Photo credit: Getty Images
Switch to compact fluorescent light bulbs. Tote cotton bags to the grocery store. Drink out of a reusable water bottle. We've heard more Earth Day tips than we can shake a Forestry Stewardship Council-certified stick at. But what about the environmental no-nos? Diane MacEachern, author of Big Green Purse: Use Your Spending Power to Create a Cleaner, Greener World, offers a top 10 list of things we shouldn't do to protect the planet.
1. Don't drive like a teenager, speeding up and slowing down and weaving in and out of traffic. Such aggressive driving can lower fuel efficiency by 33 percent. Accelerate gently and stay with the traffic to save gas and money.
2. Don't use cleansers and personal care products that contain triclosan or other antibacterial agents. Public health officials worry that antibacterials in cleansers, window cleaners, and soaps are causing us to become resistant to antibiotics. Use simple soap and hot water for cleaning, and body soaps and lotions that do not say "antibacterial" or "fights germs" on the label.
3. Don't go shopping without a list! According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, people waste about 30 percent of their household food budgets buying groceries that eventually expire and have to be thrown out. Know what you want to buy before you hit the store aisles—you'll buy less of what you don't need, buy more of what you're likely to use, and reduce the impact your shopping has on the planet. Then put your list on your refrigerator so you don't forget what's inside.
4. Don't leave the lights on when you leave the room. You could save as much as $100 per year in electricity costs by turning off a 100-watt light bulb when you're not using the light.
5. Don't leave the computer on if you're going to be gone longer than two hours, and don't leave the monitor on if you're going to be gone longer than 20 minutes. If you plug your electronics into an energy-saving power strip, you can reduce the energy they use by as much as 40 percent.
6. Don't leave the water running when you brush your teeth. Turning off the tap when you brush your teeth can save up to 8 gallons of water a day, 240 gallons a month — saving hundreds on your water bill each year.
7. Don't buy "snack packs" that come wrapped in cardboard and plastic. Small individual packages use more energy and resources to manufacture and transfer, and are often twice as expensive as the same product sold in a larger bag or box.
8. Don't use so much shampoo, soap, lotion, make-up, gel, and perfume. More than 25 percent of all women and one of every 100 men use at least 15 products daily, according to a survey of 2,300 men and women, exposing people to hundreds of chemicals during the course of a day. Can you reduce the number of products you use by at least three?
9. Don't buy new. Remember the 3 R's of eco-friendly living? They begin with "reduce" (the other two are "re-use" and "recycle"). If you need to shop, start with eBay, Freecycle.org, the neighbor's yard sale, or the community vintage or thrift store.
10. Don't sit at your computer all day. Get outdoors for at least an hour to remember why Mother Nature is worth protecting. Besides, if you've done all the other don'ts on this list, you deserve to take a break!
For more information, visit www.biggreenpurse.com.
More on celebrating Earth Day
Getting Ready for Earth Day: Green Cleaning
Cooking Blue on Earth Day
Celebrate Earth Day with Leonardo DiCaprio via eBay
"Cool Globes" traveling exhibit arrives on Earth Day
EarthTweet Turns Twitterers into Earth Day Advocates
Disneynature launches "Earth" on Earth Day
TV Networks Honor Earth Day and Night