Every day, 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 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 SAFETY FIRST
Buying used is an eco-friendly choice, but it’s not always the best one. When it comes to products designed to protect you and your loved ones, you should think twice about buying secondhand. For babies and small children, for example, never buy a used car seat. There is no way of knowing the history of the seat or if it’s been recalled for safety issues. If you can’t afford a new car seat, there are nonprofit programs that can help secure one for you, and often for free. Also, never purchase a used bike helmet. Once the helmet has been in a crash it’s compromised, and won’t protect your head as effectively as a new one.
#2 PONY EXPRESS
If you hate standing in lines, here’s a fast and eco-friendly way to get your postal supplies sent right to your home. You can order things like postage stamps, envelopes, boxes, and other supplies from the United States Postal
Service website, USPS.com. Since the post office is working six days a week to deliver the mail, they can bring you the postal supplies when they’re in your area. That makes it a fast and easy way to get what you need delivered to your mailbox with no extra fuel required.
#3 GIVE AND RECEIVE
The nonprofit organization Goodwill is a great place to donate a whole variety of household items to be resold, which benefits their charitable works. The list of accepted items is long and varied; they’ll welcome everything from lightly-used cookware to electronics, and even cars in any condition. When you donate, you can write off your donation as a tax deduction, too. To make it easy, Goodwill offers a “donation value guide” that generalizes what most items in a certain category are worth. For example, winter coats have a tax-deductible value of $12.99, and children’s books are worth around 59¢ each. It all adds up in the name of good!
#4 DO THE MATH
Wth millions of cars on the road, it means millions of wiper blades will be replaced and tossed into landfills. Since wiper blades are nearly impossible to recycle, the next best thing is to help extend the life of your existing blades. Take a few minutes to saturate a soft cloth with rubbing alcohol and wipe down the blades. This will remove dirt, grime, and debris from the blades. Even the smallest particles from dead insects, pebbles and leaves can leave streaks across your windshield, so a simple cleaning can sometimes be the trick to bring them back to almost as good as new.
#5 NOODLE ON THIS
Keeping cold air from entering your home in the winter is essential to cutting back on heating costs. One summertime staple—a “noodle” sold as a pool flotation device—can be used to help block out drafts. For older homes that often have large gaps under doors, simply cut open a pool noodle and slide it underneath to do the trick. It’s soft enough that it won’t scratch floors and flexible enough to slide back and forth so the door can actually be used. You can use the bright product as is, or cover it with fabric to make it decorative.