If you want to lose weight, you go on a diet. However, in order to make real, permanent changes in your health, you need to do things that are both good for you, and which you can keep up in the long-term. Living a green life is a lot like dieting in this respect. It’s better to make small changes and to pick up simple habits than to go on a crash-course to try changing every aspect of your life.
These 6 tips are some good, first steps you can take toward a cleaner, greener you.
Tip #1: Cancel Your Newspaper (And All Your Junk Mail)
If you’re an ecologically minded person, chances are good you already have a recycling bin in your home. You make sure to wash out your milk jug, toss in your aluminum cans, and stack your newspaper next to the junk mail. But, while it’s true that recycling all that paper is a good thing to do, what about all the energy it took to print those products in the first place? Or the fuel that was burned delivering it to your door?
Instead of just recycling that paper, take a moment to call the provider, and discontinue the service. If you’re a subscriber, you can read the paper online (assuming your newspaper has a pay-to-read subscription), and if you’re just tossing the junk mail in the recycling bin sight unseen then you won’t miss it when it stops showing up in your mailbox.
Tip #2: Fill To Capacity
If you’re doing laundry, make sure you always do a full load of clothes. While it might be tempting to just throw in your work clothes for tomorrow, that’s a lot of electricity and water to use washing a single shirt and pair of pants. If you’re going to run a load, make sure you get value out of it. And, if you want to be really green, let your clothes drip-dry instead of throwing them in the dryer.
Additionally, while having a fridge filled with all the food you could want is nice, did you know that a full fridge takes less effort to cool than an empty one? The same is true for your freezer. Empty air doesn’t hold a chill as well as milk, meat, and food does, so if your larder is stocked it will take less power to keep everything fresh.
Tip #3: Give Up Bottled Water
It’s not uncommon for a given household to have a case of bottled water in the pantry, but that dependence on store-bought water creates a huge amount of waste. So instead of buying cases of bottled water, get in the habit of drinking water from the tap. Keep a pitcher of water in the fridge to ensure you always have cold water ready to be drunk.
If the water coming out of your tap isn’t appetizing, that’s okay. Invest in a filter using the money you save from not buying bottled water. And if you need to have water on the go, buy an aluminum water bottle you can take with you to the gym, to work, etc.
Tip #4: Put A Stake Through Vampire Energy
Most of us probably think putting our computers to sleep, or our TVs in standby mode is just as good as turning them off. A lot of us leave our phone chargers plugged-in, even when we’re not using them. All of these little habits can lead to a big drain labeled vampire energy. It refers to electronics that are either put to sleep, or “turned off”, but which still suck the energy out of the wall.
A good way to find the vampires is to look for the lights. That little red light on your TV when it’s off? That’s drawing power. The lights on your laptop when it’s plugged in? Same deal. The clock on your microwave? It takes more power to keep that clock running than it does to actually run the microwave.
Once you’ve located the vampires, unplug them when they’re not in use. Or, if that’s just too inconvenient, get a power strip that you can use to cut off energy to multiple devices at once. This saves power and ensures you aren’t wasting resources.
Tip #5: Get Better Light Bulbs
While there has been some controversy over the new forms of popular light bulbs, there’s no getting around the fact that old-fashioned incandescent light bulbs are grossly inefficient. They suck a lot of power, they generate a lot of heat, and they tend to blow-out fairly often. They are, however, cheap.
The problem is, you get what you pay for.
If you want to be greener, then buy a set of fluorescent, or LED light bulbs. These bulbs will last significantly longer, they’ll use less power, and in the end, they’ll save you money.
Tip #6: Buy Used Whenever You Can
We all need stuff, but that doesn’t mean you have to buy that stuff new. Your local thrift store has clothes, furniture, workout equipment, and especially books that have been gently loved, and which you can get at a huge discount. Websites like Freecycle let people who want to get rid of stuff they don’t need to connect with people who do need that stuff. Most towns have a pawn shop or a buy-and-sell electronics store where you can get DVDs, video games, and other items second-hand. Not only does this save you money, but it ensures that the items already in circulation are being used.
About the Author
Jen is your go-to guru for crafting a cozy, green cocoon. 🪴 Her dive into sustainable building wasn’t just about saving the planet—it started as a mission to make family movie nights eco-friendly (and to ensure the popcorn was the only thing getting heated!). With a knack for breaking down the jargon, Jen turns eco-lingo into everyday language. Swing by the Green Living blog for a mix of earth-loving advice and home improvement hacks. Whether you’re just dipping your toes into green waters or you’ve been swimming in the deep end of DIY projects, Jen’s here to guide, giggle, and remind you that every eco-choice is a step towards a planet that thanks you… and maybe even sends a rainbow your way! 🌈