So it seems pretty intense- saving the world and all. Although our hearts are in the right place, many of us turn the other cheek to some of the issues in the world because we cannot stomach the thought of them. This doesn’t make one a bad person, but there is the realization of, “well if I’m not doing something, who is?”. Being more conscious of our individual impacts on the environment is the first step to making things better. Here are 25 not-so-difficult ways you can be green all year long, starting with something less obvious than you think…
Minimize Your Digital Footprint
1. Delete Useless emails. Have you seen your inbox lately? Between day-to-day work communications, to endless sales promotions from your favorite stores, and of course the unauthorized spam-a-rama, we get a lot of them. A recent study shows that storing 1GB of e-mail during one year consumes 32.1 kWh.
Strawberry code recently put things into perspective by saying “If every person in France deleted 50 old e-mails, this would be equivalent to switching off 1.6 billion low energy light bulbs for one hour, turning off the Eiffel Tower lights for 24 hours, or even half a day of zero electricity consumption across Paris.”
Makes you feel the irony around the signature email message “please do not print for the sake of the environment”, when it should be “please delete once you have read and don’t need anymore”.
Water is a precious resource we surely cannot go without. With water cleanliness a huge concern worldwide due to industrial pollution as well as the recent drought in California, conserving water is heavy on out minds. Here are some ways you can conserve water in your home and throughout the day:
2. Take shorter showers (about 5 minutes), turn off water when washing your hair (saves 150 gallons per month), and install low-flow shower heads which will save you 2.5 gallons
3. Did you know that each toilet flush uses between 3.5 and 7 gallons of water? That’s the equivalent of about 3 minutes shower time. Install a high efficiency or dual-flush toilet and you can save about 19 gallons of water per day/person In addition, cut down water usage by only flushing when necessary. Ever heard of the phrase “If it’s yellow let it mellow, if it’s brown flush it down?”
4. Use your washing machine for full loads only to save both water and energy. Install a water-efficient washer and you can save about 16 gallons per load.
5. Mowed lawns are a thing of the past. Forget grass, landscape your yard with succulents or other plants, or drought-resistant trees, that sustain on less water.
Divert Trash from the Landfill
Here’s an ugly fact: the average American wast nearly 1 million pounds of materials per person every year. We need to stop thinking disposable and start avoiding one-time-use products.
6. By now, we all should know that recycling helps. But, do we really know what can and can’t be recycled? Just throwing random things in your recycling bin doesn’t mean it wont make it in the landfill. To learn more about what you can and can’t recycle go here.
7. When purchasing products, try to avoid plastics. They are not only terrible for the earth, but they are toxic for your body. Making plastic is an energy-intensive process and once a plastic product is recycled into something else it cannot be recycled again (they didn’t tell you that one, right?).
8. Reuse things instead of throwing them away. Mason jars from your spaghetti sauce can become a drinking glass or herb garden planters, your wine bottles into terrariums or vases, plastic juice or milk jugs into file organizers. Invest in reusable products like a water bottle so you don’t have to waste countless plastic ones, and cloth napkins (preferably organic cotton) so you can skip the paper napkin roll.
9. Compost your food waste and paper products. Basically, anything that came out of the earth can go back into it (here’s a long list of what can be composted). There are many ways you can compost starting with building your own compost bin, vermicomposting with worms that come in kits you can buy online, or opting for a compost service that comes to your home and does the dirty work for you.
10. Be an eco rockstar and try to go zero waste by taking advice from Bea Johnson, author of Zero Waste Home.
Cut Your Transportation Footprint
Personal vehicles are a major cause of global warming. Vehicles collectively account for one-fifth of all US emissions, emitting approximately 24 pounds of carbon dioxide and other global-warming gases for every gallon of gas (source).
11. Carpool with a friend to work and try peer-to-peer ride sharing programs
12. Take public transportation, duh.
13. Good ‘ol walking does the trick when you don’t need to go long distances. Plus, it keeps your body moving, allowing you exercise and fresh air.
14. Going on vacation? Trip Zero will calculate the carbon footprint of your trip and help you offset by funding reforestation and renewable energy projects.
15. Plant a tree! Because trees produce oxygen, they improve the quality of the air and store carbon- offsetting toxic byproducts of fossil-fuel burning.
16. Encourage pollination by planting with bees and butterflies in mind. Some popular bee and butterfly friends plants include fennel, sunflowers, lavender and oregano. Pollinators are currently in the face of extinction and we need to keep them around.
“If the bee disappeared from the surface of the globe, then man would have only four years of life left” – Einstein
16. Don’t use pesticides, period. From contaminating our water and food, to being hazardous to the health of humans, animals and the planet, pesticides straight suck.
Support Your Local Economy
17. Shop your local farmers market. You’ll not only get the freshest foods, your body will appreciate the local nutrients it was designed to use at that time of the season. For example, eating local honey helps alleviate allergies brought on by local flowers. Eating regionally and seasonally also boosts our immunities.
18. Support your local economy by shopping mom and pop shops and keeping them alive a flourishing. By doing so you are investing in your local community.
Eat Less Meat
The average American consumer 54 pounds of beef, 46pounds of pork and 83 pounds of chicken (source). It takes approximately 2,644 gallons of water to produce 3 pounds of meat. Besides the inhumane treatment of most of these animals, the meat industry is a huge waster of our world’s clean water resources.
19. Cut your meat intake. You can even jump on the ever-so-popular meatlessmonday bandwagon. When you do eat meat, make sure it was farmed humanely. Interesting fact: By just giving up meet, one person can save 162,486 gallons of water annually.
Conserve Gas and Electric Resources
Don’t be an energy hog. There are easy ways to conserve your energy use + lower your monthly gas and electric bill. A win, win yes?
20. Turn of the lights when you leave a room
21. Only plug in your electronics in until they are charged. Turning off you computer instead of leaving it in sleep mode will also save on energy.
22. Pay attention to your thermostat so that you are not unnecessarily heating up your home
23. Don’t pre-heat your oven (unless you are baking bread).
Become a Conscious Consumer
Being a conscious consumer means knowing more about the products you purchase and enjoy.
24. Read labels and ingredients. You deserve to know what goes in and on your body. If you don’t know what something means, look it up. Thanks to the maker movement we are not able to connect with some of the people who make the products we use. Ask them directly where the product came from, who made it, etc. You have a right to know where your money goes and what it is in turn supporting.
25. Shop transparent products + give back.
EcoHabitude is designed in such a way that you can obtain all the information you want to know about any given product in an instant with product footprints that go in-depth about the products supply chain. This enables you as a shopper to shop by your values- whether you are vegan, into natural materials and ingredients, or you are looking to support community development through fair trade purchases and profit sharing so you can properly vote with your dollar.