22 ways to go green for Earth Day 2012

Learn about recycling, energy use, alternative fuels, and more

Published: April 2012

In celebration of the 43rd edition of Earth Day this Sunday, April 22, we've assembled 22 earth-friendly stories to provide you with information about recycling your used electronics gadgets, new energy-efficient lightbulbs,  low-VOC paints, alternative fuels, organic baby food, and much more.

Electronics

How to recycle old electronics devices
Chucking old cell phones, printers, computers, and TVs into landfills is bad for the environment. And in many states it’s illegal; electronics contain toxic materials such as lead, mercury, and arsenic, which can contaminate soil and drinking water. Our guide will show you what to do with your tech castoffs.

What to do with your old iPad
If you're dying to replace your current tablet with the new Apple iPad (which topped our most recent tablet-computer Ratings), be prepared to shell out some cash. But maybe you can get a discount by trading in. One of our editors shopped an iPad 2 around to five retailers to see what she'd get back for it; estimates varied up to $40.

How to recycle your TV
Tired of peering at that dusty old screen? Ready to upgrade to a bigger, better, flatter, smarter, television—maybe even a 3D TV? Find out how to get rid of the one you have in an eco-friendly way. (Click on the Recycle an old TV tab in our TV buying guide.)

Think green when you buy your computer
Computer manufacturers are getting smarter about how their machines use power. Find out how to choose the most energy-efficient PC, and save yourself some money while you're helping the environment. (Click on Shopping tips in our computer buying guide.)

Recycle your old phone for cash at an ATM
A clean-tech startup called EcoATM came up with this innovative idea: automated kiosks where you deposit your used electronics devices and get back money for them. The ecoATM evaluates the condition of the device and then offers you a cash amount.

Seven free green mobile apps
You can turn your mobile phone or tablet into a veritable green machine with these free downloads, including a carpooling app, a game that teaches eco-awareness, and an app that shows you where to recycle more than 240 materials, among others.

Home

Put your house on an energy diet
The average American household spends about $2,000 per year on energy, according to the Department of Energy, and about 45 percent of that is heating-related. Learn how to lower your utility bills without sacrificing comfort. 

Intent to buy green fades from five years ago
The number of Americans willing to pay more for an environmentally friendly product has declined over the last five years by 13 percent, according to a recent survey. Of those U.S. adults who did buy green in the last year, the top four purchases were lightbulbs, paper towels, laundry detergent and toilet paper. In Consumer Reports' tests, some of those products performed better than others.  

The guide to green kitchens
A few smart upgrades can help your kitchen work better and use less energy and water while making it a safer place for you and your family. Planning a major remodel? Now's the time to think about more-efficient appliances, less-toxic paint, and other key kitchen ingredients that look great, go the distance, and help save the planet.

New lightbulbs, new choices
The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 requires most screw-in lightbulbs to use at least 27 percent less energy by 2014. CFLs, LEDs, and some halogen bulbs meet that requirement. Standard incandescents do not and are being phased out. Use our guide to choosing replacement lightbulbs.

How to get rid of practically everything
Expand your attic, basement, bedroom, closets, counter space, garage, and/or shelving without paying a dime to a contractor. Sell, donate, recycle, or otherwise get rid of stuff that you no longer want and is hijacking space in your home.  

Repair or replace it?
What do side-by-side refrigerators, laptop computers, and zero-turn-radius riding mowers have in common? They're among the most repair-prone products you can buy, according to our latest reliability data as well as our most recent Repair or Replace survey.

With low-VOC paints, not all green labels are the same
Consumer Reports' newest Ratings of interior paints include many subpar low- and no-VOC paints along with those that made our winner's circle. You’ll also find a growing array of green logos, although some of those certifications are self-awarded. Here’s a guide to six of the most common green labels. 

Five new housing trends from the Builders' Show
The 800 exhibitors at the 2012 International Builders' Show showed some creative thinking despite a bleak housing market.

New water-saving toilets that don't skimp on performance
Consider the 140,000 times you’re likely to flush a toilet over a lifetime, and it’s easy to see why toilets guzzle nearly 30 percent of a home’s water use. Replacing an old toilet, especially one from 1995 or earlier, can save the average home at least 4,000 gallons and about $90 per year in water bills. 

Green upgrades can set your house apart
Looking for ways to improve the resale value of your home and still recoup the expenses? Adding some energy-efficient updates may help, but don’t be stingy. Consumer Reports found some good green performers in its tests.

Cars

Guide to getting the best fuel economy
We've gathered all our tips and advice for getting the best fuel economy. You'll want to bookmark this page. 

Find the most fuel-efficient car
If you're in the market for a new car, you'll want to know which ones get the best mileage, especially with high gas prices. Our lists show the vehicles within each category that achieved the best or worst gas mileage in our real-world tests.

Guide to alternative fuels
What are the pros and cons of alternatives to gas? What can you expect to see in fuels of the future? And what about that Fisker Karma? Check out our reviews, advice, and other key information.

How to save money on fuel now
The best way to burn less fuel is to buy a car that gets better gas mileage. But our tests with a Toyota Camry and other vehicles show there are ways to minimize what you spend at the pump with your current car.

Babies & Kids

BPA and baby bottles
Consumers Union has been studying this issue for years and believes that the chemical bisphenol A (BPA) should not be used in any materials that make contact with food. Learn about BPA and how to reduce your child's exposure.

Should you buy organic baby food?
In nonorganic baby food, fruit and vegetables are often condensed, a process that potentially concentrates pesticide residues. And children's developing systems might be especially vulnerable to damage from those toxic chemicals, so it makes sense to buy organic food for your baby when you can.


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