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Go Green

Looking for ways to be more eco-friendly? Here are a few easy ways to go greener.

By Alison Stein Wellner

GoGreen_HP
Just Starting Out? Use These Spring Green Tips:

Yoga Inspiration: Think about ahimsa, the principle of nonviolence. You're probably not actively dumping dioxin into rivers or otherwise behaving in a blatantly violent way toward the environment, but are there smaller ways in which you do more harm to the planet than you'd like?

  • Unplug electronic devices (like your DVD player) when you're not using them. In the average home, 75 percent of the electricity used to power electronics is consumed when they're turned off but plugged in.
  • Replace incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent ones. True, the light isn't as inviting. But compact fluorescents use 60 percent less energy and reduce the emissions for which you're personally responsible. Find more ideas at the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy.
  • Make your next yoga mat one that's environmentally friendly. (Many contain polyvinyl chloride, or PVC, a toxic plastic.) The Green Yoga Association offers one made from Indian cotton with a latex underside. Gaiam makes one from PER, or polymer environmental resin. Jade Yoga has a natural rubber mat.
  • Recycle. Enter your zip code at earth911.org for recycling resources in your community, and look for products made from recycled materials.
  • Register to vote. Learn what the rules of registration are in your state at Rock the Vote.
  • Subscribe to Ideal Bite to receive a daily email suggestion for eco-friendly steps to take.
Doing a Little Already? Try Emerald Green Steps:

Yoga Inspiration: Think about aparigraha, or greedlessness. Are you using more than your share of the earth's resources? Are you doing what benefits you without regard for others?

  • Choose more organic foods. Maybe you're already buying organic produce, but how about pasta, cereal, and other processed foods? According to a 2003 Rodale Institute study, organic farming practices help soil hang on to 15 to 28 percent more carbon than conventional methods. Find a local farmers' market at ams.usda.gov.
  • Dress sustainably. Conventional cotton farmers make heavy use of fertilizers that emit lots of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. These days you've got more sustainable fabrics to choose from, including organic cotton, bamboo, hemp, linen, and silk. Some yoga wear incorporates soy, which has natural antimicrobial properties.
  • Cool down your laundry. If you wash two loads in warm or cold water instead of hot every week, you'll save around 500 pounds of carbon dioxide every year.
  • Become carbon neutral. We're all responsible for a certain amount of carbon emissions. But we can offset our pollution by funding renewable energy projects—for example, it can cost as little as $8 a month to offset the emissions of a typical large car. Learn more at nativeenergy.com.
  • Get political. Let your elected officials know the environment matters to you. Find out who your reps are at vote-smart.org
  • Learn more about easy ways to make a difference with MoveOn's 50 Ways to Love Your Country.
Doing a Lot? Try Forest Green Steps:

Yoga Inspiration: Think about satya, or truthfulness. Are you honestly doing all that you can do, or are you doing only what's convenient for you? Can you make a deeper commitment?

  • Use elbow grease, not appliances. You can save 700 tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year by line-drying your clothes in the spring and summer instead of using the dryer. Even better, generate your own electricity by purchasing a Human Power Generator, a stationary-bike-style contraption that allows you to supplement your electricity with your own sweat! Learn more at windstreampower.com.
  • Green your computer. A new electronics rating system developed by the Green Electronics Council, a nonprofit group in Portland, Oregon, can help you choose a computer based on its environmental effects, including energy efficiency. To find out more, go to epeat.net.
  • Get more earth-friendly ideas by checking out Treehugger, a web magazine that provides inspiration on everything from outfitting your home with solar panels to finding earth-friendly yet stylish carpets.
  • Switch to wind-generated, solar, or earth-friendly electricity. About half of U.S. consumers can purchase greener power through their own utility companies; find out what the deal is in your state at eere.energy.gov.
  • Park your car. Ride a bike or take public transportation instead. Find transit options available in your area at publictransportation.org. Or buy a more fuel-efficient car. Find out how your auto stacks up at fueleconomy.gov, which also lists the most and least fuel-efficient cars by model year.
  • Volunteer your time. Many organizations could use your creativity and energy to tackle the environmental problems we all face. Find the right one for you at idealist.org.
  • Invest your money wisely. Investigate options that allow you to support companies working toward sustainability. Learn more at Ceres, a national network of investment funds and other groups working to advance environmental stewardship on the part of businesses. Learn to make greener purchases in your daily life by checking out The Green Guide.

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Reader Comments

Erica Ford

Hey - this is an awesome article. I've heard that stat re: how much power you can save my unplugging your devices from the wall. Now I just have to start doing it! I recently did handstand and headstand for the first time (after 7 years of yoga) and the difference seemed to be this new eco-friendly mat I started using when I teach for my company, Yoga to Bloom. The mat is made by this company called KharmaKhare, it's made from recycled tires and other reusable parts and so far, is the best mat I've used. I also love the tip about drying clothes on a clothes line, that's how my grandma always did it!

Sophie Bourgougnon

I love the suggestion to make the next yoga mat an environmentally friendly one - because that's exactly what I did! I was sad that you didn't mention the one I got: KharmaKhare. Maybe because the company recently launched and it hasn't reached your radar screen yet. These guys make an awesome, awesome mat from recycled rubber tires. I think their video explains that it keeps our car tires from going into a landfill or being burned for crude energy. Way cool!

Sara

We at Koha Yoga love to do AcroYoga on our KharmaKhare's recycled rubber tire mats. Something to consider with all the mats mentioned in this article is that most are taking native material and then making a mat. KharmaKhare is literally reincarnating tires (in the most eco friendly way). It's a win, win, win!

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