Lazy Environmentalist

Our 5 favorite Earth- and money -saving ideas

Everyday, I pen a syndicated column called “Do Just One Thing” that appears in newspapers across the country. Over the past several years, I’ve accumulated thousands of tips that not only help people to live a little bit greener each day, but are smart ways to cut waste and save money as well. In each issue of Naturally, I’ll round up my all-time favorite tips that are clever, fun, and simple enough that I think you’ll Naturally love to try them. –Danny Seo


For years, an eco idea has been circulating that may not hold water. The idea? By simply putting a brick into the water tank of your toilet you’ll save water because the brick displaces water, turning a water-guzzling toilet into a more efficient one. But the reality is, while you do save half a gallon of water per flush, using this method can ruin your plumbing. Bricks will disintegrate over time, causing particles and chunks to break off and clog plumbing. If you want to do this classic eco tip, try filling a sealed plastic margarine tub with water and place it inside. It’ll do the job without the plumbing worries.


When traveling, if your destination is less than 300 miles away, it’s best to avoid short-haul flights and opt for a different mode of transportation. According to the World Wildlife Fund, short-haul flights are the least fuel-efficient way to travel. Choosing to drive or to go by bus or train are the most eco-friendly options when you don’t have too far to go. And when you do have far to travel, choose planes with the highest possible occupancy rates for the best fuel efficiency.


In climates that can have weeks of below-freezing temperatures, it’s key to choose energy efficient LED light bulbs for your outdoor light fixtures. Even though there are compact fluorescent bulbs designed for outdoor use, they can fail to work in cold climates. The CFL bulbs have a difficult time starting up when the weather turns cold, which can lead to a complete failure to light. Choose LED bulbs instead; they are designed to work effectively in all types of temperatures, both hot and cold.


When it’s time to wash your car, a professional car wash is the greenest choice. The Environmental Protection Agency says the automated car wash is not only the most water and energy efficient method, but they also properly dispose and recycle waste water. If you want to wash your car at home, do it on gravel or grass because when unfiltered runoff water hits pavement it can funnel to and pollute waterways. Allowing waste water to filter through dirt and gravel minimizes the pollution.


Every year, there are more than $50 billion worth of loyalty points from airlines, hotel chains and retailers given to customers. Yet, 30% of those points go unredeemed. The website connects people with points to nonprofit and charitable causes, so weary travelers can donate their unredeemed or unwanted loyalty points to causes they believe in. Just search for your favorite charity, find out what loyalty points they accept, click and give! It’s that easy.