Making environmentally friendly decisions in everyday life is quite easy. These green tips offer some suggestions. Check back for new tips to learn how to make simple changes that will positively impact the Earth and the animals that we all want to protect.

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Winter Warmth Tips

thermostatSave money and natural resources. Did you know you can save on your heating bill and save energy with two simple measures?

If you're able to program your thermostat, set it to a lower temperature at night and while you're away during the day. Otherwise, just turn down the heat before you go to bed and before heading out for the day. Before assuming you will be too cold, just test it out—put on a sweater, reduce the heat by a couple of degrees for one week, then see how you feel.

Another easy way to save energy and money is to seal up windows, gaps around air conditioners, and other cracks with some inexpensive products found at most hardware stores. Unroll "rope" caulk (made of putty and sold in a long coil) and press it into the gaps, or apply heat-shrinkable plastic sheeting to your gaps with double-sided tape and shrink it to fit with a hair dryer.

Other simple tips include leaving open your draperies on south-facing windows during the day to let sunlight in, leaving other draperies closed as much as possible, cleaning your air filters every month, closing vents in and doors to unused rooms, and getting a check-up on your heating equipment. Insulating your water heater—many hardware stores sell insulation kits for about $20—will also lower your energy use and your bill.

Get more winter tips from the Environmental Protection Agency.

Give a Green Holiday Gift

giftGive an Earth-friendly gift. Did you know that we generate an extra million tons of trash each week from Thanksgiving to New Year's? Wondering how to make a difference?

  • Agree to exchange only homemade cards with friends and family. Or give them something they can use—coupons for favors like an evening of babysitting, an elaborate home-cooked meal, house cleaning. Instead of using store-bought wrapping paper, use the Sunday comics or colorful magazine pages. Bake them a holiday treat or get them a gift certificate to a favorite restaurant or find someone else's treasure at link
  • If you want to buy something, choose a recycled or organic item.
  • If someone on your list wants a pet, just wait until after the holidays so you can find a home for an animal in need—many people who receive animals as gifts decide they cannot care for them and give them to animal shelters. More on pet adoption at link toPets 911.
  • If you usually buy a box of holiday cards to send to friends and family, consider sending e-cards instead—they're not just paper-free but totally free. If you do want to send paper cards, make your own. If you want to buy cards, avoid chlorine-bleached paper. Look for the "processed chlorine free" label, recycled paper, or tree-free paper.
  • The greenest gift of all may be a contribution to a charity. For all the animal lovers on your list, give a gift that supports the National Zoo's work: link toadopt a species from FONZ, click toget a gift for our animals, and link toget gift memberships.

Have a Greener Thanksgiving

pumpkins and spaghetti squashWhether you're preparing a Thanksgiving dinner, playing host, or traveling to celebrate the holiday, there are many things you can do to have a greener Thanksgiving.

  • If you're cooking, think back to the first Thanksgiving and try to find as many ingredients as you can that were grown locally. Do your shopping at farmers' markets. To find out where they are, look in your local newspaper or search on LocalHarvest's website.
  • For food that you buy from a supermarket, choose items with minimal packaging. And be sure to bring your own bags with you.
  • Serving turkey? Choose a heritage or organic bird.
  • Provide cloth napkins and reusable dishware and utensils. Washing up may seem like a lot of work but just think of how long it would take plastic plates and cups to break down in a landfill.
  • Adjust the thermostat down a couple of degrees. All that cooking and your guests will surely compensate.
  • Compost all the waste you can.
  • If you're traveling to enjoy dinner at someone else's house, carpool with family, friends, or neighbors. And of course, if you're bringing food, follow the tips above and pack your dish in a reusable container.


sea turtleIf you eat seafood, choose it wisely. Did you know more than 75 percent of the world's fisheries are fully fished or overfished? About 30 million tons of fish, sea turtles, sharks, and seabirds die each year as "bycatch"—animals caught accidentally and discarded, dead or dying. Fish are being caught before they have a chance to reproduce. Bottom trawlers and dredges destroy life and habitat on the seafloor. These and other commercial fishery practices are truly changing our oceans.

You can help the world's oceans—it's as easy as making wise choices when you buy seafood.

Get a link tofree consumer guide and learn all about sustainable seafood from the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch Program. The guide, which is updated frequently, is the result of years of research compiled by the aquarium and other conservation organizations, including the Seafood Choices Alliance. The guide is now available online for cell phones and other mobile devices—just go to

You can now learn how to make sustainable sushi choices. The Monterey Bay Aquarium has just released its first Seafood Watch Sushi Pocket Guide. Find out more.

In addition to making wise choices, learn more about the issues from the Ocean Project, the National Coalition for Marine Conservation, the Marine Fish Conservation Network, and NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service.

Recycle Your Electronics

computerShopping for a new digital TV, cell phone, computer, or other electronic item? Wondering what to do with your old one? Worried about heavy metals and other toxic substances leaching into soil and groundwater? If it still works, donate it. If not, divert electronic waste from landfills and recycle it.

If you live in Washington, D.C., Baltimore, northern Virginia, San Diego, Chicago, or five other areas across the country, you can pick up postage-free envelopes at the post office to mail in small items, such as cell phones, PDAs, MP3 players, digital cameras, inkjet cartridges. In 2008, the U.S. Postal Service launched a pilot program in 1,500 post offices and may expand it nationally if it's successful.

Some manufacturers, office-supply stores, and electronics retailers will accept an old item to recycle it without restrictions, while others require the purchase of a replacement product. Some stores will even give you a gift card when you drop off an old item. Find out about manufacturer and retail programs, and where to recycle items near you on Earth911's website or the EPA's website.

The Zoo is a collection site for cell phones, printer cartridges, and batteries, including those for cordless power tools, cellular and cordless phones, laptop computers, camcorders, digital cameras, and remote control toys. Just drop off any of these items at the front desk of the Visitor Center, and we will see that they are recycled.

Start the School Year on a Green Step

Whether you or your children are heading back to school, there are many simple things you can do to have a greener year.

Back-to-School Shopping

After you've made your list and before you buy anything, decide what you really need—did you use up last year's supplies? Did you outgrow those clothes? Then figure out what you can get secondhand (think about what comes between "reduce" and "recycle"). Then see what you can get from recycled and sustainably made materials: notebooks, binders, backpack, planner, organic cotton clothes. But remember, the greenest thing you can buy is what you already own.

Plan a Waste-free Meal

Reuse containers and reduce waste. Did you know that one kid's average school lunch generates 67 pounds over a year? There are lots of ways you can cut back on lunch waste (and save money).

When you go to the grocery store: buy chips, cookies, crackers, applesauce, carrots, yogurt, cheese, soup, and other food in bulk, not single-serving packages; buy juice in large bottles, not small boxes or pouches; and don't buy plastic sandwich bags, plastic water bottles, disposable utensils, paper napkins, or paper lunch bags. (And don't forget to bring your own reusable grocery bags to the store.)

When you pack your lunch: put sandwiches, small fruit, snacks, and other food in reusable containers, preferably glass; put juice or water in a reusable bottle; and put metal utensils, a cloth napkin, and your food and drink in a long-lasting reusable lunch bag or box.

If you buy lunch, reduce waste by bringing a reusable water bottle and a set of utensils with you. Don't get more food than you can eat or more napkins than need.

school busGetting There Is Half the Fun

If your kids are old enough, let them bike or walk to school. If they're old enough to drive, get them on the bus (just because they can drive to school doesn't mean they should). Work out a carpool schedule to collect kids from their activities, and combine these trips with your errands.

Higher Learning, Greener Living

Going to college can be a great opportunity for independence—all your own stuff, all your own responsibilities. If you're headed to college (or shopping for someone who is), try to get furnishings and whatever else you need secondhand. When shopping for anything that uses electricity—if you've determined that the common area doesn't have what you need—choose Energy Star rated products. To clean clothes, buy vegetable-based laundry detergent. Get solar-powered chargers for your phone and digital devices. Look for other great suggestions on this page.

Good school habits aren't limited to studying. Make sure you turn off the lights when you leave the room (and if you can, change the bulbs to compact fluorescents or LEDs). Plug electronics into a power strip and turn off the strip when you don't need power. Do only full loads of laundry. Shorten your showers, and turn off the tap while brushing your teeth or washing your face. Eat more vegetarian meals. Take reusable bags with you to the bookstore. Recycle everything you can—once you've used it thoroughly. Any time you share your mailing address—when you subscribe to a magazine, open a bank account, get a credit card—make sure you say that you do not want your address added to any mailing lists. Finally, see if there's a green group you can join. If not, start one!

Junk Mail

treesNow is the perfect time to cut down on junk mail. Did you know that each year millions of trees and billions of gallons of water are used to create junk mail, most of which never gets recycled? There are several things you can do to reduce how much junk mail you receive.

  • Get off of national mailing lists by sending your name, address, and signature to: Mail Preference Service, c/o Direct Marketing Association, P.O. Box 643, Carmel, NY 10512.
  • Every time you subscribe to a magazine, buy something from a catalog or online store, or donate money, be sure to say (by phone or email): "Please do not rent or sell my name or address." If you don't want to receive catalogs or solicitations from charitable organizations, ask that your address not be added to any mailing lists.
  • Sign up for the free service Catalog Choice to opt out of catalogs.
  • Call your credit card companies and banks to make sure your address isn't sold. Say no to credit card offers by calling the credit reporting industry's opt-out number: 888.567.8688.
  • Have your address removed from the Valpak and Advo mailing lists.
  • When you receive unwanted mail, take a minute to call the company (usually toll-free) to remove your address from its list.
  • Some companies will remove you from mailing lists for a fee. You can find them by doing an Internet search for "reduce junk mail."

After using junk mail—and any other paper you don't need to keep—as scrap paper, recycle it. link toFind out what you can recycle in your neighborhood.

Have a Green Summer Cookout

fireworksWondering how to make your summer cookouts and potlucks a little greener?

  • If you're planning a cookout, look for all-natural, sustainably produced charcoal or wood briquettes for your grill.
  • Even better, "fire up" an electric grill.
  • What to serve? Locally grown foods, and snacks and drinks with minimal packaging.
  • Bring cloth napkins, and reusable dishes and utensils.
  • If you want to take in fireworks, see if there are any displays in walking distance, or else bike, take public transportation, or carpool.
  • Don't forget to protect yourself with petrochemical-free sunblock and natural insect repellents.

Saving Water

waterPut a plastic bottle in your toilet tank. Did you know each time your toilet is flushed, it uses five to seven gallons of water? In five minutes, you can save one or two gallons per flush! A small plastic juice bottle or laundry soap bottle works well. Soak off the label, fill the bottle with water, put on the cap, and place it in the tank. Be careful that the bottle doesn't interfere with the flushing mechanism.

The availability of clean water is one of the central issues of our time, and we all need to do our part to use this resource wisely. Saving water is simple. Try:

  • Turning the water off while brushing your teeth, washing your hands, and washing dishes.
  • Taking shorter showers (you will save water and energy to heat it, reducing your carbon dioxide emissions)
  • Getting a low-flow showerhead.
  • Doing only full loads of laundry and dishes.
    • If your washing machine has a setting for the amount of clothing you're washing (small to extra-large load), choose a low setting—you'll use less water and your clothes will get just as clean.
    • If your dishwasher has an option to run a "full" or "short" cycle, choose the short cycle.
  • Watering your lawn only in the morning or evening. (Water evaporates four to eight times faster during the heat of the day.)
    • If you really want to reduce the water needed to maintain your yard, consider xeriscaping—a landscaping technique that uses native, drought-tolerant plants in favor of ever-thirsty grass.
  • Install a rain barrel to capture rain from your downspout. more
  • Washing your car less often.
  • Fixing all of the leaks in your home.
  • Avoiding bottled water and instead using a reusable water bottle. It takes millions of gallons of water to produce the plastic for single-use water bottles, and millions more to purify the water that goes into them.

Kick the Habit: Have a Low-Carbon Lifestyle

planet EarthJune 5 is World Environment Day, and this year's theme is "Kick the Habit! Towards a Low Carbon Economy." There are lots of ways you can reduce your carbon dioxide emissions and support a low-carbon economy. Try to make a few small changes every week and see how many habits you can change over time.

Reduce the stuff in your life and the stuff (packaging) that your stuff comes in; reduce how much you drive; reduce how many bulbs you replace by switching to compact fluorescent bulbs; reduce how often you mow your lawn; reduce your junk mail; reduce your hot-water use by taking shorter showers and setting your washing machine to wash with only cold or warm water; reduce your summer cooling and winter heating with insulation, window treatments, and thermostat adjustments; reduce the amount of food you buy that is not grown locally; reduce your consumption of meat; and reduce the feeling that there's nothing you can do to make a difference.

It may also be enlightening to spend a week watching what—and how—you buy, and what you throw away or recycle. Consider these questions and suggestions, and see if you can make a few simple changes.

Do you bring bags with you to the store? Some grocery stores will even give you a discount. Don't forget to bring a bag any time you plan to buy anything. When you buy food, do you use plastic bags to keep your apples or other fruit together? It may be more convenient in the short term but the long-term cost is waste. Do you buy food—or water—in single-serving packages? Reduce your waste by planning for waste-free lunches, and getting your water from a sink or water fountain. When you buy something powered by electricity or a rechargeable battery, do you find out if it's Energy Star rated? Do you look for something used or Freecycled before you look for something new? Do you recycled the cardboard box and other packaging? Do you try giving away, selling, or recycling your old possessions before you consider throwing them away?

If you drive, do you combine your errands or find yourself needing to run out to get something? Try taking public transportation, biking, or walking to your destination. If you must drive, do you map out the places you need to go to make the most of your fuel—and time? Are your tires properly inflated? Do you leave extra weight at home, not in your trunk? Do you carpool? Have you tried the EPA's On the Road tips?

Eat Sustainably

produceEating is an agricultural act,” writes the poet, farmer, and conservationist Wendell Berry in his essay “The Pleasures of Eating.” Michael Pollan adds, in The Omnivore’s Dilemma, “It is also an ecological act.... How and what we eat determines to a great extent the use we make of the world—and what is to become of it.”

Land use, and agriculture in particular, is one of the greatest issues facing biodiversity. The theme of 2008's International Day for Biological Diversity was biodiversity and agriculture.

A 2006 report from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations stated that livestock production affects two-thirds of the 35 biodiversity hotspots identified by Conservation International, and contributes 18 percent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions. Deforestation for pastures and feed crops, fuel to produce the crops, and methane from livestock contribute greatly to global warming. A plant-based diet generally requires less land, energy, and other resources.

Here's another way to think about the food you eat. Food travels an average of 1,500 miles from the farm to the store. All that traveling, by plane, ship, and truck, requires a huge amount of fossil fuels, which results in millions of tons of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas contributing to global warming. Furthermore, food that travels great distances takes a lot more packaging and refrigeration than food bought near where it grows.

What Can You Do?

Grow your own food in a window box, your yard, or a community garden. Compost your kitchen scraps and use them as fertilizer. Encourage your neighbors to grow food and share your homegrown food with each other.

Support local farmers, shrink your carbon footprint, and enjoy very fresh food by buying fruit, vegetables, herbs, bread, and other food at your local farmers' market. Don't forget to bring reusable bags with you. To find out where your nearest farmers' markets are, look in your local newspaper or search on LocalHarvest's website. Support local farmers for a whole season by participating in community supported agriculture.

Learn about the sustainable food movement and consult a directory at the Sustainable Table website. You may even want to try out the 100-mile diet—eating only what grows with a 100-mile radius of your home.

Find out all you can about where your food comes from and how it's grown. Encourage the managers of grocery stores in your neighborhood to buy more locally grown food. Try to buy whole foods and prepare your own meals instead of relying on processed food.

Teachers, download the Convention on Biological Diversity's booklet PDF"Biodiversity, food and farming for a healthy planet."

Bike to Work

bicycleLeave the car at home and bike to work or a farmer's market. Did you know leaving your car at home just two days a week will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by an average of 1,600 pounds per year? According to the U.S. Department of Energy, automobile engines release about 19.6 pounds of carbon dioxide per gallon of gas. The U.S. Department of Transportation says that each of the 150 million cars in this country is driven an average of 10,000 miles annually—which means that Americans drive more than a trillion miles every year. Biking is good for your health and the health of the planet.

Learn more about the benefits of bicycling at the Washington Area Bicyclists Association and League of American Bicyclists websites.

Rechargeable Batteries

Once they're all used up, recycle your rechargeable batteries. Did you know more than 350 million rechargeable batteries are purchased annually in the United States? When these batteries no longer hold a charge and are thrown away, they can cause serious harm to human health and the environment. About 75 percent of municipal solid waste is either sent to a landfill or incinerated. Neither of these methods is suited for the disposal of rechargeable batteries.

The Zoo is a collection site for batteries, including those for cordless power tools, cellular and cordless phones, laptop computers, camcorders, digital cameras, and remote control toys. Just drop off your batteries at the front desk of the Visitor Center, and we will see that they are recycled. You can also take your rechargeable batteries to many large retailers, which will properly dispose of them. Find out where from click toEarth 911 or the click toRechargeable Battery Recycling Corporation.

Grocery Bags

say no to paper bagsNext time you go grocery shopping, BYOB—bring your own bags. Did you know it takes one 15- to 20-year-old tree to make enough paper for only 700 grocery bags? What about plastic? They may be more convenient than paper but they're not biodegradable. Plastic bags often wind up in the ocean and kill marine animals that get tangled up in them or swallow them. Paper bags are biodegradable but are often made from virgin paper because, manufacturers say, heavy loads require the long fibers in virgin pulp.

Plastic bags can be recycled at many grocery stores, and paper bags can be recycled with other paper, but the recycling process and manufacture of new bags require much more energy—resulting in more greenhouse gas—than the production of reusable cloth bags. Bring cloth bags with you every time you shop (for groceries, clothes, and everything else). If you forget, put your purchases in as few bags as possible, and be sure to recycle the bags.

Spring Cleaning

Do your spring cleaning safely. Did you know cleaning your home can be harmful to your health? Many common household cleaners contain toxic solvents, fragrances, disinfectants, and other ingredients that can pollute the air and cause respiratory, skin, and other reactions. Learn about vegetable-based cleaning products you can buy, link torecipes for cleaners you can make at home, and more tips on link togreen cleaning. Before you clean out your garage and cart everything off to the dumpster, go to link to find out where to recycle, donate, and safely dispose of many of your possessions. Need to clean up your yard? Choose exercise over emissions: leave the leaf blower behind and pick up a rake; forget the gas-powered lawn mower and purchase a manual push or electric mower.

Clean up Your Coffee

Enjoy a cup of joe with a cleaner conscience. Did you know you can reduce waste and help wildlife while you drink coffee? If you brew it yourself, eliminate paper filters by purchasing a reusable filter, available for just a few dollars at natural food stores and elsewhere. White paper filters pollute water with chlorine and other harmful chemicals. Unbleached filters are an improvement but, over time, waste vast amounts of paper.

coffee beans and birdIf you buy your coffee by the cup, bring your own reusable cup with you. You'll save paper, reduce chlorine used to bleach cups, and reduce your contribution to landfills. Whether you make your own java or have it made for you, look for shade-grown organic coffee, which preserves land for birds and avoids pesticides and other chemicals. Learn about Bird Friendly® coffee.

Put Things in Their Place

cell phoneGet rid of stuff the right way. Did you know you can donate or recycle your computer, cell phone, eyeglasses, yard trimmings, and much, much more? By recycling and composting, we keep millions of tons of material out of landfills and incinerators each year. But we can do better! Go to link to get local information on curbside recycling, donations, and safe disposal of hazardous waste. Find out where to link torecycle your e-waste.

Next time you come to the Zoo, bring your cell phone to recycle it—and help FONZ and wildlife. click formore

You can also bring us your batteries and printer cartridges.

Dry Cleaning

Don't take the planet to the cleaners! Did you know dry cleaning is a hazardous process that uses toxic chemicals and poisons the environment, our clothing, and us? Eighty percent of the dry cleaners in the U.S. use a solvent called perchloroethylene, or perc. Perc and other solvents are placed in a rotating cleaning drum along with clothing. The drum spins out the majority of the solvent, and hot air evaporates the remaining fluid before the garment is pressed and bagged. These solvents excel at removing soils and stains without damaging fabrics. Unfortunately, they also excel at making us sick. Perc has been linked to cancer, liver and nervous system damage, infertility, and hormonal disruption. Some 57 million pounds of perc are used each year by the country's 34,000 dry cleaners, and around 12 million pounds are released into the air.

Clothing washed in perc or other solvents often comes home from the cleaners a little less than clean. Residues of these toxins can remain in the fibers of dry cleaned garments, especially when clothes are placed in a plastic bag soon after processing is completed. For this reason, it's recommended that you remove the plastic bag and air your garment out for several days in a safe, isolated, and well ventilated location to let these residues evaporate.

Of course, it's better and safer not to dry clean at all. In fact, many "dry clean only" garments can be hand-washed and air dried or machine-washed using the gentle cycle and a mild detergent.

There are also new and non-toxic professional dry cleaning alternatives emerging. These technologies have found a way to clean delicates safely without solvents like perc. Check out these "green cleaners" in the Washington, D.C., area:

Presto Valet of Virginia
1623 Quaker Lane
Alexandria, VA

The Laundry Club
20134 James Monroe Highway
Leesburg, VA

Rhode Island Cleaners
4235 Wisconsin Avenue NW
Washington, DC

Connell's Valet
148 Maple Ave. W.
Vienna, VA

Lustre Cleaners
2030 P St. NW
Washington, DC

Paper Towels

Did you know if every household in the U.S. replaced just one roll of 180-sheet virgin-fiber paper towels with 100-percent recycled paper towels, we could save: 1.4 million trees, 3.7 million cubic feet of landfill space, and 526 million gallons of water, and prevent 89,400 pounds of pollution? Several companies make paper towels from 100-percent recycled paper, with a minimum of 90-percent post-consumer materials. You can find these products at many grocery stores, particularly those that specialize in natural foods. Better yet, make do without paper towels. Use dish towels instead.

Leaky Faucets

Don't be a drip! Did you know U.S. office workers use enough water every day to fill 17,500 Olympic-sized swimming pools? Unfortunately, much of this water comes from leaky faucets. A leaky faucet that fills a coffee cup in ten minutes will waste an estimated 3,000 gallons of water a year. These little leaks not only waste water but cost companies a lot of money.

Electric Dryer

Paper towels or electric dryer? There's no contest. Did you know electric dryers are twice as energy-efficient as paper towels, even towels made from recycled paper? Although the production of the electricity that powers electric dryers generates greenhouse gases, the production of paper towels is twice as energy-intensive and creates more greenhouse gases overall. Also, the manufacture of paper towels emits pollutants, including chlorine, and many paper towels are made from virgin wood rather than recycled material. Your small choice can make a big difference.

Tire Inflation

Tires have a bigger impact on the environment than you might think. Did you know 50 to 80 percent of tires are underinflated? Underinflated tires waste up to five percent of a car's fuel. How much fuel would we save if we properly inflated our tires? Up to two billion gallons a year!

Cleaning Products

Switch to vegetable-based cleaning products. Did you know if every household in the U.S. replaced just one bottle of 28-ounce petroleum-based dishwashing liquid with a vegetable-based product, we could save 82,000 barrels of oil a year? This is enough oil to drive a car over 86 million miles! Vegetable-based cleaning products are becoming readily available in supermarkets across the country, particularly those that specialize in natural foods.
link to PDFmore on green cleaning

Cigarette Butts

Dispose of cigarettes butts properly. Did you know it takes ten years for one cigarette butt to degrade? Most people wouldn't throw a gum wrapper on the ground, but cigarette butts are commonly dropped or tossed out of car windows. Cigarette butts are not only litter, but they also cause many serious environmental problems. Many land and marine animals die annually from mistakenly eating cigarette butts. Cigarettes tossed out of car windows are often the cause of forest fires. These are among the reasons smoking is not permitted in public areas at the National Zoo.

Cigarettes should be extinguished and disposed of in an ashtray or thrown away properly. To receive free disposable ashtrays, which fit into a pocket, go to the link to"No Butts About It" Litter Campaign.


Take your plants off chemicals and grow them in a healthy way. Did you know, according to the EPA, at least 74 pesticides have been found in the groundwater of 38 states? Ironically, pesticides don't seem to be improving agricultural yield. Before their use, farmers lost about 33 percent of their crops to pests. Today farmers still lose the same 33 percent. Many garden pesticides are known or suspected carcinogens.

Instead of using pesticides, attract beneficial insects to your garden by planting nectar and pollen sources such as basil, dill, and alyssum. Use a strong spray of water to wash away aphids and mites, and use sticky traps for whiteflies. For serious infestations use insecticidal soap or horticultural oil. To rid your garden of slugs, encircle your plants with crushed eggshells.

Screen Savers

Turn off your screen saver. Did you know the EPA has estimated that using a computer's "sleep mode" reduces its energy consumption by 60 to 70 percent and, on a large scale, ultimately could save enough electricity each year to power Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine, cut electric bills by $2 billion, and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by the equivalent of five million cars? A screen saver that displays moving images causes your monitor to consume as much electricity as it does in active use. A blank screen saver is only slightly better but that reduces energy consumption by a small amount.

The best screen saver is also the best energy saver: turn off your monitor when you're not using it. The next best idea is to use your computer's power management feature to automatically shut the monitor down when it is not in use.

Despite the rumors, leaving your computer on overnight is in fact less efficient that shutting it down and booting it up the next day. Turning off your computer will decrease the amount of energy it uses, reduces its mechanical stress, prolong its life.

Yard Waste

Next time you are doing yard work, think about trying grass-cycling. Did you know 12 percent of the matter going to landfills daily is yard waste, including grass clippings and leaves? Grass-cycling is the natural practice of leaving clippings on the lawn when mowing. These clippings quickly decompose and return nutrients to the soil. Cut your grass when it is dry and free of leaves. Mow often enough so that no more than one-third of the length of the grass blade is cut. This allows grass clippings to fall easily through the grass to the soil. This process reduces the need for fertilizers and eliminates much of the waste entering our landfills. For more information, go to or

Fluorescent Bulbs

compact fluorescent bulbMake the switch to compact fluorescent light bulbs. Did you know if every American household replaced one standard incandescent light bulb with a fluorescent bulb, the energy saved would be equivalent to the energy generated by one nuclear power plant running full time for a year? Fluorescent light bulbs are now available in a compact form that can be used in standard household light fixtures and emit light that looks just like the light of a traditional incandescent bulb. Save energy by replacing your standard incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs, which last about ten times longer and use about one- to two-thirds less energy. Substituting a compact fluorescent light for a traditional bulb will keep a half-ton of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere over the life of the bulb.

Paper Reduction

Be thrifty with paper. Did you know every year, Americans throw away enough office and writing paper to build a wall 12 feet high, stretching from Los Angeles to New York City? Don't print out each memo or email you receive. Read and delete the ones you don't need to save and electronically file others you might refer to later. Whenever possible, make two-sided copies. Save even more paper by using the blank sides of used sheets of paper for note-taking and printing drafts.

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