We all know by now how important it is to help the environment. It’s become more important than ever because the U.S. tends to be a wasteful nation. The average American’s carbon footprint is over 21 metric tons, a figure that has been on the rise for the past 25 years.
Maybe you’d like to reduce your own carbon footprint, but are new to the concept of going green and aren’t sure where to begin. The good news is there are lots of easy ways to go green that don’t require making huge lifestyle changes.
We have 15 ideas to help you lead a more sustainable lifestyle, many of which you can start doing today.
1. Use Reusable Shopping Bags
One of the biggest threats to the environment is the single-use plastic bags given out at stores. Americans use 100 billion plastic bags annually and many of them end up in our oceans and landfills. The bags require hundreds of years to break down and are often mistaken for food by land and ocean animals.
While some towns are banning retailers from using plastic bags, one of the best ways you can help the environment is to bring your own reusable bags on your shopping trips. If everyone did this, it would send the message to retailers that their plastic bags are unwanted and unneeded. It might just encourage them to stop producing them altogether.
Reusable shopping bags are sold online and found in many stores. Better still, you can make your own from scrap fabric, customizing them in your favorite colors and patterns.
2. Brew Your Own Coffee or Recycle Your Coffee Pods
Many popular coffee makers use coffee pods. While convenient, many people just throw the pods away where their plastic and aluminum components end up in the landfill.
You can decrease the amount of plastic you’re tossing by switching to traditionally brewed coffee or buying a tool that enables you to recycle the pod. Recycle a Cup is a gadget that separates the plastic part of a coffee pod so it can be cleaned and recycled.
What to do with the coffee grinds? Start a compost pile, which is another great way to help the environment. Learn composting 101, and put your kitchen scraps to good use by reducing waste.
3. Reduce Your Amount of Mail
Help reduce the amount of paper your utility and subscription-based companies send by switching to paperless bills. By paying online you’ll also save a bit of money on postage.
Junk mail is another waste of paper. Try to eliminate as much as you can coming to your home by requesting that your name and address be removed from mailing lists.
4. Stop Phantom Energy
Phantom energy or vampire power is when plugged-in appliances continue to “suck” electricity even when turned off. Get into the habit of unplugging your TV, computer, microwave, and other appliances when not in use.
Not only will this simple action help conserve electricity, but it’ll shave some money off your monthly energy bill.
5. Invest in a Reusable Water or Coffee Bottle
Bottled water is another source of pollution; although plastic water bottles are accepted by recycling plants, not everyone recycles them. Using a reusable water bottle or thermos helps keep excess plastic from reaching the ocean and landfills.
Many coffee shops reward customers who bring in their own bottle or thermos for purchases with discounts. Buying a reusable water bottle is worth the investment.
6. Embrace Meatless Mondays
Go meatless once a week and you’ll help cut down the amount of waste produced by America’s meat industry.
If you can’t give up meat for one day, purchase grass-fed beef and poultry. Grass-fed livestock are raised in natural and healthier conditions that are more sustainable for the environment.
7. Switch to Cloth Diapers
If you’re a parent of an infant, you know that nothing beats the convenience of disposable diapers. Except over 20 billion of them end up in landfills each year and the human waste in them can contaminate waterways.
If you have a baby in your household, consider making the switch to cloth diapers. Sure, it’s a hassle having them laundered, but it’s so much better for the environment. Many baby gear manufacturers are trying to make cloth diapers manageable by making washable inserts made of hemp, bamboo, and other natural fibers.
You’ll also save money, considering a baby can easily go through thousands of dollars worth of throwaway diapers in a year.
8. Support Eco-Conscious Businesses
There are many companies that use sustainable practices when producing their goods. They may also recycle their waste responsibly or donate a portion of their profits to a non-profit that is helping the environment.
You can support these businesses by buying their goods and services whenever possible. Sustainable companies set a positive example that encourage other businesses to make changes.
9. Cut Down on Car Usage
Ride sharing or taking public transportation more often helps decrease emissions that contaminate the air. Try riding your bike or walking to a nearby destination instead of driving; you’ll be burning calories while keeping the air healthier.
10. Buy Local and Organic Produce
Buying produce and goods from local farmers and visiting farmers markets is a great way to support nearby businesses. It also benefits the environment since local farms aren’t utilizing as much plastic and paper to wrap and ship their produce elsewhere.
Choosing organic produce is even better for the environment. Organically grown fruits and vegetables are raised without pesticides and other dangerous chemicals entering the air and ground.
11. Recycle E-Waste Responsibly
It’s tempting to want to place old computer equipment and appliances in the trash, but these items often have components that are potentially dangerous to the environment when broken down. Instead, check with your town to find out if they hold an e-waste recycling day and what items are accepted.
Alternatively, you can donate computer equipment if it meets certain criteria to a local recycling center. Your used computer will go to a school or nonprofit that needs it.
12. Choose Energy Saving Appliances
Buying appliances that have earned the Energy Star seal can help you save on energy costs without compromising performance. Look for the seal when it’s time to replace a major appliance such as a fridge, air conditioner, or dishwasher.
If a product doesn’t include the Energy Star seal, seek out features that can curb energy usage such as a timer, temperature adjustment, and automatic shut-off.
When it comes to drying clothes, however, you can do the most good by hanging them outside on nice days. The seal is still somewhat hard to find on dryers, and nothing beats that fresh air smell on clean clothing.
13. Make or Buy Your Own Reusable Food Bags
Decrease the amount of plastic sandwich and snack bags your household throws away by making or buying reusable food bags. Many companies are making these bags so they’re dishwasher safe, so cleaning and reusing them is a snap.
Cloth-based bags are meant for refrigerated items and dry snacks. For reusable freezer bags, look for ones made of silicone that feature an airtight, leakproof seal.
14. Convert to Solar Energy
We admit that this isn’t something you can implement in your home overnight and it’s not exactly low cost. But for homeowners planning to stay in their residence for several more years, switching to solar energy will help you save money on your utility bills in the long run.
The actual panel installation doesn’t take much time at all. There are so many solar companies to choose from and many of them, such as Progressive Power Solutions Solar, now offer warranties and can handle customized solar projects. And when it is time to sell your home, your solar energy system will add value to its market price.
15. Recycle Paper and Plastic Goods
Yes, this is a basic green tip that everyone knows about, but it’s worth repeating. Recycle paper and plastic goods through your town’s pick-up service so they won’t contribute to landfills.
You’ll need to check with your town’s website to confirm what’s accepted, but most recycling facilities take newspapers, plastic food containers, tin cans, and cut-up cardboard boxes as a minimum.
There Are Many Ways to Go Green
As you can see, there are many ways to go green that are easy and convenient. Even if you’re a newbie to living a green lifestyle, choosing just three of these will help make a positive impact on the environment. It’s also never too late to start being more sustainable in your daily life.
NuEnergy is committed to bringing you regular content to help you live a more sustainable life and preserve the environment. For more tips on going green, read our latest eco-friendly posts.