Kermit famously sang "It's not easy being green." Wrong again, talking frog; it's actually not that tough. You probably know the basics: compact fluorescent bulbs, reusable shopping bags and public transportation. But wait, there's more! And it's also pretty easy. Here are seven ways to save the planet - and a few greenbacks along the way:
1. Reduce your toilet's water capacity
One of the easiest ways to save water is to reduce your toilet's daily use. Drop a brick, handful of marbles or some other weighted, waterproof object into your toilet cistern to reduce the amount of water it takes to fill and flush your tank. There will be less water in the bowl, and less of your water bill going down the drain.
2. Switch Showerheads
You know how the first thing you replaced in your new apartment was that wimpy water-saving showerhead? Bad move. The standard shower head is set to spout 9.5 litres per minute. If you take a 10-minute shower every day, that's 34,500 litres of water every year. You can save 60 per cent - 13,800 litres of water! - by switching to a water saving showerhead that only spills out 5.7 litres per minute. High-quality heads, like this one from Alsons, shouldn't have you sacrificing water pressure either.
3. Cut Cooking Carbon
The #1 thing you can do to reduce your carbon footprint while cooking and eating is buying locally grown, in-season food. The absolute best way to do this is to do most of your shopping at the local farmers' market. If you do, you're buying directly from the food's producer and cutting out the middleman, who drives up food costs and carbon footprint. While you shop, don't hesitate to ask farmers how they grow their products. Most will be more than happy to share.
4. Energy-Saving Outlet
You really should know by now that your electronics and wall chargers still suck energy even when you're not using them. But if you still don't unplug everything, (guilty) try ThinkEco's Modlet. The Modlet plugs in over your existing outlet, and automatically switches appliances off when you're not using them. Once the Modlet is set up, you can even monitor your energy consumption remotely on any web browser. Want a free version of this gadget? Unplug anything you're not directly using.
5. Energy Audit
Many utility companies will actually come out to your house - whether you rent or own - assess your energy usage, and tell you where you're spending the most wattage. It's free and it's a great way to save money. Your power company isn't so cool? Electricity usage monitors like the Belkin Conserve Insight or this one from P3 International can help as well. Just plug your appliances into the custom outlet, and watch as it monitors not only your appliance's energy consumption, but also how much it's costing you weekly, monthly and annually.
Instead of leaving your computer in sleep mode when you're not using it, schedule auto start and auto shutdown. This Mac feature allows your trusty machine to wake up when you do, and sleep when you do. You're not only giving your beloved computer a rest, you're also saving a lot of energy over time.
7. Don't Have Children
The scientific evidence is pretty clear: Having a child does far more to negatively impact your carbon footprint than any amount of living green could realistically offset. A 2009 study found this is truer for Americans than anyone else on the planet: An American woman who has a baby will generate seven times the carbon emissions of a Chinese woman who has a child. So there you have it, wasteful Americans: Don't have children, save the planet. OK, not every one of these is easy.