Go easy on Mother Earth with 10 green-living ideas

Houston ChronicleJuly 9, 2011 

People are getting savvier when it comes to living green.

"We read more labels," said Cheryl Luptowski, of public health and safety company NSF International. "We're more educated about green washing."

Every few years, Luptowski devises a list of green-living tips. New this year is the "pack light" recommendation, which saves fuel and money - given the bag charge on most airlines.

1 Replace disposables. Rechargeable batteries, washable food-storage containers and cloth towels instead of paper are all great ideas.

2 Buy used or recycled products, or borrow or rent. If you need something temporarily, check with friends or neighbors to see whether you can borrow the item, or consider renting it.

3 Pack light. An extra 10 pounds per traveler requires 350 million more gallons of jet fuel per year.

4 Use color. Paint your home a light color if you live in a warm climate to help reduce energy consumption.

5 Go native. Fill your yard with native plants to help cut down on watering needs.

6 Think local. Consider buying produce, meat and dairy products from local suppliers and farmers markets.

7 Choose green building materials. Look for building materials with either an SFI (Sustainable Forestry Initiative) or FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) label. When replacing flooring, buy carpets made from recycled materials or flooring from sustainable resources. Manufacturers claiming to be environmentally friendly must back up their claims in the fine print.

8 Look for meaningful claims. Be cautious of products making generic claims of "100 percent natural" or "environmentally friendly" with no information to back up the claim.

9 Beware scent. Avoid products in which fragrances - often potentially toxic chemicals - are a key ingredient.

10 Heed cautions. Avoid products with warnings such as "caution" or "use in well-ventilated area." This indicates the product is hazardous to you and/or the environment.

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