Save the Planet Today
1. CHOOSE MATCHES, NOT LIGHTERS. An estimated 3 million disposable lighters are sold every day in the United States, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Most contain petroleum-based fuels and plastics and end up in landfills since they can’t be refilled. Matches are made from biodegradable wood or cardboard and require less fuel to produce, which means fewer greenhouse gases get released. If you must use a lighter, choose a refillable one to minimize waste.
EVEN GREENER: Use flip-top matchbooks (typically made from recycled cardboard) instead of boxed matches (usually made out of wood).
2. KEEP YOUR TIRES INFLATED. Even tires in top condition lose air over time, and the engine has to work harder to turn soft tires—so your car gives off more greenhouse gases. According to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Fuel Economy division, maintaining proper tire pressure (check the car’s owner’s manual or the sticker on the driver’sside door for the exact range) can improve your vehicle’s gas mileage by more than 3 percent and can extend the life of your tires by 15 percent.
EVEN GREENER: Accelerate slowly and brake gradually to reduce wear and tear on tires. Careful drivers use 35 percent less gas than more aggressive drivers. Recycle your old tires at a rubber recycling center.
3. BUY A 12-PACK OF RECYCLED (INSTEAD OF REGULAR) TOILET PAPER. (If every U.S. household did this just once, we’d save 5 million trees.)
4. WASH YOUR CAR AT A CAR WASH. When you clean your car at home, the suds usually end up in the ground or in storm drains—and eventually rivers and streams, where they can affect water quality. Commercial car washes are required by law to drain waste water into sewers, so it’s treated before being discharged into the water supply. What’s more, conveyor car washes can use as little as 30 gallons of water, according to the state Department of the Environment in Maryland, while washing a car with a hose for ten minutes can use up to 100 gallons.
EVEN GREENER: Wash your car by hand with Green Earth’s biodegradable, no-rinse Waterless Car Wash ($23; greenearthcarwash.com).