While our 50 Shades may not be as sexy as the blockbuster novel, these green tips for the home promise gratifying results and earth-friendly fulfillment. Standing in her kitchen, she knew the handsome stranger wasn’t like the other men in her life, when he pulled her close, gazed into her eyes, and whispered, “Can I fix your leaky faucet?” And that was only the beginning. He adjusted her thermostat, put air in her tires, even convinced her to get up on the old bike again. She swooned at his knowledge of glorious things. Could this be the man, she wondered? The man whose desire for energy conservation would finally unleash her deep desire to recycle, repurpose, and live sustainably. As he drew a deep breath to speak, her heart leapt. Could this really be happening? And so begins the 50 Shades of Green… 1. Photo: whatgives365.wordpress.com Plant a tree (or two). These hardworking beauties help prevent soil erosion, absorb C02 and produce oxygen, and provide sweet shade come summer. To determine the right species for your region, visit arborday.org. 2. Photo: earth911.com Recycling is great but precycling is better. Choose products that create less waste from the get-go: If possible, buy grocery staples in bulk and opt for items with less packaging, such as a two-liter bottle of soda instead of a dozen single-serve cans. 3. Photo: oregonlive.com You’ve it heard before, but remember to turn off the faucet each time you polish your pearly whites (or shave). You’ll save two to four gallons of clean water every time you brush 4. Photo: flickr.com/alan_cressler Volunteer at one of American Rivers’ annual cleanups and help collect some of the millions of tons of trash that wash up along the nation’s waterways. To locate an event near you—or find out how to become a sponsor—visit americanrivers.org. 5. Photo: ehow.com Feed the birds, especially in winter, when providing food and water may really make a difference. If it dips below freezing in your region, invest in an electric deicer so your birdbath doesn’t ice over. 6. Photo: polygodgroup.com Fix leaks promptly. According to the EPA, leaks in American homes account for 1 trillion gallons of wasted water per year—or the annual water use of Chicago, Los Angeles, and Miami combined! 7. Photo: etsy.com Buy clothing that doesn’t require dry cleaning—and the toxic chemicals that entails—whenever possible. 8. Photo: didsburydad.wordpress.com Brew organic, fair-trade coffee. No chemicals are used on the fields, famers make a living wage, and the tasty java costs just pennies a cup! And if the beans are shade grown (which most organic coffee is), the trees that shelter the coffee plants provide habitat for birds and mammals, too.
9. Photo: visualphotos.com Save water and energy by only running your washer and dishwasher when fully loaded.