You do your part by recycling all of your newspapers, aluminum cans and plastic bottles with the numbers 1 and 2. Does it help? Yes, but you can do more. Recycling keeps usable materials out of the landfill, but it also requires energy. If you are ready to go beyond that first step, try any of these ideas.

Before you replace, consider a repair.
Oh no, your favorite coat's zipper is torn, and you are no seamstress. You could rush out to snatch up a coat on sale, but the greener choice is to take your coat to a tailor for repair. You might not make a sizable dent in the landfill, but if everyone stopped revolving a few of their possessions at breakneck speed, it would make a difference.

Support your local farmer.
No time for gardening? When you buy shares in a local farm, you have a win-win-win situation (which, by the way, a greener lifestyle usually is):
  • You get superior, delicious, fresh produce and other farm products (eggs, dairy, meat).
  • Your local farmer gets upfront cash to invest in his farm.
  • Because participating farms are local and usually organic, you save the environment from transportation pollution, toxic pesticides and fertilizers.
Change one household task to a greener habit.
Pick a chore, any chore, and green it up. For instance, you can make your laundry more eco-friendly by washing only in cold water, replacing the dryer with a clothesline whenever you can, and using a homemade laundry detergent with earth-friendly ingredients. Just one area of change will conserve water, energy, and keep your water supply cleaner. You will also save on your utility bills.

Give your trash a toss.
The environmentally conscious company Burt's Bees saved $25,000 per year when they decided to dig through their trash to reduce waste. They were able to reduce their waste from 40 to 10 tons per month. Your household might not be producing as much trash as a large company, but an inventory of your garbage might reveal surprises. What can your family do?

Preach what you practice.
Your children may already be environmentally conscious, but do not underestimate the power of your influence. Future generations will have to balance preserving the environment with the needs of the people, and that is not an easy or enviable task. Involve your kids in discussions about how your family can make a difference.

Innovative recycling is not only commendable but a healthy, nurturing lifestyle. Hopefully, one day environment-friendly practices will be the norm.