Live A Little Greener & Help Save The Planet
The term “green living” has been a buzzword for years now. Some people and businesses are taking huge steps to become eco-friendlier by switching to solar power, going paperless and more. Going green doesn’t have to be that time-consuming and expensive, however. Below are ten small steps each person can take right now to live a greener life.
1. Eat Less Meat
Reduce the amount of meat and other animal products you and your family eat. The livestock industry generates more greenhouse gas emissions on Earth than vehicular transport. Not only do cattle methane emissions account for 37% of all human-produced methane, forests continue to be cleared to feed the ever-growing industry. Choosing vegetables, legumes and other healthy, meatless options can greatly reduce your carbon footprint.
2. DIM THE SCREEN
Laptops, desktop computers and tablets use a lot of energy, and their brightly-lit screens are one of their biggest energy expenditures. To reduce the amount of energy needed to power your devices (and keep your battery going strong for longer), reduce their screen brightness to the lowest level you can still comfortably see. That goes for desktop computers, too, even though they’re plugged in all the time. Set the display to turn itself off when it isn’t being used, and power down when you’re finished using the device. When you upgrade your device, recycle the old one.
3. Carry Reusable Shopping Bags
Most businesses sell inexpensive reusable shopping bags. By collecting a few in different sizes and bringing them along when shopping, you can reduce the amount of plastic and paper bags that often end up in landfills. Grocery stores often have reusable bags with great thermal lining, which also keeps your hot items hot and cold items cold – and keeps them separate from other foods.
4. Give Homemade Gifts
Instead of picking out store-bought items, give loved ones a homemade gift. In addition to saving money and giving a more meaningful item, you’ll be consuming less. It all adds up – the packaging of a store-bought item as well as its transport from the manufacturer. As an added perk, making gifts facilitates creativity (it’s a great excuse to learn something new) and simplifies your life (you don’t have to stress over what to pick out, how much to spend, etc.)
5. Drink Local Beer
Instead of purchasing beer at the grocery store or liquor store, buy local. With thousands of craft breweries now peppered around the U.S., you likely live within 10 miles of a local brewery. Beer that’s made locally does not have the carbon footprint of beer that came from a distribution center, as there is much less transport involved. Chances are, the ingredients in local beer are local, too. There’s also less waste involved, especially if you take the beer home in a re-sealable growler.
6. Adjust Your Heating, Cooling and Lighting Habits
Changing thermostat settings by two degrees will not make a noticeable difference in the room’s temperature, but it will save energy and reduce your home’s consumption rate. In addition to powering down your computers and electronics when they’re not in use, turn off the lights when you don’t need them. Wireless remote controls can shut off lights, electronics and appliances, and many of them can be controlled by your smart phone. Being more mindful of your heating, cooling and lighting can prevent thousands of pounds of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere every year.
7. Waste Less Food
Americans throw away about a third of their food, which ends up in landfills. In addition to eating less (it’s not a diet – you’re helping the planet!), save or donate leftovers and compost organic items like banana peels and coffee grounds. Cooking and eating at home rather than at a restaurant is a cost-effective and healthy way to reduce consumption. Packing your lunch can also save hundreds of dollars each month, decrease waste and reduce your carbon footprint.
8. Change Your Laundry Routine
Save energy and water by washing full loads of laundry. Take the guesswork out of load size by keeping hampers or laundry baskets for whites, colors and darks, and only wash the laundry when a basket is full. Heating a washing machine full of water takes a lot of energy, but in most cases, cold or warm washes clothing just as well as hot. Cold water can always be used during the rinse cycle.
9. Get Rid of Junk Mail
There are many services now that can help you remove your name from mailing lists for credit card offers, catalogs and other unnecessary junk. Taking your name off the list could save you from receiving hundreds of pieces of junk mail every year. In addition to reducing clutter in your home, taking this step will help reduce the staggering 4 million tons of junk mail printed annually – an industry that destroys millions of trees annually and consumes more energy than 2.8 million cars through its production and disposal.
10. Turn Off the Faucet
On average, the amount of water used in your bathroom accounts for about 75 percent of the water used in your whole home. A bathroom faucet releases water at an average rate of two gallons per minute. To reduce water use, turn off the faucet when brushing your teeth. Doing so can save eight gallons of water per day or 240 gallons every month.
By taking these small steps, you can live a little greener and reduce your carbon footprint. You’ll hardly notice you’re making a huge positive impact on the planet.