When people think about Eco-friendly or sustainable living, they might imagine a drastic lifestyle change which requires you to sell your car, farm your own produce, and even live in an Earth Ship rather than a traditional home. While these would be huge gains towards reducing your individual carbon footprint, there are easier ways to go about being conscious about the environment.
Below we have listed 8 simple changes you can make today that will work towards reducing waste from your own life, and ultimately, the Earth:
- Install high efficiency shower heads in your bathroom.
Probably the biggest change you can make in reducing water consumption is with a high efficiency shower head. Some estimates place annual savings at 5,000 gallons of water and approximately $100+ in energy costs. (www.epa.gov)
- In the same vein, turning off your faucet while brushing your teeth or washing dirty dishes could contribute towards saving water as well. NC State University recently calculated that turning off the water while brushing your teeth could save up to 200 gallons per month for a family of four. They also calculated how much water one can save when optimizing daily activities like hand-washing, cooking, and cleaning. (sustainability.ncsu.edu)
Go paperless with your bills.
For most places in the U.S. today, you can choose to receive and pay all of your bills electronically. To set this up, you typically only have to reach out to your service provider and let them know.
Additionally, if you receive a lot of paper junk mail you usually opt out of receiving future letters. Doing so can help reduce the amount of paper in circulation and can decrease the number of trees that are destroyed every year.
Utilize a composter.
If you garden, a composter can be perfect for boosting the nutrients in the soil while also reducing the need for chemical-based fertilizers. Your plants will love the beneficial bacteria and fungi which works to break down organic matter.
Use of a composter also reduces methane emissions produced by landfills, and will decrease your overall carbon footprint.
Learn more about how to start composting at home with our very own walk-through guide.
We currently offer a counter top composter which can help you get started.
Install energy efficient lighting in your home.
When compared to CFLs and incandescent lighting, LED’s can use up to 80% less energy over the course of its lifetime. Not only that, but they also typically last at least three times longer, sometimes up to 25x longer.
The average yearly energy cost of a 60W traditional incandescent lightbulb is about $4.80, compared to $1.00 for an LED. If you use floodlighting for your home or business, then installing efficient lighting systems could result in huge energy savings.
Mitigate waste from fast food and shopping.
Try taking a week to track how much waste you produce from eating out at fast food restaurants or shopping. Buying in bulk or preparing food ahead of time can make a big difference towards cutting down on unnecessary waste. If you have unused napkins or utensils, then hang on to them for when they come in handy later. After all, they no longer serve a purpose once in a waste bin.
Support your local farms.
There are fewer better ways to connect with your local community than buying local produce. It’s estimated that the average American’s meal will travel more than 1,500 miles before getting to your plate. (www.cuesa.org)
Buying local fruit and veggies reduces transit time, and ultimately carbon waste.
By supporting local farmers, you will have access to in-season produce that’s tasty and bursting with flavor.
A trip to your local farmer’s market helps you connect with the community in unique and new ways. You can learn from food artisans to develop and improve your own cooking skills. Also, most will take back the containers you use to carry produce.
For our readers located in North Carolina, companies like The Produce Box offer delivery services that ship local produce from the farm to your front door.
Stop drinking bottled water.
There are exceptions, of course, but bottled water largely remains an unnecessary source of plastic waste. Water bottling plants use enormous amounts of energy to package and ship something that’s ultimately cheaper from your own tap. Invest in eco-friendly water bottles to keep on hand, and save any leftover drinking water that's safe for plants or pets.
Label and organize your food storage.
A report by published by The Altantic in 2016 pointed out that Americans waste, on average, 50% of all produce they buy. For a family of four, this equates to roughly $1,600 of lost money every year.
Labeling your leftover food can help you keep track of what you have in the fridge. In pairing, think of ways you can combine soon-to-be expired ingredients with new dishes and recipes to help foster the longevity of your produce.
Pinterest has plenty of cool ideas for creating unique food labels.
Starting with just one of these steps can make a huge improvement on the state of the environment over the course of one's lifetime. Although these changes might appear small at first, the idea is that once enough people begin taking eco-conscious action in their own personal lives, it will start a chain reaction that can only end in a healthier planet Earth. We all deserve clean air, water, and soil. Don't we owe it to ourselves and our children to work towards a better future? Start today.