This is how the list started.
* Turn off the air conditioner and open the windows. This is an easy one for us because we don't have central air! Actually, we had to break down and buy a window one for the bedroom and a free-standing one for the living room, because when it hits 90° in the summer, that's when we can't handle it (can't sleep, etc.). But if it's below that, the trees keep it nice and cool, and the cross-breeze we get helps.
* Use lowflow showerheads, a programmable thermostat, and insulate the water heater.
* Stop using plastic grocery bags. After reading the article, we went online and bought cotton bags to take to the store. We bought them at Reusablebags.com, which is worth a look just to see the counter at the top that shows all the bags being used. It's scary.
* Support your local farmer and cut out the massive shipping costs. This doesn't work for us in the winter, but I try to buy stuff grown locally during the growing season. What's even better is growing your own!
* Instead of chemical fertilizers, use a mulching mower and start a compost bin. When you plant things, use native plants and wildflowers. They thrive and keep the weeds at bay. Try not to use chemical pesticides. I haven't had to use them on our garden yet, and don't plan to.
* Keep your tires inflated properly. It can boost your mileage by one or two mpg, and that'll add up.
* Use fewer paper and plastic plates. I bought extras of my dish set, so it's rare that we run out of plates before the dishwasher is full.
* Something I've done for the last few years is cut up the Christmas cards we've received (after Christmas is over--we hang them when we get them) and make gift tags.
* I found this one odd, but it makes sense! Try to plan your route using as many right turns as possible--use fewer left turns. I said, "Huh?" But UPS is implementing this and planning its drivers' routes so that they're heavy on the rights. Think about the time you spend in the intersection for traffic to clear, or to get that green arrow. Such a simple thing!
The article ended with a quote (although I forget who said it): "Live simply. Meditate. Consume less. Think more. Borrow when you need to and lend when asked." Funny, that's kind of where we began when I started this list! So many of these things are second nature to me because that's how my parents raised me. Even little things like "Turn off the water while you're brushing your teeth--turn it on when you rinse." When I'd ask why, they'd say, "Because it wastes water." And we had a well! It was just the way we were. We had a garden. We were frugal. We were taught not to be wasteful, and littering was strictly off limits. The environment to be respected, and nature was sacred. Funny to think that my folks were "green" before green was cool!
If I sound holier-than-thou about some of this, I don't mean to. Believe me, I'm the first to admit that we're consumers--we love our cars and our big TV. We're not planning on going off the grid! But we actually do live fairly simply. If everyone does just a few things, won't it all add up? Even if it doesn't add up to much, it's just the right thing to do. Makes sense to me.
Besides, there's nothing uglier than seeing a grocery bag stuck in a tree.