Trimming CO2 pounds at home and in the office.
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• Ask your workplace to stock break areas with real plates, silverware, and cups instead of paper and plastic. Or bring your own.
• Many household cleaners are made from petrochemicals, and most come packaged in plastic. Making your own household cleaners from natural ingredients is easy (and they work, we promise). By reusing spray bottles, you'll save plastic, and, hence, more CO2 emissions.
• If you have a place to do it, composting household waste is pretty simple, helps reduce your landfill contribution, and leaves you with nutrient-rich soil.
• Yard waste (grass clippings and leaves) accounts for 12 percent of the junk that goes into landfills. Next time you mow the lawn, leave the clippings where they fall. They decompose quickly and return nutrients to the soil, which reduces the need for fertilizers and reduces landfill waste, which in turn reduces CO2 emissions. (Click here for more mowing tips.) You can also mulch leaves and then use them to bed down your garden for winter.
• Use organic fertilizers, which are made from natural materials, instead of fossil-fuel-intensive synthetics for house plants, gardens, and lawns.
• Switch to a hand-push lawn mower this summer (and get a good workout). Forgo using a leaf blower in the fall—rake by hand instead.
(Click here to launch this week's action quiz.)
Meaghan O'Neill is a freelance writer and founding editor of treehugger.com, an eco-Web site and Slate's partner on the Green Challenge.
Illustration by Robert Neubecker.