A greener home is the first place to begin making small changes to help the environment and create a healthier and more enjoyable place to live. Here are 10 simple steps to green up your life and change the planet.
1. Buy Only What You Need
Plain and simple-don't over purchase. However, when buying items that you use daily or in large quantities, consider buying in bulk. You will save money and packaging. Consider splitting bulk purchases with friends to get that savings but not the full quantity of the purchase. Sometimes we can't always use 50 rolls of paper towels.
2. Recycle, Recycle, Recycle!
Recycle, reuse, and properly dispose of all materials. Everything from plastic bags to construction materials. But, recycling is not just limited to the cans, glass, and paper we go though everyday. If you're upgrading your house, don't forget to look for recycling and reuse programs for your household items, such as windows, doors, tile, etc
Don't forget the last step in the recycling loop: buy recycled! In order for recycling to be sustainable, we need to purchase and use recycled-content materials. Look for and purchase post-consumer recycled content packaging and products whenever possible.
3. Upgrade Your Light Bulbs
When your incandescent light bulbs burn out, replace them with energy efficient compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs). According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) CFLs use 2/3 less energy than traditional incandescent light bulbs and last 10 times longer. Making this upgrade saves you money and saves energy.
4. Use Your Own Bags
Plastic bags are doing serious damage to our oceans and wildlife, as well as just making an eyesore on our streets. Many communities around the country are actually banning the use of plastic bags because of litter problems. When going to the store, consider bagging your own groceries in cloth, reusable bags. Many stores sell reusable bags and charge to provide plastic grocery bags.
5. Keep Your Gadgets Green
Electronics become outdated very quickly. To insure you are responsible with your gadgets, practice the following:
- Resist the urge to upgrade every time a "newer" or "cooler" gadget comes out. Reduce at the source-you save money and the time (and frustration) to learn how to operate and program the new gadget!
- Donate working electronics to charities or school programs that resell or refurbish them.
- Refill or recycle your inkjet or toner cartridges
- Close the recycling loop and buy recycled, post-consumer content paper for your printer. Most local office supply stores, such as Staples, offer a growing selection of environmentally friendly papers.
6. Conserve Every Drop
Despite the fact that 70% of the world is covered by water, you should conserve all that you can. Turn off the water faucet when brushing your teeth and shaving. Run the dishwasher and washing machine only when they are full; avoid small, partial loads. Cleaning your driveway or sidewalk by hosing it down with water wastes at least 80 gallons of water every time; Use a broom instead.
7. Adjust Your Thermostat
A few degrees difference in temperature can make all the difference in both your energy savings and your financial savings. In the summer, raise your thermostat two degrees. In the winter, lower your thermostat two degrees. You'll not likely notice the difference in temperature, but you'll sure notice the benefit when your utility bill arrives! Use a ceiling fan to cool off a room or house. It consumes about the same amount of energy as a 60-watt bulb (about 98% less energy than most air conditioners).
8. Keep the Air Clean
Carpool, ride the bus, use public transportation, or bike to work. Better yet, see if your company can institute a telecommuting program (if it does not already have one). Save fuel and time by planning ahead and consolidating errands into one trip. Also, go to certain, far away stores less frequently.
Keep your tires inflated to the appropriate air pressure level to extend the life of your tires and give you better gas mileage. Drive the speed limit.
9. Save the Trees
Pay your bills online, saving paper, time, and postage. As the price of paper cards and postage increases, consider emailing e-cards instead of mailing them out. Email documents and information instead of printing and mailing them. Whenever possible, save documents on your computer or on a disk instead of as a print copy in your filing cabinet.
10. Overall Around the Home
Clotheslines are making a comeback. Dry your clothes on the line instead of in the dryer; they'll smell better and you'll save money. Use cloth napkins instead of paper napkins; they can be used repeatedly and thrown in with your weekly load of towels. Make your own less-toxic cleaning alternatives using baking soda, soap, and vinegar. Open the doors and windows to let the fresh air in and germs and smells out. Indoor air quality is often times worse than the air outside.