G R E E N      L I V I N G
Things You Can Do Right Now

The only hard part about a green behavior is trying it out long enough for it to become a habit. Then it is just as easy to do as whatever you were doing before. Those who were living in Marin in the mid-1970’s remember living through a long drought, and probably think back with a certain amount of pride to the stringent conservation habits we developed back then, and remember that it was not a painful sacrifice, but a good common cause. And we did it with humor and spirit.

Of course, being green can become yet another opportunity to beat ourselves, or someone else, over the head with expectations of perfection. No matter how dire we predict the future will be if people keep burying their heads in the sand, we can be sure that ranting statistical doom will only make them bury their heads deeper to avoid listening.

Instead, if we live our eco-actions with joy, chances are others will follow our lead. Because conservation is fun, delicious and economical. Not exactly a hard sell!

If all Marin Sierra Club members did some fine tuning of our daily habits, the effect would be enormous. And if each member inspired others, who knows what kind of ripple effect there would be?


Go Deep! Green that is.
Marin Clean Energy Deep Green option is a tiny bit more money per month, but almost twice as green as the Light Green option and more than five times as green as PG&E. Enroll.

MCE Deep Green Badge

Go Solar! The Sierra Club's solar partner Sungevity will promptly send you a free, no-obligations quote about the possibilities for your home. With their special financing, solar electricity may be much more affordable than you suspect.

Marin County Solar Energy Program

Solar calculator - Get a general idea of what it would cost to install solar panels without requesting a bid.

The Solar Living Institute
Promotes sustainable living through inspirational environmental education through workshops, etc. at their Hopland center.


Take the bus, ferry or shuttle
Golden Gate Transit Bus & Ferry Schedules

West Marin Stagecoach

Local Shuttles

Walk or ride a bike! Two organizations make it easy to find routes and more information:
Marin County Bicycle Coalition
and Walk Bike Marin

Find a Carpool
eRideShare.com or RideshareOnline.com

Carpool kids to school with SchoolPoolMarin!

Transportation Authority of Marin

Have a car only when you need it.
See when Zip Cars will be available near you. Someone in the family in college? See if your university has Zip Cars.

Compare vehicle emissions and mileage.

Go electric!
North Bay Electric Auto Assn.

Plug in America

Alternative Fuel
Find a biodiesel station


When deciding where to stay, choose accommodations close to the attraction. Even if it’s more expensive, it may be cheaper if it lets you skip renting a car.
When making a reservation, ask a few questions to see how green the hotel is. Your concern could have a big effect on future choices made by the management. Express a desire to stay at a hotel that has such features as low-flow showerheads, compact fluorescent lights, and recycling bins. Some boutique hotels not only have detailed energy- and water-saving programs but also pledge to use nontoxic cleaning supplies. Best Western recently broke ground for a LEED-certified (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) hotel near Denver. Still, green policies remain hit and miss. Many national chains, for example, leave it to local managers to decide what to do. So make sure to ask when looking for a reservation.

Some tricks for not needing a car at your destination. Doing without a car definitely takes more planning. Combining field trips may make it possible to rent a car for just a few days. If you rent a hybrid, you also can discover why owners love them. Passing on a car entirely doesn't mean you have to hoof it everywhere. Take the subway, hail a cab, or rent a tandem. You may cover less ground but have more fun. And you can bet the kids will remember that horse-drawn carriage ride more than squabbling over the backseat of their own car.

Judging a ‘Green’ destination can be tough.  How do you find out whether a destination is truly sustainable? Development without limits is usually a warning sign that all is not green. Another rule of thumb: Look for destinations where local communities are directly involved in conservation efforts. Download this National Geographic booklet to help you separate the green and not-so-green spots:

Take a vacation without leaving town. Start by not telling everyone you'll be staying in town. To avoid the same-old same-old, consider decamping to a local hotel: It'll have a pool and still be cheaper than gas to get out of town. No shuttling between your home and the in-town hideaway, however, or you'll get sucked back into your everyday life. As for what to do, think how common it is for all of us to skip local sights that tourists come across the country to visit. Why not start by taking a gander at your home place with fresh eyes?
Mixing up the routine is why we take vacations. Maybe that's why it's called re-creation. Be sure to involve the whole family in planning your in-town adventure. Unplug from your usual rat race, recharge a bit, and spend real time with loved ones. It could be your best vacation ever.

How much money do you spend on cleaning supplies? Think what you could do with all that money if you used inexpensive ingredients like white vinegar, washing soda, baking soda and liquid castille soap to make your own safe and effective cleaning products. It takes under five minutes every once in a while to save a lot of money, your health & the environment.
Cleaner recipes.

Bring your own bags when shopping.

Buy energy saver light bulbs, and turn them off when you're not in the room.

Drink tap water. Marin’s water is better regulated than bottled water. You can always install a filter if you want. Fill your own reusable bottle instead of using plastic. Get info on MMWD water.

Take a walk around your neighbor-hood & meet your neighbors! Stronger community relationships make for a happier life. Everybody on a different schedule? Reach out to them online through Nextdoor.com. If you don't have a network in your neighborhood, start one. It's simple and a great way to stay in touch for emergencies, parties, equipment sharing, carpooling, tracking lost pets and much more.

Power down your computer when you walk away from it. You can pick up right where you left off.

Get a smart power strip to plug in your electronics like WattStopper and Smart Strip .

Turn off the water while you lather up in the shower or brush your teeth. You'll feel free to spend more time massaging your scalp or gums.

Use an electronic programable thermostat and set it to activate only when you are home. When you travel, you can pause the program and set the temperature low or turn it off if the weather is mild. Set the temperature to low at night. You'll sleep better in a cool room.

Dance to raise your body temp! Fun!

Stop burning wood. There are healthier ways to heat your home and create romance in your life. Look into County programs to finance the changeover.

If you don't grow your own, buy your produce at farmers' markets and at stores working to provide organic local produce to their customers. Tell your grocery store how important it is to you and how much you appreciate their effort. At the grocery store it is very easy to buy foods out of season that come from far away. Plan meals that feature what's really tasty right now. You'll have the freshest, most flavorful, well-rounded and healthy food possible.

At the farmers' markets, notice where the farmers are coming from and choose to buy from the closest farms.
Fortunately locally grown foods taste infinitely better than foods that have to travel from great distances in refrigerated transport, and small farmers can grow varieties for taste rather than for how easily they can fit in a box or how well they tolerate abuse. Children who get to eat fresh local vegetables in season are much more enthusiastic and healthy eaters, and those who get to help grow their own are the most enthusiastic of all.
People who shop at farmers' markets have many more healthy social exchanges, leading to overall well being!
There are lots of farmers markets in Marin County. Some are year round, some are seasonal. Check out the schedule and locations of farmers' markets near you.

Can you be a green carnivore?
A 2006 report from the UN says, ‘The livestock sector emerges as one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global.’

Delicious alternatives abound:

Marin Vegetarian Education Group

Marin Organic

Other good food links: Recipes for seasonal eating from Animal, Vegetable, Miracle -- KingsolverFind Fair Trade Certified coffee, tea, sugar, rice, or fruit at these stores. Used coffee grounds have lots of uses: Click here and here for ideas.

Sustainably harvested seafood guide.
When it comes to buying clothes, the greenest and often hippest purchases are vintage. For great finds, shop at used-clothes boutiques, online stores, or at prominent antique shows like California’s Vintage Fashion Expo.If you have to buy new, look for eco-friendly materials like organic cotton, hemp, or recycled anything. Buy classic styles (not trends!) so that your purchase doesn't, in a year, end up in the landfill. And make sure your choices are well-made and durable so they don't fall apart after only a few months of wear.

Avoid clothes that require dry cleaning. Many clothes can be safely hand-washed in cold water even if they say "dry-clean-only." Learn more about dry cleaning chemicals.
For clothes you already own that require dry cleaning, look for alternative dry cleaners that don't use PERC.

Rethink your exercise regime. What if, as in olden days, your physical workout was a natural part of your daily life. In other words, instead of driving to the store and then walking on a treadmill in a gym, you walk or bike to do your errands. The packages you carry or pull home will help build muscles. Use your muscles to dig up your lawn and plant a vegetable garden!


The Green Life
- Sierra Club National page full of ideas.

Ask Mr. Green - Sierra Club National answer man for all things green.


Sustainable Fairfax

Sustainable Mill Valley

Sustainable Novato

Sustainable San Rafael

Watch specific episodes of The Lazy Environmentalist.

Terrain for Schools
Lower your school’s energy costs.

Make this page even more useful.
If you know of a non-profit or agency site that should be here, please let us know.

Please report!

G R E E N   L I N K S

Watch & Share:

'Story About Stuff' video

Why We Must Ban Plastic Bags

The Green Business Program video

Find Green Businesses

Apply for green certification for your business

Marin Sanitary Service customers are encouraged to put all food scraps in their green yard waste containers, now picked up on weekly basis. More information.

Can you recycle it? Find out here.

What does your trash collector accept?
Mill Valley

Marin Sanitary

ZERO WASTE MARIN may have more information specific to your neighborhood.

Never put your old electronics, computers, cell phones, etc. in the trash. Instead contact Renew Computers or Green Citizen.

Dispose of unused pills responsibly
by taking them to the Coroner's Office at 1600 Los Gamos Drive, Lobby A, Suite 205, (Marin Commons buildings, Smith Ranch Road exit.) Just put all the pills in a plastic bag and recycle the containers.
Or check with your local pharmacy to see if they will take them to dispose of properly.
As a last resort, take the pills out of their bottles, mix them with coffee grounds or kitty litter, seal them in a zippered bag or a disposable container, and throw that away.

Keep hazardous electronics waste out of the landfill:    San Rafael        Novato

Recycle your working Refrigerator & Freezer
(click on 'rebate pickup' & put in zip code)

CA Integrated Waste Management Board

Not ready for the trash heap? Items in usable condition should never go into the landfill. Instead make a tax-deductible donation to a local charity.
Need the cash? Clothes in good condition can be resold thru a number of consignment shops throughout Marin. Choose the one that matches yours.

Outgrown toys and household items are easy to give away or sell to neighbors on Nextdoor.com.

Donate your old shoes. Find the closest drop off location for Soles4Souls.org charity.

Donate good dresses to The Princess Project.

Donate your old eyeglasses so someone else can see. Drop off locations.

Easy online clothes consignment:buy or sell with ThredUp.

Donate clothes you don't want and get clothes you do for free ($2 transaction fee on purchases.) with Yerdle, the people-powered store.

Rent single occasion dresses at Rent the Runway where it's new to you and reasonable too.

Swap books, music, DVDs, and video games for ones you want.

Post your item on Marin Max, IReuse, Craigslist or ebay. Please do not abandon items on the curb!

Medical equipment re-use service -- free to anyone who needs it. Walkers, toilets, crutches, canes, etc. Donate for deduction.

Stop the amount of stuff coming into your life in the first place! Rethink each purchase, share or rent seldom-used equipment, and buy second hand.

Visit the library. Do you really need to own every book you read?

Stop Junk Mail

Easy One Step Catalog Reduction

Purchase Recycled Products

If you reduce, re-use and recycle chances are you can't fill a whole garbage can every week. Call your trash collector and make sure you have the smallest can possible. You'll save money!

Put your money where your mouth is by divesting from polluters. Learn how.


Get the facts on pesticides and herbicides

Planning a garden? Check out these water wise gardens for inspiration.

Choose native plants
Native Plant Nursery
Native Seeds

Alternatives to invasive garden plants

Creating a beautiful and healthy Bay-Friendly garden

H2ouse Garden Guide

Organic gardening

Save our threatened gardening heritage by planting heirloom seeds.

Composting Guide

How to Compost

Marin Master Gardeners Programs
(including how to compost)


Consumer Energy Center

Heating & Cooling Options

ENERGY STAR Federal program.

PG&E Flex Your Power
Incentives/rebates, technical assistance, retailers, product guides.

Except for energy upgrades, of course the most environmentally friendly choice is to simply maintain your property as is. But if you are set on doing something, here are some good resources.

Marin County Green Bldg/Biz Programs


Cool Roof Program

Choices for Home Construction

Straw Bale Construction

Considering bamboo flooring? Things to know.

Construction Waste Recycling and Salvage
California Materials Exchange

Ohmega Salvage, Berkeley

Other Bay Area Salvage Yards

Farmers Market

While conservation is always smart, now is the time we really must conserve! MMWD offers important ways to conserve water. Please read and incorporate whatever you can.

Just being aware of water as a precious finite resource helps.

Turn off your irrigation system and water thirsty plants with water collected in buckets while you're waiting for the tap to get hot, for example. (There are circulating hot water systems to reduce wasted water, but be sure you check how much energy they use to keep the water hot before investing in this solution.)

Put your dishwasher and washing machine on short cycle settings unless absolutely necessary. Only run with full loads.

Some solutions seem smart but aren't. Handwashing dishes or choosing paper plates instead is not the answer.

DIRTY CAR? Badge of honor. But keep you windshield clean for safety. If you do wash your car, take it to the carwash where water is recycled, and uses less than half of house water.

Invest in water conserving fixtures and appliances. MMWD has rebates for you!

Set irrigation settings right for the season

Water conservation tips from CaWCR

A handy tool for fine tuning water conservation from H2ouse.

Water Waste Prevention
Stop or report the practice of hosing down hard surfaced areas, significant run-off from irrigation, and leakage.