Share your tips for conservation and sustainable living!

Julie McCaffrey —  May 26, 2010 — 22 Comments

Tell us what you do at home to save energy, reduce waste and chemicals and save the natural resources we need for our survival. We’ll post your comments here to give others ideas for what they can do at home for the environment. Then celebrate World Environment Day with us on June 5 for free demonstrations on a variety of topics as well as plant giveaways and plant pot recycling.

Julie McCaffrey

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Julie McCaffrey is media relations manager at the Chicago Botanic Garden and is responsible for promoting the Garden's programs and events through traditional and social media. Julie holds a B.A. in English from Northern Illinois University and an M.S. in Communications from Northwestern University.

22 responses to Share your tips for conservation and sustainable living!

  1. One portion of my garden was very weedy, but instead of using an herbicide, I laid down several layers of newspapers, wet them and covered them with mulch. Several years later that area is still weed free!

  2. I carry around my stainless steel water bottle and fill it up where I can in order to avoid buying bottled water.

  3. I collect rainwater from my gutters in rain barrels and large garbage cans. I water my plants and garden with that water all summer long.

  4. I’ll always shut the lights in the room when I leave, and up the a/c or shut it completely and use the fans. I have a waterbottle which I always use at work and take home with me.

  5. I use cloth napkins and use old t-shirts and towels instead of paper towels.

  6. I use a push reel lawn mower to mow the lawn and leave the clippings where they fall. This fertilizes the grass naturally.

  7. I cut up an old linen tablecloth into approximately 6×6″ squares and hemmed the edges quickly on a sewing machine. We use them for napkins, and they are especially great for kids — they are just the right size, fit easily into school lunchbags, and there are so many that I never run out.

  8. We became a one car family almost four years ago and not only did we immediately save on the cost of gas and cut our emissions, it also forced us to start condensing our shopping excursions, making better lists and planning our routes and time.

    We also do a lot of little things that we expect to add up over months, years and decades. In addition to reusing shopping bags, I have simply stopped taking them whenever possible. As a Metra -loving commuter, I carry my laptop and lunch and can always find space for the incidentals in my gig bag. We reuse clean, dry zip lock bags and have cut back our consumption of those by using plastic sealable storage boxes whenever possible.

  9. Melanie Freisinger May 27, 2010 at 12:13 pm

    I encourage our whole building to recycle and compost and take it to the pile myself!

  10. We bought a Brita pitcher instead of buying water bottles. I drive my scooter whenever I can instead of driving my car.

  11. Jeanne Slatkay May 27, 2010 at 1:17 pm

    We use reusable water bottles and take them everywhere with us. We also do our best to use reusable grocery bags for our trips to the store.

  12. I have been reusing my aluminum foil and zip-lock plastic bags for years. Use it once and wash it. Same with water bottles. and I literally recycle everything, even all those plastic flower containers.

  13. I turn off as many lights as I can. I also use a stainless steel water bottle every day, using it in the car and at work. I make it easy to recycle, having a container for recycling under the counter.

  14. I don’t use paper plates or cups. I prefer using regular dishes and just clean them with minimal water. I always bring my own bags to the grocery stores and look for minimally wrapped items.

  15. I have set up 6 rain barrels around the house and the garage and I use the water for my vegetables and flowers gardens. I sometimes use a little pump attached to a hose, to empty those barrels, quicker way than with a watering can. But I have to use electricity to run the pump….I am aware of this.

  16. A friend gave me a couple of nylon fold-up bags that easily fit in my purse. They don’t take up any space, and they are always there…I love them!

  17. A few years ago we converted our 2-flat front yard to hardy perennials. Not only did it mean we could scrap the lawn mower, it also means we don’t need to add chemicals for weeding and fertilizing, and rarely have to even water – and we have the prettiest front yard on the block!

  18. White clover was considered a standard of excellence in lawn care until the 1950’s, and the seeds were added to lawn seed mixes until the use of broadleaf herbicides. In recent years, clover lawns have been experiencing a revival due to their many benefits. Clover stays green all summer with little or no watering, Clover requires little or no mowing, clover fixes nitrogen from the air providing 1/3 of the lawns nitrogen needs. Its nectar keeps the bees around so they can perform services like pollinating your fruit trees and vegetables. A clover rich lawn smells better than than a chemically fertilized one. Clover crowds out other more harmful weeds.
    This year our family lawn is going back to the the 1950’s and have added white clover to our lawn.

  19. I put a third rod in the middle of my shower, and instead of drying my clothes in a dryer, which uses tons of electricity (up to 40% of a household’s usage, I think I read) and makes a lot of noise and heat, I hang my clothes to dry year-round. I used a tension rod so that it can be taken down without doing damage to the walls. This saves me time, trips to the laundry room, wear on and shrinkage of my clothes, and the dreaded search for quarters for the dryer. In the winter, it also helps humidify my apartment and make my bathroom smell like clean laundry.
    I also use handkerchiefs instead of paper tissue whenever I can.

  20. HeartSong Germain July 25, 2010 at 8:37 am

    We are installing an electrical tankless water heater for the kitchen sink. We save water in large plastic containers that comes from the gutter system on the barn. It supplies our garden water during dry spells. Planted a therapy garden and enjoyed moving,strengthening & stretching exercises as well as delicious homegrown fruits, vegetables, flowers,cooking & medicinal herbs. (I have enjoyed reading all of these, thank you!

  21. I have looked at eco-friendly alternatives, so far I have installed solar panels on my home but while looking for a electric car I find the cost doesnt justify it for me. While I am passionate about making green choices whenever possible it is up to people like you and I to spread awareness and let the companies know there is a demand. Your website looks popular and I think you can help influence society with your insight and eco tips. by the way I found your site by searching Share your tips for conservation and sustainable living! | Chicago Botanic Garden Blog and you were the first result. So I think your website is a good platform to discuss ideas that are thought provoking and influence your readers to go green. – Good luck with your site, you deserve it! Please continue to talk about more eco-tips, every idea helps us get closer day by day!

  22. We have a spot in our 2 bedroom home for a rainwater collection system and to our great satisfaction we’ve had the capacity to recharge the water below by about 4 tankfuls in our 6x4x4 foot tank. I have to say that rain catchers really is unmistakably important in society. We do our best to make use of all of the water we get. :)

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