1. Recycle smart: From furniture to electronics, one person's trash is another's treasure so when you want to dispose of an old item, don't make the dump your first stop. Two sites with alternatives: freecycle.org and earth911.org.
2. Today's non-gasoline-powered reel lawn mowers are easier to push than the old models. Their eco-benefit: zero emissions (plus, you're getting great exercise). If you prefer a power mower, consider a quiet, battery-operated model.
3. Warm up to solar energy: You may not be ready for a totally sun-powered home, but you can get a taste of the technology by using solar-powered lighting in your yard or on your patio.
4. Plant flowers and shrubs that are well suited to your climate (the staff at your local nursery can help). The benefit: You'll use less fertilizer and pesticides.
5. Buy a laptop: It uses considerably less power than a desktop computer.
Spring Cleaning Tips
Traditional cleansers based on natural products often clean just as effectively as commercial concoctions that contain fast-acting chemicals. Consider the following recipes for low-polluting alternatives:
For counter tops, cupboards, and walls: dip a cloth in warm water, add a little dish soap and baking soda (the baking soda acts as a soft abrasive to remove tough spots and light scratches).
Drain cleaners: Mix together 1 cup baking soda, 1 cup salt, and ¼ cup cream of tartar. Pour ¼ cup of this mixture into the drain, followed by a pot of boiling water. Reserve the rest of the mixture for future needs.
Air fresheners: First, get rid of the source of bad odors. Check refrigerators and trash cans for rotting foods; look under and around furniture for any items your pets may have unexpectedly left behind. Clear out cooking smells using the stove exhaust fan, then open windows and let fresh air in. Simmer a small amount of cinnamon, orange peel, and cloves on the stove to give your home a pleasant fragrance. Freshly cut flowers can also make a room smell like spring.