What is the Biggest Thing You’ve Done for the Planet?

Here at the Green Baby Guide, we’re all about making simple lifestyle changes that will make a big difference, one step at a time.  But what about the big things?  Have you made any huge strides on your quest towards greenness?

Install solar panels to cut down on carbon emissions

So what do I mean by a “big thing” and a “little thing”?  Years ago, I read in the Tightwad Gazette about boiling just the amount of water you need to make a cup of tea.  Now, instead of filling the kettle with a bunch of water and heating more than I use for my drink, I fill it with exactly a cup’s worth.  That small thing saves a bit of water and energy and was easy for me to do.  Barbara Kingsolver writes in Animal, Vegetable, Miracle about moving from arid Tucson, Arizona, to Virginia just so she can grow all of her own food in a fertile climate.  Now, that’s a big thing, at least in my book!

Has anyone here traded a Hummer in for a bicycle?  Limited family size for the sake of the planet?  Gone vegan?  Stopped using electricity?  Installed a composting toilet?  Moved into a teeny-tiny house or apartment?  What are the biggest leaps you’ve made towards greenness or your proudest green accomplishments?


  1. Our family just switched over to cloth diapers and wipes from disposables! We feel like it will not only make an impact on our pocket book, but the environment too! I think that when my children look back they will be proud. Small thing would be using cloth bags to shop. Things have come a long way in ten years. I remember when everyone thought I was crazy! They still might. 😉

  2. It’s good to hear you made the switch, Rebecca (with a capital “R”). I’m always surprised how many cloth-diapering parents don’t take it one step further with cloth wipes. I figure my cloth wipes have saved me at least $80 (probably more), not to mention box after box that would have to be recycled or thrown away.

  3. I recently acquired 3 canvas bags that I take in to the grocery store with me to avoid using plastic or paper. I also don’t print out ATM receipts and ask the cashiers not to print out any receipts I don’t need (Starbucks is really good about this). The biggest thing our family has done is limited our grocery store shopping, and instead, get all our produce from our local farmers. Both my husband and I haven’t felt better, and we are supporting the local community. I also planted a kitchen garden this year (never planted anything except roses before) and it’s amazing to walk out and pull some carrots for dinner! The best part of all this is how great it all feels to know we’re doing our small part.

  4. We didn’t go as far as Barbara K., but when we were faced with moving for my husband’s job, we made access to mass transit a top priority, followed by a neighborhood where we could walk to satisfy most of the needs of daily life. 18 months ago, we drove at least 30 or 40 miles a day; now we rarely drive that far in one week. Not only have we cut down our environmental impact, we’re both far healthier for all the exercise, er, commuting, we’re doing.

  5. Cloth diapers and wipes. Biking or walking anywhere within a four mile radius of my house (I have a basket on my bike for groceries). Going vegetarian (haven’t quite gotten to vegan yet, although I eat a lot less dairy than I used to)… this has been a gradual process for us. right now we’re saving $300/month in a solar panel fund. we should be able to afford them by 2010/2011. That will be a sweet day!

  6. Saving for solar panels is a great idea. We really want some, but can’t take on that kind of debt to install them. We’re growing vegetables, composting, hanging our clothes up to dry, and have only used our AC one week this summer. My next big goal is to walk my first-grader to school instead of driving him.

  7. I bought a used 1996 Honda Civic for $7000 with only 68K miles on it. It gets great gas mileage! My hubby is a teacher and home for the summer and I’m a stay at home mom. We try to do at least 2-3 errands together instead of jumping in the car whenever we need to do something. We do have a bigger car, a Honda Element, but we save that for trips to visit family or for winter driving.

  8. We’ve made a total switch to line-drying laundry outside. If it’s a rainy day, we wait to do laundry. This summer we’ve kept the thermostat on 82 so the a/c works a lot less–which is a big deal here where a typical day is in the high 90s. We’re making little green choices all over our lives like giving up paper towels, not buying bottled cleaning products and carefully combining errands out in the car. All of those little things combine I think have greatly reduced our waste/negative environmental impact.

  9. Cinnamon, you have inspired me to shop at the farmers’ market more regularly. And next year I am definitely planting a garden, too.

    Fern, finding a nice walkable place to live is an excellent way to reduce your impact. I love being able to walk everywhere to “satisfy most of the needs of daily life.” I just wish my husband’s workplace were closer. Ugh.

    Frugal Babe, I’m really impressed by your solar panel fund! The price might come down soon, making them more affordable for everyone. I hope so.

    Cathy, I heard that fewer and fewer kids walk to school these days, contributing to childhood obesity. So you’ll be saving the planet and getting some exercise at the same time by walking your son to school!

    Nancy and Madeline, that is a good reminder about consolidating errands. I know when we do errands by car we do not always do it as efficiently as possible.

    Thanks for all the comments so far. They are very inspiring!

  10. My favorite is our house’s experiment in ditching paper towels and using rags instead!
    We keep them in a bin under the sink, then keep the dirty ones in a second bin & wash them separately. Works like a charm!

  11. I have decided to take up gardening (in our apartment! Yay for window gardening!), I hang most of my clothes (once again…. apartment, can’t line-dry outside, but I hang it all in random places in the house!), we buy as many organic products as possible, I’ve switched to a menstrual cup, we stopped driving our second vehicle, and we’ve given up Teflon.

    Next projects: Homemade bread and cloth diapers!

    It’s the little things that count!

Speak Your Mind