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11 Ways to Go Green at Home

Doing our part to reduce landfill waste, create cleaner air and protect Mother Nature isn't as hard (or expensive) as it seems. As Earth Day (April 22) approaches, boost your eco-friendly lifestyle with these easy tips and tricks for going green.

Plant a Garden

Not only will a garden serve as a subtle reminder of where food originates, but you'll reap the benefits of having fresh produce at your fingertips. Start with seeds or even try re-growing vegetables from store-bought leftovers. For example, Mother Nature Network instructs how to re-grow celery from the base of a used stalk. Using a similar technique, you can do the same with the onion bulbs.

Change Light Bulbs

Slowly phase out your incandescent bulbs for LED bulbs. These use up to 80 percent less energy than incandescents and can last up to 25 times longer, according to Earth911.com.

Do an Energy Audit

Walk through your home looking for problem areas you can improve. Locate air leaks, inspect appliances and clean equipment that could be running inefficiently because of dirt and muck. Use a power strip to plug in electronics so you can easily turn them off when they aren't in use.

Say No to Bottled H20

If you have to have your spring water, opt for a re-usable water bottle you can refill instead of buying plastic versions.

Shower Power

Even if your showers are short, the standard shower head uses 2.5 gallons of water per minute, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. By installing a WaterSense-labeled showerhead (about $30 on Amazon), the average family could save 2,900 gallons per year.

Drive Clean (or Bike Instead)

Hybrid and electric-car technologies are ever improving, and by switching out your conventional gas-powered car for a new or used alternatively-fueled vehicle you can reduce your carbon footprint. The Toyota Prius is a good fit for heavy commutes and long drives while the Nissan LEAF is great for running errands and shorter commutes. Because the price of the newest LEAF model has dropped (about $19,000 after potential tax credits), you may be able to find a great deal on older models at used car dealerships.

Forget Disposable Bags

Get in the habit of taking reusable bags to the grocery store. You won't have to deal with all those pesky plastic bags, and you'll have an easier time carrying heavy items in durable, eco-friendly bags.

Use Energy-Efficient Appliances

Nearly half of the energy used in an average home goes to heating and cooling, according to EnergyStar.gov. When appliances aren't up-to-date, maintained properly or made efficiently, leaks and other problems lead to even more energy waste. As part of your green initiative, upgrade to products with ENERGY STAR labels. These are government-backed symbols of qualified products that reduce greenhouse gas emissions without sacrificing performances, features and comfort.

Switch Hot for Cold

Instead of washing your clothes in hot water, switch the water source to cold. You'll use less power if you aren't heating water to do your laundry.

Line Dry

While we're on the subject of doing laundry, try to line dry when you can. Even if you don't have a backyard full of clean air and a clothes line, hang damp clothes on hangers in the bathroom on the shower curtain rod.

Borrow Don't Buy

Instead of buying books, movies and other nonessentials, see if you can borrow them instead. Get to know your local library, and join groups that trade magazines, baby clothing, moving supplies and more.