Living an Eco-Friendly Lifestyle: Tips for Everyday HabitsDana Colson
As climate change continues to be a major issue and resource depletion becomes more pressing, many are looking for ways they can change their lives and, in turn, live an eco-friendly lifestyle and change the world. Luckily, there are several actions even one person can do to make a difference.
Eco-friendly habits – such as developing a recycling mindset, reducing your dependence on fossil fuels with green technology, and keeping your air conditioner set to less wasteful settings- reduce negative environmental impact and can be adopted easily and quickly into any lifestyle. Here are some tips for developing daily practices that promote a sustainable life while reducing your carbon emissions and by using energy-efficient products:
1. Save energy with the right mindset.
Saving energy isn’t as hard as you might think. For instance, you don’t have to jump into a flying car to embrace the Energy Star program or similar programs. There are several, seemingly small, actions you can take to reduce your energy consumption, save money on the energy bill, and reduce their environmental impact. These include:
- Turn off lights and appliances when they’re not in use.
- Use energy-efficient light bulbs and devices such as LED or CFL lights, solar panels, and smart thermostats.
- Use a clothesline or drying rack to dry your clothes.
- Limit how high you turn the heat on in the winter, and air conditioning in the summer.
- Always close windows and doors when heating and cooling are in use.
- Add insulation to your home and use window treatments to increase the energy performance of your appliances.
- Invest in renewable sources of energy, such as solar energy or wind power.
- Install a smart power strip.
2. Reduce, reuse, and recycle.
While America is a land of abundance, it’s also a land with a waste problem. In fact, the average American produces around 5 pounds of trash each day. That’s a lot of trash production!
So, how can you reduce waste and conserve our natural resources? There are several ways you can do just that. – And while a few take more thought and planning, such as building a selection of permanent-use products, others only take wanting to make a change:
- Buy items that don’t have a lot of packaging, or opt for recyclable packaging when you can.
- Cut down on single-use items like plastic bottles, paper plates, and aluminum foil.
- Invest in reusable bags, water containers, and more.
- Recycle paper, plastics, glass, and metals whenever possible.
- Reuse plastic bags as much as you can before throwing them away.
- Buy only the things you really need and reduce impulse buys.
- Look for products made to last.
- Don’t forget about e-waste – recycle electronics and batteries too!
- Choose refillable containers when you can.
- Cut down on resource-intensive items such as clothes, plastics, and processed foods.
- Participate in beach or park cleanups to help protect our environment.
- Consider donating old goods – someone else might be able to make use of them!
- Aim for furniture and textiles crafted from natural or recyclable materials whenever possible.
- Avoid buying cheap disposables that will just end up taking up space in a landfill later on.
3. Reduce your car usage.
Cars are a major source of air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. You can reduce your carbon footprint and improve air quality by using public transportation, carpooling, walking, or biking.
When it’s necessary to use a personal car, choose eco-friendly models, such as hybrid and electric cars. Drive efficiently, which not only helps the environment but also helps with fuel economy. Retrofit existing vehicles to use alternative fuel sources such as electric, natural gas, or hybrid and keep your vehicle in good condition.
4. Be a conscious consumer.
You can also reduce your environmental footprint by purchasing items from companies that value sustainability and use renewable eco-friendly products and recyclable materials. When out shopping, look for products made from sustainable materials. Purchase fair trade items. Pay more attention to the items purchased and their production methods.
5. Reduce the amount of food you waste.
There’s an overproduction of food and an extreme amount of food waste going to landfills. To reduce this problem, be mindful of portion sizes, plan meals, and use food beyond its expiration date. Another way to reduce food waste is to compost food scraps to create nutrient-rich soil and donate unused items to food banks.
6. Conserve your water usage.
Water is a precious resource, and conserving it can help reduce your environmental impact. Below are a few habits you can incorporate:
- Take shorter showers.
- Fix leaks promptly, which also has the benefit of keeping tap water costs lower.
- Use water-efficient appliances, low-flow toilets, and showerheads.
- Turn off the faucet when brushing your teeth.
- Be mindful when watering your foliage and use sensors and timers to maximize efficiency and minimize water waste.
- Install a rainwater harvesting system to conserve water and irrigate during dry seasons.
7. Use Eco-friendly Products
Many cleaning products have chemicals that can harm the environment and your health. For example, bleach is a common cleaning agent in many family homes, but is highly toxic. Floor polish, oven cleaners, air fresheners, aerosol spray – all common, yet toxic, household products.
Using natural cleaning products like white vinegar and baking soda, on the other hand, can reduce your environmental impact. As well, you can buy and support eco-friendly brands and products made from recycled materials. Also, avoid products made from rare or endangered species or those containing hazardous chemicals and pesticides.
8. Buy local products.
Eating locally and organically grown produce can help reduce your carbon footprint. Local products mean less transportation used, lowering the CO2 emissions through the supply chain. Buying from your local farmer’s market also helps create more sustainable local markets. This supports local farmers who, in turn, put their income back into the local economy.
9. Grow your own food.
Starting a fruit and vegetable garden can help reduce your carbon footprint by reducing the energy and resources needed to transport and package produce. It also provides you with fresh, healthy food.
10. Consume less meat and dairy.
Livestock farming is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions and deforestation. Plant-based food uses fewer resources and produces less carbon dioxide. In some cases, it can even be healthier. If a meatless lifestyle isn’t in the cards for you, you can make small changes such as eating organic, local foods. Choose a day in the week to eat a plant-based meal, such as “Meatless Mondays”.
11. Plant a tree
Tree planting can help absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and provide shade, which can help cool your home and reduce energy use. You’ll be joining thousands of lumber companies – the number one contributor to reforestation.
12. Educate yourself and others
Stay informed about environmental issues and ways to reduce your impact. Share information with others, and encourage them to make sustainable choices. The more you know about the environment and the result of your actions, the more you can do to make a difference.
Read books, join environmental organizations, watch documentaries, take part in Earth Day events, volunteer regularly, and attend lectures on environmental issues.
Living a sustainable lifestyle takes conscious effort and dedication, but it’s worth it. All it takes is a bit of planning and commitment, and you can start making a difference for the planet. Small changes in your life can have a big impact on the environment.
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