In honor of 2010's 40th anniversary of Earth Day and the upcoming 41st anniversary of Earth Day, here is the fourth installment of 40 quick, easy, and effective ways to reduce waste, save energy, trees, and other resources, and help fight pollution and curb climate change. Part 4 of our four-part series focuses on shopping:
- Select flights on budget airlines that offer only coach-class seating. More people per plane means fewer carbon emissions per passenger. Also, book direct flights — a large percentage of carbon emissions are generated during take off and landing.
- To cut down on wasteful packaging, avoid single-serving products and opt instead for economy-sized products or buying in bulk.
- When you're in the market for clothes, towels, sheets, or drapes, look for organic cotton, which is grown without the use of most conventional pesticides or synthetic fertilizers.
- Instead of giving more "stuff" on holidays and birthdays, consider giving experiences, like cooking or dance classes, concert or sports tickets, or a National Parks pass.
- Eat one less meat-centered meal a week to reduce your carbon footprint and stretch your budget. The Natural Resources Defense Council estimates that if all Americans eliminated just one quarter-pound serving of beef per week, the reduction in global warming gas emissions would be equivalent to taking four- to six million cars off the road.
- Shop at and donate goods to Salvation Army and Goodwill thrift stores, or through online sites such as eBay, Craigslist, and Freecycle. Buying pre-owned merchandise saves resources.
- When you give someone flowers, opt for organic or locally grown blooms from the farmer's market.
- Go to Catalogchoice.org to significantly reduce your junk mail (and save trees), by canceling the catalogs you no longer wish to receive.
- Look for the black and white Fair Trade Certified label on chocolate, cocoa, coffee, tea, and other agricultural products. It ensures that the farmers were paid a fair price, worked under safe conditions, and used sustainable farming methods.
- Choose quality over quantity. Occasionally splurging on well-made, classic clothes or furniture that you'll keep forever is better for the planet than making more frequent, less pricey (but disposable) purchases — you'll also be more likely to pass your possessions along to someone else someday.
Interested in the other 30 tips? Check out tips 1–10, 11–20, and 21–30!