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RISMEDIA, February 19, 2011—(MCT)—Most of us have heard about all the big ways we can lead greener lives. We can do everything from buy a hybrid car to install solar panels on our roofs. However, there are also small ways to do your part every day that can really make all the difference in the world. Remember, at the core of ‘going green’ is simply to use less stuff and extend the life of what you already have. And, just because you want to start doing more with less, doesn’t mean you can’t have fun doing it. Here are a few things you can do on a small scale to help live a greener life.

I was recently invited to a clothing swap party, in which guests brought a minimum number of gently used clothes that they no longer wanted. Clothes were sorted by type—accessories, boots, dresses, jeans, etc. No money was exchanged and all the leftover clothes were taken to a battered women’s shelter. Sharing fashion and a glass of wine with friends is fabulous—and eco-friendly.

Recently, a friend shared her secret to getting magazines she always wanted but didn’t want to pay for. She and the neighbors in her cul-de-sac have a magazine swap without ever saying a word. When one is done reading the magazine they subscribe to, they put it in their next-door neighbor’s mailbox. That neighbor is free to do anything with it—from clipping out articles to passing it along. These neighbors are not just saving trees; they’re saving money on magazine subscriptions, too.

You can also consider creating swap events during your next book club or other regular events you share with friends. I heard about one book club where one month, friends brought costume jewelry pieces they didn’t wear anymore. It was a fun way to socialize before diving into the details of that month’s book.

And from looking good to doing good, there are plenty of ways to extend the life with other things you may want to toss in the trash.

Electronics, for instance, usually have plenty of life left even after we’ve upgraded. There are many charities that will take working pieces and put them to good use such as giving old cell phones to service men and women.

When you do need to shop for something new, shop smart. Look for items that you can use again or can be turned into something new. I buy greeting cards that contain seeds so the person I send it to can eventually plant them in their garden and watch them grow.

Little things really do add up. Whether you are socializing, shopping, or trying to organize your home, look for ways to do your part and go a little greener every day.

(c) 2010, The Charlotte Observer (Charlotte, N.C.).

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.