We all hear about the extreme green warriors who pop up in the news every so often. There’s that woman who decided to try and fit all of her trash in a single mason jar, which thoroughly shamed those of us who take two big bags of trash out to the curb every week. There are people who “live off the grid” and try to produce their own electric power using solar energy, since solar energy is cleaner than coal. Even going vegetarian or vegan can be seen as an environmental choice.

There’s a saying that instructs people to “Go big or go home.” But it doesn’t apply to every single situation, and there are still ways to do plenty of good without getting to the point where you only take one three-minute shower a week. The fate of the earth is a worrisome topic to a lot of people. Every sign of progress seems to be negated by something negative. There’s a fear that if we don’t figure out how to be nicer to the earth soon, then it will be too late. Some people think it’s already too late. It’s all a lot to take in, but you should know that there are some overlooked ways to be friendlier to Mother Earth.

Biodiesel

Fossil fuels have a net negative effect on the planet. Sure, there’s talk among politicians about “clean coal,” but that’s an oxymoron. Coal production is dirty by nature. “Clean coal” makes about as much sense as the term “dry deep-sea diving.” The words just don’t pair well together. But if you have a diesel car, you don’t have to keep filling it with petroleum diesel. Instead, you can fill it with the grease from the potato fryer at your favorite diner. Yes, there are biodiesel companies who go to restaurants, collect cooking oil, and then convert it into a substance capable of powering your car. It may seem futuristic, but it’s a relatively simple process that can be boiled down to “collect, refine, and refuel.” There are additional byproducts created in the process of converting grease to biodiesel. Those byproducts, or bioproducts, can be sold back to local businesses, as well as used to heat houses. Biodiesel may sound like a strange concept, but it’s got a much smaller carbon footprint than traditional diesel fuel. It also really reduces the emissions that come out of your car’s tailpipe.

Biodiesel fueling stations aren’t everywhere yet. But the fuel makes an impact wherever it goes, and it seems likely that biodiesel will continue to grow in popularity as more and more people seek to become environmentally aware. So don’t feel bad about swinging through the drive-thru and ordering fries occasionally. It’s quite possible that the grease used to make those fries will soon be converted to fuel for your car. In a weird way, eating fast food can be good for the planet.

Greenhouses

No, we’re not talking about greenhouses, which are enclosed spaces used to grow flowers. Whether your house is brand new or was built in the last century, you can reduce your carbon footprint by investing in things like energy-friendly appliances. Looking to build a new home? In that case, you have even more options, as you can build an entire home that’s Energy Star certified. Energy Star homes get the most out of every single resource, and the builders do their best to make sure there’s no unnecessary waste. Energy Star homes are the future, and the future is now.

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