Published on april 22, 2014

Green Tips to Celebrate Earth Day

written by Team thredUP


Happy Earth Day! In honor of one of our favorite holidays, we turned to two of the best green living experts – Lori Popkewitz Alper and Diane MacEachernfor simple tips to incorporate into our daily routine that can benefit the environment. Last week, we asked the thredUP community to vote on their top green questions – and now we have your answers!

Lori Popkewitz Alper, founder of the site has answers to our green questions on conserving water – especially when you have a large family, and on eating meat:

Do you have any tips on how families can conserve water?

Conserving water is a challenge for most families (I actually wrote a blog post on the topic!), but making small changes to your daily routine can have a big impact. Here are a few easy ways to conserve H2O:

  • Install water-saving shower heads (and take shorter showers). Regular shower heads use 2 to 10 gallons per minute while water-saving shower heads use only 2 to 5 gallons. You can also cut down on water usage by turning off the shower after soaping up, then turning it back on to rinse.
  • Turn off the water when you’re brushing your teeth and shaving. This could save up to 300 gallons of water per month.
  • Don’t rinse the dishes before loading them into the dishwasher. This could save up to 10 gallons of water per load.
  • Fill your washing machine and dishwasher before running them. Try to squeeze in that last dish or fit that extra pair of pants into the washing machine before starting the wash cycle.
  • Wash fruits and vegetables in a pan of clean water instead of running water from the tap.
Does eating less meat really help the environment? 

Every year the average American eats 200 pounds of meat. That’s a lot of meat! Eating less meat does help the environment, and here’s why:

  • Reduces your carbon footprint. The UN estimates that the meat industry produces nearly one-fifth of the man-made greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change.
  • Uses less water. An estimated 1,800 to 2,500 gallons of water go into a single pound of beef. More than half of all water used in the United States goes into livestock production. Livestock production is also a major source of water pollution.
  • Reduces fuel dependence. About 40 calories of fossil fuel energy go into every calorie of beef in the U.S. (compared to 2.2 calories of fossil fuel for plant-based protein). Also, many of the animals aren’t raised locally meaning meat has to travel far to reach consumers.

Diane MacEachern, founder of and author of the book “Big Green Purse: Use Your Spending Power to Create a Cleaner, Greener World,” has tips for us on saving energy, eating organic and going green on a budget:

 What are the best ways to save energy at home?

Heating accounts for the biggest chunk of most utility bills – and offers the most opportunity for money and energy savings. One simple fix is to caulk or weatherstrip your windows and doors. Materials for the average twelve-window, two-door house could cost about $25, but savings in annual energy costs might amount to more than 10 percent of your yearly heating bill. According to the Department of Energy, if every gas-heated home were properly caulked and weather-stripped, we’d save enough natural gas each year to heat almost 4 million more homes.

I have a blog post dedicated to energy-savings, and here are a few more simple tips:

  • Plug electronics into energy-saving power strips
  • Replace incandescent light bulbs with LEDs
  • Wash laundry in cold water and wash full loads
  • Use a programmable thermostat to regulate temperature
What are some easy and affordable ways to go green?

Going green is not just affordable, it actually saves you money! One of my favorite money-saving green tips is to buy “reusables”:

  • Use sponges and dish towels rather than paper towels. One sponge may cost as little as $.99 and a roll of paper towels runs around $1.99, but one sponge lasts as long as SEVENTEEN ROLLS of paper towels! The seventeen rolls could account for as much as a $33 savings in paper towels.
  • Find a water bottle that you love. Ounce for ounce, bottled water can cost as much as 10,000 times that of tap water because you’re paying for the bottle, the bottle cap, the label on the bottle, the energy to bottle and ship the water and the water itself.
  • Buy in bulk. You pay nearly twice the price for the same weight when you buy small, individually wrapped servings of a product rather than the bulk size. This is true for laundry detergent, dishwasher detergent, shampoo and soap as well as for snacks, soft drinks and even milk.

And of course, one of the greenest things we can all do, that will also save us money, is to consume less in the first place!

What are the dos and don’ts when shopping organic foods, and how can I eat organic on a budget?

Shop selectively, as some fruits and vegetables are grown with more pesticides than others. For example, apples, bell peppers, imported grapes, raspberries and spinach will likely contain more pesticide residue than bananas, avocados, broccoli and cauliflower, onions and pineapples.

Though organic food may be a bit more expensive, most people can afford it if they take a minute to look at how they spend their entire food budget. Being more aware of what we have in our pantries and our refrigerators could actually free up $20 or more each week for healthier, tastier organic food.

One tip to finding lower-priced organic food is to shop for what is in season. Buying organic strawberries in the middle of winter is guaranteed to put a dent in your pocketbook – so wait until late spring or early summer, when they’re readily available. Also, price compare the organic brands at your grocery store; usually there will be a cheaper alternative to gourmet organic brands.