8 Ways to Be Green On The Go

This story is part of Earth911’s “Green Eight” series in which we showcase eight ways to green your life in various areas.

Life doesn’t stop and neither do we. There’s always work, school, traveling, errands, sports practices etc. that keep us on the go. You might think there’s little time to be green, but that’s not the case. There are plenty of ways to fit eco-conscious acts into our busy schedules. Here are some tips for being green while on the go.

1. Get it on Your Phone

Auto-complete makes finding recyclables fast with iRecycle!

Auto-complete makes finding recyclables fast with iRecycle!

Earth911’s new mobile app, iRecycle®, makes it easy to find recycling locations anywhere in the U.S. Find places to drop-off your old cell phone (or water bottle or motor oil or… well, you get the idea), get directions and find out what else they accept. Here’s a quick summary of its features:

  • Access to over 100,000 recycling and disposal locations for over 200 materials
  • Get directions to the nearest site from your current location
  • Auto-complete saves time typing so you can spend more on finding a location convenient to you
  • Check your search history to replay old search results
  • Find additional information for each location like hours of operation, other materials accepted (hey, maybe you can recycle all those plastic bags from under your kitchen sink), their Web site, etc.
  • Call locations directly from search results

2. Create a Mobile Recycling Center

With all the time that is spent in the car commuting to/from work, shuttling kids around, or dashing from one thing to another, the car has become a surrogate dining room for many of us. With the hustle and bustle of daily life, it is highly unlikely that you have time to prepare snacks and store them in reusable containers for your drive.

So this usually leaves two options: the drive thru or a quick stop somewhere to snag something portable. And when you’re done, where does all that packaging go?

The compact size Trash Stand Vehicle Litter Bin has a weighted bottom and grip strips to keep it upright and in place. Great for the passenger seat floor, or for the back of your minivan or SUV. Photo: Cargogear.com

The compact size Trash Stand Vehicle Litter Bin has a weighted bottom and grip strips to keep it upright and in place. Great for the passenger seat floor, or for the back of your minivan or SUV. Photo: Cargogear.com

Save recyclables from the trash by turning car organizers like High Road’s Deluxe Trash Stand into a mobile recycling station. At a minimum, toss in your plastic water or soda bottles, paper bags and cardboard boxes minus the oil and grease.

Don’t worry about this system making a mess of your car. It has a leak-proof interior with a weighted bottom and grip strips to keep it from sliding around the floor. When you get home, transfer these items to your recycling bin(s).

3. Don’t Leave Your Mug or Cup at Home

Before you head out to get a cup of joe in the morning, grab your commuter mug or cup and use that instead of Styrofoam or paper cups from coffee shops or convenience stores. During fiscal year 2008, U.S. and Canadian Starbucks customers saved roughly one million pounds of paper by bringing in their own beverage containers.

In addition, Starbucks and other coffee shops give a 10-cent discount (U.S. and Canada only) every time you use your own. Peets Coffee does the same, and if you reuse one of its coffee bags they give you 25 cents off the purchase price.

If fountain drinks from convenience stores are more your style, don’t pick up a new plastic cup every time. Extend the life of the cup by bringing it back for countless refills. When you refill the cup, you receive a discount too. Bonus points: When you’ve exhausted the life of the cup, don’t toss it in the trash. Chances are the plastic is recyclable.

4. Pack a Little Green in Your Beach Tote

Water. Sun. Sand. How much more natural can the beach get? Remember to include these items in your tote:

  • Recycled nylon swimsuits: Eco Panda created one and two-piece suits in various prints from recycled nylon and Xtra Life lycra. The company states, “…each piece of swimwear will retain its shape and fit longer than other suits that are used in chlorinated waters. This results in the average suit lasting twice as long as swimwear made with other chlorine resistant spandex and ten times longer than swimwear made with regular spandex, which means that less swimwear will be disposed of. Recycled nylon uses 27 percent less natural petroleum resources and emits 28 percent less greenhouse gases.”
  • Solar Charger: Don’t miss out on phone calls or capturing memories just because your battery died. Keep your phone, iPod and digital camera charged via the sun with the 021 Super Solar Charger by Solar Style. It doesn’t even have to be sunny to charge. The panels collect any available light.

5. Get an Eco-Friendly Car Wash at Work

Washing the car can be an unpleasant and time consuming task. Luckily, there’s an increasing number of car wash services that will come to your home or business and wash your car for you. Eccosave is one such company, and the products used for this waterless car wash are 100 percent biodegradable and non-toxic. By not using water, approximately 75-100 gallons of water are saved per wash. So be a “multi-tasker” and have the car cleaned in an eco-responsible way while you’re getting other things done.

6. Green Up Your First Aid Kit

A first-aid kit is one of those things you rarely use but keep in your trunk or glove box for those just-in-case moments. There’s no reason why it too can’t be greened up a bit. All Terrain carries an array of eco-friendly first-aid products such as latex-free bandages with water-based adhesives and biodegradable anti-bacterial wipes made from wood pulp

Let Mother Nature lend a helping hand with a few of her own natural remedies:

  • Lavender essential oil: a few drops can relieve inflammation or pain from burns and other wounds
  • Witch Hazel: stops bleeding of minor cut
  • Tea Tree oil: antiseptic
  • Arnica: treats sore muscles, bruising, sprains, inflammation from insect bites, etc.

7. Book a Green Hotel during Vacation

If you’re planning a vacation that doesn’t involve camping or staying with friends or relatives, then check into a green hotel. San Francisco’s Orchard Garden Hotel is California’s first LEED certified hotel. In addition to green construction features such as daylit spaces, recycled materials and low emitting products, the hotel has set up an additional green feature relating to the entry key card for guest rooms.

Photo: Seatosummit.com

The Pocket Shower is built into the base is a compact showerhead that operates with an easy-to-use on/off twist mechanism. The black fabric soaks up sun during the day at basecamp for a warm shower or fill it at the end of the day for a cool rinse. Photo: Seatosummit.com

Placing the key card in a box near the door turns on all lighting and mechanical systems. Removing the key turns off all systems except for one outlet that may be useful for charging a laptop, cell phone or other device while you are out. There’s even recycling bins within the room for on-the-go recycling.

8. Keep Clean and Green while Camping

The advent of warm weather brings people outdoors, and for those who want to “rough it” in nature, there are plenty of opportunities to be green without sacrificing some of the hygienic comforts of daily living.

Keep hands clean with biodegradable wipes from Simply Neutral, which are biodegradable and 100 percent natural with no bleaching agents or chemicals.

With this contraption you won’t need to bathe in streams or lakes anymore. Take a warm shower under a tree with the Solar Pocket Shower by Sea to Summit. Just fill up the 2.6 gallon pouch with water, let the sun heat it and enjoy a seven-minute shower in the wild. When you’re done, it folds up into a 3” x 6” pouch that weighs just over 4 ounces.

Don’t let being on the go be an excuse for not reducing, reusing, or recycling. No matter what you’re doing or where you’re going there’s always a way to be green.

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  1. Thanks for all the fantastic ideas! Ya know, once we all start making the transition to thinking green, and acting green, it won’t be such a chore. If we do things like those you mentioned on a daily basis they may seen odd or different for awhile but soon they will become the norm and one will wonder why they hadn’t been greener all their lives. Thank you for your suggestions…..the way we are going to solve our environmental problems isn’t through government intervention, it will be through the small steps that each of us take.

    “Bottles for a Healthier Earth”

  2. My husband and I enjoy going to the local homemade ice cream joint for a treat. I eat mine in a cone to avoid any waste created by plastic spoons and styro bowls. Husband, however, doesn’t like cones and prefers to eat his in a dish. Now he brings his own bowl and spoon to the ice cream place. Sure he gets a weird look for it, but so far this summer he’s saved at least a dozen styro bowls and plastic spoons from the trash.

    I do not use plastic utensils for lunch every day at work. For years I’ve kept a set of the stainless ones I use at home in my desk drawer. I am sure I’ve saved thousands of plastic knives, spoons, and forks from the trash can. I also have a cup and plate on my desk too. Husband implemented a policy that all his staff must use re-usable coffee mugs at work and refuses to buy disposable coffee cups for the coffee station at work as well.

    It’s just those little things that keep adding up. We challenge each other to change one habit per month to make our lives just a bit greener.

  3. I have various recycle programs here at work and just started another one today. People are going to bring me their empty medicine bottles. They will be donated to a Veterinary clinic where theywill clean and reuse them to dispense medicine to animals.
    Better this than to end up in the landfills.
    I also extended this request to family, friends and business associates.

  4. I agree with the previous comments that liiving green is as easy as practicing it. It just takes some thinking, reading, planning and determination. Some of the things we do:

    We always charge cell phone in home instead of charging it in the car thus saving gas.
    Driving a car wisely saves upto 20% gas, I used to get between 24-25 miles per gallon in my v4 camry. Now I get betwen 27 and 30 miles per gallon by changing my driving style. Please visit http://www.drivingchange.org for more info.
    We try to reuse the paper towels at work (unfortunately I have not been able to find a suitable alternative to using the paper towels yet). E.g. the paper towel used to dry my hands after wash can be used later to clean the dishes/desk/sink etc.
    At home we buy paper towels. toilet papers and printing paper made of 100% recycled paper.
    We use less paper towels.
    At Home: We have a lot of rags that we use to clean instead of using paper towel. Sometimes using paper towel is inevitable but we have sut down the consumption a lot
    At work: I will shake off excess water from my hands thus using only 1 paper towel. I do the same with the dishes I wash at work thus drying them off in 1-2 paper towels and then using those towels later for something else.
    We use very little water when washing hands or doing dishes. And of course we try to do full loads of laundry and dishes.
    At work, I switch off the lights in the conference rooms. At home, we switch off the lights of rooms when leaving.
    My son started recycling when he was 2. The point is that kids are smart and we should not hesitate in building their value systems at an early age.

  5. Good stuff. Another waste saving idea when you are on the go is to bring along your own container for left overs when you eat out. everyone has at least one favorite place that has large portions you know you can’t finish. Have a container like a reused margarine or yogurt container with you and you’ll save some waste.

  6. Thanks for the great ideas. I look forward to receiving your newsletter. I like the above suggestion about taking home left-overs from a reataurant. I invested in one of those Tupperware containers that pop up for food storage or pop doen for pantry storage. It’s not as conspicuous as a non-collapsable container and when I’ve used it people usually comment on what a good idea it is. Until restaurants come up with a greener way to package left-overs, I will continue to tal=ke along my little orange collapsable bowl.

  7. At home we’ve pretty much stopped using paper towels. I use cloth dish towels when I am cleaning. If I do the windows or mirrors I use the free “Reminder” newpaper I get in the mail every week. I let the dishes air dry if I hand wash them.

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  9. When I eat at restaurants that automatically give you napkins they always seem to give you way too many.
    I bring the extras home and use them in lieu of paper towels or with my meals. Who cares if they say McD’s or Wendy’s on them….they’re NAPKINS and not going in the trash never used.

    Fast food restaurants also waste alot of product by giving you too many condiment packages in to go orders too. Don’t throw them away …. use them when you have a picnic or take your lunch to work. Nothing worse than waste but waste with product still in it which is the case when you just dump these extras with your waste trash.

    Anyone know if fast food plastic lids are recyclable??????

  10. I am shocked at how many people don’t or don’t know about recycling. My own mother was surprised recently when I had her turn over her water bottle to see the number on the bottom and told her what they stood for. She lives in a senior mobile home park that offers ZERO recycling opportunities – even the trash company just has one pick-up that comes through for “regular” trash with no way to recycle plastics, steel or glass. My dad always takes “the cans” in for extra $$$ so they DO do that, but were just oblivious to everything else. Since we started recycling we cut our “trash” down to just 2 kitchen-sized bags each week for 4 adults, 2 dogs, 2 cats and a bird. We take bi-monthly trips to the recycling center for aluminum, glass and plastic bottles – and I’m much more aware of the types of plastics I’m purchasing at the store. Thanks for these tips – I will definitely be using them right away!

  11. All of these are great tips, thank you for helping to spread the eco- word out there! We are committed to saving the environment as well and have recently brought to market an eco-certified line of sports balls that are certified Fair Trade as well. Please feel free to stop by our blog at fairtradesports.com to learn more about us. Thank you for the post!

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