The Lazy Guy’s Guide to Going Green

By Jane Mountain | November 11, 2011

A Lazy Guy Sleeping

I know we green freaks have a reputation as non-stop powerhouses of energetic do-goodness. If we see a piece of trash we’ll sprint across a five-lane highway to pick it up and scold the litterbug while we’re at it. If we hear a tap dripping, we’ll immediately get out our toolboxes and set about making repairs.

I know what you’re thinking.

Where the hell do they get the energy? I’d save the world too if only I wasn’t so sleepy!

Great news. Even though you’re too lazy to lift your TV remote, you too can save the world. With your laziness! What could be more awesome?

Lazy Way to Save the World 1: Stop Showering
A typical shower uses up to 30 gallons (114L) of water. That’s 10,950 gallons of water in a year. Yikes. That’s enough to fill, like 10 of your very own hot tub time machines. So if you want to take a luxurious soak in a hot tub in 1986, for god’s sake, stop showering.

(Note: This blog does not advocate the use of hot tubs. They are a waste of electricity and a festering pool of bacteria. Especially if you haven’t showered for a year).

You could also not:
Do laundry (40 gal), shave (15 gal), wash the car (100 gal), brush your teeth (2 gal), wash the dishes (20 gal), flush (7 gal)

Lazy Way to Save the World 2: Stop Shopping
Your delightful significant other has just suggested you pop out to Bed, Bath & Beyond to pick up a new toaster oven. You would rather kneecap yourself than spend your Saturday slumping around BB&B (the bastard child of Sky Mall and the late-night infomercial).

To save your knee caps and your Saturday, memorize this:

Toaster ovens – and all things you buy – are made of stuff. No duh, right?

But when you start thinking about that stuff (like copper, iron, mica, aluminum) and where it comes from (mostly strip mines that were once pristine stretches of nature) it starts to make your tuna melting needs seem a little less important.

Then there’s the energy used in the manufacturing and shipping of all those materials, not to mention the energy used to light and cool the BB&B where your toaster oven is sold.

And once you get the damn thing home, it just keeps sucking money from your wallet and energy from your outlet. It’ll cost about $15/year in electricity, much of that while you’re not even using it.

A few years later, when some little moving part inside stops working, you’ll be sending your toaster to the top of a teetering pile made up of the 200 million tons of trash Americans landfill every year.

Poor Wall-E, give him a break by NOT buying that toaster oven.

You could also not buy:
Clothes (cotton is the most pesticide intensive crop in the world, and don’t get me started on synthetics), a new iPhone (read The Life Cycle of a Cell Phone to find out why), anything on this list.

Lazy Way to Save the World 3: Call In Sick
Don’t want to get out of bed and face the zombies and tyrants who populate your workplace? Don’t.

Here’s what you’ll be saving:

  1. If you have an average commute, you’ll avoid using around 1.5 gallons of gas, which at today’s gas prices is approximately $3500.
  2. About 1600 watts of power to run your computer equipment for 8 hours (you could run a toaster oven for more than a year on that!). Of course, this is only a savings if you don’t spend your sick day surfing the net while sitting in front of the TV.
  3. Around 10 paper towels, depending how many times a day you wash your hands (you use real towels at home, right?). You’ll also save any paper you would normally use to print documents (why oh why do people still print stuff?). Plus, there’s like a tree’s worth of paper you would destroy while doodling rude caricatures of your co-workers during meetings.
  4. A buttload (technical measurement) of paper and plastic by not getting lunch to go. You’ll also avoid using the massive amounts of energy and water wasted at a typical restaurant, which uses up about 5x more energy than, say, an office of the same size.

Other stuff you could call in sick for:
Your cousin’s baby’s first birthday party (save on gas, wrapping paper, party balloons, buying a plastic toy for a present, Aspirin), anything else you’d rather skip.

Don’t Fly Home for the Holidays
If you don’t live in the US, you will not understand the massive human migration that happens every late November. It should really be documented by David Attenborough.

Just understand this: everybody (and I mean everybody) gets on a plane to spend four days fighting with their loved ones and secretly mumbling under their breath “I’m thankful that I only have to see these people like once a year”. This year, just don’t do it.

Why not?

On a return flight from LA to Dallas, for example, your portion of the CO2 emissions will be 1160kg. How much is that? Well, in a year, the average citizen of India is responsible for about 900kg. So yeah, it’s a hell of a lot.

Other flights you could not take:
JFK-ATL (740kg, or drive your car for 5 months), DFW-HOU (160kg, or run your fridge for 1.5 years), BOS-HON (5580kg, or drive your car for more than 2 years)

I know you’re much too lazy to read any more than that, so I’ll leave it there. Now roll over and go back to sleep, knowing you’re doing the world some good.

Or, if you have enough energy to move your fingers, take a minute to tell me your favorite lazy ways to be green in the comments.

Hi, I’m Jane, founder and chief blogger on My Five Acres. I’ve lived in six countries and have camped, biked, trekked, kayaked, and explored in 50! At My Five Acres, our mission is to inspire you to live your most adventurous life and help you to travel more and more mindfully.


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  3. Comment by Stephen Ewashkiw

    Stephen Ewashkiw Reply November 15, 2011 at 3:28 pm

    I am not a lazy green bean, but I like to add things to my life that are EASY to do. And some of these lazy suggestions are right up my street. Thanks!

    One more for the list:
    I stopped shampooing my hair more than one year ago – and I haven’t looked back since. Let me be clear about what I mean. In the past year, I have personally washed my hair four times. When I get my hair cut (about 5 times per year) I also get it washed by my hair dresser.

    What do I do inbetween shampooings? I rinse my hair when I shower – I use my fingers, massage my scalp, and rinse away my hair product. I use an all natural hair product (the Gloss Pomade from so it rinses away in water only, and leaves no residue. When I first told my hair dresser, she couldn’t believe it. No more dry scalp issues ever, and I feel a whole lot greener.

    Not only am I not using several plastic bottles worth of shampoo a year, but I spend less time in the shower, so use less water.

    Next up: try turning the shower off while you soap up. Turn it back on to rinse off.

    • Comment by JaneM

      JaneM November 16, 2011 at 10:24 am

      Ok, admit it. How many people read blaim’s comment and thought “ew, that’s gross”. I did.

      Then I thought about why I think that’s gross. I quickly realized that I think you need to wash your hair every day because shampoo commercials tell me I do. And if that makes my scalp dry or my hair dry, I should use more products more often to fix my “problem hair”.

      It’s amazing how something that everyone does and nobody questions can be easily traced back to years of being blasted by corporate marketing.

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