- Politics and Social Issues
Eco-Friendly Tips for Everyone
Everyone Can Make a Difference
It is not reasonable to think that everyone can change their lifestyle to be 100% eco-friendly. However, there are little things we all can do to make a difference and to help protect the environment in the world we live in. Some things may fit better into your lifestyle than others. Do what you can to make a difference in this world.
I'm sure you have heard many of these tips before, but sometimes hearing them again and putting them into perspective helps to make us more conscious of the decisions we make and the things we do.
1. Use Eco-Friendly Reusable Bags
We all have to go grocery shopping, and you have to have a way to transport your groceries. I'm sure we have all heard the phrase "paper or plastic" at one time or another. Rather than there being a decision to be made, use reusable grocery bags. Most grocery stores sell them, and they usually cost somewhere around $1 or $2 a piece. While there will be a small cost to you out of pocket initially, that little investment can go a long way and help save trees and to keep plastic out of landfills.
All you have to do is bring your reusable bags with you each time you go grocery shopping.
Photo Credit: foldablebags.com
Reusable Shopping Totes
Buying bottled water creates a large amount of waste with the empty bottles. According to National Geographic Kids, Americans buy 29 billion water bottles a year...and that is just the number purchased and used by Americans. To produce those 29 billion bottles per year, the manufacturers use 17 million barrels of crude oil or the equivalent of about 1/4 of a water bottle per bottle produced. While recycling does help, it still takes energy and natural resources like water to recycle the empty bottles, not to mention all of the resources wasted in producing the bottle initially. A great alternative is to purchase an eco-friendly, reusable water bottle.
Since many people do not want to drink tap water, which is a large part of the reason they purchase water bottles, you can purchase a large refillable bottle that you can fill up at the dispensers located outside of your local grocery store. If this option does not work for you, you can also purchase water from a company that delivers to your home in the large 5 gallon bottles, however, you will pay more with this option.
Reference: National Geographic Kids
Eco-Friendly Water Bottles
3. Turn off the Water
This tip is one that everyone can use.
When you are brushing your teeth, turn off the water. It is not necessary to have the water run, nor does it provide any benefit to you. Rather than waste a valuable natural resource like water and waste money, be conscious and turn off the faucet. This may take a little thought and possibly a little time to break a habit that you are used to, but it is something everyone can accomplish without any expense or extra time.
Photo Credit: Shaylor
We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children. ~Native American Proverb
4. Adjust Your Thermostat
Many newer households are equipped with programmable thermostats. You may have one and not know it or you just may not know how to use it. A great tip for conserving energy is to adjust the temperature in your home in the hours when you are away. This tip is great for those who do not work at home or for when you take a vacation. Set your thermostat to a higher or lower temperature, depending on the time of year, for the hours you are away from home, and have the thermostat set to adjust the temperature back to a temperature comfortable to you about 30 minutes prior to the time you arrive home.
For those who do not have a programmable thermostat, do not wish to invest in one, or that work from home, try adjusting the temperature of your home 1 or 2 degrees higher or lower, depending on the time of year. This small adjustment should not affect your level of comfort, but will help to conserve energy.
Photo Credit: Tom Raftery
5. Go Paperless
This is another option almost everyone can use. Go paperless! With the amount of technology available to us, either with cell phones, computers, handheld devices, etc., then a large number of us have the ability to go paperless. What does this mean to you? Stop receiving paper bank statements, credit card statements, bills, etc. Even though you will no longer receive a bill by mail, you can still be notified of amounts due by e-mail or sometimes by text message. You also have access to statements online, typically for up to about a year that you can easily view and further back by requesting copies if necessary.
You can also stop buying checks and mailing paper checks by using electronic bill payment through your bank or setting up automatic payments through the various companies you do business with.
Photo Credit: ph0rk
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6. Turn it Off
Sounds simple doesn't it? That's because it is.
When you leave a room make sure you turn off the lights. During daylight hours, open your blinds or curtains to let the sunlight in rather than waste energy. The same goes for a T.V., turn it off when it is not in use. You can also turn off your computer or set it to sleep mode when not in use to conserve energy.
Photo Credit: wayne's eye view
7. Use Energy Efficient Light Bulbs
A great way to conserve energy is to switch to energy efficient light bulbs. According to Energy Star, if every home in America would replace just one light bulb with one that received an Energy Star rating, then we would save enough energy to light 3 million homes for a year and save about $600 million in energy costs per year. In addition, it would prevent 9 billion pounds of greenhouse gas emissions a year, which is about the same that is given off by 800,000 cars.
Yes, energy efficient light bulbs are more expensive initially, but over the life of the bulb it will definitely be worth the money. An Energy Star rated bulb will not only last much longer, which means buying fewer light bulbs, but it will also conserve about 75% less energy than a traditional incandescent light bulb, which means saving you money on your electricity bill. In addition, it will give off less heat, which can essentially save money on your gas or electricity bill related to cooling your home.
Photo Credit: p.Gordon
Reference: Energy Star
Energy Efficient Light Bulbs
8. Remember the 3 R's
Recycle, Reduce, Reuse
Last, but certainly not least, recycle, reduce, and reuse. I have pretty much touched base on these here in one way or another, but just a short recap...
Remember to recycle whenever possible. Many trash companies have pick up days specifically for recycled goods. All you have to do is separate the items according to paper, plastic, and glass, then take them to your curb. If you don't have pick up at your home, there should be options locally to drop off your recyclables. When you are purchasing items, look for items that are made from recycled goods.
Reduce by buying less and using less. Conserve your natural resources whenever possible. You can also reduce by avoiding single serve containers as well.
Reuse whenever possible. Use reusable grocery bags. If you happen to use plastic grocery bags when shopping, reuse them for other purposes. There are many things that can be reused rather than going with a disposable version. Do what you can to help.
Photo Credit: UofSLibrary