Every single day, my nationally syndicated column "Do Just One Thing" offers just that: one simple, easy, money-saving idea that helps the environment and helps you live a greener life. The daily column is distributed by Universal Syndicate, the largest independent newspaper syndicate in the world.

If you're a newspaper who would like to carry "Do Just One Thing", contact Universal Press Syndicate.

Clean the Vents

Vacuum the vents throughout your home or wipe them down with a damp towel. Dust that collects around these vents can recirculate into the room every time the heat turns on. Cleaning them well will stop allergy-suffering at its source.


Since we’re all becoming a more digital society, leaving messages for your family at home should be as well. Instead of jotting down notes on paper, send a text message or an e-mail to the recipient. This way, you’ll cut down on paper use and also be more assured that they’ll get the message directly, too.

Furnace Inspection

An oil furnace should be cleaned and serviced by a licensed technician annually; a gas furnace every two years. A check-up and inspection will not only make sure your furnace is running as efficiently as possible, but will also reveal any dangerous leaks, including carbon monoxide. Set up an appointment today.

Foiled Again

Did you know aluminum foil is recyclable? After you’re done baking a casserole in the oven, just peel off the aluminum and crumble it up into a ball. If it’s coated with last night’s dinner, a quick rinse under the sink should remove any leftovers. Toss it in the curbside recycling bin for pickup.

Message Center

Transform a little-used wall into a functional message center. For your home office, paint the inside of a closet door or a small wall using chalkboard paint; it’s a nontoxic latex paint mixed with carbon (which allows you to write on it with chalk), and it is sold in most home improvement stores. Slather two coats of paint on whatever you want to make into a chalkboard. Then jot down your ideas, reminders and messages on the board.

Rent Tools

Instead of buying a piece of expensive home-improvement equipment that will be hardly used — like a carpet cleaner, power washer or paint sprayer — why not rent it instead? Major chain stores like Home Depot and Lowe’s rent out professional equipment to homeowners at a fraction of the cost. It’s much easier returning it, rather than finding space in your garage for it to sit unused.