This article is from the In-Depth Report Earth 3.0: Solutions for Sustainable Progress

12 Ways to Lessen Your Footprint

Twelve easy steps to take to make your life a little greener

6. Addicted to the Bottle
Bottled water might well be one of the most needlessly wasteful products of modern times. The plastic is made from petroleum, at manufacturing plants that consume plenty of energy and spew emissions. Once filled, the bottles are shipped across the country on trucks that consume more fossil fuel and emit more pollutants. And in the ultimate irony, the Pacific Institute has found that three gallons of water are consumed by industry to produce every gallon of bottled water. Also ludicrous: about 40 percent of the water sold in containers comes from regular city water supplies. Then there’s the garbage: Americans purchased 28 billion single-serving water bottles in 2007 and recycled only about 20 percent of them; the rest went into landfills.

The solution is not hard to decipher: drink water from the tap. And if you must have a bottle with you to fend off certain dehydration in case you’re stranded miles and hours away from any possible source of freshwater, buy a reusable bottle and refill it.

7. Save the Beach
Beaches everywhere are vulnerable to ocean pollution and algal blooms. The U.S. had a record number of beach closures and health advisories in 2007. If you would like to protect your favorite beach, contact the Surfrider Foundation at The organization supplies advice and resources on how to test beach water and organize cleanups and provides handy online tools for bringing out volunteers, including the many members of Surfrider’s own network. The site also provides links to services that regularly report on the water quality at specific beaches around the country.

8. Driving 65 miles per hour instead of 75 mph can improve fuel economy by up
to 15 percent.

9. Junk the Mail
The mail you want consumes enough paper. The junk mail you don’t want wastes much more. You can have your name removed from many promotional lists by signing up free at Links to stop telemarketing and e-mail solicitations can be found there, too.

10. At the Office ...

  • Print only what you need
  • Acquire recycled paper
  • Walk, bike or carpool once a week
  • Report leaky sinks and running toilets
  • Unplug seldom-used machines
  • Turn off lights and computers
  • Lower the heat after hours

11. Running hot water at a sink for five minutes uses the same amount of energy as burning a 60-watt lightbulb for 14 hours

12. Recycling Hard Stuff
Cell phones:

Note: This story was originally printed with the title, "Being Green".

This article was originally published with the title "BeingGreen."

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