Compost International
Saving the earth one compost heap at a time



Being green is all about the environment and sustainable living.  Making compost is the obvious first step because of the huge reduction in organic matter going to waste, and the huge benefit of the end product to gardens and farms.  Your own backyard pile will make a difference.  But don't stop there: encourage others to do the same and explore the many minor life-style changes that you can make to become greener.

Furthermore, as a community really cannot call itself green if it is dirty and polluted, look at simple ways to keep your neighborhood clean.

Here are 100 ways to go green and clean:


Reduce and Re-use

I.  Reduce water consumption.  Just because you live in an area with abundant water, doesn't mean that you can squander it.  We don't know what climate changes will bring.  Act on the side of caution, and develop an ultra-conservative approach to water. It's not difficult.  And a quick word to those who have access to well water and think that they can use as much as they like because it is free, no you can't.  Wells tap into underground aquifers and excessive use can lower the water table, which affects us all. It is just plain irresponsible to waste water, regardless of its source.

1.  Use low-flow faucets, showerheads, and toilets

2.  Have your plumber re-route your gray water to trees and gardens rather than letting it run into the sewer line. Check with your city codes, and if it isn't allowed in your area, start a movement to get that changed.

3.  Re-use rinse water for house, patio and deck plants.

4.  If you are committed to baths, use the water on your houseplants or garden

5.  Share your shower with someone you enjoy being naked with.

6.  Bathe young kids together

7.  Don't pre-wash dishes going into the dishwasher.

8.  Don't rinse under running water: fill a second sink or large container and rinse in that

9.  Clean your teeth using only half a cup of water: half-fill you tooth mug, dip your toothbrush in it, clean your teeth, spit directly into the outlet, rinse with two small mouthfuls of water, rinse your brush in the remaining water and pour it down the outlet.

10.  Do only full loads of laundry, or use the appropriate water level for the size of your load.

11.  DON'T BUY BOTTLED WATER - EVER; instead invest in a water filter, a couple of reusable water bottles, and drink water from the tap. In summer, but one in the freezer overnight, and you will have ice-cold water all day.

12.  Use less water in the shower: get wet, soap up and then turn the water on again to rinse off

13.  Consider instant water heaters in each bathroom to avoid running water while it heats up.

14.  Only wash towels after several uses. In hotels, opt to reuse towels and sheets.

15.  Check for and fix leaky faucets and pipes both indoors and out.

16.  If you must flush tissues down the toilet, throw them in and wait until you need to flush.  Even 1.6 gallons is too much for one tissue, which could, of course, go into the compost instead.

       17.  Rethink your gardening practices in ways that will conserve water.  For example:

a.  Set up a rain barrel
b.Replace lawn with shrubs, groundcover, gravel or paving

c.Top-dress the lawn with fine compost

d.Aerate the lawn to increase water absorption

 Cut grass to not less than 3", leaving the trimmings to form a mulch
 Water when the air is cool to reduce evaporation
 Water only when necessary, that is when soil is dry 2" below the surface, or when plants look thirsty.  More plants are killed by overwatering than underwatering. (Garden centers take note)
 Use drip irrigation instead of sprinklers
 Use a watering can instead of a hose
j.  Use a hose nozzle

 Water deeply and less frequently to encourage root development, which leads to greater drought resistance
 Replace exotic hybrids with native plants which can survive without additional water
 Mulch heavily wherever possible.
 Improve the soil in areas where rainwater runs off.
o.  Plant a rain garden  (  

18.  Turn your swimming pool into a sunken garden

19.  Use a commercial car wash, especially one that recycles water.   


II.  Reduce energy consumption.
Every watt of electricity, lump of coal, gallon of gasoline or cubic foot of natural gas not used saves the consumer money and keeps CO2 out of the atmosphere.  We owe it to the planet to all do our bit.

20.  Turn your refrigerator down

21.  Wash in cold water when feasible; always set the rinse cycle to cold.

22.  Hang clothes outside to dry

23.  Make your next appliance an energy efficient model (look for the energy star label).

24. Use a programmable thermostat that automatically turns down the heat overnight or when you are away.

25. Turn the heat down a few degrees and wear an extra sweater

26.  Replace furnace filters regularly

27.  Install ceiling fans and turn off the AC

28.  Lower the temperature on your hot water heater.

29. Insulate the water heater and pipes

30. Seal windows, weatherstrip doors and plug up any air leaks

31.  Insulate the walls

32. Consider instant water heaters that work only when needed

33.  Buy local produce, locally made products and locally produced services.

34.  Buy in season to reduce the energy used in transportation.

35. Replace incandescent bulbs with LED bulbs (or compact fluorescents).

36. Turn off lights and electronics when you leave the room.

37.  Unplug your cell phone charger from the wall when not using it.

38. Turn off energy strips and surge protectors when not in use (especially overnight).

39.  Car-pool or take the bus.

40. Walk or ride a bike to work

41. Choose your next car for fuel efficiency

42. Keep your tires inflated to the recommended pressure and your car will run more miles on less gas.

43.  Drive the speed limit, and combine all your errands for the week in one trip.

44.  Shade your house with deciduous trees

45.  Paint your house a light color in warm climates and a dark color in cold climates

46.  Don't turn on lights until you have to - open your curtains and enjoy natural light.

47.  Switch to electricity from renewable sources (wind or solar)


III. Reduce use of paper and packaging.

48.  Refuse a bag for purchases (a friend tried to do this at an upscale store at a mall, and was told that she could not walk out of the store without one - company policy - so she mailed the bag to the CEO and said he could dispose of it in his trash as it wasn't going into hers.  I like her attitude.)

49.  Take your own containers for take-out items or food from the deli counter.

50.  Carry your own coffee mug for take-out, and to meetings

51.  Always take your own bags to the supermarket

52.  Get off junk mail lists.

53.  Go paperless for bill paying and bank statements

54.  Only put out full garbage bags (because everything that can rot is going into the compost, the dry garbage should not smell, even after a couple of weeks)

55.  Use both sides of paper. Print on two sides, let your kids color or print stuff for home consumption on the back side of used paper.

56.  Avoid excess packaging when choosing product brands.

57.  Buy products in bulk re-using your own large storage bags or containers

58.  Buy concentrated products to reduce packaging. Examples are concentrated fruit juice, laundry detergent, fabric softener and window cleaner.

59.  Use cloth instead of paper towels to clean you kitchen. Be frugal, and make these rags out of old towels and t-shirts. At the very least watch and follow:

60.  Use cloth napkins daily instead of paper.  Invest in old fashioned napkin rings for each member of the family, and only wash the napkins when they are soiled.

61. Buy products that use recyclable and recycled materials whenever possible

62. Wrap gifts creatively in repurposed paper or reuseable fabric bags  


IV. Reduce Pollution.   

This includes reducing one's use of toxic products, especially ones that can get into any body of water and reducing the amount of waste that you generate, because anything that cannot be recycled or broken down should be considered a pollutant.  Plastic in particular.

63. If you do end up with plastic bags, reuse them when walking the dog, or as trash can liners

64.  Buy items you can re-use.

65. Use china or enamel crockery rather than plastic or paper plates and bowls. Use real cutlery rather than plastic. Reuseable plastic is also OK

66.  Pack school lunches in reusable containers with lids.

67. Use an electric shaver or a higher quality razor with replaceable blades.

68. Use plug-in appliances instead of those that operate on batteries.

69. Take your batteries to a recycling center.

70.  Boycott bottled water (I can’t say that often enough)

71. Boycott styrofoam and throw-away tableware

      72. Consider organic cleaning products :

        a.  Baking soda: helps to clean and deodorize, will act as a scouring agent, polisher, stain remover, fabric softener. Use to clean plastic, vinyl, carpet, silver, stainless steel, drains, and refreshes your fridge.
b.Borax: helps to clean and deodorize. Use on wallpaper, painted walls, and floors. Use it with your detergents to remove stains and boost the cleaning power.
c.Vinegar: helps remove stains, wax buildup and mildew. Use to clean windows, fireplaces, grout, paint brushes, glass, and coffee pots.

73.  If you have a baby, consider using cloth diapers instead of the horribly polluting disposables. The National Association of Diaper Services can help you find a service near you. And, yes, you can use plastic bags to get dirty diapers home!

74. Use Matches instead of disposable lighters.   Matches are compostable

75. Use a Diva Cup for your monthly cycles.

76.  Reduce toxic waste by purchasing paints, pesticides and other hazardous materials only in the quantities needed, or by sharing leftovers.

77.  Better still avoid pesticides altogether, or, at the very least, greatly curtail their use.  This applies to Clorox and Lysol and other sanitizing products.  Remember what pesticides do to bacterial and fungal populations in the soil? Remember how the greater population of good guys keeps the bad guys in check?  The same is true in the kitchen and bathroom.  By all means keep things clean, but don't kill off beneficial bacteria.


III. Re-use and Fix it, don’t nix it

78.  Give away your goods and find new ones at FreeCycle.

79.  Boxed wine containers make excellent alternatives to bricks for shelving, useful storage for stacks of tax-related documents or great magazine holders

80.  Donate to and shop at your local Goodwill or Salvation Army store

81.  Find and frequent a repair café

82.  Find someone with sewing skills and have old clothes altered and updated

83.  Repair before replace.  This includes all kinds of electronics and devices.



Recycling is important, of course, but it comes a distant third behind “Reduce” and “Reuse”.  If you have to choose your packaging between recyclable and not, by all means go for the recyclable.  But it is far better to choose re-usable packaging, or none at all.

84.Turn newspapers/junk mail into handmade paper or Papier-mâché

85. Use shredded paper in your compost

86.  Use newspapers as mulch

87. Recycle everything your city will accept. If you're not at home, take the extra steps, (literally), to find that recycling bin.

88.  Push your community to recycle more items

89.  Join Terracycle

90. Recycle your technology. Dell, Hewlett Packard, Apple, and IBM, among others, offer recycling programs.



91.  Pick up garbage off sidewalks

92. Encourage neighbors to do the same

93.Talk to neighbors about Integrated Pest Management to reduce pesticide use

94. Encourage neighbors to compost or set up block composting

95. Encourage stores to use re-useable shopping bags (discount when you bring it back)

96. Encourage stores to carry products with less wasteful packaging

97. Encourage liquor stores to take back empty bottles (not nearly as much glass as you might think gets recycled – lots of it ends up in landfills as daily cover)

98.  Encourage your city to have public recycling bins

99. Plant trees and native plants

100. Put your money where your mouth is -invest in green companies

Bonus: Find an environmental organization that you like - Greenpeace, the Nature Conservancy, Sierra Club and so on - and support them financially or by volunteering