1. Surf the Web. Pay bills online and you'll save a stamp and a tree. (To learn about protecting your privacy online, visit the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse's Web site.) While you're at it, visit the Direct Marketing Association's Web site or catalogchoice.org to cancel unwanted catalogs and junk mail. Then spread cheer with online greeting cards―a great (and often free) way to tell someone you care. Find something for every occasion at hallmark.com, wishcards.org, and bluemountain.com.
2. Recycle. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, only 31 percent of all plastic soda bottles are recycled. Do your part to push up that number. And bottles aren't the only recyclable items out there. In addition to glass, newspaper, and magazines, it's easy to recycle old electronic devices. Visit mygreenelectronics.org to find local recycling facilities or check out these nationwide initiatives:
• Office Depot's Tech Recycling Services (cell phones, computers and equipment, ink cartridges, telephones, video/digital cameras, TVs, cords and cables, etc.)
• Staples' EcoEasy (cell phones, computers and equipment, ink cartridges)
• Ebay's Rethink Initiative (sell, donate, or recycle unwanted computers and electronics)
Also, think before tossing old paint and other potentially hazardous materials in the trash. Visit earth911.org to find out where to recycle hazardous materials. For more on recycling, visit nrc-recycle.org.
3. Save energy. Open windows and doors to take advantage of natural breezes, and practice passive solar heating/cooling and daylighting techniques (visit eere.energy.gov for more information). Also, dry clothes on a clothesline rather than in the dryer.
4. Drive right. Improve your car's fuel economy with routine checkups. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, replacing air filters can increase gas mileage up to 10 percent. Use only manufacturer-recommended-grade motor oil, and make sure tires are properly inflated (this will also increase the life of your tires). For more information, visit fueleconomy.gov. * Bonus tip while you're on the road: Keep two reusable grocery bags in your car. You'll always have at least one on hand for last-minute stops at the store.
5. Grow a green thumb. Replace gas-powered lawn-care tools with electric equipment. Black & Decker offers a line of zero-emissions outdoor products including lawn mowers and hedge trimmers (blackanddecker.com). Also, avoid overwatering your lawn. Place sprinklers away from the driveway and sidewalk, and consider an irrigation controller, such as drip irrigation or rain sensors. You can also install a rain barrel to collect storm water for irrigation. Find efficient designs at ne-design.net, cleanairgardening.com, or gardeners.com.