HEALTHY LIVING
06/22/2007 04:34 pm ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

Greening Your Weekend

It's Friday Night, and you're finished workin' for the weekend; it's here. Time to relax and unwind. Yeah, right. Who really relaxes and unwinds during the weekend anymore? Things to do, places to go, people to see, and kids to attend to. Our weekends are sometimes filled with
more activity than the other five days of the week put together. So, if you're green-minded, the weekend is no time to be a slacker about the environment.

For example, let's saying you're just going to stay in and watch a movie- rent that DVD and you can save money and waste: The average movie rents for about $4, while the average new DVD sells for more than $16. You also won't have to worry about contributing to their trash pile: One
hundred thousand DVDs and CDs are thrown away each month.

If you're ordering takeout to go along with that, ask for less paper packaging, utensils and napkins and just use the ones you have at home. To wash it down, consider filtered water from the tap instead of bottled water: We throw away some 60 million plastic water bottles per day.

So even something as simple as take-out, a movie and a glass of water to go with it can be done greener, and your weekend is off to a better start.

1. Saturday Morning

It usually happens with just one eye open: the thought of all the things you have to do.

If not, little sergeants at arms are excellent reminders when their pitter-patter silences and the next thing you know there is a little head on top of yours and small fingers prying your eyes open.

Time to get up. If a soccer game awaits try to carpool. It'll not only reduce your game and practice travel mileage by at least 50%, along with all the fuel and carbon emissions that go with it, you will get time off for your good behavior the following weekend when someone else drives.

Refilling water bottles and minding litter are easy ways to keep the field clean when you get to the game. And if it's your off weekend and you are heading to the gym yourself sans kids, you can refill your water bottle at home too. You could save an average of $200 per year as well
as 14 pounds of plastic if you just refilled the same water bottle every time you went to the gym.

No matter where you go, if you drive a hybrid you can get about three times the MPG as the average automobile. And if all of the week's running around has attracted dust, dirt, some chocolate milk, a little coffee, and fury reminders of a trip to the dog park, consider stopping
at a car wash. You may be surprised to learn that washing your car in a commercial car wash is better for the environment than doing it yourself. Commercial car washes not only use significantly less water per wash-up to 100 gallons less-but they often recycle and reuse rinse
water. If every one chose to go to a professional car wash-just once-up to 8.7 billion gallons of water could be saved, and some 12 billion gallons of soapy polluted water could be diverted from the country's rivers, lakes, and streams.

Most weekends out and about include a stop at the dry cleaners. Here there are lots of opportunities to be better to the environment. If you go less frequently, you will not only save on drive time and fuel, you'll save plastic. Dry cleaners bunch items together into plastic garment bags, so the more items you bring at once, the better. Better yet: Request no plastic garment bags, and return your hangers to the dry cleaners for recycling. You can also try eco-friendly dry cleaners, or wet cleaners (which use biodegradable soap).

All right, morning missions accomplished, and time for lawn care. If you cut your grass so it's two inches high, and leave the clippings on the lawn, you'll spend less time mowing and raking, and you won't have to water your lawn as much. (Forty percent of water in summer is allocated to outdoor usage when rates are highest.)

The day now, may have sort of gotten away, and there's only time before going out to dinner for a fast shower, which is a good thing because every two minutes you save on your shower can conserve more than ten gallons of water. And that can add up: If everyone in the country saved
just one gallon from their daily shower, it would equal twice the amount of freshwater withdrawn from the Great Lakes every day. And just how important is that? Well, the Great Lakes are the world's largest source of freshwater.

2. Saturday Night

The look on the waiter's face may be deflated after he holds up a bottle of flat and a bottle of sparkling water, and you choose neither. Tap water is a better choice because it saves plastic and bottle waste and it may be safer to drink. Tap water is more strictly regulated than bottled water. Moreover, like we mentioned earlier when you were staying in for take out, over sixty million water bottles are tossed each day in the United States. 60,000,000 bottles just for water, every single day.

The waiter may be further annoyed when the meal is over and you ask him if he can wrap up what you didn't eat with as little packaging as possible. You can use the leftover for Fido or as compost for your lawn or garden. This reduces food scraps and the disposal costs that restaurants bear. Moreover, twelve percent of landfills are food scraps, and one-quarter of all food produced in the United States is wasted.

3. Sunday Morning

No little fingers. Ah. No long lists of thing to do. Mm. But, thump, the Sunday newspaper flails against the front door.

Anyway, subscribing your newspapers is actually a good thing for the environment. Newspaper subscribers can save about 50 percent off the cover price, as well as a trip to the newsstand.

Each year, ten million tons of newspapers are still tossed into landfills and aren't recycled. If just half of these were recycled, it would save seventy-five million trees. So needless to say now, but we will: recycle your newspapers!

Sunday morning is also a good time to be mindful of making coffee. Making coffee uses about a third of the tap water consumed in most of North America and Europe. With 1.2 billion people on the planet who don't have access to safe water at all, it isn't the time to waste what you aren't going to drink.

"Caffeinated" and awake, this morning you're even more thankful a tiny soldier is sleeping when you get to his room because Nemo is dead. The fish tank you were supposed to clean, well, may have slipped your mind. Next time, when you actually remember to clean the fish tank, remove
only one-third to one-half of the water and use it as a nutrient-rich solution for house and outdoor plants. You'll conserve water and eliminate the need for chemical fertilizers. Your fish and family will be happier too.

Luckily there is a Farmer's Market down the block and they sell goldfish there. So two of you, one big person and one small, march or bike there. While your fish shopping, it's not a bad idea to work in some food shopping as well. On average, U.S. supermarket food travels 1,500 to 2,500 miles before it reaches the family table. Buying local food can reduce the amount of petroleum consumed to transport your dinner by as much as 95 percent.

While you're shopping, the lady of the house may even have time to take a bubble bath. For that luxury, it's best to buy concentrated varieties of salts and soap. For example, bubble bath brands that recommend one tablespoon (one-half ounce, or one capful) per bath will last twice as long as those that suggest one ounce (two capfuls) per bath. If one in one hundred households decreased its bubble bath purchases in this way, the savings would total 250,000 pounds of plastic. This much plastic could build a wading pool the size of Wrigley Field.

And speaking of sports, when it comes time to watch the Big Game that afternoon choose beer bottles over cans if you're drinking. The energy required to produce a single twelve-ounce aluminum can is enough to produce nearly two new twelve-ounce glass bottles. Put another way, if 10 percent of beer drinkers replaced a six-pack of cans with six glass bottles, the energy saved could fly thirty thousand Cowboys fans from Dallas to the Meadowlands to watch their team take on the New York Giants.

So from Friday night take-out, to Sunday night watching the game, you can have a great weekend, but take care of the environment, and your wallet too.

Click here for more information about "The Green Book: The Everyday Guide to Saving the Planet One Simple Step at a Time" by Thomas M. Kostigen and Elizabeth Rogers.