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Green Living

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

Eight Things You Can Do to Help the Environment Right Now

  • Don't flush baby wipes.

    Baby wipes, even the ones advertised as "flushable", are among the most common objects that clog pipes and jam pumps at sewage treatment plants. Use washable cloth wipes instead.
    Man on the phone in a cubicle full of packing peanuts
    Time to call the Packing Peanut Hotline!

  • Send foam "peanuts" packing.

    Call the Packing Peanut Hotline at 800-828-2214 for the drop-off site closest to you that recycles "peanuts." NYS has nearly three dozen locations.

  • Turn Out the Lights!

    Many species of insects, birds, sea turtles, bats, nocturnal rodents, snakes, fish, and even plants are harmed by nighttime lighting. Use lower wattage outdoor lights, motion-sensitive lights and fixtures with shields that direct light downward.

  • Water wisely.

    Use a rain gauge. An inch of water each week is sufficient for plants and greenery, whether Mother Nature provides it or you do. Collect rain in a barrel (many barrels can be attached to a sprinkler) to use on gardens and lawns during dry spells. Place sprinklers so they water your grass, not the street. For more tips, see DEC's lawn care video on YouTube.

  • Keep cool, not cold.

    Bigger air conditioners aren't necessarily better. An over-sized AC is less efficient and effective than a unit properly sized for the area to be cooled. Sun, shade and how a space is used are also factors to consider. See the link in the right-hand column to Energy Star's guide.

  • Enjoy a climate-friendly cookout.

    Charcoal grills produce about three times more carbon emissions than propane gas grills. If you need to replace your grill, consider buying a propane grill.

  • "Shopping" isn't always a dirty word.

    Reusing or recycling items is often the greener choice, but sometimes new products are actually better for you and the environment. Search the USEPA's Design for the Environment database (see link in right-hand column) for products that EPA scientists evaluated for safety and high quality.

Reuse Challenge

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. If your favorite brand comes in a large plastic jug or tub, you can still recycle it, but it requires lots of space in the recycling bin.

Readers are asked for interesting and useful ways to recycle empty cat litter jugs and tubs instead of putting them in the recycling bin. Send your ideas (and photos!) to and put "Reuse Challenge" in the subject line.

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