Mankind’s increased emissions of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide cause global temperatures to increase, oceans to warm, ice sheets to shrink, glaciers to retreat, sea levels to rise, ocean acidification, and an strengthens extreme natural disasters. The rise of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere is due to the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation. It may seem like it is the responsibility of governments and corporations to protect the world from climate change, and it is, but we must also ask ourselves what we can do to slow and eventually reverse climate change. We can all make small changes in our lives that make a big difference in the world, and it might be easier than you think.
Green Living Tips
Transform your home into an sustainable oasis with these easy-to-implement tips.
Unplug Your Electronics
You know you’re supposed to turn off your electronics when they’re not in use, but did you know unplugging them altogether is an even more effective way to reduce your energy consumption? Even when not in use, any appliance that’s plugged into the wall will “leak” a constant trickle of energy. This energy leakage adds up and can have a significant impact on your overall electricity usage.
Disconnect Any Electronic Not in Use
The average household in America has about 40 items that are constantly plugged in. Some appliances, like your fridge, need a constant power supply to function. For others, such as your toaster, there’s no reason to keep them plugged in while they’re not in use. The unnecessary energy leakage caused by appliances that are constantly plugged in can account for up to 10% of your household’s energy use and can cost you over $100 each year.
Get a Power Strip
Using a power strip can make it easier for you to unplug many unused appliances at once. For example, after you’re done making breakfast, you can unplug one power strip in your kitchen to unplug your toaster, coffee maker, kettle, and blender all at once. The same can be done in your living room, where you can set up your television, DVD player, and gaming consoles to all connect to a single power strip. This will make the habit of unplugging your electronics easier to maintain.
Reuse to Reduce Your Use of Plastics
Fossil fuels are burned in the process of creating plastic, so it’s best to avoid plastic when possible and reuse it when you can. With these simple tips, you can cut a significant portion of the plastic waste out of your life.
Use Your Refillable Water Bottle
Americans throw away about 2.5 million plastic water bottles every hour. You can help reduce this number and save money by refilling a reusable water bottle instead. Keep some filled in your fridge, so they are easy to grab and go. Leaving one at work can remind you to hydrate while keeping your plastic consumption down.
Bring Shopping Totes
Many people intend to use reusable bags but forget them at home when they’re needed most. Keep a few reusable bags in the trunk of your car, so you don’t have to remember them each time you go shopping. You can also buy one that folds up nicely to carry in your purse, so it’s handy when you need it unexpectedly.
Ditch the Straws
A movement to eliminate the use of plastic straws has recently gained momentum after a video of a straw being removed from a turtle’s nose went viral. Since then, you may have noticed more and more people are using single-use paper straws, reusable stainless steel straws, or forgoing the use of straws altogether. Whatever your choice, there are many options other than using plastic straws.
Bring a Mug
The average American office worker uses approximately 500 disposable cups per year. Find a mug you love and start using it every day to reduce your use of wasteful disposable cups, which often aren’t even recyclable. Some coffee shops will even give you a small discount for bringing your own mug.
The average American throws out about 1,680 pounds of garbage every year. You can lower this amount by up to 75% by choosing to reduce, reuse, recycle, and compost.
Did you know less than half of all recyclable items in American households end up being recycled? With your help, that can change. Look into what items are recyclable in your community. Make an effort to ensure that recyclables are put in the recycling bin and teach others in your household how to do the same. Most paper, aluminum, plastic, and glass products can be recycled.
Compost is organic waste. In your household, most of your organic waste consists of food. When cooking, set aside a compostable bag for your food scraps to minimize the amount of food that ends up in the trash. Starting a compost heap in your backyard can be a great way to condition the soil for a home garden.
Other Eco-Friendly Tips
In addition to reducing waste, there are many other small lifestyle changes you can make in your home to reduce your ecological footprint.
Buy or Make Eco-Friendly Cleaning Products
When shopping for laundry detergents, dish soap, and other cleaning products, consider buying green products. If you’re more of a DIY crafty type, why not make your own? For an all-purpose, all-natural cleaner, simply mix 1 ¾ cups distilled water, 1 cup distilled white vinegar, and ¼ cup castile soap.
Donate the Clothes You Don’t Wear
If you’re not using something, give it away. By extending the lives of the products we consume, we reduce the need for more products to be made. When we decrease the demand for new products, production is decreased and fewer greenhouse gases are released into our atmosphere.
Buy Sustainable Furniture
When shopping for furniture, buy second-hand or vintage items when possible. If you’re on the hunt for something new, keep an eye out for certified sustainable wood, bamboo, reclaimed materials and recycled and recyclable products.
Many people don’t realize that what you eat plays a huge role in the size of your ecological footprint. Here are the easiest ways to greenify your diet.
At some point, most of the food you find at the grocery store had to be loaded on a boat, plane, train, or truck and moved great distances. The fuel cost of shipping food is very high. Food that has traveled less has a smaller ecological footprint, so look for local products next time you’re grocery shopping. Local farmers’ markets are especially green, as they often use less wasteful packaging as well.
Did you know the meat industry is more harmful to the environment than the car industry? The worst foods for the environment are lamb, beef, cheese, pork, farmed salmon, and turkey. Lamb and beef are by far the worst — more than double the emissions of cheese. Consider taking part in Meatless Monday or talk to your doctor about changing your diet to reduce or eliminate meat.
Bring reusable containers from home to stock up on food at bulk stores to avoid the unnecessary packaging often used at standard grocery stores.
Find Ways to Go Energy Efficient
If you’re willing to invest a little more money in the short-term, you can save money, energy, and maybe even the world in the long-term.
LED Light Bulbs
LED light bulbs are the most energy-efficient and longest-lasting light bulbs available. Using LED lights throughout your home is one of the easiest ways to reduce your energy consumption and the cost of your bill.
Solar panels are good for the planet and your wallet, and the cost of solar panels has dropped by about 80% in the past decade. By using solar panels to power your home or business, you use clean energy instead of contributing to the consumption of fossil fuels to create electricity.
Electric and Hybrid Vehicles
It’s cleaner and cheaper to drive an electric vehicle. Hybrids and fuel-efficient cars are also better than some gas-guzzlers. Take this into account the next time you’re shopping for a car, and you can help reduce our dependence on oil.
Another great way to make your home greener is to invest in a smart thermostat like Ecobee. The latest edition, Ecobee4, comes with room sensors that track temperatures throughout your home and ensure comfortable heating and cooling in each space. This efficient system is ENERGY STAR® certified and can help you save up to 23% on your energy bills. When it senses no one is home, it automatically switches to an energy saving mode. Ecobee also gives you complete control through your smartphone wherever you go.
As you can see, there are many ways to adopt a green living lifestyle, some of which take more effort than others. If we all do what we can to reduce our ecological footprint, we can save future generations from suffering the consequences of climate change.
- “Climate Change Evidence: How Do We Know?” NASA, NASA, 21 Sept. 2018, climate.nasa.gov/evidence/.
- “Effects of Climate Change.” WWF, World Wildlife Fund, www.worldwildlife.org/threats/effects-of-climate-change.
- “Ten Sustainable Actions.” Boston University, Boston University, www.bu.edu/sustainability/what-you-can-do/ten-sustainable-actions.
- “Together, Transforming Recycling for Good.” The Recycling Partnership, recyclingpartnership.org/.
- Sanders, Keri. “Three 3-Ingredient Cleaners for the Whole House.” HGTV, HGTV, 17 Sept. 2018, www.hgtv.com/design/make-and-celebrate/handmade/three-3-ingredient-cleaners-for-the-whole-house.
- Gordon, Jacob. “How to Choose Green Furniture.” TreeHugger, Treehugger, 8 July 2014, www.treehugger.com/htgg/how-to-go-green-furniture.html.
- “Livestock a Major Threat to Environment.” Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, FAO of the UN, 29 Nov. 2006, www.fao.org/newsroom/en/news/2006/1000448/index.html.
- “Solar Panels: Clean, Sustainable Electricity.” WWF, World Wildlife Fund, www.worldwildlife.org/pages/solar-panels.
- “Electric Vehicles.” Union of Concerned Scientists, www.ucsusa.org/clean-vehicles/electric-vehicles#.W6-RkVJRd0I.
- “Ecobee | Smart Home Technology.” Ecobee | Smart Home Technology, Ecobee, www.ecobee.com.