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Easy Ways to Go Green

How You Help the Environment

Real Simple readers share the little ways they’ve gone green.


Garden Variety

I installed a rain barrel. In one brief summer storm, the whole barrel can fill up to the top. This is a plant-saver as the severe drought continues in the Southeast and water restrictions are at an all-time high. We get a storm now and then, and that’s all I need to have lots of water for my plants. Just remember to add a mosquito dunk so the bloodthirsty little guys don’t think you’ve opened a spa for them.
Beth Ahern
Charlotte, North Carolina

I’ve started composting my family’s organic waste: banana peels, eggshells, bread crusts, apple cores, and so on. I have a small waste bucket next to the kitchen sink that gets emptied into a large composter in the backyard every other day or so. It’s a great lesson in science for my two older kids, ages six and three, as well as my husband and me. We’re hoping that the result of our composting will yield a good base for the small vegetable garden we are planning for the spring.
Jennifer Royan
Skippack, Pennsylvania

Pedal Off the Metal

My best friend from work just moved five minutes down the road. (We’re both teachers at the same middle school.) Now we carpool to work every day. Not only are we saving money and gas but we also get our girl gossiping out of the way during the 25-minute ride. Plus, we stay on each other about getting out the door at a decent time. We’re saving the environment and our sanity.
Lauren Slawinski
Cleveland, Ohio

On weekends, my husband and I leave our car in the garage. We enjoy our long walks because they allow us to spend some quality time together. It’s eco-conscious and good for our pocketbook, too. But best of all we have some great conversations and get to know each other again.
Nicole Phippard
Victoria, British Columbia

When the navy moved us overseas to a city with good public transit, we left our cars behind and bought bicycles. I am in better shape, have lost weight, get outdoors more, and think about what I buy at the store because I don’t have a car to rely on to haul impulse purchases. When we have an especially heavy grocery load or the weather is particularly awful, we use a taxi or arrange for deliveries. It’s greener and much cheaper than car insurance and gas.
Jamie Schork
Yokosuka, Japan

Shop Right

The changes I have made are simple yet effective. Needing to replace two appliances, I chose an Energy Star washing machine and dishwasher. In addition, I purchased and installed a programmable thermostat, which decreased my total energy cost by $650 last year. I was sent a letter from my electric company about this and was given a 10 percent credit on my electric bill. None of these changes have affected my everyday life, and each makes a little bit of a difference.
Sarah Killion
Tolland, Connecticut

I bought a red lined bag that says boss lady and sports a cowgirl design. I carry it to the grocery store and into the mall. It’s reusable, sturdy, and much more fun than white plastic. Yee-haw!
Jenn McMillen
Allen, Texas
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