What’s Been Your Biggest, Coolest, Eco-Friendliest Change This Year?



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Did you finally give up using paper towels?

Did you switch out all the incandescent bulbs in your house to LEDs?

Maybe you gave away your car and bought a bike.

Or planted a huge organic garden to grow more of your own food.

Started raising chickens in the back yard? (Free range, of course!)

Finally got a clothesline so you can use the sun to dry your laundry?

Whatever environmental change you made, we want to hear about it…by December 30!

Book_icon If you let us know how you went “eco” in 2010, we’ll automatically enter you in a contest to win a free, autographed copy of my latest book, Big Green Purse: Use Your Spending Power to Create a Cleaner, Greener World.

Just leave a comment on this post with the following info:

* The change you made.

* Why you made it.

* How much it cost (or saved you).

* What you plan to do next.

If you’ve thought about going green in some way but have yet to make it happen, do it now so you can tell us about it.

What’s the biggest change I made? I stopped getting printed newspapers delivered at home. I did it because I hated to see all the paper wasted, especially on advertising supplements that I never use. Right now, it’s saving me the cost of the subscription. Next year, I think I’ll have to start paying to read the paper online. But this wasn’t a cost issue for me as much as it was an environmental one.

Next?

I’m looking to you all for inspiration! Please share your changes. We’ll highlight your stories on December 31 when we announce our prize winner.

Thanks!

 

 

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37 Responses to What’s Been Your Biggest, Coolest, Eco-Friendliest Change This Year?

  1. Bonnie December 15, 2010 at 7:43 am #

    I installed a programmable thermostat! It was $35 and took less than an hour to install. I don’t have data yet on how much it saves, but it does save me from waking up to or coming home to a cold house! I set it to come on about 15 minutes before I wake up/come home. Best green DIY of my year!
    Also up there – I needed to furnish the kitchen, living room, and patio of my new apartment – and got everything used on Craigslist. I spent less than $500 on everything! Bargain!

  2. Kerri December 15, 2010 at 8:22 am #

    The biggest change I made was to begin vermicomposting. Because I live in an urban area where outdoor compost bins are not allowed, I had to weigh my options. As a vegetarian, nearly all my food scraps can go in the compost bin. Since installing this in my basement less than a year ago, I have already harvesting compost three times and have emptied worm tea more frequently. I use the compost in my community garden spot. The bin cost around $125 and a friend gave me the red wigglers. There is significantly less waste for me to place in the garbage each week.
    I am not 100% sure what my next green step will be, but I am looking forward to making better use of bulk food options in the next year.

  3. Barathi91 December 15, 2010 at 8:57 am #

    I had stopped consuming bottled water and botlled beverages completely today. I have 5 bottles that I bought in last 3 months. I will make sure to throw them in the recycle bin. I am also going to give water tumblers as presents to my friends with a little note attached. The note will be about implications of bottled water industry and to encourage them to carry their own water bottle everywhere.

  4. Jeanne Beauchamp December 15, 2010 at 10:42 am #

    This year, I became a vegetarian!
    I had been thinking about it for quite a long time, but I could never “jump the fence”. And now, I have done it.
    The reason why I finally changed is because I started living on my own and so I started cooking all my meals to!
    Environment is the one issue that gets the most to me since years and I know that eating meat is so much more polluting then eating products from agriculture, as I have read in the blog Ten Reasons to Eat Less Meat.
    Now, I fill my protein need with tofu (wich contains more protein then any sort of meat for the same quantity), lens and beans.
    It did not cost me a thing to become a vegetarian, I am actually saving lots of money; tofu costs me 0,40$ per portion and the cheapest beef is sold at 1,50$ per portion… This can give an idea of how much I’ve saved by becoming a vegetarian.
    In the past I have also made tons of important changes like composting, gardening and an important one that I would like to share is using the DivaCup (http://www.divacup.com/), which totally changed my life… check it out ;)
    What comes next?
    Well, next year I’ll be moving to a city where the public transport is free for students (which I am), so I won’t ever use a car… I guess that is improvement.
    Also, the reason why I am moving there is because I’ll be doing a Bachelor in Environmental Studies! And I am very excited for it to start!!
    I hope my English is not too bad!
    Have a nice day and please continue posting such interesting blogs!
    Jeanne Beauchamp, student, Quebec, Canada

  5. Diane MacEachern December 15, 2010 at 5:38 pm #

    Wow! That’s so inspiring!! Thanks for sharing, Diane

  6. Linda Peters December 15, 2010 at 6:21 pm #

    There were a lot of changes this year. All little ones. I don’t know how much money any of them have saved us, cost where minimal.
    Here’s a few I can think of:
    – Bring our own bags to the grocery stores
    – Got a rack to hang our clothes for drying
    – Got a motion sensor light for the bathroom, because our son kept forgetting to turn it off… he’s only 4. :)
    – Now composting
    – Changed all our cleaning products to eco-friendly ones
    – Being more careful in the choices we make when purchasing products, even our kids toys (hence why I started Eko Bear this year)
    The changes were made because my family is trying to be more eco conscious in our choices for our environment and for our health.
    Next, I should really look into changing products I use for personal care, such as body soap, hand soap, hand creams that kind of stuff.
    I’m sure there’s more, but that’s pretty much it for now.
    Linda

  7. Renee H December 15, 2010 at 8:29 pm #

    I’m just another lady going green over here in California!
    This last January I started a blog
    http://nevertoolatetogreen.blogspot.com
    where by going green myself, I attempt to show others how easy it is to live more sustainably. I guess that was my big green thing, made up of many smaller green things! It’s been a learning process, and not everything has worked for me.
    Some things I did: Stopped using chemicals to clean throughout my home, started using a clothesline, began growing food at an organic community garden, stopped buying produce from far away.
    I’m fascinated by that spark, that one thing that makes someone decide to make a change in their lives. What is it? What puts someone over the cusp to start living differently?
    I’ve saved hundreds of dollars this year on electricity costs, buying vinegar instead of Tilex, growing my own organic food, etc.
    I intend to keep taking baby steps toward a healthier, more sustainable life.
    Happy holidays in green!

  8. Beate December 16, 2010 at 6:14 am #

    My two favorites this year: I finally started car-sharing after a lot of thought about with whom I want to share my car with, how to divide insurance and gas cost and what to do when the other person is involved in an accident. So now we are officially a .5 car household! Didn’t cost me anything besides my time to research available options and surely could have made some money off it, since my rate is so much lower than a rental or being a member of official car sharing organizations. The reason? I hate how much resources (or capacities in terms of paved ground) a car needs.
    The second is that I started to use a menstural cup (Diva cup). Love it! Fewer days and less cramping to worry about. Cost was $25, cost savings monthly and ongoing.

  9. Cher December 16, 2010 at 2:20 pm #

    I became a vegetarian! I learned about all of the horrible things that eating mass amounts of meat do to our world, and I’ve committed to finding a way to change that. Becoming a vegetarian is my first step.

  10. lori alper aka groovy green livin December 18, 2010 at 7:55 am #

    Lots of small changes this year….but the biggest change was the launch of my blog: Groovy Green Livin.
    http://groovygreenlivin.com/
    My youngest child started school last year and I had the time to work on the next phase of my life. I have devoted myself to living and learning about a green lifestyle for over 11 years. It was time to share the information with more than just family and friends.
    Committing to a green, healthy lifestyle has saved me a tremendous amount of green. Not sure in real dollars-but there is no doubt that my changes have impacted my purse in a positive way.
    I am planning to expand my site to include products and all sorts of other goodies! Stay tuned….

  11. Diane MacEachern December 18, 2010 at 3:07 pm #

    Lori, I’m so inspired by all you’ve accomplished and the example you’re setting for your kids. Thanks so much for sharing your story with all of us.

  12. Jen December 19, 2010 at 6:08 pm #

    The biggest thing I did this year was to build our own organic fruit and veggie garden. We grew peppers, tomatoes, beans, cucumbers and watermelon.
    We decided to do it because we want to know where our food is coming from and because nothing beats walking out into your backyard and grabbing some fresh green beans to nosh on.
    I would say that in total it cost us under $100 (including all the soil, mulch, fertilizer, plants etc).
    Next year we will be expanding it!

  13. Hana aka Green Grandma December 20, 2010 at 5:14 am #

    The main thing I did this year was discover the unending merits of vinegar (for cleaning, laundry and health benefits). I launched Vinegar Fridays on my blog (http://thegreengrandma.blogspot.com) and every Friday (with the exception of this past week when I was really sick), I post tips for using vinegar as an alternative to toxic substances we are accustomed to using.
    Because of my prompting, I have two daughters who are using cloth diapers on their little ones and I just converted one of them over to the Diva Cup.
    I traded in my Buick for a Honda Insight hybrid.
    The newest change is that I save my bathwater and use it to “flush” the toilet.
    I’m not sure what improvements I’ll make in 2011, but I’ll be blogging about them as they occur :)

  14. Celene December 20, 2010 at 5:40 am #

    We invested a few (very few) dollars in some cleaning rags from Goodwill – they are made by people with disabilities, and they are a great replacement for paper towels! They are inexpensive and they also help a great cause.

  15. Diane MacEachern December 20, 2010 at 6:45 am #

    I use rags I make from old t-shirts and stained towels that I don’t really want to display in the kitchen anymore. They’re free, effective, and will last for years. Thanks for writing!

  16. Diane MacEachern December 20, 2010 at 6:47 am #

    I love the idea of Vinegar Fridays! I use vinegar to clean out clogged drains – that, plus a little baking soda create a foaming action to dissolve the clog; I plunge it with a narrow brush and flush with hot water. Works every time. Using the bathwater to flush the toilet is brilliant!

  17. Diane MacEachern December 20, 2010 at 6:48 am #

    Jen, good luck with your garden. I have so much shade, I can’t even grown tomatoes. Fortunately, my farmer’s market is only two blocks away. Thanks for writing.

  18. Shannon December 20, 2010 at 9:11 am #

    * The change you made … I made lots of changes but I’m most proud of making or switching to more more natural beauty products choices for my family
    * Why you made it… to lessen the toxin load on my family
    * How much it cost (or saved you) … I make my own deodorant, use baking soda for shampoo, cider for conditioner … saving around $50 a year
    * What you plan to do next … learn to be more crafty. I want to make holiday gifts next year.

  19. Diane MacEachern December 20, 2010 at 9:26 am #

    Cider for conditioner? Does it really get rid of the tangles? I used to make a rinse out of dried rosemary that left my hair fragrant and shiny, but it didn’t do much for the tangles. I’ll have to try it. Thanks for a great idea.

  20. Anna@GreenTalk December 20, 2010 at 11:32 am #

    I went vegetarian as well as increased the garden. It is so cool to make most of your meals from your garden. Congrads to the other vegetarians in the group.

  21. studiojmm December 20, 2010 at 11:44 am #

    I’m sitting here thinking, hmm, we didn’t really make many lifestyle changes this year . . . oh wait, we put solar panels on the roof! Power bill down by 75% in the first month – should average out to at least 50% less power from the grid each year.

  22. Diane MacEachern December 20, 2010 at 11:53 am #

    I haven’t eaten beef or pork for decades, and I’ve given up eating fish and chicken just about (but not quite) all the time. I don’t think I’ll go vegan, though — but I’m considering raising my own laying hens for the organic, free range, kindly laid eggs. We have raccoons and foxes and various rodents running around in our neighborhood so building a foolproof pen will be key.

  23. Diane MacEachern December 20, 2010 at 11:55 am #

    I’d love to hear more about your solar switch. My house is “passive solar” – lots of windows on the south side, super insulated, lots of deciduous trees for summer shading. We opted to keep the trees and forego solar when we built, but I wish we had some kind of direct solar option (like solar hot water).

  24. Condo Blues December 20, 2010 at 12:18 pm #

    I’ve been doing one small green change each month. The one I am most proud of is joining a CSA. It forced me to cook out of my food comfort zone and try new foods even though I’m an adventurous eater by nature.
    I also changed 303,736 light bulbs, well my small changes equaled that to changing that many light bulbs. So little things really DO add up!

  25. Diane MacEachern December 20, 2010 at 12:58 pm #

    Wow – how did you figure out the light bulb calculation?

  26. Anne December 26, 2010 at 9:11 pm #

    Our home has been “green” for several years. However, I felt like I could do more but didn’t know how or where to start.
    My daughter started preschool this year. And the first thing I noticed almost everyday I dropped her off at school, is a big truck idling for at least 15 minutes with no one inside. It’s not even that cold.
    So, I started the Idle Free campaign for my daughter’s preschool, which uses the community building. The preschool families will proudly display Idle Free decals in their vehicles. The building will have a permanent metal Idle Free sign.
    I am very excited about this because I feel like it’s the first real community contribution I was able to do.

  27. Christina Marlett December 29, 2010 at 8:44 am #

    We made 3 major changes this year.
    1. We switched from Kleenex to Hankies because we wanted to stop throwing out money with every kleenex, save some trees and get rid of red irritated noses, especially on our kids.
    I can’t tell you how much we saved but it has been significant because we just used some old cotton I never ended up sewing with and cut it up. I would never go back! (Although when our parents come to babysit our kids they bring their own boxes of kleenex and leave them behind because they think we can’t afford it:)
    2. We did an Eco Party for my daughter’s 5th birthday. Instead of gifts, people send their child with $10. We pool half of the money to buy one special gift that she actually wants and the other half she chose which charity to give it to, which was the World Wildlife Fund. No wrapping, no people driving to stores, no plastic, sends a good message, LOVE IT!!!
    3. I started my own website and blog about Green Living. http://www.greenerparents.com Come over for a visit to check it out.

  28. Diane MacEachern December 29, 2010 at 8:55 am #

    I love all your changes. The Eco-Party donations are brilliant! Thanks so much for sharing.

  29. Diane Jukofsky December 29, 2010 at 11:42 am #

    This year my husband and I moved to Oregon after living 21 years in relatively low-consuming Costa Rica. The change to the ultra-consuming US was shocking & yet we were able to adopt green habits we couldn’t practice in Costa Rica.
    In Costa Rica we paid an entrepreneur to come by our house in his gas guzzling old truck and haul away our recyclables, which he could then sell. In Oregon, the county comes by once a week in efficient vehicles to pick up our sorted recyclables along with other trash.
    In Costa Rica, we lived in a town house with a teeny back yard – not possible to compost in such a small space and in a tropical climate. In Oregon, our rental home has a compost pit tucked into a corner of the backyard.
    In Costa Rica we bought a small home from which we worked, so we had no say in its construction, which was not very good or ecofriendly. We are building a home in Oregon, so we have a chance to make as many green enhancements as we can afford. The Central Valley in Costa Rica has an ideal climate – it’s never so hot you need air conditioning, never so cold you need heat. Not true in Oregon (though even on the hottest days this summer we didn’t need the AC in our rental house). The house we’re building is super energy efficient – triple the insulation as usual, with heat pumps, efficient wood stoves and more. To share our research with others, we’re blogging in the Oregonian about this adventure in eco-homebuilding: http://connect.oregonlive.com/user/EcoBeavers/index.html
    Our new house will be three narrow stories, to have as little footprint on our five mostly forested acres as possible. We’re rehabilitating the damaged wetlands on our property – a chance we never had in Costa Rica, which unfortunately has lost most of its original wetlands to development and pollution.
    So 2010 was a year of major changes for us, as we’ve moved from one rainforest region to another. One constant is that we will aim to be good eco Oregonians as we tried to be good green Costa Ricans. A major contributor is that we will continue to work for the Rainforest Alliance (www.rainforest-alliance.org), which we helped launch when we first moved to Costa Rica a couple of decades ago.

  30. Diane MacEachern December 29, 2010 at 12:14 pm #

    Diane, Thanks so much for the great comparison between Oregon and Costa Rica. Pretty eye opening! Good luck with your house construction – it’s an exciting, if sometimes nerveracking process. I have a sneaky suspicion I met you or your husband years ago when your CR adventure was just beginning. I’m glad we’ve reconnected.

  31. denise yribarren December 29, 2010 at 10:35 pm #

    For months I have been dragging my feet to use a hand-me-down solar oven. I decided that this year I won’t fear change and possible failure! I looked on line and found some relatively easy recipes for solar cooking.
    Really, the biggest challenge is remembering to reposition the oven every few hours to follow the sun. So far, I’ve made chili and granola. Bread will be my next challenge in the solar oven.
    I am well on my way to eliminating plastics in my kitchen. (This was a real test for creativity!)
    My goal is to try a new project every week. It feels good to grow as a person in pushing myself in trying new challenges
    Thanks for all the inspiration!
    Denise

  32. Kathy H. December 30, 2010 at 5:49 am #

    This year I stared composting. It cost about $50 for the compost bin. I did it to reduce the amount of garbage going to the dump and also to cut out fertilizer for my grass and flower beds and now I don’t need to buy topsoil either. Next year I plan on replacing all of the light bulbs in my house. I already started but dang I have alot of lights so its going to take a while.

  33. Sherry December 30, 2010 at 6:11 am #

    In May I bought a dozen cloth napkins at a garage sale for $3. Now we use them all the time! Combine cloth napkin with cloth rags and I’ve completely eliminated my use of paper towels!
    I’d like to eat meatfree more often, and switch to local grass fed beef when we do eat meat. My family loves meat so that will be tough sell, but I’ll work into it slowly.
    In the years to come (hopefully not 2011) I want to buy a more environment friendly car, but that will have to wait until the vehicle I currently drive dies.

  34. Lynne December 30, 2010 at 1:03 pm #

    I finally got it. I read up on chemical ingredients in our products, and finally, it clicked. I am making all of our own cleaners, I’m buying organic when I can, I rid our home of chemicals, I switched our products to ones with a shorter, greener ingredient list. I am buying from more small local farms. I’m off of water bottles. I am buying organic fair trade coffee. And I’m blogging about it. http://www.greenertoday.blog.ca
    This year, I’m changing our lives.

  35. Diane MacEachern December 30, 2010 at 1:24 pm #

    Lynne, That’s so inspiring! I’ll be looking forward to reading your blog and getting inspiration from all that you learn!

  36. Beate December 30, 2010 at 4:02 pm #

    Oh, it’s so much part of my life now that I forgot my biggest change this year – I opened an online store offering organic and fairly traded children’s clothes.

  37. Diane MacEachern December 30, 2010 at 4:25 pm #

    You opened a store? That’s incredibly impressive!! Good luck with it, and thanks for sharing!

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