I did one on saving our precious water and I did one on diapers Now this one is another one on going green, recycling and maximizing usage.
1. Ditch those plastic carry bags. Get your own shopping bag. Most stores have the habit of putting different categories of items into different bags- sometimes one ends up with a separate bag for Bread alone. Return that extra bag. Some stores give large carry bag for a small item. Ask them for a smaller one. And when you can stuff that purchase into your handbag, refuse the carry bag all together.
2. Re use the carton packing of sweets, cake etc- use it to pack your lunch and save the usage of water for washing your lunch box for that day. Use the shirt carton for storing bangles, medicines or letters. Use the shoe box for storing the shoe polishes. I always send the empty packages to the packaging department to reuse it for the next courier.
3. Switch off the computer screen when not at the desk. Set the power saver mode on the laptop for shorter durations. It could be a good idea to let the laptop discharge and charge it again rather than plugging it in everyday. Good for the battery and good for the environment. Switch off appliances from the main switch when not in use.
4. Reduce use of paper- avoid taking print outs & photo copies when not needed. I have a colleague who has the annoying habit of leaving photo copies of newspaper articles in an envelope on our desks. We could have circulated the original article among ourselves.
5. Maximise the usage of paper- every bit of space in every scrap of paper should be used before discarding. If possible, use it further for packing your food / soaking the oil off fried food or shred it and use it as packing material in the office. Sell it to the waste fellows who will recycle it. Use the newspapers similarly and you could cover your books with the newspapers or use it as gift wraps- claim it to be your own contribution to saving the environment. Especially the magazine sections or old calendars are great for covering those precious books and lining the cupboards. Kids could use the calendars or old greeting cards for their artwork or for making them into tags for pasting on the gifts or using them as funky invites for their birthday. One just needs to challenge the kids and they will make it into something useful. Punch together the one sided papers and tie with a nice string and make it into a scribbling pad. The secretary in my previous office used to get our binder to bind it into various sizes and believe me; it was much sought after by all. If possible, share the newspaper with your neighbour or read the office newspaper rather than buying. Donate old magazines to a clinic/ parlour waiting room/ library.
6. Reuse terracotta / clay pots / vases as flower pots. Punch a hole at the bottom before using.
7. Wash clothes once or twice a week. Use the most energy efficient washing machine.
8. Get better fuel efficiency by parking in the shade wherever possible, reducing usage of A/C, switching off the ignition if you need to stop beyond 30 seconds, taking less congested route, car pooling, walking instead of taking the vehicle, keeping the tyres well inflated, off-the-clutch driving, reducing usage of brakes (remove foot off the accelerator instead), planning your route in advance, car well serviced.
9. Recycle old clothes- use it as nappies, dusters, mops. Make a carry bag (especially trousers and jeans make funky bags- use the label to make it look hip), cut it into smaller pieces and fill it into cushions, stitch the front and back panel of a shirt at the bottom, button it up, write some funky messages with a marker and put it on a hanger to use it as a wash bag. Socks or vests are very good as surface wipes and for stuffing cushions. I normally ask my tailor to return left over bits from my fabric and use it for making night suit/ home wear for my kids. You could even use it to make a patchwork quilt or apron. Remember to save the buttons and re-use it.