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Greener living 101

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By Marisa Belger

It's never been easier to go green at home. Simple adjustments to your everyday chores will have your entire family integrating conservation into daily life with nearly no effort. Your crash course in greener living starts here!

Redefine Recycling
Spend one afternoon prepping your kitchen recycling station and you'll barely have to think about it again. Set up bins for paper, plastic and glass next to your garbage can, find out when your community picks up recyclables, and start sorting.

Bonus points: Consider composting. Organic waste -- fruit and vegetable peels, egg shells and the like -- can easily go straight into your garden (if you have one), where it'll automatically be broken down into plant fertilizer.

Opt for Off
Switching off the lights every time you leave a room can be a fun and energy-saving challenge for the whole family. Set up a reward system for kids who remember to turn off the light and who remind others to flick the switch before setting out. If they remember or remind three times, they get a night out at the restaurant of their choice, or a free pass on a weekly chore! Bonus points: Keep the lights off during the day as much as possible by opening curtains and blinds for natural light to shine through.

Honor H20
Remind every member of the house -- kids and adults -- that water is a precious resource to be respected and conserved. Luckily, there are so many easy ways to use less water!

Encourage teeth-brushers to turn the faucet off while brushing. You can also invite everyone to participate in the Five-minute Shower Challenge (every minute shaved off of a shower saves gallons of water). Make a colorful sign for the dishwasher that announces when it's completely full and ready to be run. Bonus points: Turn off the water sprinkler and collect rainwater to douse your plants instead.

Choose Cold
Save energy and money by switching your laundry machine's dial to the cold-water setting. It's just as effective as using hot water, especially if you use quality detergents specifically designed to wash clothes efficiently in chilly water. Bonus points: Break out the drying rack or outdoor clothesline to save even more energy.

Marisa Belger's work has appeared in Travel + Leisure Family, Natural Health, Prevention and TODAYShow.com, where she wrote a column about eco-friendly living. She was an editor at Lime.com and collaborated with author Josh Dorfman on his bestselling books, The Lazy Environmentalist and The Lazy Environmentalist on a Budget.

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