We all know the importance of preserving the earth and protecting the environment. This is within our capabilities, and even small changes can have a big impact. There are many methods to be employed in being eco-friendly. There are many, many ways, both big and small, to be kind to the only world we have.
We have listed just a few of the ways that this can be accomplished.
Cut down on your water usage.
A no brainer. Turn off the faucet when brushing your teeth. Do only full loads of wash, and drink from the tap rather than bottled water. Ditch the dishwasher and do your dishes the good old-fashioned way. If you don’t want to go cold turkey on the dishwasher, try roughing it a few days out of the week. If you just have to use the dishwasher, don’t pre-rinse the dishes. Scrape them off and put them in. It is just as easy to keep a pitcher of cold water in the frig than to let the water run until it is cold. Take a shower rather than a bath. Baths use double the water as a shower does. And go one better, take a shower with your partner!
Replace those lightbulbs.
It has been stated that if every household in the United States were to replace just one regular lightbulb with a new LED bulb, the pollution reduction would be the same amount as to removing one million cars from the road! That is a huge reduction and an easy way to do your part.
Don’t do half loads, wait until you can fill the machine. Studies have shown that if everyone switched from hot water to warm, it would save 100,000 barrels of oil each and every day.
Use a clothesline.
Your clothes will thank you! They will last longer and keep their colors longer, too. Dry them outside in the fresh air, or, if that is not an option, put up a line in the basement or use a drying rack that can be folded and set aside when not in use. You will save hugely on your power usage by just hanging them up.
Wear it again.
Do you really need a new shirt? The textile industry, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, is the 5th largest contributor to CO2 emissions in the United States. But if you just can’t stand it, consider going to one of the higher end consignment shops. There are often items with the tags still on, or gently worn. You will be saving both energy and money.
Think of the amount of paper that is used in sending statements, bills and receipts. Get all of that information online.There are even some banks that will pay you a nominal fee to opt out of paper statements. You have the ability to save all of those documents online, and leave the trees in peace.
Pay bills online.
Easy, convenient, you don’t need to leave home or put a stamp on it.
This would save the trees from being chopped down and the landfills from filling up.
Create your own wrapping paper.
Speaking of paper, it takes just a little effort to make your own. If there are kiddos available, have them color on used paper bags or cut up magazines for pictures to decorate the paper. (I know what you are thinking…but you can get old magazines at the library or garage sales without adding your subscription to the problem) Old maps can also make a creative wrap. Same thing with newspapers…the comic section makes for fun wrappings.
Keep your calendar digitally.
Use your smartphone or computer, as it saves paper. Instead of post-it notes, make notations and lists on your phone or use one of the list making apps.
Stir your coffee or tea with…a piece of pasta.
Yep! Here in the U.S., we toss 138 BILLION straws and stirrers on a yearly basis. Turn to that box of spaghetti in the cupboard to mix your coffee or just try putting your milk and sugar into the cup first, and then pour in the coffee and swirl it around.
Skip the meat.
Try going a day or two or three a week without meat. I love steak. And I love hotdogs and hamburgers. But I am not talking about giving up on the things you love for life, just once or twice a week. It takes 2,500 gallons of water to produce a single pound of beef.
Try the local farmers market.
This is a perfect way to reduce greenhouse gasses. Buying locally eliminates the need for products to be trucked or flown in.
Go to the library.
Your taxes are paying for it, so you might as well use it. Borrow that book that you are interested in reading, if you don’t want to pay for it digitally. You will save some trees and learn about all the other valuable programs a library has to offer. Consider swapping books and magazines with friends and neighbors.
Plant your own tree.
This is good for both the land and the air. It can shade your home, reducing costs for air conditioning, and it can increase the value of your property.
Hike it or bike it.
Leave the car in the garage and take a walk to the store. If that is not an option, consider looking into bus routes or subway routes to get where you need to go.
Use a travel mug.
Even at home, it is a good idea. A travel mug keeps your beverage hot, and so there is less heating up to do. Along with the travel mug, get your own container for cold items. If you choose to purchase a water bottle, refill it when it is empty rather than purchasing another bottle.
Adjust the thermostat.
Try going a degree or two higher in the summer and a degree or two lower in the winter. Adjusting just one degree will save you 10% on energy costs over the year.
Turn it off.
Another no brainer, but it is one that we don’t seem to think seriously about. Just flip off the switch as you leave a room, even if you think you will be right back. Unplug items that are a constant power draw. Target all those items whose little red lights glow continually. While it would be a nuisance to go around plugging and unplugging the numerous items in our homes, a power strip could be the answer. Plug those continually drawing items into the power strip and turn them all off with one switch.
Second hand isn’t second rate.
For some of those big ticket items, like couches, tables, beds and bikes, try a local second hand store. If you plan ahead and watch on a regular basis, you can run across some great deals. Craigslist, estate sales and garage sales crop up all year long and have many gently used items that have already been produced and will not take additional energy usage with your acquisition.
Use a rain barrel.
Collect the rain in a barrel outside your home. Most rain barrels are attached to a downspout to facilitate this collection. There are various types and sizes of barrels and they can be purchased online or at your local home improvement store. The water caught can be used to water indoor and outdoor plants or used to wash your car.
Change the way you shave.
Rather than buying a disposable razor that will end up in the landfill, get yourself one like your grandpa used to use. The packs of razors that fit into safety razors are cheaper than their disposable counterparts and produce far less waste.
This one is fun! Whites and light colored clothes can get stained or grey looking after a while. If they still have some life in them, don’t toss them, tie dye them. This will be easier on the environment, as you will be using what you already have, but you will look snazzy, too!
Socks and rice.
Doesn’t sound like they go together, does it? But they do. If you have aches and pains that need some heat, don’t plug in the heating pad. Toss some rice in a cotton sock and place in the microwave for a few seconds. It will make for a toasty pad to apply to the achy part, and it saves on energy.
Buy rechargeable batteries.
The acid in batteries is corrosive to the soil, and way too many batteries end up in the landfill. While there is an initial expense involved when you purchase a recharging unit, it will pay off in the long run as you will not be purchasing as many throw away batteries, and the soil will thank you.
Tell your friends.
No one likes to be preached to, but there are kind and subtle ways to include eco-friendly tips into conversations. As the saying goes, actions speak louder than words, so too, your habits can spark curiosity about what you are doing for the environment and you might get some helpful tips on what others are doing.
On February 14, 1990, Voyager I , while on its way out of the Solar System, turned around to take a photo of Earth. The picture was taken from 3.7 billion miles away. On the right side of an orangish band in the picture you could vaguely see a tiny pale blue dot. Earth.
During astronomer Carl Sagan’s speech given at Cornell University in 1994, he said, in part:
“The Earth is the only world known, so far, to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment, the Earth is where we make our stand. It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.”