What YOU can do to Reduce Your Impact on the Environment

If humankind is going to overcome its environmental issues, we will need to change our consumption habits while embracing sustainable energy. Here are some tips to help you do your part.

Here are some suggestions of ways to reduce your impact on environment. Most people find it reasonable to attempt to add a few of these per month to you or your family’s routine. Please post this on your fridge or bulletin board and see how many you can knock off the list over time.


  1. Reducing is preferable to reusing, reusing is preferable to recycling, and recycling is preferable to tossing in the trash.
  2. Opt out of junk mail at https://www.dmachoice.org/dma/member/home.action and http://www.worldprivacyforum.org/toptenoptout.htm
  3. Opt out of telephone book delivery at http://www.yellowpagesgoesgreen.org/opt-out.php
  4. Support green companies and businesses.
  5. Bring your own bags (preferably fabric bags) to supermarkets and other stores; do not accept a bag if you can carry your items by hand.
  6. Produce does not have to be put in small plastic bags; keep it loose in your shopping basket.
  7. Do not buy bottled water – fill reusable bottles instead.
  8. Bring your own washable mug/bottle to your office, school and coffee shops (Starbucks and other coffee shops offer ceramic mugs for on-site consumption but you have to ask for one.)
  9. Think before you print – do you really need a hard copy? If you must print, print on both sides of the paper or on the blank side of waste paper.
  10. Choose products with less packaging; choose recycled and recyclable packaging and products; avoid styrofoam and plastic packaging; recycle the packaging after opening. An easy place to start is to choose eggs in paper cartons.
  11. Stop all unnecessary mail and newspapers; use the internet whenever possible for news, banking, bills, proxy information, etc.
  12. Use rechargeable batteries (NiMH or fuel cell) for everything, and recycle the batteries once they no longer take a charge. The newest rechargeable batteries (choose the ones that come pre-charged), are far superior to their predecessors.
  13. Choose battery-free flashlights, calculators, watches etc. These make great gifts!
  14. Recycle everything possible: metal, plastic, paper, glass, compact fluorescent bulbs (at Millburn DPW or Home Depot) and batteries of all kinds (also accepted at Millburn’s DPW) especially mercury-laden ‘button’ batteries and spent rechargeables.
  15. Eat less meat, poultry and fish, and substitute with produce – preferably locally grown.
  16. Compost all of your vegetarian food scraps and yard clippings; leave grass clippings on your lawn instead of bagging.
  17. Try using 1/3 less detergent in the washing machine and dishwasher – you’ll probably notice better results!
  18. Air-dry heavy items such as comforters, parkas and sleeping bags.
  19. Continually find ways to reduce your trash!


  1. Walk, bike or run instead of using the car.
  2. Use mass transportation whenever possible.
  3. Carpool
  4. Combine as many errands/stops as possible into each trip.
  5. Purchase a vehicle with low emissions: http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/sbs.htm has emissions and fuel economy ratings on all new and used vehicles.
  6. Keep your vehicle in good repair, tires properly inflated, and wheels aligned.
  7. Use cruise control on the highway (though never in the rain.)
  8. Turn off the engine if you will sit for more than 15 seconds.  Remember idling is illegal in New Jersey!
  9. It is not necessary to start the engine to open windows, play the radio, use the 12 volt power outlet, etc. – just turn the ignition to the ‘on’ or ‘acc’ position.
  10. Control your speed as much as possible with the accelerator (decelerator) pedal, instead of the brakes.
  11. Air conditioning only saves gas while cruising 45+ MPH, not in local driving.
  12. Slow down! Every 5 MPH above 55 decreases MPG by 3 - 4%.
  13. Remove cartop carriers including ski racks when not in use.
  14. Remove unnecessary cargo from your vehicle-tools and liquids are common culprits.

Reduce Consumption of Utilities:

  1. Switch to compact fluorescent or LED light bulbs (and recycle them at the DPW or Home Depot.)
  2. Maintain your heating, cooling and hot water systems according to manufacturer’s recommendations; lower the hot water heater temp. in Spring as the weather gets warmer. 
  3. Install and learn how to use a timer-driven thermostat. With most heating/cooling systems, it does save energy to adjust the thermostat if you will leave the house for one hour or more.
  4. When replacing cooling/heating equipment and major appliances, choose highest efficiency models, and air conditioners that do not contain Freon gas.
  5. Remove or add clothing, rather than changing the thermostat.
  6. Heat/aircon. should be lowered (by about least 5 degrees) at night-add or remove blankets to compensate.
  7. Turn your home’s air conditioner off, and heat and water heater way down when you are on vacation.  You may be a little less comfortable for an hour or two when you return.
  8. Turn off lights (!) and close heat air conditioning registers in rooms not being used.
  9. Switch to ‘Clean Power’ electricity: http://www.njcleanenergy.com/cpc

Many of the solutions above will positively impact your pocketbook as well as the planet. When we live green, we stand to gain on so many different levels.

I look forward to your comments and any additional ideas you wish to share.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Tracey Stephens April 11, 2012 at 01:34 PM
Thanks - a great list! I'd also add: don't leave water running when brushing teeth or washing dishes, recycle wine bottle corks at Whole Foods. If you do end up with plastic shopping bags and haven't reused them for a trash bag, recycle them at most grocery stores. Keep your reusable shopping bags in your car. If you forget to take them in, still no need to take a disposable bag-- load items back into the shopping cart and pack them into the bags when you get to your car.


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