Living Well While Living Green

According to the Department of Energy Statistics Bureau, that tiny apartment building city dwellers pay so much for uses just 25% of the energy used in a large suburban home.

Here's a green tip that even the laziest person can follow. Turn off your electric gadgets and air conditioner when you leave the house.

Another no brainer is mass transit. In New York alone, the use of mass transit means about 700,000 less cars are on the street, removing 400 million pounds of soot and carbon monoxide from the air.

Paying bills online is another a time-saving, waste-defying idea that will save you money on stamps and help to unclog the overburdened postal system. If you're sick of all those catalogues, call or email the companies and demand they stop sending them -- magazines alone kill over 35 million trees a year.

We already know driving a car is not eco-friendly, so if you have to rent a car consider Hertz's "Green Collection." Most of these cars in the fleet (Toyota Camry, Ford Fusion, Buick LaCrosse and Hyundai Sonata) get 28 miles per gallon, and Hertz will even give a little green ($1) back to The National Parks Foundation.

When it comes to buying green, here's a few words to the wise: "Caviat Emptor" (it's Latin for "Let the Buyer Beware). Don't believe they hype -- words like sustainable and natural are often just that, words, and you can get charged an arm and a leg for them.

Eating "green" produce is not just good for the planet, it's also good for our health. Support local farmers and stay away from frozen and heavily transported products whenever possible. Less trucks equal fewer emissions.

The 3 "R's" -- Reduce, Reuse and Renovate -- are the golden rules of an eco-friendly existence, which brings me to our next subject: Reducing usage and waste. As Sheryl Crow recently brought to our attention on a visit to Washington, you can cut down on your toilet paper consumption by using only one sheet.

Reducing the amount of water we waste every day can also make a big difference, so turn the faucet off while brushing your teeth.

The average running faucet expels 2 to 3 gallons of water per minute. Since almost 75% of all residential water use happens in the bathroom, try using a water-saving showerhead. The average showerhead wastes 4-7 gallons of water per minute; a low-flow head uses only about 2 ½ gallons.

When it comes to lighting your home, just say no to incandescent light bulbs and switch to compact flourescents. Relax -- the light quality is so good you'll still be able to apply your MAC cosmetics without looking like Rupaul at the circus.

Another simple step towards saving energy is to unplug appliances when they're not in use or before you leave the house -- they are responsible for 1% of the world's carbon monoxide emissions if they are plugged in, even though they are turned off.

Installing a green kitchen can reduce greenhouse emissions by almost a ton, so check out Build It Green NYC (www.bignyc.org), a non-profit that sells overstock office furniture, kitchen appliances, lumber and cabinetry at 50-75% off regular prices.

B.I.G. has prevented over 500 tons of material from being wasted in landfills and all profits are donated to Solar One, a program dedicated to environmental education. Even the money gets recycled!

Not all of these ideas are readily available, but I hope this list will serve as an inspiration.

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