House & Home

Tips to make community sustainability work for you, #5

Posted August 14, 2008 7:32 p.m. EDT


  • Purchase a coffee mug and bring it with you when you get your coffee everyday, or keep coffee mugs in the office for visitors and employees. Not only are you keeping hundreds of paper or plastic cups out of landfills every year, but most places will give you a credit for bringing in your own mug. Waste less, mug more.
  • Bike, carpool, or take advantage of the Triangle’s great public transportation system to get to work. has a feature that allows you to enter your start and end addresses and then gives you a variety of mass transit options to get you from A to B. If carpooling is more your style has a database of commuters interesting in carpooling; you can do it once a week or every day. Sharing a ride to work can save you up to $3000 a year in gas, parking, repairs, and even insurance; also check with your employer to see if they offer premium parking privileges to those who carpool.
  • If everyone in the US switched one roll of virgin-fiber paper towels for a recycled one we would save over half a million trees. 365 Everyday Value and Seventh Generation Natural paper towels favorably compare in both cost and performance to those made with virgin-fibers and you can find them (or an equivalent) at most supermarkets; just make sure they are made with recycled products and a chlorine-free dye.
  • If you are going to turn your paper towels green, go ahead and green your toilet paper too (not literally of course!). Granted it probably won’t be as fluffy and soft as some virgin-fiber brands, but it does the trick and still leaves trees standing.
  • Take advantage of your local library when searching for a book to read instead of heading to the nearest mega bookstore. Not only will you be able to give the book back if you don’t like it, but it won’t clutter up your shelves and you will support a great local institution; a great idea for book clubs, provided that the library system contains enough copies. This is a great notion for kids as well, as most libraries have wonderful children’s sections which house all of your child’s favorite stories as well as story hours and other fun events.

Sustainability Tips Provided by the Foundation for a Sustainable Community. Look for new tips weekly on's Green Guide.