In Your Yard
Keep the Climate in Mind:
For green lawns or gorgeous gardens, we use a lot of natural resources and put loads of chemicals into the soil that end up in our water and food supplies. Ask your local nursery to direct you to drought-tolerant plants that are adapted to your local climate so you don't have to rely on excess watering and fertilizing to keep them healthy.
Make Over Your Mowing Routine: Burn calories instead of fossil fuels with a push mower and set your blades to trim grass to 2 inches. At this height, the grass stays moister, so you'll need to water it less. Plus weeds, which need light to grow, are prevented from sprouting.
Weed with Abandon: Weeding every time you see even one pesky plant is worth the effort, since you'll reduce your need for pesticides. If these botanical intruders are out of control, consider Espoma Earth-tone 4n1 Weed Control ($7; neeps.com), which uses fatty acids and synthetic food-safe agents instead of harsh pesticides to kill weeds.
Plant a Tree:
Just one can offset up to 1.33 tons of carbon dioxide over its life cycle. Plus, if you plant it strategically, you can score some extra shade for your house, reducing the amount of energy you use for air-conditioning. Trees also help with irrigation and water runoff, keeping your lawn healthier.
In the Gym
Fill and Repeat: Remember the water bottle you tossed after Spinning class last night? It may behoove you to know it will take about 1,000 years to biodegrade.
A better bet: Pick up a water-filter pitcher or a filter that attaches to your faucet, as well as a refillable aluminum bottle from Sigg (from $16; mysigg.com).
Throw in the Towel: The next time you grab a stack of towels while showering at the gym, remember that coal is required to run every load of laundry, which pumps CO 2 into the air. Limit yourself to a single towel at the gym, or carry a small one in your bag so you won't need to crank out paper from the dispenser to wipe down equipment or your sweaty face.
More: The Sustainable Gym
Give Old Kicks a New Life: Donate any brand of athletic shoes to Nike's Reuse-a-Shoe program and the company will recycle them into materials that will be used in sports surfaces, such as playgrounds, basketball courts and running tracks, for underserved communities around the world. Go to letmeplay.com/reuseashoe for the drop-off location nearest you.
Head Outdoors: Fresh air and a new view aren't the only benefits of hitting the pavement for a run or walk—you'll save $6 and 45 kilowatt hours of electricity a month by not operating that treadmill (based on an average of 15 hours of use).
More: Barefoot Hiking