Where I live in Queens, New York, recycling is mandatory. My husband and I keep a plastic sorting bin with two compartments—one for glass and plastic, the other for paper and cardboard—right next to our garbage can to make things easy…and messy, since our almost 20-month-old son thinks that the cardboard recycling is there for his entertainment. But a little mess in our living room is a small price to pay to help the planet. While recycling has become common practice in many parts of the United States, there are so many other things you can do that will help both the earth and your bottom line, and, in some cases, offer a tax break.
- Shut off the tap when brushing your teeth. Doing this twice a day saves up to 8 gallons of water.
- Install low-flow shower heads in bathrooms.
- If remodeling, consider low-flow toilets. These give the user the option of how much water will be used to flush based on the amount of waste.
- Don’t buy disposable water bottles. Instead fill reusable water bottles.
- Be sure sprinkler systems won’t go off when it has rained or during the sunniest times of the day and be mindful of drought conditions.
- When running water to wash dishes, collect the initial cool water to water houseplants.
Potential cost savings: A family of four that upgrades and optimizes their water usage can save nearly $300 a year in utility bills and 32,000 gallons of water. For more tips on water conservation and to calculate how much you might save, visit the Environmental Protection Agency website.