There is no more opportune time than the present to make a positive change. That is especially true when it comes to how you treat the environment. I recently made the decision to live a greener life. I felt inspired and motivated as well as confused and intimidated. The prospect of changing my way of life seemed so grand and impossible. How can I, one person, make a difference? Am I going to have to drop out of society and live on a commune? What sacrifices will I have to make? These are all questions I suffered with, as do many who decide to live a life more in line with their environmental values. I soon realized with a little research, practice and acclimation that living greener really only takes small adjustments. Those little changes go a long way and they can be easily matched or surpassed by you.
Whether you completely overhaul your old life in order to live greener, or take baby steps to change it a little at a time, all of the ideas that follow can be done easily and without putting a damper on your 21st century life.
One of the biggest changes a person can make toward living a greener lifestyle is to be more responsible about their water usage. Most of us don’t realize how much water we waste in a given day. However, being quietly judicious can remedy many water wasting habits.
When you are brushing your teeth, shaving or washing dishes by hand, turn off the water when you’re not using it instead of letting it run. A quick flick of the wrist while you’re polishing your pearly whites can save dozens of gallons of water a week.
When you are out at a restaurant, do not order that last glass of water you know you aren’t going to drink. When the server comes around with a water pitcher, tell him or her politely that you don’t need a refill. You can help save up to 3 gallons of water for each glass that gets served but not drank.
Is Anybody Home?
Climate controlled houses are one of the nicest perks about modern living. A warm house in the winter or a cool house in the summer is a welcoming abode. One of the biggest wasters of energy is running those utilities when no one is home. Simply turn off the heat or air conditioning if no one is going to be home and turn them back on when you return. You can even install a programmable thermostat that can be set to heat or cool your house only at hours when you’re expected to be at home. Not only is this much better for the environment, it is good for your wallet. Turning off the air conditioning when you aren’t home can save you over $200 a year in energy costs.
Reduce, Reuse, Reread
Few things bring me more excitement than a new book or magazine. I can still experience this euphoria without ordering brand new books or magazines each time I want one. Patronizing your local library or sharing magazines and books with friends and neighbors is an eco-friendly way to read. The library will save you money as well as the energy required to ship books and sharing might lead to a new friendship with a neighbor or co-worker.
My perennial new years’ resolution is to lose weight and get healthy. I then proceed to make a million excuses as to why there isn’t enough time in a day to exercise. The next time you’re at the office or the department store, opt for the stairs as opposed to the elevator. You can burn calories and save electricity at the same time.
Nearly 100 billion plastic grocery bags are used and disposed of each year in the United States. I, as an individual, contribute about 400 alone to this waste. Reusable shopping bags and totes are one of the few things you can do that doesn’t involve giving something up and the impact on the environment is huge. Some stores are even starting to offer small discounts for using reusable bags!
Carpooling is a Gas
Nothing makes my wallet cry more than when I’m at the pump. Carpooling to work with friends and coworkers can save you a massive amount of money and wear and tear on your vehicle. Another option is public transportation. It is widely agreed upon that the most stressful part of the day for many is their commute. Riding a bus or train to work might alleviate some of the stressful burden of commuting. It will also give you that time you’ve been looking for to read your new book from the library!
There you have it! Going green is as simple as making a few small lifestyle changes here and there. Follow some of these tips to reduce your personal carbon footprint and live a life that’s kinder to Mother Earth!