Today officially kicks off National Green Week! The holiday, or days, can be observed from the first full week in February until April 30. The beauty of the holiday is that you can choose any week during this timeframe to be your Green Week. During this time, schools and groups are encouraged to discuss sustainability topics and explore ways to make a difference. While engaging youth and nurturing future generations of sustainability enthusiasts is a large part of Green Week, all of us can observe this time, and do what we can to ensure we are setting an example for future generations.

What better way to celebrate than to learn a few ways you can up your green game, in addition to the classics like recycling and composting? Not only do the following actions contribute to a more environmentally sustainable lifestyle, but some can also increase your wallet’s sustainability.

Reduce Food Waste

Citrus fruit rinds can make great jams, vegetable scraps can create flavorful soup stocks, and bread can be used in a variety of ways. Photo credit: Chandra Oh

Reducing your food waste is one of the easiest and most impactful ways to save money and decrease your climate change footprint. Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from landfilled food waste, and the energy used to process and transport the waste are all reduced when you throw away less. Food accounts for the majority of material that ends up in landfills, so planning ahead to buy only what you will use is a great step you can take to make sure your food waste won’t end up in the landfill, water, and atmosphere.

If you do accidentally purchase more than you need, there are some pretty creative and delicious ways to mitigate that. If you’ve never made broths or stocks at home, I highly recommend it. Vegetable and meat scraps/bones can create some flavorful broths to be used for soups or just sipping. Old bread can be repurposed as homemade croutons or breadcrumbs. Vegetable stems can be thrown into a smoothie for some added nutrients. It’s also never too late to take the plunge into pickling, jarring and canning. There are plenty of ways to use food that would otherwise be thrown away, so check out Healthline’s Ways to Use Food Scraps and the EPA’s Food: Too Good to Waste Implementation Guide and Toolkit for more ideas.

Reduce Your Energy Consumption

Downloading instead of streaming can reduce the energy used by infrastructure like data centers providing media across the globe. Photo credit: Taylor Vick

It’s clear that the world has experienced an exponential increase in the use of video and music streaming. Streaming is a relatively sustainable way to enjoy media, when compared to devices like DVD players. However, these services are associated with energy use and carbon emissions from our own devices, as well as the infrastructure that delivers them to us. Exact energy consumption numbers are unclear and constantly changing (usually for the better), but for now, it’s evident that downloading does in fact use less energy than streaming, especially if you consume a piece of media more than once. Do you have a favorite album you can’t stop listening to, or a TV show you’re binging for the fifth time? Downloading is definitely the way to go, as it expends roughly the same amount of energy it takes to consume the media once, and saves on data usage.

Unplugging your appliances is also a great way to reduce energy consumption and save on bills. Most appliances still draw small amounts of power from your outlets, especially if there is a display or light indicating that it’s plugged in. Toasters, coffee makers, blenders, and device chargers are easy to unplug on the fly, and will cut down on your energy bill and your carbon footprint to boot.

Plant More Native Plants

Blooming butterfly weed, one of many native plant options, attracts pollinators of all kinds.

If you have a garden, yard, or community space, native plants will cut down on the consumption of multiple resources and have many environmental benefits. Native plants don’t require as much fertilizer or pesticide (if any), especially when compared to a traditional lawn. Reducing the use of nutrients and chemicals for your plants and greenspace decreases the amount getting into our groundwater. Speaking of water, native plants also require less of it to thrive, and their root systems are much more effective at preventing erosion than exotic, or non-native plants. These root systems reduce water runoff and flooding, which we love here at the Alliance.

Native plans also reduce our use of gasoline since they don’t need to be mowed! Cutting down on your fossil fuel usage obviously decreases your GHG emissions as well. No mowing also means more habitat and food for wildlife, including the all-important pollinator populations in the Chesapeake Bay. If you’d like to lose a little of your lawn, check out some tips from the Alliance’s Ryan Davis. Additionally, native plants are gorgeous and provide some spectacular views.


My final tip, and easily the most fun and fulfilling, is donating your time to an environmental or conservation organization like the Alliance, to amplify your impact, and ours. Volunteering is a great way to take action and get involved in the Alliance’s critical work to restore and protect the Bay and its watershed lands, creeks, rivers, and streams.

We’d love to see you at an upcoming volunteer event like live staking on February 25th and March 4th, Project Clean Stream, kicking off its spring season on March 31st, water quality monitoring, and seed collection and germination sessions. Keep an eye out on our Events page to see opportunities near you.

Alliance staff and volunteers gathered at LCSWMA in Lancaster, PA for a riparian forest buffer planting last fall.