One Month to a Greener, Happier You
April 1-April 15
You like the idea of going green. In theory, at least. But if it means revamping your entire lifestyle? No, thanks. It's not that you don't want future generations to inherit a healthier planet, but your life is already hectic enough. While you hate to admit it, the thought of rinsing out used ziptop bags or line-drying your towels gives you a headache. Besides, will the earth even benefit from the actions of just one person? The answer is yes -- and you'll reap rewards, too. That's because many of the simple things you can do to protect the environment can also help you reconnect with family and friends, boost your mood, and conserve cash. Be good to the planet -- and yourself -- every day this month with these simple tips.
Thursday, April 1: Turn out the lights.
Give family game night a green (and relaxing) spin by playing board games by candlelight. Ask everyone to turn off their cell phone and make the TV and radio off-limits as well. You'll save electricity and give your senses a much-needed break.
Friday, April 2: Encourage your kids to do green chores.
Put a quarter in a jar each time they do something helpful and earth-friendly, like taking out the recycling. At the end of the month, let them choose how the family should spend the money.
Saturday, April 3: Burn calories, not fuel.
Run an errand on foot instead of driving and consider the trip your exercise for the day.
Sunday, April 4: Be a natural beauty.
Pamper yourself today by whipping up skin and hair treatments with ingredients from your pantry. Try our favorite DIY indulgences at LHJ.com/beautyrecipes.
Monday, April 5: Go meat-free on Mondays.
Eating more vegetarian meals is a delicious way to improve your health -- and the planet's. Why? Animal farming requires more water, energy, fertilizer, and pesticides than plant farming, according to a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Get more info and recipe ideas at meatlessmonday.com.
Tuesday, April 6: Relax and recharge outdoors.
Participate in the Great American Cleanup. To find a volunteer event in your area, visit Keep America Beautiful's site, kab.org.
Wednesday, April 7: Swap your stuff.
Update your wardrobe the green (and super-cheap) way by hosting a clothing swap. Ask your friends to bring their unwanted clothes to your house, serve snacks, and presto: You have got a party and a new-to-you spring wardrobe. Don't feel like organizing a swap yourself? Check out clothingswaps.com to find one in your area.
Thursday, April 8: Join the carpool lane.
Are you meeting a friend for lunch or a shopping session at the mall? If she lives nearby, tell her you'll swing by and pick her up. It's less wasteful than taking two cars and it gives you more time to spend together.
Friday, April 9: Enjoy a no-cook lunch.
Save time and electricity by making a salad with fresh vegetables and nuts. Another perk: "Food in its least-processed form has more nutrients," says Lauren Slayton, RD, director of Foodtrainers, a nutrition-counseling center in New York City.
Saturday, April 10: Make a paperless shopping list.
Download the Shopper application to your iPhone or iPod Touch (myshopperapp.com). As a bonus, you can organize your shopping list to match the layout of your grocery store.
Sunday, April 11: Dine in style.
Swapping paper for cloth napkins creates less waste -- and it gives family mealtime an elegant vibe.
Monday, April 12: Manage your junk mail.
Sick of being inundated with credit card, mortgage, and insurance offers? Tell the consumer credit reporting companies to take you off their mailing lists at optoutprescreen.com.
Tuesday, April 13: Catch up with your friends...
...over coffee that has earned fair-trade certification. That means the beans were produced in an environmentally sustainable way on farms with fair labor conditions. For a list of vendors that sell these green beans, go to transfairusa.org.
Wednesday, April 14: Buy in bulk.
Shopping at stores such as Costco and Sam's Club isn't just kind to your wallet. Because larger items usually require less packaging, it's an earth-friendly move, too.
Thursday, April 15: Go offline.
Shut down your computer today (or just in the early morning and evening if you need it for work); you'll save power and your sanity by cutting back on screen time.