Your green living cheat sheet

20 do’s and don’t-worry-abouts to help you live lighter on the planet––and your pocketbook

Laundry room detox
Photo: Emily Nathan

Easy, low-cost changes to make

1 | Install a water-saver faucet adapter ( to start flow quickly with the back of your hand and shut off flow when you release. Investment: From $17. Savings: 2.2 gallons per minute.

2 | Displace water in your toilet tank with a 2-liter plastic soda bottle, weighted with coins or pebbles. Toilets use more water than washing machines or showers. Investment: Free! Savings: 0.5 gallon per flush.

3 | Slow flow with the Ladybug shower adapter ( At 95°, the volume slows to prevent warm water waste. Just pull the cord when you’re ready to rinse. Investment: $30. Savings: 2.5+ gallons per minute.

4 | Wrap your water heater with insulation to reduce heat loss. Investment: $20 for insulation from your local home improvement store. Savings: Reduce your home energy use by 9%; about $7.20 per month.

5 | Install a program­mable thermostat (Honeywell 5-2 day thermostat; so that your heating/cooling system runs only when you need it. Investment: $36. Savings: Reduce home energy use by up to 33%; about $26.40 per month.

6 | Get a removable chimney balloon damper ( to keep cold air out when the fireplace isn’t in use. A chimney accounts for at least 14% of home heat loss (just think, it’s like leaving a door open). Investment: $40. Savings: Reduce home energy use by at least 7%, about $5.60 per month.

7 | Line-dry your clothes (the dryer is an energy hog). It’s not as easy as when Grandma did it, though: Many homeowners’ associations ban clotheslines. Go to to learn more.

8 | Flex your muscles in the garden: Use a broom instead of a blower, a watering can instead of a sprinkler, and a push mower instead of a gas one.

9 | Keep a gallon-size bucket showerside and use your warm-up water to nourish your veggie patch.

10 | Learn to compost: Kitchen composting is one of the easiest ways to lessen landfill. Try the sinkside compost pail from Williams-Sonoma ($32; Get tips at

11 | Save money and packaging: Grow herbs at home with Potting Shed Creations’ herb kit ($25;

12 | Install foam light-switch and outlet sealers (—they insulate to prevent heating and cooling loss. Investment: 33 cents each ($20 for 60 seals from Ace Hardware). Savings: Reduce home energy use by 2%; about $1.60 per month.


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