So you would like to live a little greener but don't know where to start. In reality, most of us can make the biggest improvements with small changes in our daily household routines. Here are some easy green habits that will make a difference to Earth and to your wallet.
Simple dishwashing routine
Clean up by scraping off the scraps (composting it, if applicable) then soaking plates in the sink with a little cold water. In a few minutes, dishes can go right into the dishwasher with no additional rinsing. Run a full load at the end of the day and let it air-dry overnight (turn off the "heat dry" option on the dishwasher). Washing full loads in the dishwasher typically uses less hot water than hand-washing dishes.
Store food smarter
Instead of using "reusable" plastic storage containers, invest in a good set of oven- and microwave-safe glass containers with quality plastic lids. They'll pay for themselves many times over and will keep lots of cheap plastic out of the waste stream.
Laundry routine changes
Big, full loads save water, electricity and natural gas. An easy way to ensure full loads is to have a laundry basket for each color (whites, darks and mixed colors) and wash only when a basket is full. For most loads, hot-water wash is overkill (use warm or cold water instead), and always use cold water for the rinse, which rinses just as well as heated water.
The easiest way to save resources is to use a low-flow showerhead. By law, the maximum flow for a single head is 2.5 gallons per minute (gpm), but you can find a decent spray with even less gpm. To take it another step, use a head with an on/off switch so you can shut off the water while you shampoo and soap up, and then turn it back on instantly with the same temperature.
Old-fashioned cleaning routine
Reusable stuff is a big improvement (and savings) over disposable wipes and other throwaway cleaning products. Cleaning pros know this best: They fill a good bucket with their favorite cleaning solutions, sponges, gloves, mop and any other essential tools. This keeps things portable and storable. You might want to have additional buckets for different parts of the house.
Carry reusable shopping bags
The best all-purpose bags are large, reinforced plastic types with woven cloth handles. They're capacious, washable and virtually indestructible. The kind that folds like a paper grocery sack is ideal. Keep a few in your car's trunk and you'll have them for every kind of shopping trip.