Environmental Etiquette

Environmental Etiquette

By Tina Hayes and Indigo Silva

The Earth is our home. Often times we forget that we must take care of our environment in order for it to continue to take care of us. The golden rule, “treat others the way you would wish to be treated,” can also be applied to the environment. By following these rules of environmental etiquette you can do your part in keeping mother Earth clean and green.

Going Green at Home

There are small things that we can all do at home that can make a big difference in the environment.  For instance, use cloth napkins daily instead of paper.  It is best to use everyday serve ware (plates, bowls, etc) and flatware (forks, spoons and knives) instead of paper and plastic. But if you elect to do so, try to buy biodegradable products.  For water, buy a pitcher that filters water from the faucet and store in your refrigerator instead of buying plastic bottles.   Glass bottles are also great for storing beverages such as water and milk. This not only saves money but space. Look for light bulbs, light fixtures and home appliances that save energy when used.  Some companies offer rebates and even discounts when purchased and used inside the home. Lastly, ditch the plastic and paper bags and use recyclable ones that you can purchase for $.99 at most retailers.  They are stylish, have a lot of room for purchases and great for the environment.

Neighborhood Trash Day

Place your cans out the night before garbage day approaches. Leave a couple of feet between the bins and the sidewalk so the garbage truck can easily perform its pick-ups and make sure your trash bins are not in the way of the mailbox. If your bin is full but you have more trash to throw away, do not place it in your neighbor’s bins without asking permission first. Ensure that the lids of your cans are secured to avoid trash flying throughout the neighborhood. Lastly, put your bins away promptly once you see they have been emptied, don’t leave them out the rest of the week.


Recycle bins are not extra trash bins; they are to be utilized for recyclables only. Make sure you place the recyclables in their rightful bins: glass, plastics, aluminum/metal, cardboard and paper. Public recycle bins are marked with what items can be disposed in that bin. If the recycle bin does not accept all recyclables, be sure that your item can be placed in that bin. When the wrong item is tossed into a bin, it can jam recycle equipment or ruin an entire batch of what could have been valuable recycling products. Remove labels before recycling items and be sure to rinse all items that did not contain water before disposing of them.


Littering is a show of disrespect for the communities in which we live and it is extremely bad for the environment. Areas with large amounts of litter gain a bad reputation and the values of properties diminish. Make sure you dispose of your trash in designated trash cans and if you don’t see one hold on to your trash until you do. You can find out more about programs administered to help “Keep America Beautiful” at www.cleansweepusa.org.

Smoking in Public

Not everyone enjoys cigarette smoke. When smoking in public, the smoker must remember to be mindful of non-smokers. If you are smoking in an area where the smoke can drift near other people, make an effort to distance yourself or when close to others, ask permission to smoke near them. Watch where you ash; ashes can dirty the surfaces they drop on. When you are finished with your cigarette, do not throw the cigarette butt on the ground. Assure that the cigarette is extinguished and dispose of it in a designated ashtray. If there are no designated areas to dispose of your cigarette, wrap it in a tissue or napkin until you find a designated area or trash can.

By following these environmental etiquette tips you can do your part in making sure our environment stays clean and healthy.

Share this article

Tina Hayes is the founder and owner of The School of Etiquette and Decorum in Antioch, CA. As a passionate instructor dedicated to providing quality and professional etiquette training to her clients, Mrs. Tina Hayes promotes the awareness that social presentation and behaviors are important to be successful in today's society for all ages.