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All of us want to think we’re doing a good job of protecting the environment and conserving resources. For most of us, however, there’s still plenty of room for improvement!
Becoming more eco-friendly isn’t difficult! By making a few small changes to your lifestyle and daily routine, you can reduce the impact you’re having on the environment, saving the planet while minimizing your household expenses and energy expenditure.
Change The Way You Eat
Altering your relationship with food is one of the simplest ways to protect the environment. Instead of buying pre-packaged produce from the grocery store, consider growing your own fruits, vegetables, and herbs at home. Cook from scratch rather than buying heavily-processed ready-made meals. When possible, buy foods that are less packaged. Instead, bring your own reusable bags, totes, and boxes for bringing food home from the store or market.Strive to eat less meat and plan your meals wisely, buying only what you need for the week. Make large batches of food and freeze leftovers. Instead of immediately throwing away food that has gone past its expiration date, check it for freshness. In most cases, food is still good despite the dates listed on the packaging. If food does spoil, compost it rather than throwing it away. By reducing your food and packaging waste, you can minimize the amount of garbage going into landfills.
Stop Wasting Water
Most of us waste water without even realizing it. Instead of letting water run while washing dishes, for instance, consider cleaning produce in a bowl of water, using the remaining water to nourish household plants or your garden. Don’t leave the tap running while brushing your teeth and install a low-flow showerhead in your bathroom. When at home alone, consider flushing the toilet less often, and run your washing machine and dishwasher only when they’re full.
BPA, a chemical found in many plastic water bottles, may have a negative impact on human health. Instead of exposing yourself to this risk, purchase a BPA-free reusable water bottle and thermos. 80% of plastic bottles aren’t recycled; even when bottles are recycled, it often takes as much as three times the amount of water found in each bottle just to produce one! Save the environment, money, and your health by opting for reusable bottles instead.
Transform Your Transportation Habits
The type of transit we choose can drastically alter our personal carbon footprint. Flying and driving motorized vehicles both release vast amounts of carbon into the atmosphere, contributing to global warming. Instead, walk and bike whenever possible. When traveling longer distances, choose public transit options, such as buses and trains. If public transit isn’t available in your area, looking into carpooling and car-sharing services. If you must use a personal vehicle, strive to reduce unnecessary use. Instead of driving into town multiple days a week, strive to run all of your errands during one trip, for instance. Doing so will reduce your fuel usage while saving you money!
Lessen Household Energy Expenditure
Most of us waste energy without even realizing it. One of the easiest ways to reduce your impact on the environment is to turn off and unplug household appliances when not in use. Even when switched off, many devices continue sucking up “phantom” or “vampire” energy, adding up to 10% to monthly energy bills! If something isn’t being used, unplug it. Strive to buy and use more energy-efficient home appliances, too. Switch to energy-saving light bulbs and buy more environmentally-friendly washing machines and dishwashers.
Whenever possible, utilize natural energy as a practical resource. When the weather is fair, hang your clothes out to dry rather than putting them in the dryer. Open windows to let sunlight in during the day, warming your home while reducing your electric bill. Shut your blinds and properly insulate your home to retain household heat during the colder months. By making use of natural heat and light, you’ll reduce your household expenditures as well as your impact on our planet.
Reuse and Recycle
Evaluate the purchases you make on a weekly and monthly basis. If you’re honest with yourself, you’ll probably realize that you’re buying disposable products that you don’t really need. Paper towels, for instance, are convenient for cleaning up messes but are a terrible waste of paper. Instead, set aside designated “clean” cloth towels, to be used specifically for drying dishes or cleaning hands, and “dirty” towels or rags, which can be used to tidy up messes. Items like single-use razors can also be replaced by more lasting products.Instead of immediately buying new items when you need them, ask yourself whether or not you’ll use the item regularly in the future. If not, consider borrowing the item from someone you know or purchasing it used via a thrift store or eBay. Sell unwanted items in a yard sale or online, too. Donate gently-used clothing to those in need. If something you use is broken, don’t immediately discard it, either! You, or someone you know, may be able to repair it.
Very few items truly need to be thrown in the trash. Instead of creating more waste, repurpose or recycle the things you own. One man’s trash can be another man’s treasure!
Banish Paper Waste
Nowadays, doing things digitally is easier than ever. Take advantage of this and reduce your paper waste! Cancel your junk mail and switch to paperless billing whenever possible. Get digital subscriptions to your favorite magazines and newspapers and use an eBook reader or tablet for reading books. Instead of jotting things down on sticky notes, download a note-keeping app and set digital reminders for yourself. To enjoy print copies of books and newspapers, visit your local library. At the end of the year, you can smile to yourself, knowing that you’ve saved a few trees!
By changing your relationship with energy and other resources, you can dramatically reduce the negative impact you’re having on the environment. Using food, water, and energy in wiser ways can transform your life while protecting the world around you. Make these simple changes today! You won’t regret it.
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