Did you know that a propane or electric grill burns cleaner than one that uses charcoal? If you do choose to use charcoal, make sure you are using lump brands from invasive tree species or harvested from sustainably-managed forests. Additionally, consider using a chimney starter to light your fire rather than lighter fluid. This is simply a metal cylinder that you fill with charcoal to create a "chimney effect."
Everything you buy from a store, from radishes to hairclips, required energy to grow or extract, manufacture, package, transport and sell. By finding ways to curb consumption, you can lower your carbon footprint. For example, fixing a broken item instead of throwing it away saves the energy that was required to produce the item. Look for specialist repair shops in your area, or learn a new skill yourself, such as furniture upholstery or renovation.
Americans use more than 14 billion paper cups each year, which is enough to circle the world 55 times. Styrofoam cups will stay on the planet for nine generations, enough time for your great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandchildren to be born.
For many Americans, a significant proportion of the household garbage can's contents consists of packaging. Even before recycling, think about avoiding waste when you shop. Consider choosing products sold in refillable containers, and make the effort to reuse them. You can even ask your favorite brands and stores to use/stock products that use this kind of packaging if they don't already do so.
Dispose of waste properly. Ninety-four percent of Americans identify litter as a major environmental problem. The biggest sources of litter are cigarette butts, bottles and cans, candy wrappers and fast-food packaging. In fact, more than 2 billion pounds of cigarette butts are discarded worldwide .
Consider swapping out your chemical-based home cleaners for baking soda-based or other homemade, nontoxic cleaners.
Eliminate plastic bags, plastic utensils, disposable containers, paper napkins and brown paper bags by choosing a reusable lunchbox, reusable drink containers, cloth napkins and silverware.
When the time comes where you need to replace a CFL light bulb, where can you properly dispose of it? To find bulb recyclers in your area, check online at www.epa.gov/bulb recycling, www.earth911.org or see if your local municipal solid waste agency recycles them.
Consider buying rechargeable batteries and recycling them when you are done with them. Non-rechargeable batteries are tough to recycle and often end up in landfills. In addition, try not to throw batteries in the garbage; instead, find out where they can be recycled.
Fun fact: The average American spends 2-4 hours per month paying bills when they write and mail paper checks. If you haven't already, put your pen down and sign up for paperless billing today.