Information for Individuals & Families
"Living green" means doing the best you can to live with the least environmental impact on the planet. But we can feel overwhelmed when we read about all the environmental problems facing us. It's hard to know what to do. But even small changes at home, work, school and play can move us towards living a more sustainable lifestyle. Here are some ideas you can begin to use today.
Here are 40 green tips to get you started
Prescription and Personal Care Products (PPCPs)- Cosmetics and Personal Care Products, Disposal of PPCPs
Be an Informed Consumer- Green Products, Consuming Responsibly, Gifts and Celebrations, Nanotechnology, Plastic Products, Packaging
Getting Around - Purchasing Vehicles, Driving, Commuting, Travel
Stay Informed- DEEP Publications, Free on-line newsletters, DEEP Videos on-line
Prescription and Personal Care Products (PPCPs) - PPCPs include prescription and non-prescription medicines, cosmetics, body care items, animal and agricultural products, fragrances, sunscreens, and vitamins. These products get into the environment through manufacturing, human activities and disposal. They can pollute our water and harm aquatic life. Some chemicals in cosmetics and personal care items can also be harmful to human health. The resources below will help you make better choices for the environment and your health. PPCPs include prescription and non-prescription medicines, cosmetics, body care items, animal and agricultural products, fragrances, sunscreens, and vitamins. These products get into the environment through manufacturing, human activities and disposal. They can pollute our water and harm aquatic life. Some chemicals in cosmetics and personal care items can also be harmful to human health. The resources below will help you make better choices for the environment and your health.
Health and Environmental Impacts
- EPA provides information on PPCPs, how they get into the environment and the effects on water and aquatic life.
- Skin Deep is a safety guide to cosmetics and personal care products. You can search the database for a health safety score for a product, a specific ingredient or a company.
- The Campaign For Safe Cosmetics is a national coalition of non-profit health and environmental organizations. They work with the personal care products industry to make products safer for workers and consumers.
- Federal Drug Administration (FDA) guidance on cosmetic products.
Disposal of PPCPs
- Protect our water and aquatic life. Don't flush prescription drugs or over-the-counter medicines down the toilet or sink. Learn how to dispose of them properly.
- Some chain pharmacies such as CVS, Walgreens and Rite Aid provide disposal envelopes for prescription and over-the-counter medicines for a small fee. Ask your pharmacist for details and program restrictions.
- Find a collection where you can take back your unwanted prescription drugs.
Be an Informed Consumer
Every time you purchase something - from a cup of coffee to a car - you impact the environment and your pocketbook. You can be a smarter and greener consumer by arming yourself with information about how the product is produced, what it is made from, the packaging and how it will eventually be disposed.
- Learn about CT's Climate Change Plan and actions our residents are taking to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Use EPA's Household Emissions Calculator to get an estimate of your personal or family’s greenhouse gas emissions and learn ways to reduce them.
Green Products & Services:
- The Green Guide is the "green living source for today’s conscious consumer". This guide provides information on a variety of environmentally preferable products.
- Green Seal, EcoLogo (Underwriters Laboratory) and EPA's Safer Choices Labeling (previously Design for the Environment (DfE) certify many kinds of products for environmental and health safety.
- The Center for Environmental Health (CEH) has created a new Healthier Furniture Product Guide to help purchasers find products that do not contain the “hazardous handful” chemicals: flame retardants, fluorinated stain treatments, antimicrobials, PVC and formaldehyde.
- Find a local dry cleaner that uses wet cleaning or ask the dry cleaner you typically use to switch to wet cleaning because it is safer for customers, workers and the environment. NEW! Watch a short video to find out more about the benefits of wet cleaning.
- Tips on Recycling, Reuse and Waste Reduction
- New American Dream has advice on how to consume responsibly and protect the environment.
- Use Less Stuff and The Minimalists are interesting and useful resources
Gifts and Celebrations:
- Give a gift that will help protect CT's environment, aid in habitat restoration efforts, endangered species conservation, public outreach, research, and environmental education.
- Looking for a gift for a holiday or special event? Consider food, tickets to an event or a donation to their favorite charity rather than buying the latest fad item or something that may not be used. More ideas from the New American Dream.
- Have an eco-friendly party. Send invitations via e-mail. Use reusable plates, cups and cutlery at your next event or work celebration.
Use Your Purchasing Power:
Contact manufacturers of products you use by phone or e-mail and let them know you want products that have less impact on the environment (e.g. less packaging).
Plastic Products and Packaging:
- Bring your own reusable bagsinstead of using the paper or plastic ones offered at the store. Public Act 19-117 bans single use plastic bags over the next 2 years. The Town of Westport had previously banned plastic bags.
- Plastics are in so many products and packaging. Know which ones can be easily recycled and which ones to avoid by checking out CT Dept. of Public Health's Plastics Primer.
Nanotechnology is the design and manipulation of materials at the atomic and molecular level. It has the potential of creating many benefits, but it may also pose risks to our health and the environment. Nanoparticles are increasing found in many consumer products from clothing, electronics and personal care products.
Getting Around - Cars, Commuting, Travel
According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, transportation by car or truck is the largest single source of air pollution in the United States. There are many things you can do to - from the kind of car your purchase to the way you drive - that will help keep our air cleaner and minimize greenhouse gases.
Purchasing Vehicles and Driving:
- Fact Sheet on "Reducing Your Environmental Footprint" - Information on purchasing a vehicle, driving and maintenance tips
- Get information on clean vehicles from the Union of Concerned Scientists.
- Green Car Institute
- US EPA - Green Vehicle Guide
Idling is "fuelish"! CT law prohibits vehicles from idling for more than 3 minutes. Turn off that engine to keep our air clean and healthy.
Relax, save gas and wear and tear on your car on your commute to work or school by taking public transportation, van or carpool. Or ride your bike!
- CT Rides is your one-stop-shop for all your public transportation needs. Live Chat available! Find vanpools, join carpools, learn about telecommuting, and sign up for programs that provide rewards for greener commuting.
- CT Department of Transportation - Bus, train, bike information
- Get a free trial ride! See how easy it is to commute by bus or van pool in CT, save energy and keep our air cleaner and healthier.
- Bike Walk CT is the organization working statewide to make Connecticut bike and pedestrian friendly; They
sponsor a statewide Bike to Work campaign and have resources including a list of bike buddies to ride with.
Take your environmental ethic with you on vacation and reduce the environmental impact of your travel.
- Find out some tips on how to green your traveling.
- Stay in or recommend a CT certified Green Hotel or other green hotel.
- If you must fly for business or pleasure, purchase carbon offsets to reduce the effects of greenhouse gas emissions related to your trip.
Green At Work
You make home purchases with the environment in mind, recycle faithfully at home and carpool to work. But what happens after you arrive at your desk? Do you recycle? Is your building cleaned with non-toxic products? Check out our ideas for how you can green your workplace.
- Start a green team at your workplace.
- Find out what we are doing to green DEEP. Use ideas like forming a reuse center for office supplies at your workplace.
- Energy Star rated products can save money and protect the environment.
- Green your meetings by printing less and having staff bring their own reusable coffee mugs.
- Less toxic cleaning products can improve the air quality in your office and protect health of janitorial staff.
- You can find green cleaning products at Green Seal, EcoLogo (Underwriters Laboratory) and EPA's,EPA's Safer Choices Labeling. Each certifies that a product is "green" based on certain environmental and health criteria and standards.
- TeleWORK Working at home saves gas, keeps vehicles off the road, reduces stress, improves productivity and more.
- You can create a healthier and more sustainable home office by making better choices from furniture to fonts that are miserly with ink. Learn more.
Speak Up, Volunteer, Donate!
Set an example and talk to your kids, neighbors and friends about habits that are good for the environment like recycling and buying locally-grown food and products.
- Learn how to discuss environmental issues.
- Contact CT House and Senate members to voice your opinions about environmental matters.
- Vote! The CT League of Conservation Voters informs residents about environmental issues facing CT.
- Make an important contribution toward the preservation of our environment for future generations. Give your time and talents as a volunteer for the DEEP.
- Join, contribute your time or money to your favorite environmental causes or organizations.
- Make a charitable donation to the Long Island Sound Fund. Your gift supports the preservation of Long Island Sound-CT’s most valuable natural resource.
Find another home for used clothing, household goods and more. Donate them to a charity or put them up on the Freecycle or Craigslist websites.
Seniors and the Environment
Seniors can draw on their lifetime of experiences and knowledge to live a more sustainable life and pass that knowledge to younger generations.
- The National Senior Conservation Corp Gray is Green initiative is for seniors who are interested in the environment and conserving our natural resources.
- Get inspired by what the staff and residents at the Orchards at Southington assisted living facilty are doing to eliminate toxic cleaning chemicals, recycle and conserve energy and water.
There is so much information available about the environment, it's hard to know where to begin or know what information is reliable. Here are some places to start.
Publications, Newsletters, Videos, Movies:
- Subscribe to a DEEP publication such as Your Environmental Connection, Connecticut Wildlife, or Sound Outlook.
- Want to learn more about DEEP programs, state parks, home composting and more? Watch a video on-line.
- Care2 is a resource for living a more sustainable life. There is information on hundreds of topics written in a friendly, easy to understand way.
- Grist has "reliable environmental news and commentary with a wry twist".
- Spend an evening at home watching an environmental movie or film.
Content last updated October 2019