- Reusable water bottle
According to onegreenplanet.org, “in the U.S., 1,500 plastic water bottles are consumed every second.” This is bad because not only do plastic bottles contain BPA, a known carcinogen with other harmful effects, but they also are not easily recyclable. What? Yes, not all recycling municipalities accept all types of plastics, so multitudes of plastic bottles in landfills or the streets. Yikes. In addition, plastic bottle manufacturing requires “over two gallons of water for the purification process of every gallon of water.” Plastic bottles contain harmful chemicals and are harmful to both the environment and our bodies,
Now that it’s pretty clear you should never pick up a plastic water bottle again, what can you use? BPA-free reusable water bottles are available in almost every grocery, big-box store. By having a reusable water bottle, you are at less risk for cancer and contracting other contaminants, and you will save gallons of water and tons of plastic. Pretty cool, right?
- Reusable bags
Plastic bags can be said to be worse than bottles. According to onegreenplanet.org, “single-use disposable plastic bags are suffocating the planet, with 60,000 plastic bags being consumed in the U.S. every 5 seconds.” But these not-so-nifty carriers release harmful chemicals as they lay in landfills, not decomposing. They are also not easy to recycle. The bags cannot be recycled in all municipalities, and the is “no regulation or legal requirements” setting a standard for recycling. And don’t think using plastic bags as trash liners are “recycling” or “reusing” them … They just wind up back in the landfill regardless.
So how do we keep these menaces off the streets and out of our landfills? We stop using them! Many stores, such as Target and Shop-rite, now have reusable bags for around $.99. Why would you not get some? I personally bought three for myself (and my boyfriend bought some for himself) since it is just my dad and I, and I am never going back. I leave the bags in my car so I never forget them. They are durable, spacious, and worth the price. 99 cents to save the environment? Count me in.
- Don’t leave the water running
Personally, I have a problem with this myself. Especially when brushing my teeth, the water just goes and goes. And what about those long showers? They have to be stopped.
According to brighthub.com, “showering longer than 5 minutes wastes 5 to 10 gallons of water.”
- Not using it? Unplug it.
Small appliances should be unplugged when not in use to avoid house fires anyways. Hair dryers, hot irons, toasters, even microwaves, are all household appliances that do not need to be plugged in all the time.
Read up on what your municipality recycles and follow accordingly. Not all recycling plants take the same items. And some require you to not put recyclables in black bags, or they won’t even take them! Be sure to follow the rules to get your recyclables to where they need to be.
- Garden season/Compost pile
Since it is now spring, it is time to get planting! Try having a vegetable or herb garden right in your backyard or patio. Some gardens can also be on a porch or inside for those who don’t have the space. In addition, make your own fertilizer by having a compost pile.
- Donate unwanted (not broken) items
Don’t want it anymore, but it’s still functional? Don’t throw it away! Why not give it to a friend? Sell it? Or better yet, why not donate it? There are much better ways to get rid of an item than throwing it away. OF course, if the item is damaged beyond repair, please don’t donate it. That’s just rude.
- Buy local
By buying local, you save energy from transport, and from your own travel. Less carbon emissions is great for the environment. Besides, supporting small, local businesses helps keep good people from losing their jobs to corporate monsters.
- Bring reusable containers and cutlery with lunch
By using dishes you don’t throw out, you keep landfills from overflowing. Bring metal forks and reusable containers when bringing lunch to work. I do all the time, and I throw nothing away when I’m finished. You know how good that feels? Extremely good.
- Run dishwasher and washing machine when full only
This goes back to conserving water. Running half-full loads of laundry or dishes “can end up wasting 1000 gallons of water a month,” posts brighthub.com. Try only running full loads, or if you need to run a smaller load of laundry, match the water level with the load.
- Take advantage of nice weather
If you work right around the corner, and it’s a sunny, 65-degree day, try biking or walking to your destination. Of course, this isn’t possible for everyone depending on where you live. But being mindful of how much we drive when not necessary is important.
- Use natural light
Instead of turning on your lights, try opening your shades. In the winter, the sun can heat up your house, so your heating works less. If it’s summer, try turning the blinds up, so the light comes in, but no direct sunlight gets in. This way, you’ll get the light, but it won’t heat up your house. This saves you energy in two ways!
- Set thermostat to reasonable degree
You may have to throw on a sweater in winter, or wear a little less in the summer, but you shouldn’t be bundled under three blankets with the AC on in the middle of summer. The heating and cooling system in your house will have to work harder to keep your house “comfortable” if you set it for 65 when it’s 90 degrees outside. Try keeping your thermostat between 67-70 degrees.
Of course, if you have health issues related to temperature, this green tip may not be for you. You can still be green though! Make sure your heating and cooling system is functioning properly, and make sure your house is properly insulated. Also make sure your windows aren’t drafty as well.
- Beauty – use natural, cruelty-free products
I personally have recently gotten into checking labels for paragons or other harmful chemicals in my beauty products. I never realized how many toxins or environmental hazards I have been using or considered using! Read labels and do a little research to find cruelty-free brands and brands that don’t use harmful chemicals. It is also a good idea to check your household cleaners as well.
- Opt for reusable towels over paper
We can recycle paper, but we can’t recycle a napkin. Instead of filling up landfills with paper towels and napkins, why not switch to a reusable cloth? This option also saves you money. You can throw a towel in the washer, but paper towels have to be continuously bought.
- Volunteer or become an advocate