“The environment” is just a silly way of saying “what we need in order to survive here”. The Earth itself will be just fine. It'll continue orbiting the sun long after humans have polluted themselves into extinction. “Saving the Planet” then is a misnomer; it doesn't need saving. What needs saving are the resources that we require as humanity: air, water, food, minerals, etc.
What follows are simple, non-expensive ways to reduce your negative impact on the environment. In most cases, they don't cost any extra money. In some cases, they'll save money. The lists are organized around the popular mantra: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.
"Reduce" is rightly the first of the three Rs. It means reducing your consumption. If you buy less, then there's less to worry about reusing and recycling (or throwing in a landfill). It also means factories will make less and pollute less, extractors will mine less raw materials. It also almost always means you save money.
Use less gasoline/petrol *†
Combine multiple errand trips into one *†
Don't drive your kids to school if there's a bus that will take them *
Don't drive when you could walk (example: to check the mail) *†
When replacing light bulbs, consider LED (CFLs contain the poison mercury) *†
Set clothes dryer to "low", run it in the morning *†
Use cool water for clothes washer when possible *†
Take cool, quick showers *
Turn off the TV / computer when not in use *†
Avoid buying one-use, single-serving containers of food/drink *†
Skip fast food restaurants; all their containers are single-serving / throwaway *
Groceries: buy larger packages, usually less packaging per ounce of food/drink *†
Don't use paper plates, plastic/styrofoam cups, or plastic flatware at home *†
Use less paper * †
Use washable cloth napkins instead of disposable paper napkins *†
Use washable cloth rags instead of disposable paper towels *†
Enroll in paperless billing *†
Make notes / lists in digital form when possible *†
If you must use paper, print / write on both sides of paper *†
Use less plastic †
Reusable fabric shopping bags instead of throwaway plastic/paper †
Choose products with less plastic packaging material
Use refillable lighters instead of disposable lighters *†
If you must buy something, try to buy something that can be reused as something else when you're done with it (see examples below). Consider not buying something at all if it can't be reused later (like paper napkins, the only purpose of which is to be thrown in the garbage). And remember "buying something" includes the packaging.
Coffee grounds: fertilizer and/or ant deterrent (learned here) *†
Plastic condiment jars: nail/screw holders in garage (on my blog) *†
Old CD/DVD shelf: shoe rack in garage corner *†
Old Pringles can: photography DIY project (on my blog) *†
Lawn clippings: leave on the lawn or rake into low spots so they can naturally decompose *†
Replaced mobile phone: donate to local women's shelter
Replaced mobile phone: give to child for a toy *†
Recycling is the last resort of the three Rs. If you can't/won't reduce your consumption, and you insist on buying something that can't be repurposed, then make sure it's recyclable. Recycling is resource-intensive and not exactly "green", but it's better than throwing things in the landfill.
If your city doesn't have municipal recycling, there are likely drop-off centers in your area.
If your city has voluntary recycling (like Killeen), sign up for it. †
If your city has mandatory recycling (like NYC), embrace it.
Lots of items aren't taken by normal recycling programs, but can still be recycled
CFL and other flourescent bulbs
Batteries, both single-use and rechargeable
Plastic shopping bags †
I began this page as simply ‘notes to myself’. For instance, I thought I would forget the coffee grounds tip if I didn't write it down. Then I started listing things I had already been doing. Then I added things I wanted to start doing. Now it's more of a general tips page, an ideas box.
* indicates items that save money and/or time, as well as the environment
† indicates items I do (or have done, in some cases)