Special Report

30 Easy Ways to Be More Environmentally Friendly

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11. Give new life to old electronics

The world’s output of discarded electronic devices — known as e-waste — reached nearly 45 million metric tons in 2016, according to a report by United Nations Environment Program. Electronics require a lot of water, energy, and valuable resources in their manufacture, so their reuse and recycling are particularly critical to environmentally-sound waste management.

If your TV, computer, cell phone or other consumer product containing electronics still works, give it to someone who can use it. There are nonprofits that specialize in the charitable redistribution of computers and companies that refurbish electronics for resale. If your electronic device is no longer serviceable, there are many recyclers who are interested in the valuable metals it contains.

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12. Upgrade to a green computer

When you are ready to buy a new computer, buy one with an Energy Star label to save 35%-65% in energy use, and consider a laptop, which uses much less energy than a desktop computer. Donate your old computer rather than recycling it. In terms of greenhouse gas emissions, reusing just one computer with a CRT monitor, as opposed to buying a new one, keeps 1,333 pound of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere.

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13. Invest in a clothesline

Your clothes dryer is one of the largest energy users in the home, and, for the average family emits over a ton of carbon a year. Air-drying can reduce the average household’s carbon footprint by 2,400 pounds a year, according to Green America, a non-profit organization. Many retail outlets sell racks and well-designed accessories for indoor drying. When you do use your dryer, use the setting that provides an automatic shut-off when your clothes are no longer damp. Use just enough energy to get the laundry dry. Be aware that you will lose energy if you add wet clothes to a load that is already partially dry.

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14. Switch out your light bulbs

LED lights use 75% less energy to deliver the same amount of light as incandescents, and LED bulbs last 25 times longer. LED holiday string lights are not only more energy efficient and much cheaper over time, they also emit less heat (and therefore safer) and more durable. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, by 2027, the widespread use of LED lighting could save $30 billion in energy costs and reduce the use of electricity by the equivalent of 44 1,000-megawatt power plants.

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15. Shut off lights

The cost of keeping a single light bulb on doesn’t amount to much on an hourly basis: using a 60-watt bulb for one hour requires 0.06 kilowatt hours of electricity, costing about 1.2 cents if your electric rate is 20 cents per kilowatt hour. But the costs add up. Based on consumption data from 2015, lighting accounts for 12% of the average household electric bill. By shutting off unnecessary lights, such as in empty rooms, you will not only save money but also lower your carbon footprint.