Take steps to green your home, office, and environment throughout the year. Many of these ideas correspond to environmental celebrations going on around their respective week of the year, so each week – try something new!
Protect Your Home during National Radon Month
Radon is a radioactive gas that is released from the natural decay of uranium in soil, rock, and water. You may be breathing this gas every day and not even know it.
Radon testing can be easily performed on your own or with professional help. The cost of performing radon testing is comparable to basic building repairs. Self, radon testing kits can be found and purchased at local home improvement centers/stores. If you have a positive test for radon, contact Mundell to help you determine your next best course of action.
Week of Year: 1
Pack a Waste-Free Lunch
Use reusable containers, water bottles, and lunchboxes instead of paper bags and disposable water bottles. Refilling your water bottle at the tap or water fountain uses less plastic, saves energy, and saves you lots of money!
Week of Year: 2
Use Only What is Needed
Minimize negative impacts on the earth by maximizing the positive change:
- Turn off computers at night
- Think twice before making a purchase and try to reuse or borrow if necessary
- Monitor food waste at home
Source: The Earth Cube
Week of Year: 3
Cover Your Air Conditioner
During the winter, cover your air conditioner. Besides protecting your air-conditioning unit, these covers also help keep cold air from entering your home through the space around the air-conditioner and can be a great way to lower utility bills.
Week of Year: 4
Put Your Generator Outside
Firing up the generator for a winter power outage? Remember that generator exhaust is toxic. Always put generators outside well away from doors, windows, and vents. Carbon monoxide (CO) is deadly, can build up quickly, and linger for hours.
Week of Year: 5
Help Protect Your Nearby Wetland
No matter where you live, chances are there is a wetland nearby. (Wetlands go by many names: estuaries, bogs, swamps, marshes, playa lakes, and more). Keep lawns and driveways free of pet waste, fertilizers and motor oil. These pollutants can wash into storm drains and eventually reach a wetland.
Source: Mother Earth News
Week of Year: 6
Plan an Eco-Friendly Valentine’s Day
If you are going out to eat, choose a restaurant that uses local and seasonal ingredients. If you’re planning a multi-day getaway, consider a staycation, camping, or a green hotel. Consider giving an experience rather than a thing that may come in extra packing.
Source: Sierra Club
Week of Year: 7
Check Your Heating Ducts
To ensure that as much warm air as possible is delivered through your central system, check the ductwork and wrap any leaks with duct mastic. Distribution losses (what’s lost while air is transported from your furnace through ductwork to the vents) often amounts to 30%. So, sealing ductwork could increase efficiency and the warm air you receive considerably … keeping you warmer and making your furnace work less.
Week of Year: 8
Become a “Green Shopper”
Keep reusable bags in your car or near the door so they are easy to grab when you go. You can also shop with the environment in mind. “Green purchasing” means buying smart. Look for products that help conserve natural resources, save energy and prevent waste.
Week of Year: 9
Protect Your Groundwater Source
99% of all available freshwater comes from aquifers underground. To protect our groundwater sources we must keep it safe from contamination and use water wisely.
One of the biggest household water wastes is in the bathroom. For starters: Put a bucket in the shower while you’re waiting for the water to warm up, and use the water you catch for watering plants, flushing the toilet or cleaning. Install a low-flow showerhead and spend less time in the shower.
Week of Year: 10
Create a Backyard Sanctuary
Add a birdbath, garden pond, or other source of water. A safe place to bathe and drink will act as a magnet to many animals.
Source: Living with Wildlife
Week of Year: 11
Strategize Your Tree Planting
Plant a deciduous (leafy) tree that loses its leaves in fall on the south side of your home. Its shade will cool your house in the summer. After the tree’s leaves fall, sunlight will help warm your house in winter.
Source: National Geographic
Week of Year: 12
Make It a Full Load!
Make it a full load! Running your washing machine and dishwasher only when full reduces water usage and energy. Don’t pre-wash dishes and you’ll save as much as 20 gallons of water per load. If you are purchasing new appliances, look for energy efficient models which use only about 4 gallons per wash.
Week of Year: 13
Celebrate Earth Hour
Earth Hour was started in 2007 as a “lights-off” event to unite people to protect the planet. Turn yours lights off on Saturday for the hour.
Lighting Tip: Replacing your home’s five most frequently used light fixtures or bulbs with models that have earned the ENERGY STAR rating. You could save $75 each year!
Week of Year: 14
Consider Worm Composting for Small Spaces
Getting that garden ready? Set up a home for some small, red tiger worms, which you can buy. Be sure to use a wooden box with holes and a lid for a worm compost bin. Add a layer of moist, shredded newspaper and soil for their bedding, and then feed them once a week with vegetable peelings wrapped in newspaper or paper towels. Every two or three months, the rich, fine compost will be ready to use.
Week of Year: 15
Download a Map for Your Next Outdoor Adventure
Reading maps is fun and can tell you a lot about your local environment. The U.S. Geological Survey has been producing detailed topographic maps for more than 125 years. Many are free to download through theUSGS Map Store.
Source: Download Maps
Week of Year: 16
Recognize the Earth is a Gift
Take a moment to reflect on all the earth gives us
- Watch a sunset; listen to birds; feel the wind on your face
- Take a walk outdoors
- Be grateful for all the things in your life, from the water you drink to the medicines at your disposal
Source: The Earth Cube
Week of Year: 17
Combine Shopping Trips
When combining errands and shopping trips, you’ll save money, reduce air pollution and traffic congestion, and lower greenhouse gases on the road. If you commute to work, leaving your car at home twice a week can cut greenhouse gas emissions by 1,600 pounds per year.
Week of Year: 18
Mulch Your Tree after You Plant
Mulch is very important to your tree’s health by adding a buffer from the heat and cold and helping to keep the roots moist.
Add mulch to the base of your tree (keep from touching the trunk) by removing any grass within a 3 to 10 foot area depending on the size of your tree. Pour natural mulch such as wood chips or bark pieces 2 to 4 inches deep within the circle.
Source: Arbor Day
Week of Year: 19
Don’t Top Off Your Gas Tank
- Topping off the gas tank can result in your paying for gasoline that is fed back into the station’s tanks because your gas tank is full.
- Gasoline vapors are harmful to breathe
- You need extra room in your gas tank to allow the gasoline to expand.
- Topping off your gas tank may foul the station’s vapor recovery system.
Week of Year: 20
Approximately 33% of the food consumed by humans is dependent, either directly or indirectly, on honey bee pollination. Here are a few steps you can take to help these important pollinators!
- Keep beekeeping in your area viable by buying local honey.
- Grow a variety of flowering plants in your garden and avoid using pesticides.
- Learn the difference between honeybees and other flying insects such as wasps/yellow jackets to prevent the inadvertent use of deadly sprays.
Source: Convention on Biological Diversity
Week of Year: 21
Ants in Your House?
Find ways to keep them outside and in their natural habitat instead of using pesticides to kill them.
- Set out cucumber peels or slices in the kitchen or at the ants’ point of entry. Many ants have a natural aversion to cucumber. Bitter cucumbers work best.
- Plant mint around the house or leave bags of mint tea in areas where they are most active.
- Soak a string in cayenne pepper, lemon juice, citrus oil or place a line of cinnamon or coffee grounds wherever you don’t want the ants to cross.
Source: Earth Easy
Week of Year: 22
Hold a clean up for World Oceans Day
Don’t live by an ocean? There are still things you can do to keep our oceans free of trash. Hold a cleanup at a local watershed, river or wetland where trash can evenutally make it to the ocean. After the cleanup make sure everyone is aware of proper trash disposal and offer tips for recycling and upcycling.
Week of Year: 23
Smile on the World!
Nothing speaks louder than positive actions to make the world a better place. Take some action!
- Use both sides of the paper
- Repair instead of replace
- Recycle or give away your used items
- Hang your clothes out to dry
Source: The Earth Cube
Week of Year: 24
Reduce Erosion and Preserve Topsoil
Land degradation has increased around the world as our human activities pollute or degrade the quality of soil, affecting not only food production but the overall ecosystems. What can we do locally to preserve our soil?
- Rotate the crops you grow in your garden.
- Use local mulch, especially in bare stops to help plants ground and prevent water runoff.
- Plant large plants such as trees and hedges to reduce wind speed.
- Minimize soil compaction by create permanent walkways and encouraging people to stay on them.
Week of Year: 25
Green Your Camping Trip
- Buy used gear – avoid more packaging and shipping waste by borrowing camping gear from family or friends.
- Pack it in, pack it out – make sure whatever you take to your campsite leaves when you do (food, trash, etc.)
- Use biodegradable soap – and wash dishes or yourself at least 200 feet away from streams or lakes.
- Keep fires small – only use sticks from the area that can be broken by hand.
- Enjoy the sounds of nature! Keep your voices low and avoid loud noises.
Source: Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics
Week of Year: 26
Think Local this 4th of July
Let’s face it – it’s hard to “green” a fireworks celebration, but here are some ideas for an environmentally friendly 4th of July
- Instead of using paper plates at the party, bring out your everyday dishes and serving utensils. Have labels or charms available for guests to put on their drinking glasses.
- Ride your bike to a local fireworks celebration or have your own by banging pots and pans (the kids will love it), and having a star-spangled sing along.
- Buy your meat from the farmers market or purchase local poultry or vegetarian options from the grocery store.
- Use a propane grill which produces about half the greenhouse emissions as charcoal.
Week of Year: 27
Make Your Summer Eco-friendly
With summer in full swing here are a few things we can do for an eco-friendly summer:
- Stay hydrated with a BPA-free water bottle or sippy cup. (Stainless steel is a good option)
- Turn up the thermostat a few degrees and make sure it is serviced regularly.
- Take a solar recharger with you on vacation or even around the house to keep your devices powered.
- If you have painting projects, opt for low-VOC paints and recycle or reuse your leftovers.
Week of Year: 28
Know Your Ozone Action Days
Ozone Action Days are usually called on hot, muggy days with little wind, when the amount of ground-level ozone is predicted to approach unhealthful levels and the federal standard for ozone could be exceeded.
What steps should you take on Ozone Action days to help improve the air quality? Mow your lawn only when necessary and late in the evening or early in the morning. Avoid using outboard motors, off-road vehicles, or other gasoline powered recreational vehicles. If you are barbecuing, use an electric starter instead of charcoal lighter fluid.
Week of Year: 29
Change Your Diet to Protect the Earth
It can be overwhelming to try to incorporate every ‘green’ food tip in your diet, but even starting small can have an impact. Here are 2 tips to get you started:
- Eat Local – A trip to the farmers’ market or local grocer will reduce the miles your food has traveled to reach your plate, so fewer greenhouse gases will have been released into the air.
- Buy and cook in bulk – Buying in bulk (and using reusable containers) reduces the amount of packaging a household consumes. Cooking large dishes and saving for later reduces energy use.
Week of Year: 30
Take steps to reduce the environmental impact in keeping your house clean. From products to actions, here are some ideas:
- Find a non-toxic biodegradable cleaner for your daily tasks, or mix your own with warm water, vinegar and baking soda.
- Keep windows open often to allow fresh air in and toxins flowing out.
- Use olive oil to polish your furniture.
- Buy some broad green leaf plants to filter your indoor air.
- Hang your clothes out to dry rather than using the dryer.
Week of Year: 31
100+ Ways to Conserve Water
With droughts occurring throughout the country, we all can be aware and take steps to reduce the amount of water we conserve.
The “Water – Use it Wisely” website site offers more than 200 water-saving tips.
Source: Water Use It Wisely
Week of Year: 32
Decrease Your Ozone Pollution
Ozone pollution can affect anyone who spends time outside in the summer.
What can you do this summer to help keep the air clean? Try reducing your car use by taking public transportation or walking and avoid refueling on ozone action days. If you are out in your car, avoid excessive idling or jack-rabbit starts and consolidate multiple errands into one trip.
Week of Year: 33
Discover Amazing Things about the Earth
What unique natural phenomenon can you learn about today?
- Research threatened wildlife; find out where your local stream goes
- Explore nature nearby: go to the countryside, practice ecotourism, travel to beautiful places
- Watch documentary films: observe and understand the beauty of nature
Source: The Earth Cube
Week of Year: 34
Green Your Jeans
We all have our favorite pair of comfy jeans. Since non-organic cotton is responsible for 11% of global pesticide use, caring for your jeans and knowing when and what to purchase can make an impact!
- Look for organic jeans – many well known brands have organic cotton and non-toxic dyes lines
- Wash only when needed – to keep your jeans lasting longer, wash inside out, in cold water, and hang to dry
- Repurpose – when your jeans are worn out, find new ways to use them: purses, patches for your other jeans, get creative!
Source: Earth Share
Week of Year: 35
How to Live Alongside Wildlife
Hang bird feeders 3 feet or less from windows to prevent collisions. Collisions with windows is the number one cause of migratory bird population decline. When feeders are close to windows, birds cannot build up enough momentum to injure themselves should they hit your window. Bonus: bird-watching right outside the window!
Source: National Wildlife Federation
Week of Year: 36
Take your environmentally friendly attitude to the gym! Talk with your local fitness club to see if they:
- Offer recycling
- Use low-flow faucets, shower heads, and toilets
- Clean with non-toxic products
- Encourage patrons to limit their towel usage
Week of Year: 37
Consume with Care
Discover an alternative to using traditional wrapping paper for birthday gifts – like scarves, old newspapers or discarded maps or magazines.
Vanish energy vampires— appliances that suck energy even when not being used – by unplugging them or using power strips.
Week of Year: 38
“Leaf” Your Gas Powered Tools Behind
As we start thinking about raking leaves and getting our yards ready for winter, we have a chance to clean up in a responsible way. Leaf blowers and lawn mowers powered by gas create a lot of noise and pollution. Use electric tools or rake your yard by hand (and get an extra workout). Compost your leaves, branches, and weeds as much as possible to avoid using the plastic trash bags and you’ll also have a head start on spring!
Week of Year: 39
Looks for Ways to Reduce Household Waste
Give cardboard tubes to pet hamsters or gerbils. Plant seeds in an egg carton. Make a flower pot out of a plastic ice cream tub. Many household items can be repurposed in creative ways to recycle and reduce waste.
Week of Year: 40
Build a Positive Connection with the Earth
- Buy local products
- Plant a tree or flowers in your neighborhood
- Don’t throw trash in public places
- Calculate your carbon footprint
Week of Year: 41
Ways to Eat Green at Work
- Stock up on health snacks like fruit and nuts
- Advocate for a fridge instead of a vending machine to save energy
- Have a CSA deliver a weekly batch to your office and prepare some snacks for your coworkers
- Use a restaurant from your neighborhood rather than a caterer who has to travel some distance for office lunches or events.
Source: Eating Well
Week of Year: 42
Reduce Your Exposure to Lead
Although the US no longer adds lead to gasoline, many homes are still at risk for lead exposure. If your home was built before 1978, it may contain lead-based paint or water pipes with lead solder. In addition to contacting a qualified contractor to test for lead, here are some things everyone can do:
- Don’t use glazed pottery to cook, serve, or store food (unless you know its lead-free)
- Keep cosmetics out of children’s mouth
- Replace old vinyl mini blinds
- Don’t store liquid in lead crystal containers
Week of Year: 43
Happy Eco-Friendly Halloween!
There are lots of things to make your Halloween a little more earth friendly. Here are our favorites!
- Have a costume swap with friends, or mix and match odd items from past Halloweens and thrown on a ‘recycled’ sign.
- Take an extra bag on your Trick-or-Treat walk, to pick up candy wrappers and other trash.
- Don’t waste your pumpkin seeds: clean, salt, and roast them for a yummy treat.
- Looks for things to hand out with minimal packaging and/or purchase orangic, free trade candy.
Source: Sustainable Baby Steps
Week of Year: 44
Save Water in Your Kitchen
- Use one glass (or a water bottle) for your drinking water each day to cut down on the number of glasses to wash.
- Select the right size pan and cook food in as little water as possible. This also helps it retain more nutrients.
- Collect water from rinsing fruits or from leftover ice cubes and use them to water your house plants.
- Use the garbage disposal sparingly. Instead, compost vegetable food waste and save gallons every time.
Source: Water Use It Wisely
Week of Year: 45
Green Ways to Observe Veterans Day
- Make and wear a red poppy, the symbol of Veterans Day
- Volunteer your time to help veterans
- Properly recycle a flag at a recycler such as American Flag Recycling
- Send an eco-friendly care package to a friend or relative in the service, or a solider with no family
Week of Year: 46
Prevent and Divert Wasted Food
In 2013, more than 37 million tons of food waste was generated in the US (approximately 21% of municipal waste). During Food Recovery Week, take steps to prevent and divert wasted food.
- Reduce the volume of extra food generated
- Divert food scraps to your pets or farm animals
Week of Year: 47
Give Thanks to Mother Earth
Planning a relaxing Thanksgiving with family and friends? Thank Mother Earth this week by creating an environmentally friendly day. Here are some tips for a green Thanksgiving.
- Shop your pantry before you take a trip to the store. What you can make with what you already have on hand?
- Create a leftover plan ahead of time so your goodies don’t go to waste
- Decrease energy usage by turning off your TV and talking a walk or playing some board games
- Create your own decorations (dried leaf place cards, painted gourds, etc)
Week of Year: 48
Giving Tuesday = Giving to Mother Earth
Find a way to give back this week, either to a local environmentally friendly initiative or national charity. Here are some ideas for those in the Indianapolis!
- Keep Indianapolis Beautiful
- Hoosier Environmental Council
- Indiana Serra Club
- Eco-organizations from Indiana Living Green
- 21 Environmental Charities You Should Know About
Week of Year: 49
Learn about Environment Issues from the EPA
On December 2, 1970 the EPA was established to consolidate a variety of federal research, monitoring, standard-setting and enforcement activities to ensure environmental protection. Since its inception, EPA has been working for a cleaner, healthier environment for the American people.
The EPA website contains a myriad of environmental topics, tips, and resources for family, educators, and students. Take some time to browse, and put your plan into action!
Week of Year: 50
Green your Holidays!
Go green this holiday season! There are many ways to be environmentally friendly and still enjoy the merriment of it all.
- Buy less, buy organic, or don’t buy at all. There are many alternatives to physical gift giving.
- If your toys need batteries, choose rechargeable ones. Or buy naturally-powered toys.
- Lower the impact of holiday lighting by using LED builbs or mini-lights. Turn the lights off before you go to bed.
- Buy a small pine tree in a large pot, use it for a few years, then plant it in your yard!
Week of Year: 51
Green Gift Ideas
- Soda can keychain
- Book spines storage box
- Woven newspaper basket
- Plastic bottle bracelets
- Upcycled sweater socks
- Twig frame
Source: Totally Green Crafts
Week of Year: 52
New Year Resolutions for the Planet
Start the year off on a green foot!
- Rinse and re-use plastic zip-loc bags – or better yet, buy reusable snack bags.
- Donate instead of throw away – clothes, food, toys.
- Save your cereal cardboard for birthday cards, flash cards, or any project that needs cardboard.
- Make your own cleaning supplies, such as a vinegar baking soda mix.
- Air dry your clothes once a week.
- Commit to eating local, organic, seasonal food.
Source: Urban Naturale
Week of Year: 53