Going Green at Any Age

Green Space Today
John Shegerian

It’s easy to realize that a cleaner planet is better for everyone. However, each generation has specific ideas as to what “eco-friendliness” means. Children are often familiar with the simplistic adage, “Recycle, Reduce, Reuse.” For teenagers, going green may mean begging Mom and Dad for a hybrid car instead of a gas-guzzling SUV. Adults and seniors may see eco-consciousness as developing more socially-responsible consumption habits.

Regardless of age, there is plenty of common ground to share when it comes to sustainability. Recycling bins accept items from anyone. Libraries have something to interest every generation, from picture books to newspapers to current authors. Everyone enjoys finding out about an easy, eco-friendly way to clean their rugs or keep the dog off the furniture.

Here are some useful tips for people at different stages in life to help sustain a green lifestyle while still living well and saving money:


  • Investigate the locations of recycling bins at school and use them faithfully. If no recycling receptacles are available, help the school get some.
  • Pick up cans and bottles (be careful!) and take them to a recycling center or market to help clean up your town and make some spending money, too! Just use the “My Recycle List” iPhone app to find the closest recycling center.
  • Help your parents bring old clothes and books to a thrift shop or charity. Your “junk” is another kid’s treasure!


  • Vintage clothes can be fun to wear, and classic furniture can be restored to look as chic as ever. Remember, it’s always better to re-use rather than recycle if you can.
  • Borrow books or magazines from the library. You’ll be saving the environment and money all at the same time!
  • Check for natural and/or recycled materials in the things you buy. Starting the habit now will make thinking environmentally in the future effortless.


  • Establish a recycling program at work or routinely use the one already instituted. Use ceramic coffee mugs and dishes – never Styrofoam!
  • Stop most of your junk mail by writing to the Direct Marketing Service to be taken off major mailing lists: 11 West 46th St., New York, NY 10163.
  • Make small differences in your home; unbleached cloth napkins, cloth diapers, “living” Christmas trees in pots, replacing old bulbs with fluorescent compact ones, starting a composting heap, etc.
  • Ensure your home is energy-efficient by fixing leaks, checking insulation, choosing the best settings on your water heater and air conditioners, and possibly investing in new green technology such as solar panels or internal water recycling.
  • Donate items regularly. If an item can’t be donated, listings such as those provided by www.1800Recycling.com or the iPhone app, “My Recycle List,” will alert you to the closest location for recycling.


  • Seniors are well-respected for their political clout. Write to your representatives about green issues you care about. This will show that being green is not just a trend for the young but a necessary new lifestyle for everyone!
  • Stop most of your junk mail by writing to the Direct Marketing Service to be taken off major mailing lists: 11 West 46th St., New York, NY 10163.
  • Make sure your apartment, house, or assisted living facility has recycling bins accessible to everyone. Ask the staff of your senior center or home to implement green items and practices. On top of being eco-friendly, everyone will save money!
  • Don’t fear lugging large items to recycling centers. After calling 1-800-Recycling to find an appropriate facility, combine your recyclables with your neighbors and call 1-800-GOT-JUNK; they’ll come haul everything away for you!
  • Have a great cleaning remedy from your mother? Pass it along to family and friends.

With each group of people making a small effort, the cumulative effect can be mighty indeed.