Everyone likes to talk about “going green,” but talking about something doesn’t have nearly as much of an impact as backing it with action! If you’re trying to make your home and your life a little eco-friendlier but aren’t sure where to start, here are some tips and tricks to help you get started.
No one likes getting bills in the mail. Sure, they’re necessary but once you open them and pay them, they just clutter up your home. And chances are nowadays, even if you get a paper bill, you’re paying the balance online anyway.
Why not switch to paperless billing? It will cut down on the clutter and help reduce overall paper waste, which might help to save a few of the 4 billion trees that are cut down to make paper every single year.
Ditch the paper towels
Paper towels are super convenient, we know. If you’ve got a spill, simply pull off a few, wipe it up and toss them out, right? In this case, though, convenient also means wasteful.
Ending your reliance on paper towels can help to reduce your home’s overall waste. You don’t need to break out the mop every time you’ve got a spill though. Terry-cloth towels or reusable ‘paper’ towels made from sustainable bamboo fibers can help to fill in the gap.
No more grocery bags
Be honest — you’ve got a plastic grocery bag stashed somewhere that’s filled with other plastic grocery bags, don’t you? People save them for a number of reasons — they make useful trash bags for small cans like the one you probably have in your bathroom, for example, but no matter what you do with them, they end up in the landfill.
From there, they often end up in the ocean, contributing to the growing Great Pacific Garbage Patch that is primarily made of plastic and is larger than the state of Texas — or the country of France times three!
Skip the plastic grocery bags in favor of reusable alternatives — they’ll last longer, they hold more and they’re infinitely more biodegradable.
Wash the dishes already
Paper plates and plastic cutlery are also extremely convenient, especially if you hate doing the darn dishes. This might be a hard habit to break but it can be a great way to go green.
Switching to a green dish soap that doesn’t contain toxic chemicals can help you kill two (figurative!) birds with one stone. Eco-friendly soaps are designed to keep toxins from potentially leeching into the local water supply, even after the waste water is treated.
No bottled water
You can find a 16-20 ounce bottle of water for sale nearly anywhere — and while it is convenient to be able to pick up a bottle, drink it and toss it once you’re done, it’s definitely not green. Ditch the disposable water bottle for one that you can reuse — and fill it up from the tap.
Most of the bottled water you buy is just tap water with an inflated price tag anyway — and tap water is more tightly regulated than bottled water is when it comes to things like health and safety.
If you need that bottled water taste, invest in an at-home filter so you can filter your own tap water.
Hands off the thermostat
We all want to stay warm in the winter and cool in the summer, but you can cut your energy bill and make your home a little bit greener by keeping your hands off the thermostat. During cooler months, set your thermostat a few degrees lower and do the opposite during the summer months.
It is recommended to set your thermostat to 68 in the winter and 78 in the summer. For every degree up that you turn your thermostat in the summer, it’s estimated that you could save between six and eight percent on your home energy costs.
Going green doesn’t have to be hard or expensive. You don’t have to drop thousands of dollars on solar panels or the latest electric car. Start by making small changes and you might be surprised how easy the whole process becomes!
This is a guest post written by Kate Harveston.
Kate Harveston is a freelance writer and blogger. Her writing focuses on politics and the environment, with a particular emphasis on social change. You can follow her writing by visiting her blog, So Well, So Woman.