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Save the World, One Room at a Time

Make these simple changes around the house

You would totally save the planet—if you only had the time. But guess what? You do. Make these simple switches throughout your house, and you’ll find it’s quite easy being green.

In the Kitchen

Slow Your Roll: If merely thinking about how many paper towels you use makes you squeamish, pick up a few reusable bamboo, microfiber or alternative-fiber towels so you can save a tree the next time Junior spills his juice.

Don’t Do the Dishes: Using the dishwasher on a full post-dinner load requires less water than the sink. As you load ’er up, don’t waste water rinsing plates; a simple scrape will do. For heirloom china and other items you must hand-wash, be sure to plug up the kitchen sink.

Defrost It, the Green Way: Crispy chicken on tomorrow’s dinner menu? Thaw that fowl in the fridge instead of under running warm water. A slow, cool thaw also prevents bacterial growth.

In the Family Room

Power Down: You know, you know: Turn off the TV if you’re not watching it. But then there’s the laptop, the tablet, the game console and the umpteen other gadgets with an LED light—all of which draw power, even when switched off. Make it easy on yourself: Plug everything into a single power strip, and flip it off each night before bed.

Throw Open Those Curtains: For maximum energy savings, make the most of natural light. Once it’s dark, use only the light you need: Switch on a reading lamp, or dim the overhead lighting for movie marathons.

In the Bathroom

Solve Your Toilet Situation: Installing a low-flow toilet can mean big bucks off your water bill, but for now, call a plumber and fix the one you’ve got (or learn how to do it yourself). Toilets that constantly run waste dozens of gallons each day.

Shave Smarter: You already know to turn off the tap when brushing your teeth, but if you do the same thing when you shave, you’ll further trim your bill.

Have a Light Bulb Moment: Next time a bulb goes out, replace it with an energy-efficient LED compact fluorescent one. Sure, you’ll save energy, but its bright light and natural color temperature may make you like your makeup better in the mirror, too.

In the Office

Say No to Paper Cuts: Go paperless—and that includes conquering your Post-it note addiction. Embrace digital note-jotting on your phone (or just send yourself an email!), and pay bills online. While you’re at it, change your account settings to stop paper bills and coupons from loading up your mailbox.

Kick Cardboard to the Curb: Store old files in reusable plastic crates or bins—so long, shoeboxes! You’ll be thankful for portable, unrippable vessels the next time you move.

In the Laundry Room

Cool Things Off: Wash laundry in cold water. It will save 25 cents every time, which doesn’t sound like much … until you consider the average family washes 400 loads per year, a potential savings of $100 a year.

Choose Wisely: Buy reusable containers and refill them with laundry liquids as needed. And aim for concentrated formulas that use less packaging.