As a proud participant in today's mass blogging event, Blog Action Day, we're devoting our special feature to Blog Action Day's topic: the environment. Last Monday, we put out a call for your best ways to live greener, and as usual, Lifehacker readers did not disappoint. We received quite a few green hacks in our inbox, and after much winnowing down, the best 10 suggestions made it to the top. After the jump, check out some easy ways to live greener, and vote on which hack is the best of the best.
Automatically Power Down External Drives
My particular model of drive (Maxtor OneTouch III) doesn't seem to have a sleep mode and has a pretty wasteful light that flashes constantly when it's on. For a while I've been manually switching it on and off, but as it's under my desk it involves a bit of rummaging around on all fours!
Now I use a sleep timer on my power cable. It powers the drive on a few minutes before my scheduled daily backup. Then, a simple Automator script scheduled with iCal unmounts the drive a few minutes before the sleep timer powers off my external drive.
Coupled with the automatic wake and sleep options I've used in my Mac's System Preferences, I now get an automatic wake-up, backup and power down before I go to work in the morning. Hurrah!
Click the thumbnail to enlarge Shai's simple Automator script that unmounts the Maxtor drive.
Replace Plastic Diapers with Cloth Diapers
As a parent of two young children, reader Jonathan wanted to lessen his impact on the environment and save money at the same time. Enter cloth diapers:
We've invested in some great cloth diapers. There are so many different options out there, from bamboo, to hemp, to wool—they're all awesome, and super easy to use.
Cloth diapers can be used over and over again vs. plastic, plus, they are way less expensive in the long run (there's also gDiapers).
Bring Your Own Utensils To Work
Instead of using the throwaway plastic utensils available at work, reader Matthew suggests bringing your own from home. Less plastic for the landfills this way.
Compost Pet Waste
Anyone with a pet could implement this green hack via reader Brad at Instructables: a DIY pet poop composter. That poop is just lying around anyway, so why not put it to work making compost? Note: you won't want to use this compost on anything you will actually be eating, for obvious reasons, but it works fantastically on flowerbeds.
Reduce Red Meat
Reader Jonathan Z. suggests that making simple changes in our eating habits can make a difference:
The production of animal-products is an extremely inefficient process, so switching to a plant-based diet can reduce your environmental impact in a major way.
Not to mention that a less meat-heavy diet is better for your health.
Make a Composter out of Recycled Materials
Reader John H. came upon an old discarded crib and used it to make a very nice composter, saving money and using found materials at the same time.
Put on a Sweater Instead of Turning Up the Heat
Use less energy this winter simply by putting on another layer—reader Jeri suggests putting on a hat indoors to keep in body heat more efficiently. Yeah, you'll have a wee bit of bedhead, but your power bill will thank you.
Wash Your Car Using Microfiber
Instead of using an expensive car wash or gallons of water in your driveway, the next time you wash your car try using microfiber washcloths instead. Reader Leif has more on this method; the bottom line is that microfiber cloth works without soap and uses very little water to get your car clean.
Save Water with a Faucet Aerator
Reader Sam sends in this hack to save on how much water you're using:
You can control the time the water stays on and—you might not know it—but you can also control how much water your faucet spits out by installing a new faucet aerator on your bathroom and kitchen sinks. (Most sinks use three to four gallons of water per minute, though the government put in place regulations for any faucet made after 1994, mandating no more than 2.2 gallons per minute of flow.) Low-flow aerators add air to the water coming out of the sink, providing the same amount of water pressure, but using considerably less water.
You can find these at your local hardware store for less than $15, usually.
Bring Your Own Mug to Coffee Shops
Reader Josh brings his own mug to coffee shops instead of using disposable containers:
Always Carry a reusable stainless steel mug (used for water and coffee). If I don't have it with me, I always try to get my coffee for here in a ceramic mug.
Just like the aforementioned cutlery, you can simply bring your mug home, wash it, and it's ready for action.
Vote for Your Favorite Green Hack!
As promised, the reader who sent in the best green hack wins a beautiful set of ecoMaximus 100% recycled handmade paper stationery courtesy of P2P Rescue.
Cast your vote below to determine who gets the prize!
What small changes have you made to reduce, reuse, recycle, conserve and otherwise live greener? Let us know in the comments.
Wendy Boswell, Lifehacker's Weekend Editor, plans on trying the pet composter.