Environmental / life hacking tricks
- Turn down your hot water heater to 54F
- You can use baking soda instead of deodorant, and it works better. 1/8 tsp baking soda + 1/4 tsp water.
- You can clean most surfaces with just water and a rag. When there's something stuck on that won't come off with this method, add a bit of baking soda. This is much cheaper, safer, etc. than brand-name chemicals.
- You can clean your bathroom mirror easily without using any kind of chemical by waiting until it's fogged up by having a shower, then wiping it with a cloth. The same technique can be used to clean your glasses.
- If you know people that you trust well enough, lend them money or borrow money from them instead of going through banks or investing it in the stock market. Not only do you each get a better interest rate (by eliminating the middle-man of the bank), but (depending on who you lend to / borrow from) you could reduce the harm your money does.
- Get rid of stuff you own that you don't have a use for in the foreseeable future, and if it turns out you do need it someday, buy it back then. This is easy to do with websites like Kijiji, or you could have / go to yard sales. If you sell something to someone who can use it, that's one less person buying a newly produced version of it, and therefore a bit less pollution.
- Buy stuff on sale (or used, if applicable). Stuff often goes on sale when it would otherwise be wasted, and when the seller isn't making money (or as much money) from it.
- Grow your own food, where feasible. The transportation and production of food causes a lot of pollution and harm.
- Preserve fruits and vegetables by making things like canned fruit or tomato sauce, if you can get a lot of it cheaply at once (e.g. at harvest time, especially if you grow it yourself).
- You can blow your nose on leaves at certain times of the year. Especially in the late spring and early fall, there are leaves to be found that are about as comfortable as tissues. Unfortunately, you can't store the leaves for later because they dry up.
- You really don't need a car. You just think you do. Do the financial cost-benefit analysis and you'll see that they aren't worth it.
- Use your email inbox as a to-do list (this is called "Inbox 0"), where the goal is to keep your inbox at 0 messages. First extract the useful information from the email (e.g. by adding it to your calendar or file system), if applicable, then either delete or archive the email. You'll probably find that you almost never have to go back through your archives to see the email again, and it saves tons of time.
- Wash your clothes in cold water. Heating the water accounts for most of the energy of washing clothes in warm or hot water. This may require the use of a liquid detergent instead of a powdered detergent, since the powdered ones may not dissolve as well in water. Theoretically, you can make your own liquid laundry detergent, but the recipe I tried didn't work very well.
- It's quite possible to block a lot of advertising from your life:
- Internet ads can be blocked by using an adblocker. For example, I use Adblock Plus, a Firefox extension.
- Most telemarketers can be blocked by signing up for the Do-Not-Call list. For Canada, this is described here.
- Flyers in the mail can be mostly prevented by writing a note to Canada Post saying you don't want to receive flyers, giving your name and address on the note, and leaving it in your mailbox. Sometimes it's also enough to put a sign on your mailbox that says "No flyers please", but my mail deliverer told me to do the former.
- TV ads can be blocked by watching DVDs of shows instead of getting cable TV. (This can be much cheaper too, especially if you lend/borrow DVDs with your friends. Or, if you buy them used, watch them, and then sell them for the same price, they're effectively free.)
- Email spam can be blocked by using a spam filter, of course. I've found that it can also be prevented in the first place by getting a new email address, and then not giving that email address out in any registration forms. You can use a junk email address that you don't check for filling out forms.
- If all else fails, remember that advertisers are powerless as long as everybody ignores them.
You can prevent yourself from getting a paper phone book, where I live, by going here. For other countries you can probably find instructions in a phone book itself.
- It's important to avoid products that are tested on animals, but beware when looking for cruelty-free toothpaste, because it often doesn't contain fluoride. I got cavities after using such non-fluorinated toothpaste for a few years, and my dentist said it's because I need toothpaste with fluoride. Three companies selling toothpaste with fluoride that aren't tested on animals are Trader Joe's, Jason Powersmile, and Tom's of Maine.
Washing your hands with hot water doesn't kill germs - although water that's hot enough would kill germs, it would have to be hot enough to burn you before that would happen. So you might as well wash with just cold water and soap (since hot water costs money and energy)