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Green Living

A bicycle with panniers made from empty yellow cat litter tubs
Watch our Green Tips videos and check out other clips on DEC's YouTube Channel.

Ten Things You Can Do to Help The Environment Right Now

  • Don't flush baby wipes
    Baby wipes, even the ones advertised as "flushable", are one of the most common objects that clog pipes and jam pumps at sewage treatment plants. Use reusable, washable cloth wipes instead.
    Man on the phone in a cubicle full of packing peanuts
    Time to call the Packing Peanut Hotline!
  • Foam peanuts: send 'em packing
    Call the Packing Peanut Hotline at 800-828-2214 for information on the closest drop-off site (35 across NYS) that reuses those crispy little buggers.
  • Lights out
    Many species of insects, birds, sea turtles, bats, nocturnal rodents, snakes, fish, and even plants are harmed by night lighting. Use lower wattage outdoor lights, motion sensitive lights and fixtures with shields that direct the light downward.
  • Water wisely
    Use a rain gauge: an inch of water a week is sufficient whether you provide it or Mother Nature does. Collect rain in a barrel (many can be hooked up to a sprinkler) for use on gardens or lawns during dry spells. Place sprinklers so they're watering your grass, not the street. For more tips, see DEC's lawn care video on YouTube .
  • Keep cool, but not too cool
    When it comes to air conditioners, bigger is not necessarily better. An over-sized AC will be less efficient and less effective than a properly sized one. Factors like sun, shade and use of the space will also influence sizing. See the link to Energy Star's sizing guide in the right-hand column.
  • Otter watching
    Help us keep track of the agile, entertaining but often elusive, otter. Visit some of our recommended viewing sites to increase your chances of seeing these playful creatures. If you do, let us know . You're guaranteed to see them at the Wild Center's Living River Trail exhibit.
  • Climate-friendly cookout
    Charcoal grills produce about three times more carbon emissions than propane gas grills. Just sayn'.
  • "Shopping" isn't always a dirty word
    Reusing or recycling items is often the greener choice, but sometimes new products are actually better for people and the environment. Search the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Design for the Environment database (see link in right-hand column) to find products evaluated by EPA scientists for safety and high quality.
  • Wildlife in trouble...
    Check out DEC's list of licensed wildlife rehabilitators for help with injured wildlife. And, remember, most young wildlife you see aren't orphaned or abandoned and will reunite with their parents if left alone.
  • ...or in your way?
    Have the native fauna made themselves a bit too comfortable on your property? Contact a DEC-licensed Nuisance Wildlife Control Operator to trap and relocate them. Also try these tips to make your property less attractive to certain species.

Myth Busters

Common Environmental Misconceptions and Myths Exposed and Explained by DEC Experts

a rooster and a hen standing on top of stacked cat litter containers made into nests

Instead of the usual myth buster, we have a reuse challenge for you:

What can you do with empty cat litter jugs and tubs?

If you buy your cat litter in a cardboard box or paper bag, recycling the empty container is simple. But, if your favorite brand comes in a large plastic jug or tub, you can still recycle it, but it takes up half the bin. Is there another way?

We're asking our readers for interesting and useful ways to re-use empty plastic cat litter jugs and buckets. At right and at the top of the page are two creative options. What else can you think of? Send your ideas (and photos!) to and put "Reuse Challenge" in the subject line.

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