On April 22nd communities all over the world become a little more environmentally conscientious in recognition of Earth Day.  Locally, we’ve noticed more and more of our customers in Indianapolis and the surrounding cities are trying to live a healthier life and be gentler on the environment on a daily basis.

For those focused on buying local and recycling, our city continues to expand & increase our access to conveniently located recycling centers, consignment stores, organic grocery stores, and farmers markets, including the winter’s farmers market.

Here are 5 EASY ways you can go greener, help our planet each and every day, and save money.

1.     Stop buying bottled water.  This one SAVES you money!  The purity of the water in bottled water is hit or miss according to the many testings done on various brands throughout the years (just Google it and you’ll see).  Bottled water increases our consumption of fossil fuels because virgin petroleum is used to make the plastic of each water bottle and fossil fuels are burned to fill the bottles and dis-tribute them.  Water from islands thousands of miles away cause carbon pollution into the water and air while being shipped to us.

Yes, you can recycle the bottles but only about 13 percent of the bottles we use get recycled.  Millions of tons of plastic water bottles ended up clogging landfills instead of getting recycled.  Drink tap water instead.  Not only does it contain chlorination which kills bacteria, it also includes floride which is great for your teeth.  Before the water reaches your faucet, it has to be tested for water pathogens; have no confirmed E.coli or fecal colifrom bacteria; and it must be filtered & disinfected.  It’s perfectly safe and cheaper!

2.     Donate your unwanted items.  Electronics too!  Computers, cell phones, furniture, clothing, toys, books, household items, etc. can all be reused by someone in need OR are valuable even if they don’t work.  Many major retailers, like Best Buy, accept old electronics and will give you a store gift card in return.

Appliances and electronics if not in working order can be donated to organizations that will reuse parts or dispose of them properly. For a complete recycle and reuse guide for all Recycle Indianapolis locations, including places to dispose of appliances, electronics, and hazardous waste, please click here.

Our partner Dress for Success Indianapolis is always accepting women’s suits and blouses and you can get paid to recycle clothing and toys by taking items to a consignment store.

3.     Turn off your engine.  If you are going to idle more than 30 seconds, turn off the engine.  When you’re waiting in the drive through at restaurants and banks; in the car pool line at school; and when you’re just going to run in “real quick”, you’re emitting toxins into the environment.  And, you’re wasting your money.

Ten seconds of idling can use more fuel than turning off the engine and restarting it.  For every two minutes a car is idling, it uses about the same amount of fuel it takes to go about one mile.  Even in the most fuel efficient vehicle, you’re getting 0 miles to the gallon when you idle.  Idling causes future costs to your vehicle too.

When you idle, the engine does not operate at its peak temperature.  This leads to the build up of fuel residues on cylinder walls that can damage engine components (including cylinders, spark plugs & exhaust systems).

4.     Reduce consumption of paper towels. Have you noticed how expensive paper towels are these days?  We’ve noticed the brands who offer the “choose your size” rolls can be twice as much as the others.  You may think you are cutting back on waste by using a small rectangle v. a big square but it’s more Eco friendly to use dish towels and rags instead.

Paper towels are typically excluded from mainstream recycling programs because the fibers in paper towels are too short to be woven into new paper products.  Buying dish rags and sponges at the dollar stores is much cheaper than spending hundreds on paper towels.  Launder, reuse, repeat.

5.     Launder your clothing less often.  Wait, why are we, a company in the cleaning business, telling you to launder your clothing less often?  Well, it’s simple, we’re in the business of maintaining your clothing and keeping it looking like new for as long as possible.  Dry cleaning plays an important role in keeping your clothing looking like new because of the specific measures taken to maintain the integrity of each item during the cleaning process.  But, we’re realistic and we know you do quite a bit of laundry at home.

There are many items that don’t need to be washed after every wear.  Did you know jeans can be worn for months without needing a wash.  Sweaters can be worn quite a few times, especially if you are wearing another shirt underneath.  (See our complete list on how often you should wash your clothes).  Each year your washing machine, uses thousands of gallons of water and BTUs of natural gas.  If you are sanitizing or washing linens, we’ve always advised to launder on the hottest water the garment can tolerate.  But for every day items, using the cold setting will reduce the energy used and save you money on your utility bills.  Go a step further and hang/line dry to save on your drying costs.

You can get started going “green” without it costing you any money.  You can start making wonderful, noticeable changes with just a few tweaks to your daily habits and save money in the process.

For more easy ideas on going green, check out our 2012 post, What does going green mean?

Do you have ideas on how someone can be a little greener with little effort and save money?  How have you changed your lifestyle and/or habits to reduce your carbon footprint on the environment?

– S.O.