Every day, I pen a syndicated column called “Do Just OneThing” that appears in newspapers across the country. Over the past several years, I’ve accumulated thousands of tips that not only help people live a little bit greener each day, but are smart ways to cut waste and save money as well. In each issue of this magazine, I’ll round up my all-time favorite tips. They’re clever, fun, and simple enough that I think you’ll Naturally love to try them. –Danny Seo
#1 RECYCLE RIGHT
A tube of toothpaste is typically packaged in something called LDPE, or #4 plastic. This is a type of plastic that is commonly accepted by curbside recyclers, even though the container is often not specifically on the list. If your recycler takes plastics marked #4, you can recycle your tube of toothpaste as long as it’s clean. That’s easy—all you have to do is snip the end with scissors and dig out the last bits of toothpaste (use it to scrub your pearly whites clean!). Then, toss it into the bin.
One of the easiest ways to save water during the summer months is to know exactly when it’s time to water your lawn. First, try this simple trick: Step on your lawn. According to the Environmental Protection Agency’s WaterSense program, if the grass bounces back after you step on it, there’s no need to water. If it remains flat, then it’s time to water. Give it a drink only early in the morning or late at night when the sun’s rays don’t evaporate the water.
#3 WHITEN WHITES
When you want to get your whites white on laundry day, there are plenty of reasons to skip adding chlorine bleach to the wash. There are numerous studies that show bleach can have an adverse affect on respiratory health. It’s also highly corrosive to the skin and eyes. A much safer alternative is to use hydrogen peroxide, which breaks down in water and uses oxygen to naturally whiten. Add one cup of hydrogen peroxide to the washer along with your laundry detergent for a safe, natural alternative to bleach.
#4 DON’T BUG OUT
Reclaimed wood is all the rage right now in everything from flooring to fur- niture. It’s eco-friendly because the wood is salvaged from barns, railroads, and the like. The weathered wood looks good, too. But reclaimed wood could be harboring dangerous insects inside it. To make sure your cool reclaimed wood table is safe to bring inside, ask if it’s been heat-treated. An alternative to chemically treating the wood, it uses high heat to kill off bugs. Often, you’ll find a small mark “HT” on the product to indicate this process has been used.
#5 PERSONAL PAN
Got leftover pizza? When you put a slice of ‘za on a plate in the microwave, in never comes out the same way as when it was fresh at the pizzeria. Here’s a trick for reheating that slice so it’s hot, crispy, and tastes like it was just pulled from the pizza oven: Cook it on a cooktop. Simply heat up a heavy pan (like a cast iron pan) and place the pizza in the pan. Let it warm up. It’ll toast the crust and melt the cheese. In a few minutes, you’ve got a perfect slice.