Eco-Tip: Environmental Choices by the UCS

Many readers of TreeHugger have asked for direct actions they can take to reduce their environmental impact. In the early 90s there was a plethora of books addressing such interest. The seminal 50 Simple Things You Can Do To Save The Earth prime among them. Although now out of print, it can be obtained second-hand. A decade after that guide came out, the Union of Concerned Scientists released their own take. The Consumer's Guide to Effective Environmental Choices, was in their words, "the first comprehensive look at the full range of modern consumer activities, identifying those that cause the most environmental damage and those that cause the least." It ruffled many feathers because it advocated focusing on the bigger issues and not fussing over debates such as paper or plastic bags and cloth or disposable nappies/diapers. The book is still available from USC, but we have also included a summary of their eleven key recommendations below.This summary courtesy of Business Storysellers.

1. Choose a place to live that reduces the need to drive - it will reduce your stress as well.
2. Think twice before purchasing another car - so you're not tempted to drive more, and you don't cause the environmental damage of auto production.
3. Choose a fuel-efficient, low-polluting car - suitable for typical needs, not extraordinary needs. Consider a low- or zero-emission vehicle.
4. Set concrete goals for reducing your travel - use your odometer to check your progress.
5. Whenever practical, walk, bicycle, or take public transportation.
6. Eat less meat - even shifting to dairy products helps.
7. Buy certified organic produce - which is generally produced more sustainably, with less mechanization and better crop rotation, and doesn't create water pollution from fertilizers and pesticides.
8. Choose your home carefully - especially don't move into a home that's too big and will require more to build and heat. Avoid new developments. Look for insulation, efficient windows, heat-recovery ventilation and other improvements if you do buy a new home.
9. Reduce the environmental costs of heating and hot water - install efficient hot water heating. Choose natural gas or an electric heat pump. Turn down the thermostat, insulate, seal the windows, upgrade windows and doors for energy-efficiency. Consider a solar collector and extra large storage tank for water, if you have an electric water heater. Request a free home energy audit.
10. Install efficient lighting and appliances - buy the most energy-efficient refrigerator, only as large as you need. Look for energy labels. Wash clothes in cold water where possible. Try compact fluorescent bulbs which last 10x as long and use 1/4 the electricity.
11.Choose an electricity supplier offering renewable energy

And don't forget their more recent 10 Steps to Reduce Global Warming, which we covered earlier.