To ensure a viable world for future generations, the burden of environmental responsibility lies with each of us. Every little improvement helps change the course we are on. The ultimate goal is to reduce our carbon footprint and preserve our natural resources.
Making your lifestyle greener doesn’t need to be expensive or time consuming. There are a lot of little ways you can reduce your consumption and lighten the global environmental load.
We have put together this list of five quick and easy things you can do right now to make your home more environmentally friendly.
1. More Efficient Eco-Friendly Lighting
The first quick way to conserve energy and save money is to swap out all your regular light bulbs for light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, LEDs use 75 percent less energy, and as a bonus, they last 25 percent longer. By using less power, you will pay less on your utility bill. It’s a complete win-win.
Another tip for saving energy is to turn off lights when you are not using them. Unplug appliances that continuously draw electricity when they are not in use. To make this job easier, plug everything into one power strip. Then, you’ll have only one plug to detach before leaving the house each day.
Using these methods, your energy savings could add up to more than $75 a year. The best places to swap out incandescent bulbs for LEDs are your porch light, table, floor lamps, and kitchen ceiling lights.
2. Start Composting
Many people have heard of composting but don’t really know what it is or how to start doing it. It’s actually quite easy and can drastically lower greenhouse gas emissions from landfills. The big culprit is methane gas, which is a direct result of all this food ending up in the trash.
You can create a composting bin in a few different ways. There are entire websites devoted to instructing beginners on how to start composting. You can use different methods for breaking down your food scraps using earthworms or other biodegradable substances. You can then either drop it off at a composting location near you or use it to feed your garden; compost makes great fertilizer.
You can even buy composting kits online or at hardware stores. Find local composting locations through your local town hall. Be sure to store composted material in your freezer to avoid any bad smells or pests until pickup day.
3. Use Natural Pest Repellents
Instead of toxic chemicals and aerosols that destroy our ozone layer and infiltrate our water systems, a better way to keep pests away is through a natural repellent. Not only is this natural pest repellent effective on ants, bed bugs, ticks, fleas, cockroaches, spiders, and other pests, it is completely safe for humans and animals.
All you need to make it is food-grade diatomaceous earth. The diatomaceous earth comes from “fossils of tiny aquatic organisms known as diatoms.” This dirt-like substance looks like glass and is safe enough to eat, but to tiny creatures it is deadly. It cuts their exoskeleton and dries them out.
You can even brush this substance through your dog or cat’s fur. If you mix 1/4 of a cup of it with 5-10 drops of Peppermint Essential Oil, you can sprinkle it anywhere to keep ants out (ants hate the smell of peppermint). Sprinkle the powder outside anywhere you want to get rid of ticks or other pests.
4. Meatless Mondays/Going Meat-Free at Least 3 Days a Week
Surprisingly, not eating meat just one day of the week impacts the environment in a big way. The Earth Day Network says that “eating one less burger a week for a year has the same environmental impact as taking your car off the road for 320 miles.” So if you decided to stop eating meat three days a week, your positive impact would triple!
Furthermore, if you decide to go completely vegetarian, you could reduce your carbon footprint by 63 percent. There are dozens of vegetarian diets that substitute other foods for getting your daily dose of protein. If you don’t want to go that far, you could alternate and eat vegetarian meals every other week.
5. Go Paperless/Paper-Free
There are so many ways that you can save pounds of paper and dozens of trees every day. First, scan all your documents instead of copying them. Cloud-based solutions allow you to easily upload all your documents for secure backup and storage.
Instead of subscribing to newspapers, magazine and other periodicals, use the online versions. Tablets and smartphones let you read your favorites anytime and anywhere. Your smart device can also keep track of calendars, to-dos, and lists so you can stop using notepads and sticky notes around the house.
When you sign up for something new, be sure to request paperless billing. Ask for online versions of other items like bank statements, newsletters, catalogs and insurance paperwork. Anytime you can opt for a digital version, do so. All your favorite books are now online, and many are available in audio format.
Every little bit you do contributes to the greater good for all of us and a much greener Earth.
EarthTalk is a California-based 501(c)3 non-profit organization.