10 Simple Tips to Be Green Without Trying Too Hard

By Jessica Press, REDBOOK

Stop feeling guilty about the environment-and honor Earth Day on April 22-by taking a few ideas from this list. They're all simple, easy moves with major eco-impact.

1. Quiz yourself by taking the fast, free "How green am I?" test at practicallygreen.com, a site started by mompreneur Susan Hunt Stevens, 41. It will give you an overall view of how you stack up - levels include "sorta kinda green" and "wicked green" (yes, Susan is from Boston!) - and generates an individualized to-do list of simple switches you can make. Susan was motivated to green-over her own life after her son was diagnosed with a number of food and environmental allergies. "I started by making really small and easy changes, and it inspired me to help others do the same," she says. Bonus: Practically Green offers feel-good rewards such as virtual merit badges and free product samples as you adopt eco-friendly habits.

2. Drive a bit less and walk, carpool, or ride your bike to work one day this week. Driving just 20 fewer miles a week can save roughly 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide pollution over one year.

3. Plant 10 trees for only $10 by joining the Arbor Day Foundation, the largest nonprofit devoted to tree conservation, at arborday.org/members. You can choose to receive saplings and plant them yourself in your backyard or have the foundation plant them in your honor in a national forest.

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4. Dry-clean responsibly. Punch your home zip code into nodryclean.com to get a list of cleaners near you that use nontoxic processes. (And say no to the plastic wrapping while you're there!)

5. Twist an inexpensive, low-flow aerator onto the tip of your kitchen faucet. You'll instantly slash water usage by nearly 30 percent - and you truly won't be able to tell the difference. Buy one at your local hardware or home-improvement store.

6. Text COOL to 90999 to donate $5 to the nonprofit Clean Air-Cool Planet, which helps companies, schools, and communities reduce their carbon footprints.

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7. Recycle deactivated cell phones and old chargers - which leach dangerous toxins like mercury into the environment if you toss them in the trash - at any T-Mobile retail store. (Not a T-Mobile customer? That's okay; they accept phones from all carriers.) If you don't have a store nearby, you can print a prepaid label at t-mobile.com/handsetrecycling and drop it in the mail instead.

8. Download goodguide.com's free iPhone app to make the greenest on-the-go choices while shopping. The application can scan the barcodes of more than 70,000 common food and household products, from Cheerios to Windex, and rate how environmentally responsible the items are on a scale of one to 10.

9. Pack your lunch (and your kids' lunches) in reusable sacks. Paper and plastic bags both use up vital natural resources and end up in landfills by the billions. (The cute recycled sacks at blueavocado.com start at $9.99.)

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10. Eat vegetarian today. If every American substituted something meatless for one chicken dish every week, it would save as much carbon dioxide as taking 500,000 cars off the road. (Check out our yummy, meat-free recipes!)

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Permissions: Reprinted with permission of Hearst Communications, Inc.

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