Many of us want to help slow down the destruction of our environment, but just the thought of it may feel a bit overwhelming. At least it does to me. But when it comes down to it, there are many ways that basically anyone can help – and, as a bonus perk, save money while doing it.
So if you’re at a loss as to how to start “saving the world”, or are already there but just looking for even more tips and tricks, read on for this sectionalized guide to going green.
With water being such an essential and finite resource, this should definitely be one of the top focus points when it comes to conservation. Less than 3% of the world’s water sources are fresh, and a lot of this even is out of human reach. With global water consumption that doubles every couple decades, the idea of preserving water should not be taken lightly.
On top of that, if water is included in the utilities that you pay for, you can save a decent amount of money by applying at least a few of these tips:
- Don’t leave water running when it’s not in use. Though obvious, it has to be said – because most of us are guilty of this very thing. It may not be really paid attention to when we leave the bathwater running into the drain for several minutes to warm up, or leave water to flow from the kitchen sink in between tasks. It may not seem like much problem at all, but it does add up.
- Reduce shower time. If you like to spend a long time in the shower, consider shaving some minutes off. This will not only help conserve water little by little, but you will also be helping your water bill as well as heating bill. Another option as far as conserving heating energy would be to simply not have it running as hot, or turn it to cold in the last few minutes of the shower of vice versa. Depending on how long you normally shower, you may actually use LESS water than you would if you instead took a bath.
- Invest in a low-flow shower head. This will reduce the flow of water, automatically conserving the amount of water when showering, while still retaining most of the water pressure. Another very low-cost idea is to install faucet aerators on the faucets around your house – these also slow the water flow without really affecting the pressure.
- Stop buying bottled water. This in itself is my toughest transition. I really love bottled water – the convenience, the taste…but it’s mostly a long-lived habit of mine I am working on kicking. Bottled water is truly an unnecessary extra expense as well as a product that just generates more waste with its plastic bottles. Instead, opt for a RO water filter to purify tap water and bring a reusable water bottle filled with your purified tap water when traveling or commuting.
- Don’t leave appliances on when not in use! Another obvious tip that we’re pretty much all guilty of. Especially when it comes to lights around the house – it’s so easy to either be lazy and not get up to turn off a light you no longer need, or simply forget that you have lights on in unoccupied rooms. A solution to this would be to force yourself into the habit of turning off the light/appliance as you leave a room, even if you believe you will be returning shortly – if you do, it shouldn’t be that much extra hassle to turn the light or appliance back on. If you still have trouble, consider investing in some timers that automatically switch lights and such off after a certain amount of time or lack of motion.
- Use compact fluorescent light bulbs instead of the more widely-used incandescent ones. Not only do these energy-saving bulbs last longer, but they are generally brighter, providing more light for less energy.
- Adjust the refrigerator temperature. The refrigerator alone eats up tons of energy – it’s suggested to be kept at 37 F, and the freezer at 0.
- Go easy on the thermostat. In the winter, set it a few degrees lower than normal if you usually keep it pretty high. For air conditioning in the summer, do just the opposite with setting it a few degrees higher. The money (and energy) this saves will add up.
- Consider purchasing a smart strip. Just having an appliance plugged in can still create “phantom” energy loads, but a smart power strip will detect when a device is shut off. Otherwise you can try to unplug your appliance whenever it’s not in use, which can quickly become a hassle.
- Use cold water when washing clothes. Most of the energy consumed while using a clothes washer is due to the heating up of water. You may also consider using a clothesline or, if the weather doesn’t permit or you lack a yard, a drying rack to dry clothes on naturally instead of using even more heating energy in a dryer.
- Carpool if you can, as it’s better for a couple or a few people to split the gas for one car than each pay their own on several cars.
- Try walking or biking to work or school if it’s within distance. This way you’re not only helping the environment and your wallet, but your personal health too.
- Consider moving closer to where you need to go. While this may not be a spur-of-the-moment decision to make for most, it may be something to consider if you are using a huge amount of gas each week to make it to school or work.
- Invest in a no-fuel lawn mower.You can go simple and get a modern reel-style mower, as these require no energy but your own to push it – which is very good for you. Or, if you’d rather not do this, consider a battery-operated mower. Still saves money on fuel and is much better for the environment.
- Buy recyclable batteries. Yes, they are more expensive than ones you can toss in the trash, but they’re less costly in the long run as you can use them many times before they finally fail completely. They also tend to last longer in one use than normal batteries. Aside from expense issues, rechargeables will keep you from throwing batteries away, which is not a good thing. Speaking of which…
- Don’t throw rechargeable batteries away! In some states it’s even illegal to. Wherever you are, it’s not too hard to find a place that will properly take care of (as in, recycle) batteries from cell phones, cameras, etc. that are no longer of use to you. Check out http://www.rbrc.org to find a place near you that will do this.
- Cell phones are recyclable. More and more often I’m seeing cell phone depositories popping up, but they are still not widely known about. If you have a cell phone that no longer works or you no longer need, check out this site to find out how to recycle it.In the winter, set it a few degrees lower than normal if you usually keep it pretty high. For air conditioning in the summer, do just the opposite with setting it a few degrees higher. The money (and energy) this saves will add up.
- Support local farmers by purchasing food that is locally grown or produced. This helps keep your local economy thriving, and can generally be less expensive when it comes to buying organic foods like milk and eggs than it would be if you were to buy from out of the area.
- Try eating a few meatless meals a week. This will not only be healthier for you and your family, but will cost a lot less than constantly buying meat from the supermarket for every meal.
- Buy food from the bulk bins. Especially if it’s something you and you family consume a lot of. This is easier on the environment as much less packaging is used, and easier for you as by the amount you get it’s usually cheaper.
- Buy secondhand. Instead of always buying new things, don’t be afraid to shop thrift shops for cheaper, gently-used clothing, or sites like eBay and Amazon (or even craigslist) that have many options for just about anything used.
- Don’t buy books. Instead of paying money for another book that uses tons of paper, head to the library and borrow it. You’re probably only going to read it once anyway! Unless it’s like your favorite book, then of course it’s excusable. If you really want to support the author, consider purchasing books in eBook form instead. As much as I love to have book-in-hand, I have taken to acquiring eBooks – the same story, but without all the publishing-on-paper bit.
- Borrow things besides books. An interesting site known as BorrowMe lets people lend or borrow just about anything on a contracted basis.
While going green may seem like a daunting task to many of us, if each would apply even just a few of the above ideas to our everyday lives, we are on our way to not only saving money – but truly helping the environment.This will not only be healthier for you and your family, but will cost a lot less than constantly buying meat from the supermarket for every meal.