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Green Living 101

What Eco-Friendly Changes Have You Made in Your Life?

Real Simple readers share their green tips.

Children playing outside near clotheslineDavid Tsay

Pedal Off the Metal

I used to drive 50 miles back and forth every day to work using an SUV. Now I take a commuter bus to the office. It’s cost-effective and eco-friendly.
Alecia Davis
Waldorf, Maryland

I was in the habit of driving my two small boys across town to the mall for amusement. As the price of gas has skyrocketed, we spend a lot more time discovering the parks and nature paths in our own neighborhood instead of driving all around the city.
Amy Beekley
Frederick, Maryland

Material World

My husband and I decided to switch to cloth diapers instead of disposables for our toddler. Cloth is not only easier on the earth ― it’s cuter on baby’s butt!
Denise Plevier
Wall Township, New Jersey

I love shopping for recycled (secondhand) clothes. With a little patience, you can find some really great stuff and save cash.
Andrea Walter
Lincoln, Nebraska

Cloth napkins. We save stress, and even takeout feels glamorous.
Allison Tolbert
Miami Beach, Florida

Paper Trail

When my daughter hands me notes from school that are on printable paper and blank on the opposite side, we use that paper for our home printer. I’ve extended this practice to mail we receive and any other printable paper with a blank side. We’re allowed to use good printing paper only on final copies of homework and other important documents.
Iris McKenney
Wilmington, Delaware

I bring my own mug to my favorite coffee shop. For those of us who stop in every day on our way to work, that’s more than 250 paper mugs, plastic tops, and cardboard sleeves every year that won’t make it to the landfills.
Susan Cottrell
Farmington Hills, Michigan

Walking the Walk

Why do we rip off paper towels by the dozen to wipe up a little spill and start a new bottle of lotion just because the old one doesn’t pump anymore? I believe the little things matter. We could learn from the homesteaders of the 1800s; they reduced, reused, and recycled. I’ve stopped wasting what I have. It’s amazing how far things will stretch, not to mention how much money you can save, if you simply use wisely.
Paula Marooney
Broomfield, Colorado

Aside from our new Prius? Persuading my SUV-driving, conservative, old-school Texas husband to become a recycling, water- and electricity-saving, locally sustainable practitioner. (At least most of the time.) The power of love! One down, 6 billion to go.
Karima Fouad
Salt Lake City, Utah

Recycling wire hangers from the dry cleaner. I have found that most recycling centers will take them, and it clears up valuable closet space.
Cheryl Lewis
Hutto, Texas

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