Environment 101


You have the power to save the world, or at least make it cleaner and greener. Take quizzes, get eco-friendly tips and locate help organizations in your town.

We can all make a commitment to help — find something that works for you below.


Track down and fix any leaky faucets or toilets in the house. Fixing a silent toilet drip could save up to 500 gallons of water a day. Try watering the lawn or the backyard vegetable garden with the minimum amount of water needed.


Think twice before throwing away that water bottle. You might be able to reuse it. By using a product more than once you will help reduce waste. Try using coffee mugs instead of paper cups or cloth napkins instead of paper ones. Purchase refillable pens and pencils or turn empty jars into containers for leftovers.


Buy recycled products when possible. The Environmental Protection Agency says there are more than 4,500 recycled-content products available. Some examples of recycled products to look for are: aluminum cans, cereal boxes, egg cartons, paper towels, trash bags, comic books, newspapers, glass containers, laundry detergent bottles, motor oil and even nails.


If you can get your parents to sign off on it, try composting in the backyard. Composting is the controlled decomposition of organic materials, such as leaves, grass and food scraps. When the items decompose they turn into an earthy-smelling, soil-like substance. Composting can help reduce the amount of waste that ends up in landfills. Check out the EPA website for a list of materials you should and shouldn't include in the compost.


Read the labels on household cans of paint, cleaners, oils, batteries and pesticides to see if they have components that can lead to hazardous waste. Labels that have words like danger, warning, caution, toxic, corrosive, flammable or poison all might contain hazardous materials. One way to reduce the amount of hazardous waste is to give these leftover products to a neighbor or someone else to use. Some communities also have collection programs to prevent household hazardous waste from being dumped in landfills -- take advantage of them.


And of course, recycle. If your community doesn't have a curbside program, try to find a drop-off center where you can deposit your newspapers, glass, plastics and metals.


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