You bring your own bags when buying groceries. You spend an average of 2 hours each week separating the recycle bin. You put up with the often obnoxious glare of those coiled CFL light bulbs. It is important, because we are coming close to a tipping point with an over-populated world that is depleating resources that make life sustainable. The Brazilian rain forest, our Earth’s lungs, is shrinking down, transforming into fields of cow pastures. Species of flora and fauna are going extinct left and right. Our fresh water, the world’s most valuable commodity, is tainted with pollution. No matter what political institutions may label it, we have to take responsibility as stewards for our natural environment.
It’s not easy being green. I got out of work last night at eleven p.m., picked up a few things at the grocery, and ended up with a few plastic bags. I’d like to say it never happens, but I am no type A, and my trips to the store are often by the seat of my own pants. As is life, I am evolving, constantly improving, becoming more conscious of the repercussions I have on this sweet planet.
I am also evolving my home on a budget to become more sustainable. One day I will plaster my roof with photovoltaic panels, my home will sport high r-value windows, and my garden will abundantly feed us for months on end. For now, we make small changes for less impact.
The following are easy tips anyone can incorporate to be more eco friendly and sustainable:
1. Brick in the Toilet
Have an old toilet? Those suckers waste a whole lot of water. Place a brick in the back of the tank and trick your potty by reducing the water volume.
2. Say No to Wall to Wall Carpeting
From now on. It’s the stuff landfills are made of. Even if it’s recycled material, you are creating a composite that may be more difficult to break down than the original offender.
3. Clean the Lint Trap in Your Dryer
Save energy! Cleaner pipes equal less energy.
4. Commit to Never Buying Bottled Water Again
Did you know that bottled water costs 10,000 times as much as tap water? Get a Lifefactory or Klean Kanteen. Save money, save the world.
5. Unplug Appliances
Put major appliances on a switch board, then hit the one switch when leaving for more than a few hours. Save money, save the world. Also, set your washer with warm or cold water, not hot.
6. Splurge on that Amazing Blender
Consider the lifecycle of the things you buy. If you buy a cheap blender, it won’t last long in your house, but it will at the landfill. Buy a dozen Hamilton Beach blenders over the next twenty years, or buy one Vitamix. Invest in your future. Don’t buy particle board furniture. It’s toxic, and it won’t last long. Subscribe to sustainable products or even better–buy second hand and up cycle.
7. Eat Local
But you knew that.
8. Fill your House with Plants
Fill your home with house plants to clean the air you breath. Home is often a toxic environment.
9. Energy Audit
Conduct your own, or states such as Massachusetts will do one for free, changing all of your light bulbs for free, seal your house up from drafts, toss loose insulation in the crawl space, and offer all kinds of insentives to get your house up to Kermit’s par.
10. Reduce coffee cups.
If you’re staying at a cafe, don’t get your drink in a to-go cup–ask for a real mug. If you’re taking your drink on the go, bring your own thermos. If you work at an office with styrofoam cups, by all means use your mug! Americans throw away an astonishing 25 billion styrofoam coffee cups every year.
What’s your favorite way to live a little bit greener? Please share!
Also by Jess: 3 Zucchini Recipes – Dip, Main, and Dessert!
Photo: Jessica Riley-Norton; Stacie via Flickr