10 Fresh Tips for Greener Living

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By now most women of the world have heard the same basic tips for earth-friendly living countless times. If you’re ready to go for a deeper shade of green—but still want changes that are simple to make and won’t compromise your style—try a few of these easy eco actions. — Christie Matheson, author of Green Chic: Saving the World in Style

1. You know you should bring reusable totes with you to the grocery store, but (since that’s probably not the only time you shop!) you should also have a stylishly reusable tote at the ready when you go clothes shopping. That way you can always decline those pretty department store and boutique bags (which tend to be an unrecyclable mix of paper and plastic) and tissue paper.

2. Unplugging your cell phone charger is a great start, but you should also unplug your iPod charger, your hairdryer, your laptop, the blender you use to make smoothies and fruity cocktails, and other small appliances that aren’t in constant action. When plugged in, these electronics draw energy even when they’re not in use. Bonus: Unplugging them and putting them away clears clutter and creates a cleaner, sleeker-looking home.

3. When you travel, pack light! If every airplane passenger carried 10 pounds less luggage, that could keep more than 3.5 million tons of CO2 from being emitted each year. Plus, packing carefully and bringing only a few outfits that you love means your bag is less crammed and it’s easier to get dressed every day that you’re on the road.

4. Before you leave your hotel room, do a thorough room check. It is incredibly easy to leave things behind in hotel rooms. Razors. Pajamas. Laptop extension cords. (Those are just some of the things I’ve left in recent years—before I started doing a once-over.) If you leave them behind, you probably aren’t getting them back. Which means you’ll either have to do without them—or buy new ones. Every time you avoid an unnecessary purchase, you’re doing something good for the planet.

5. Speaking of hotels, support establishments with green practices in place. Before you book, find out whether they have energy-saving initiatives, comprehensive recycling efforts, water conservation policies, and other eco-friendly habits. Kimpton (kimpton.com) is a great chain of chic boutique hotels, and their EarthCare program is in place at every location. If enough people start asking about this, more and more hotels will start doing it, too.

6. Whether at a hotel or at home, get plenty of sleep. This is one of the easiest ways to green up your beauty routine. When you sleep more, you look better naturally. That’s because sleep allows your cells to repair themselves, so your skin looks brighter and the dark circles, uneven skin tone, and puffiness go away. (It also helps prevent weight gain.) Meaning you’ll be tempted to buy fewer products—including products with earth- and health-damaging chemicals.

7. Reupholster your sofa. No, I don’t mean you should do it yourself. But if you’re craving a new look in your living room, sprucing up your current couch (or a cool vintage one) save up to 95% of the energy that would be required to produce, package, and ship a new one.

8. Fill the fridge. Keeping your refrigerator stocked with wine and champagne is great for the planet. Okay, wine and champagne aren’t the only things that will work. But stocking up on non-perishable items that you actually want in there (and thereby reducing the empty space, so less cold air is lost when the door is open) could cut the energy your fridge is using by 20%.

9. Always choose organic chocolate. It’s incredibly easy to find these days, it tastes fabulous, and supporting organic chocolate (which is generally grown under the trees in rainforests, as opposed to clearcut cacao farms) helps prevent rainforest destruction. Seriously. Eating a delish chocolate bar makes you a do-gooder. Keep it up.

10. Stop the takeout madness. I’m not suggesting you give up takeout altogether, but when you do get food on the go, decline all the paper napkins and plastic utensils and individual packets of sauce and ketchup. Bring your own bag (and your own container, if possible), and by all means, say no to disposable chopsticks—the production of which takes do