A Life Manicure, with Green Tips!

Home & Yard Blvd. Section

The truth is, I haven’t got the kind of cash it takes to stay green these days. I’m not in the market for a new Prius, and I look horrible when lit by florescent lighting, no matter how ecofriendly. I’d love to buy a slew of those canvas shopping bags, but in all honestly, it takes all I can muster most times to remember my car keys, let alone enough bags to carry the week’s rations. And let’s face it: Plastic bags are just so much easier to carry.

I’ve come to terms with my laziness and lack of disposable income. But I also recognize the importance of a sustainable planet. So, how can I go green without spending green?

I get frustrated every time I go into the supermarket, and see marked-up ecoproducts. My conscience says, “Yes! Yes!” but my platinum says, “Overdraft. Overdraft.”

It may be wrong to say, but when four of my friends and I put our rings on, Captain Planet is usually one of the farthest things from our minds. What I need are simple, cost-effective ideas to give me that squeaky green look without blowing my entire economic-stimulus check.

Luckily, going green needn’t be difficult or expensive. I was quite surprised to learn of several quick changes I could make to get myself on the ecobandwagon. I was more astonished to find that some things I’m doing already are green practice. But a few ideas could be even more cost-effective.

If you’re like me, aside from my astronomical rent, another major bill is the electrical. I have had schoolmarms inculcate me with enough “turn-out-the-lights” rhymes to make me sick. Despite my annoyance, it helps. Take it a step further.

Many electronic devices draw a slow trickle of electricity. Phone chargers, DVD players, and even fax machines use current even when off or not in use. By simply unplugging them, this waste is diminished. Putting all home-theater devices on a power strip means a single switch ceases all flow. Or, you could get rid of the fax machine.

Let’s do laundry. Three words: Tide Cold Water. By switching to this new detergent incarnation, you can save energy on each and every load. This is achieved by delivering the same cleaning power at lower temperatures, thus eliminating the energy needed to heat water. A small step to be sure, but it’s slightly more hygienic than the greenest alternative…not doing laundry at all.

And while you’re in the laundry room, clean out the lint filters. Most of us do this anyway, but it actually makes the drying process more efficient. By allowing air to pass more freely, less heated air is needed, and once again, less energy to heat it. It’s kind of like eliminating mixer.

Here’s a new twist on an old idea: The US Post Office has begun a small electronics-recycling program at 1,500 locations, including the Twin Cities. Instead of allowing shorted cell phones and previous-generation iPods to clutter your closet, you now can drop them off with your mail.

Or, if you’re willing to drive a little bit out of your way, many recycling centers will offer you cash or tax deductions as incentive. Something to consider for next April: Green thinking actually pays you back. Perhaps now you can buy that energy star flat-screen you’ve been eyeing.

So, it’s easy being green. But you don’t have to go solar to do your part. Swap out tossable plastic cups at your next cocktail party. Say “no thanks” when your colorist asks if you’d like a receipt. Little things tend to add up. Think of them as eco-baby steps. And, hey, if all else fails, there’s always showering with a buddy. Save heat, water, time, energy…and the whales!

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