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    Top Three

  1. Consider having a small family or not reproducing at all.

    • Every 20 minutes, the world adds another 3,500 human lives but loses one or more entire species of animal or plant life—at least 27,000 species per year.

    • An average American's environmental impact is 30 to 50 times that of the average citizen of a developing country such as India.

    • The richest fifth of the world's population consumes 86 percent of all goods and services and produces 53 percent of all carbon dioxide emissions, while the poorest fifth consumes 1.3 percent of goods and services and accounts for three percent of carbon dioxide output.

    • The world's forests have shrunk from 11.4 to 7.3 square kilometers per 1,000 people since 1970. The loss is concentrated in developing countries, mostly to meet the demand for wood and paper by the industrialized world. Population Connection: Population and the Environment

  2. Consider reducing or even eliminating meat from your diet.

    • Meat is extremely inefficient to produce compared to non-meat alternatives. In fact, the Union of Concerned Scientists says that not eating beef is one of the most important things people can do to help the environment, second only to driving a fuel-efficient automobile (not an SUV or a truck) and living close to work.

    • Ten people could be fed with the grain required to feed a cow that would be turned into food for one person.

    • You'd save more water by giving up one pound of beef per year than you would by not showering for six months. Earth Save: How Our Food Choices Can Help Save the Environment

  3. Drive a smaller car and drive less.

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  4. Get out and enjoy your local natural wonders. Hike. Spend some time in a park. To know your local resources is to love them; to love them is to want to protect them. NRDC: The Green Gate

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    Consume Less

  5. Stop unwanted mail. Every 1,000 people who succeed in halving their personal bulk mail will save 170 trees, nearly 46,000 pounds of carbon dioxide, and 70,000 gallons of water each year. Turn the Tide: Nine Actions for the Environment

  6. Buy recycled products. Look on the label for the products or packaging with the greatest percentage of post-consumer recycled content, which ensures that the materials have been used before. NRDC: Guide to Greener Living

  7. Buy products with less packaging. A large percentage of the paper, cardboard, and plastic we use goes into packaging, much of it wasteful and unnecessary. NRDC: Guide to Greener Living

  8. Leave grass clippings on the lawn. Grass clippings make good fertilizer when they decompose, and leaving them on your lawn keeps them from occupying limited space in the local landfill. NRDC: Guide to Greener Living

  9. Re-use products before recycling them—paper and plastic bags at the grocery store, for example. Better yet, carry a cloth bag. NRDC: The Green Gate

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    Conserve Water

  10. Install an ultra-low-flush toilet or a toilet displacement device. About 40 percent of the water you use in your home gets flushed down the toilet, at a rate of more than 4 billion gallons of water in the US each day. NRDC: Guide to Greener Living

  11. Inexpensive and simple to install, low-flow shower heads and faucet aerators can reduce your home water consumption and reduce the cost of heating the water by as much as 50 percent. Earth Easy: Low-Flow Aerators

  12. Install a low-flow showerhead. Showers account for 32 percent of home water use. A family of four using low-flow showerheads can save about 20,000 gallons of water per year. NRDC: Guide to Greener Living

  13. If you're landscaping, use plants that are native to your area. Growing native plants can save more than half the water normally used to care for outdoor plants. NRDC: Guide to Greener Living

  14. Avoid over-watering lawns and gardens—which can increase the leaching of fertilizers into groundwater—by using slow-watering techniques. Trickle or 'drip' irrigation systems and soaker hoses are 20 percent more efficient than sprinklers. NRDC: How to Clean Up Our Water

  15. To improve drainage around your home and in your yard, decrease impervious surfaces such as concrete and asphalt. As alternatives, do your landscaping with vegetation, gravel or other porous materials; install wood decking; and use interlocking bricks and paver stones for walkways. NRDC: How to Clean Up Our Water

  16. Check your pipes and faucets for leaks or drips. Even a small drip can waste thousands of gallons of water each year. NRDC: The Green Gate

  17. Don't put hazardous materials, pesticides, oil, prescription drugs, or personal care products down the drain or toilet—they'll wind up in local waterways.
    NRDC: The Green Gate

  18. Have your water supplier do a residential audit of your home—many will come for free, and make specific recommendations to improve the water efficiency of your home. NRDC: The Green Gate

  19. Save water by redirecting runoff from your roof to strategic spots of your lawn or garden. NRDC: The Green Gate

  20. Avoid products from fisheries with excessive levels of 'bycatch', including shrimp (wild and farm raised), scallops (wild), and oysters (wild). Bycatch of non-target species claims as much as 29 million tons of fish, seabirds, turtles, and marine mammals every year. World Wildlife Fund: Conserving Oceans

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    Conserve Energy

  21. Use shading techniques—including landscaping, and working the drapes and blinds—as the simplest, the most effective way to reduce home energy consumption and save cooling costs by up to 40 percent. Earth Easy: Natural Cooling

  22. Close your curtains and shades at night to retain heat, and open them during the day so that you can benefit from free solar heat. World Wildlife Fund: Make Your Home More Efficient

  23. To keep your house cool on hot days, finish its exterior in a light color paint and use a high-reflectance roof covering. Sierra Club: Building a Greener House

  24. Install a door sweep—available at most hardware stores for $5 to $10—to prevent the loss of inside heated air into the cooler air outside. Earth Easy: Cheaper Heat

  25. Install ceiling fans in major rooms. This will help cut both cooling costs in summer and heating costs in winter. Sierra Club: Building a Greener House

  26. Install tight-fitting glass doors in front of your fireplace to both reduce the likelihood that toxic gasses will leak into your house and reduce the amount of heated house air that the fireplace exhausts up the chimney. Sierra Club: The Guilt-Reduced Fireplace

  27. To reduce heat loss from the chimney when your fireplace is not in use, keep the damper closed. Having an open chimney in your house is about as energy efficient as drilling a large hole in your refrigerator to make it easier to grab a soda. Sierra Club: The Guilt-Reduced Fireplace

  28. Don't burn newspaper, garbage, trash, cardboard, plastic, plywood, driftwood or wood that is treated, painted or pressure-treated in a fireplace. All of these may contain toxic chemicals that will be released into the atmosphere. Sierra Club: The Guilt-Reduced Fireplace

  29. Connect your PC, monitor, fax machine, and computer peripherals to a single power strip that can be turned off when the equipment is not in use. This will end 'leakage' from devices that drain power even when they aren't turned on. Sierra Club: Guide to Greener Living

  30. Wrap your water heater in an insulating jacket to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by up to 1,000 pounds per year. World Wildlife Fund: Stop Global Warming

  31. Insulate home walls and ceilings to save about 25 percent of home heating bills and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by up to 2,000 pounds per year. World Wildlife Fund: Stop Global Warming

  32. Control heating with a digital thermostat that can be set for each zone of the home. This can save 10 percent to 15 percent on heating and cooling costs. Sierra Club: Building a Greener House

  33. Save as much as 10 percent a year on your heating bills by simply turning your thermostat back 10 to 15 percent for eight hours. You can do this automatically without sacrificing comfort by installing a programmable thermostat. World Wildlife Fund: Make Your Home More Efficient

  34. During the winter, turn thermostats down to 68 degrees or below during the day and 55 degrees at night and when you're away from home. In warm weather, set thermostats to 78 degrees or above. NRDC: The Green Gate

  35. If you have an air conditioner, change the filter once a year. An air conditioning unit with dirty filters can use 5 to 10 percent more energy. Sierra Club: Energy Conservation

  36. Use compact fluorescent lightbulbs. Although are initially a lot more expensive than the incandescent bulbs you're used to using, they last ten times as long and can save $30 per year in electricity costs. NRDC: The Green Gate

  37. If your refrigerator is more than nine years old, consider replacing it with a new Energy Star model. New models use about 50 percent less energy than older refrigerators do. NRDC: The Green Gate

  38. Keep dryers in a warm area, where they'll work more efficiently. NRDC: The Green Gate

  39. Clean the lint filter of your dryer—doing so will not only make your dryer run safely, it will reduce the amount of energy needed to dry your clothes. NRDC: The Green Gate

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    Reduce Toxins

  40. To deter an ant invasion, use crushed mint leaves, cloves, cinnamon, cayanne pepper, lemon juice, coffee grounds, or garlic cloves instead of harmful chemicals. Earth Easy: Non-Toxic Home Cleaning

  41. For a natural moth deterrent, use cedar chips or oil; lavender, rosemary, or rose petals; or dried lemon peels. The common mothball is made of paradichlorobenzene, which is harmful to liver and kidneys. Earth Easy: Non-Toxic Home Cleaning

  42. If you really want outdoor windows to shine without using harmful chemicals, follow cleaning with a rinse of water and white vinegar—about 1/2 cup of vinegar to a gallon of water. This is a good all-around cleaning solution for other parts of your house, too, such as floors and tubs. Sierra Club: Washing Windows

  43. To clean your indoor windows without harmful chemicals, try club soda in a spray bottle. The sodium citrate softens the water and increases the cleaning effectiveness. Sierra Club: Washing Windows

  44. Don't apply pesticides unless you have an actual problem. Never use them to 'prevent' pests, since unnecessary prevention is a huge source of pollution. If you do have a pest problem, try baits and traps instead of sprays—the more localized the poison is, the better. NRDC: The Green Gate

  45. If your pet has a flea problem, use pills from your veterinarian instead of flea bombs, dips or collars. Consider regular bathing, flea combing, and vacuuming carpets. NRDC: The Green Gate

  46. Toilet bowl deodorizers, cleaning solutions with lye, and many spot removers contain harmful chemical solvents. Use baking soda and diluted vinegar instead as all-purpose cleaners. NRDC: The Green Gate

  47. Use water-based paints instead of oil-based paints as they are less hazardous to your health and to the environment. Also, never pour paint thinners and varnish down the sink or toilet as they will end up in local waterways. NRDC: The Green Gate

  48. Consider trying 'wet cleaners' instead of dry cleaners that use harmful solvents. If you do choose to dry-clean, air clothes outside before putting them in your closet. NRDC: The Green Gate

  49. Be careful with thermometers. Many contain mercury, and glass mercury thermometers can break, contaminating the home. NRDC: The Green Gate

  50. Buy organic. rediscovering our place in nature