Although switching to greener living can feel a bit overwhelming and daunting at times, it should be a relief to know that there are small changes you can make in your every day life that will have a huge impact on the health and future of our planet. Keep reading for tips on how to practice sustainability at home, as well as in other areas of your life.
Living Sustainably At Home
While there are many different arenas in which you can practice sustainability, living a greener life at home is a great place for you and your family to start. From very small changes like purchasing greener cleaning products to bigger changes such as switching to green energy providers, every step you take to living a more sustainable life at home is a step in the right direction.
One of the most important changes you can make in your life if you are looking to live more sustainably is to begin recycling at home. Currently, seventy-five percent of the waste produced by Americans is recyclable, however only thirty percent of that waste is being recycled. In the United States, Americans are recycling at a rate of approximately thirty-five percent. If we were able to reach a recycling rate of seventy-five percent in the United States, it would have the same affect on the environment as removing fifty million cars from the roads. These facts are evidence of how far Americans still have to go in terms of recycling and how your recycling contributions can help to make a major difference in the health of our environment.
The basics of recycling are common knowledge to most, as you might know to recycle your aluminum cans, paper, cardboard, plastic bottles and glass bottles. However, there are many more items that you currently have in your home which can be recycled. Outside of the usual recyclable items, you can also recycle products like wine or champagne corks, soft plastic packaging, including bubble wrap and sandwich and chip bags, bed mattresses, used household grade batteries, used car batteries, aerosol spray cans, cotton products, empty toothpaste tubes, plastic toothbrushes and floss canisters, used prescription eye glasses or sunglasses, hearing aids, light bulbs, printer cartridges, printer toner bottles, cellphones and cellphone chargers, single use coffee pods and aluminum foil. This long list is not exhaustive, as there are many more items you use every day in your home that are also recyclable. Using this list as a guide to what you should be recycling in your home is a great place to begin your journey into helping create a healthier planet for current and future generations.
Whether you are passionate about saving the planet or strengthening the United States economy, recycling at home will benefit your cause. By recycling, we are helping to preserve natural resources, preventing habitat destruction for wildlife around the world, conserving energy, reducing pollution and preserving landfill space. Additionally, recycling helps to create American jobs and benefits our economy, as the recycling industry generates over one billion in revenue and hundreds of thousands of manufacturing jobs.
Use Less Water When Possible
Wasting water has a big impact on the environment and also people all over the world. As a finite resource with only one percent available for human use, fresh water is a precious commodity that should be conserved at home and wherever possible. To conserve more water in your home, you can take shorter showers, invest in a water saving shower head, use aerators on your sink faucets, turn off the water while brushing your teeth and routinely check your home for leaks. These are just a few of many ways you can conserve water and live more sustainably in your home.
If we continue to use and waste water in the ways we do today, it is estimated that by the year 2030, half of the global population will be water stressed. This means that the amount of water on planet earth will not meet the human and ecological need for fresh water. By practicing water sustainability in your home, you can help to reduce the chance of this bleak and water stressed future.
Usually as simple as the click of a button, going paperless on your household bills or bank statements can help to drastically conserve energy and earth’s natural resources. Each year, Americans receive four million tons, or eight billion pounds, of junk mail with the majority of this paper ending up in landfills. This fact is unfortunate, as the wasted energy used to make and distribute junk mail for one day in the United States could provide heat to 250,000 American homes. By choosing to go paperless, you are not only personally benefitting from the annoyances of junk mail, but you are also playing a major role in protecting the planet’s environment.
Sustainability On The Road
In addition to practicing sustainability in your home, you can also choose to go green in the way that you use transportation every day. One highly impactful way to reduce your carbon footprint is by investing in an eco-friendly car. These cars require less gas to power them which helps to reduce the United States’ dependence on foreign countries for oil. They also exhibit reduced exhaust emissions which helps to keep the air cleaner and the environment healthier. You can also reap some personal benefit from driving an eco-friendly car, as these vehicles will save you money on gasoline.
Aside from driving an eco-friendly car, you can also take public transportation when available or carpool to work. If you are comfortable, you may also choose to ride a bike as a primary means of transportation. If you will be driving a traditional gasoline car, make sure to drive sensibly and keep your car maintained, as this can help to maximize your fuel efficiency.
One often overlooked area in your life where you can practice sustainability is in fashion. When considering how to live a sustainable lifestyle, we usually first consider how we can reduce our impact on the environment through actions like recycling, saving water and not littering. However, being smart when it comes to the way you consume clothing can also have a huge environmental impact. For example, cutting down on how often you buy new clothes can surprisingly help to decrease the release of greenhouse gases, as the clothing and footwear industries are responsible for eight percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. Additionally, it has been reported that three fifths of clothing items will eventually wind up in a landfill or incinerator within a year of being made. This speaks to the way we so frivolously buy and throw away the clothes that we wear. The disposal of these clothes are negatively impacting the environment by contributing to wastewater and other detrimental occurrences. In fact, the fashion industry alone produces twenty percent of global wastewater. Read below to find out how you can help to reduce your impact on the environment by being smart when it comes to buying and getting rid of your clothes.
Buy Less Clothing
The best way to practice sustainable fashion is to simply buy less clothing. If you do need to purchase more clothing, try shopping fashion brands that are committed to eco-friendly practices in the production of their products.
Purchase Higher Quality Clothing That Will Last Longer
Buying new clothes is unavoidable for most people, so when it is time to purchase some new pieces for your wardrobe, try shopping for higher quality pieces that will last you longer. This higher quality clothing might cost more short term, but will save you money in the long run when it does not degrade and have to be repurchased in a shorter period of time.
Shop At Secondhand Clothing Stores
Although there is something that feels special about getting a brand new piece of clothing, secondhand stores have a great variety of different styles to choose from. Secondhand stores are especially good for baby or children’s clothing, as these items have to be purchased much more often than adult clothing. Like reusing any item, reusing clothing will help to cut down on the negative environmental impacts of manufacturing new products.
Sustainability When Grocery Shopping
Like shopping for clothes, there are also a lot of ways to sustainably shop for groceries. As we shop for groceries so often, practicing the below tips can help to drastically cut down on your waste and help to support the environment.
Use Reusable Plastic Grocery Bags
This tip is considered common knowledge to anyone who is interested in reducing their personal impact on the environment. Keep your reusable plastic bags in your car to make sure that you do not forget them when it is time to go grocery shopping. Some people make the mistake of using reusable cotton bags, as these bags have actually been shown to be worse for our environment than plastic bags. This is due to the amount of water and pesticides necessary to manage and produce cotton crops.
Do Not Wrap Your Produce In Plastic Before Purchasing
Another way that you can cut down on single-use plastic is by skipping the plastic bags when shopping for your fruits and vegetables. Since the majority of produce needs to be washed before eaten, it is futile to wrap it in plastic beforehand. Not only does this reduce your use of plastic, but it also helps to cut down on food waste, as it is more probable that you will buy the exact amount of produce you need instead of overbuying by loading up plastic bags.
Purchase Imperfect Produce
Produce that looks healthy and attractive might seem like it will provide more nutritional value and taste better. However, this is not the case. Over twenty percent of fruits and vegetables that are grown in the United States never make it to grocery stores simply because they do not look attractive enough for grocery store standards. This contributes to a huge amount of food waste in America. Fortunately, there are now companies that will sell this misshapen produce to consumers, helping to reduce this unnecessary food waste.
Sustainability In The Office
Because many Americans spend the majority of their days in an office setting, it is also important to consider how you can practice sustainability at work. Office environments largely deal with paper waste and in fact, every year in the United States, we throw out the amount of office paper that would be necessary to build a twelve foot wall from Los Angeles to New York City. This staggering fact alone will hopefully inspire you to be more conscientious of the way you use and expose of paper in your office.
Although paper waste is a a big problem when it comes to the environmental impact of offices, there are additional ways you can help to reduce your carbon footprint while at work.
Use A Laptop Computer Instead Of A Desktop Computer
Office lap tops use five times less energy than traditional desktop computers, making this switch a great start to reducing energy use in your office. You might also personally benefit from this switch as you enjoy the convenience of being able to take your work laptop home with you if necessary.
Unplug Electrical Devices When You Leave The Office
Simply turning off your computer and other electrical office devices at the end of the day does not mean they are not still using energy. Devices that are turned off but plugged in still use power, called phantom power, and can become a big waste of energy if not monitored by your company. To do your part in reducing wasted energy cause by phantom power, unplug your devices after turning them off every day.
Living a more eco-friendly and sustainable life is not only important to the health of planet earth, but also to our children and future generations. Practice these tips and commit to a more sustainable life for the benefit of yourself, your family and our environment.