10 Easy Ways to Go Green

Looking to “go green” without actually making the strenuous effort to carpool or ride a bike? If you haven’t made a New Year’s resolution yet, going green can be as easy as driving to a car wash. Here are 10 easy ways to help out the environment that should only take a few minutes of your day.

1. Unplug your unused appliances:
This includes cell phone chargers, hair dryers, video game systems and anything else you don’t use throughout the day. Even if they aren’t turned on, they still continue to suck electricity and add to your energy bill. This so-called “vampire” electricity accounts for up to $4 billion in wasted electricity per year for America, according to the Department of Energy.

2. Buy a plant instead of an air filter:
Instead of an expensive air filter that uses up energy and requires periodic cleaning, consider adorning your dorm or apartment with a potted plant. The peace lily, the English ivy and the bamboo palm are among the best natural indoor air purifiers.

3. Take your car to a professional car wash:
You might feel like saving a few bucks by washing your own car, but the runoff of gas, oil and harmful soap into storm drains travels directly into lakes and streams and is extremely harmful to the ecosystem. Professional carwashes are able to drain their wastewater into sewer systems before coming in contact with the environment, due to federal laws, and they use only half of the water that it takes a person to wash a car by himself or herself.

4. Run your dishwasher and washing machine at night:
By always running a full load of dishes and clothing at off-peak hours in cold water, you can reduce the probability of power outages and help to conserve both water and electricity. Call your utility company to find out when their off-peak hours begin. Some companies even offer discounts for choosing to use these appliances at night.

5. Print on both sides of the paper:
Even if your printer doesn’t have a double-sided print option, you can easily solve this problem by printing odd numbered pages first, then flipping them over to print the even pages. Most professors don’t mind if you print your homework or essays double-sided, and you end up saving an astounding amount of paper, especially when you have to print out those 50-page PDF files. You can take thrifty printing a step further by reusing old one-sided printed paper as scratch printing for things such as Mapquest directions or online recipes.

6. Use eco-friendly bags:
By now, it’s common to bring cloth or canvas bags along when grocery shopping, but eco-friendly bags shouldn’t be limited to only Trader Joe’s or Albertsons. Why not carry one when shopping for clothes at the Spectrum or textbooks at the UC Irvine bookstore? The Web site http://www.envirosax.com/ has a great selection of chic reusable bags that weigh less than two ounces and can be rolled up to fit into a purse or pocket.

7. Refrain from using disposable items:
Do you really need a fistful of napkins for one cup of yogurt or a straw for a can of coke? Try to make an effort to reduce the amount of disposable items that will eventually just end up in the trash. This especially pertains to water bottles, of which a staggering amount ends up in landfills each day and takes hundreds of years to decompose.

8. Get rid of your clutter:
No, you’ll never wear those pants again or read the stash of Humanities Core books gathering dust on your bookshelf, so why not donate them? You never know who might want your old junk. Freecycle.org is a great community for giving away and accepting free stuff. That’s right, it’s free.

9. Cut down on your consumption:
Every single time you purchase something, you are adding to your carbon footprint, which is all the time and energy spent on manufacturing the item you wish to obtain and the greenhouse gases produced as a result. One of the best ways to cut down on carbon costs is to ask yourself such questions as: Can you borrow it or buy it used? Can you live life without this item?

10. Buy secondhand:
If you love to shop and cutting down on consumption requires too much willpower, consider buying secondhand or vintage items at stores such as Deelux in Costa Mesa or Buffalo Exchange at The LAB. Ebay also has some great vintage stores such as Lullievintage and Noirohio.