtered rainwater, heat it using solar thermal panels, and check it regularly for leaks.
- FREE! Try a clothes swap instead of buying new clothes. Get together with friends to trade your clothes for a fresh wardrobe.
- FREE! Repair, instead of discard, damaged clothing. Fix tears and small holes of otherwise wearable clothes with simple sewing techniques.
- FREE! Donate instead of discard. It may sound obvious, but be sure that you are not tossing usable clothing. Just because it no longer suits your needs does not mean it wont suit another person’s needs.
- FREE! When you can’t donate, recycle your garments. Turn clothes that are beyond repair into cleaning rags and fabric swatches and patches.
- NO/LOW COST!—$ Buy clothes made out of organic and recycled fabrics. Bamboo instead of cotton and fleece made from recycled plastic bottles, are great alternatives.
- FREE! Ask to not receive a phone book. Look up addresses and phone numbers online instead.
- NO/LOW COST! Avoid buying products in packaging made of mixed materials. This packaging is harder to recycle.
- NO/LOW COST! Share magazines and newspapers. Or switch to digital subscriptions. Alternatively, find creative new ways to use that paper for art projects.
- FREE! Avoid unwanted mail by calling senders and checking the “do not share my address” box on applications.
Life + Health
- FREE! Switch to online banking. Online bill paying and banking will avoid wasted energy and resources, and keeps paper clutter out of your home.
- $—$$$ Invest sustainably. Find out how to make your investments sustainable, check out EarthShare’s Green Tips: Sustainable Investing.
- FREE! Thank companies that have switched to more sustainable practices. Write to your favorite companies and as them to incorporate more sustainable business practices.
- FREE! Write to your local representatives to inform them of your preference for environmentally conscious activities.
- FREE! Spread the word when you learn something about sustainability, livability, climate change, and resilience from this website and on other sites.
Marriage and Family
- NO/LOW COST!—$$$ Getting married? Why not throw a Green Wedding?
Playtime: Hobbies + Leisure
- NO/LOW COST! Find out how you can Make Pet Ownership Green
- NO/LOW COST! Build exercise into your daily routine. Take the stairs instead of the elevator, and walk, run, or cycle to errands or work.
- NO/LOW COST! Rent or borrow sports equipment instead of purchasing items new; especially for children, who quickly grow out of their equipment.
- See EarthShare’s tips to Green Your Workout.
- FREE! If you golf, talk to your course manager to make sure they’re using reclaimed water for its irrigation.
- $-$$ Opt for cross country skiing instead, which requires fewer resources than downhill skiing, and does less harm to the natural environment.
Leisure and Vacations
- When you’re planning a day trip or vacation, think about how you can “green” your visit. Many states offer information about their sustainable attractions, like Maryland’s Green Travel page.
- You can also check and see if your destination has a Green Map!
- Tips for being green while traveling and during trips