Sustainable living is all about leaving only footprints and taking only memories. There are many ways to reduce your impact on the environment, but the best way is by leading by example. So whether you live in a wooden shack or an eco-friendly mansion, there are always things you can do to help reduce your carbon footprint.
Recycling is a cost-effective way to reduce the amount of trash in landfills. However, only 22.8% of bottles made from plastic are recycled in the United States each year. Recycling rates vary by state and by type.
Here are some ways you can make using reusable products as part of your daily routine:
- Use reusable canvas/fabric shopping bags instead of plastic bags, which can take decades to decompose in a landfill.
- Replace your plastic water bottles with reusable PVC or polyethylene water bottles, which might even help to keep your beverages hot or cool for longer.
- Instead of using styrofoam cups or containers that might take over 500 years to decompose, use reusable glassware, stainless steel or silicone containers to store your food and beverage
When you use durable, reusable items you’re a better steward of the environment. Instead of buying water bottles, cups, or paper plates once every week, buy once-use items that are environmentally friendly and last for years without issue.
Reusable bags are the future. With increasing awareness of the impact that single-use plastic has on our environment, people are making a conscious effort to reduce their consumption of plastic products.Part of the negative stigma associated with plastic comes from its inability to decompose in landfills. A stark contrast is offered by reusable bags, which are 100% recyclable and can be used over and over for years.
In the last decade, we’ve seen a troubling spike in plastic waste. Americans use an average of 50 billion plastic water bottles a year, and just 91% of that is recycled. Stop using plastic water bottles. Instead, get a reusable bottle such as a mason jar or an ethically made product like a Keep Cup. You will be reducing single-use plastics and saving money in the long run.
Use Energy More Efficiently
There’s no clean way to make electricity. At first glance, it may seem that you’re doing your part for the environment by using electronic devices and appliances, but the sad truth is that along the electricity-generating process in your home are other users who take much longer to offset the harm they cause to the environment – especially if you aren’t using renewable energy sources as well.
They’re a major source of CO2 and SO2, which are pollutants that can actually damage the ozone layer, lead to global warming, and impact the local environment.
The strategies that will help you reduce energy consumption start with doing your part to save energy. Here’s a look at the ways you can contribute:
- If you use more power than you need, it will cost more. Turn on devices only when you’re in the room or when they need to be on for safety reasons
- A few minor adjustments to your thermostat throughout the year can significantly reduce your monthly energy costs.
- Washing machines and dishwashers can handle larger loads. This means you can do more in fewer loads, which saves time and money!
- Save major bucks and energy by unplugging the devices you don’t use.
- Use cold water instead of hot water whenever possible.
Unfortunately, there are plenty of ways for the average consumer to overspend on their utility bills without even realizing it. An online resource like EnergyBot can help you to understand your utility bill and make sure that you are getting a good deal on your electricity.
Grow Your Own Food and Make Your Own Compost
Many of us don’t know what’s involved in choosing the perfect bunch of produce. That’s why companies like us exist. We want you to have the best experience possible when buying groceries–and that means making sure food always looks and tastes fresh. According to the Journal of Sustainable Agriculture, ¼ of greenhouse gas emissions in the world result from the production of meat.
For a healthier lifestyle, consider purchasing organic. You’ll be helping your body by eating lower in pesticides and fertilizers. Also, since the vegetables are not transported in fuel, you’ll be helping our environment.
Composting food scraps in your home is a great way to reduce how much you send to landfills and make your own fertilizer. However, if composting the old-fashioned way – out the back in your backyard – isn’t for you, you have other options. You can use a worm farm, which makes fertilizer in as little as three weeks, or an indoor compostable pail.
Growing your own food is one of the most sustainable ways to become greener. Novices to the world of food growing can begin with herbs. These lovely food accents not only add a welcome burst of flavor to any meal but fill your home with an array of lush, earthy scents. Basil, oregano, thyme, mint, and parsley are among the easiest herbs to grow (depending on your climate.) The best way to grow herbs indoors from seed is to use sterilized soil and containers that have drainage holes.
Limit Your Driving
The environmental impact of vehicle traffic is a growing concern. Pollutants released by cars and trucks account for a significant proportion of air pollution in many metropolitan areas. It’s no secret that our current method of car use is a major culprit in the destruction of our ozone layer. While many people are taking action to reduce the amount of pollution their cars cause, they are doing it for selfish reasons. They want to protect themselves from the harmful effects that result from breathing polluted air. However, few people realize that using their car as much as possible actually increases the amount of CO2 they introduce into the atmosphere. In fact, every gallon you burn when you
Walking or biking is healthy. It saves on gas, it’s good for the environment, and it keeps you in shape. Walk, bike…and save!
Carpooling is a great way to save money while also reducing pollution. Many companies are even offering free ridesharing software to help employees get to and from work.
Change all of your light bulbs to LED
Switch to LED lights today! They use 75% less energy than incandescents and last 35 times longer. You’ll save time & money. Plus you’ll be making a positive impact on future generations.
Plug large electronics into a smart power strip
Energy vampires or phantom loads are devices that consume electricity even when they’re turned off. They can be anything from a cell phone charger to your entertainment system or home appliances. Phantom loads account for 15% to 18% of a typical household’s bills. The cost of electricity is rising and the cost of energy is going up, too. Leaving electronics plugged in when not in use can be a costly habit, costing up to $200 a month on average. Fortunately, you can save on your monthly bill by purchasing smart power strips that automatically shut down when you’re not using your electronics.
Get an energy audit
Energy audits help you make smart choices about saving energy, save money and protect the environment by providing sustainable solutions. For a local resource, Absolute Sustainability has been helping individuals and businesses in Chicago improve energy usage for over five years. Through education and implementation of new strategies, Absolute has cut energy use by as much as 40%.
Check all weatherproofing on windows
It is a fact that energy can easily be lost with the gaps and spaces between doors and windows. This has a major environmental cost in 70% of greenhouse gases that can be attributed to the energy usage of buildings. Grab some caulking and weather stripping to help prevent energy loss in your home or business.
- Bring the natural beauty of bird song to your own backyard with a bird feeder. Bring nature closer to home with a bird feeder. It will provide hours of entertainment and help the birds in your neighborhood survive the winter by feeding on native birdseed.
- You probably know that bees are undergoing a decline in population, due to lack of habitat and colony-collapse disorder. But rather than wait for the government to do something about it—which could take years—you can start taking matters into your own hands today.
- Are you looking for a way to save the environment? For those who are environmentally aware and want to invest themselves in a cause, but don’t know where to start, growing native plants is an excellent way to start. By doing so, you help support local wildlife. Thousands of species in the US have been lost in the last several decades. People and businesses can help by growing native plants. Native plants attract native insects, birds, and animals to an area. This helps restore the ecosystem and improves water runoff.
It’s no surprise that showers can be a major source of in-home water consumption. The average American shower costs $30.19 per month in water and energy costs, and an additional $6.13 per month for maintenance and replacement. You can help conserve water by taking shorter showers (five minutes, tops), using a timer to keep you on time.
Reports show the country is losing an estimated 80 trillion gallons of water a year to the nation’s aging plumbing system. Sewage often gets short shrift in discussions about water conservation. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that about 21 percent of treated drinking water is lost to leaks and broken pipes. Many toilets use 3-7 gallons per flush, which can add up to a lot of water over time. But old toilets aren’t the only culprit. Sometimes the problem comes from your plumbing. A poorly aligned toilet or a flapper that is either stuck open or closed will result in higher than normal water usage. A toilet buddy is a rubber or plastic ball that sits in the bottom of the toilet. It will reduce high-flush volume by storing water to lessen the amount that needs to be flushed in order to get rid of the waste. This is an effective option if you do not want to spend a lot of money on water-saving devices. You can also try the DIY alternative.
Living a sustainable life can be easy and even fun. By starting small and making gradual changes you can make big differences. Making sustainable living changes doesn’t have to be hard, it just takes a little time and effort. But the changes will be worth the effort you put into them. Become a more environmentally aware consumer by starting small. Make the change to reusable containers and limit your power usage at home. Eventually, grow your own garden and replace all of your appliances with those that are energy efficient.