Too often, tips for “going green” involve installing solar panels on a home you don’t own or buying a hybrid car you can’t afford. It can be deflating, but there are a lot of under-discussed ways to follow your conscience without busting your budget.
You just need to know how to do it, so here are a few suggestions:
Buy Solar And Wind Power
The nice thing about solar’s rise is that you can get the benefits without having to spend thousands. Most utilities offer the option for you to buy at least some of your electricity from solar or wind panels, as they invest in renewables, and choosing that option will not only make your power use more green, it’ll send a message that you want more renewable power.
Pick The Right Power Strip
Nobody walks from room to room unplugging things except the cheapest of us, because, well, that’s a pain. Besides, why do that when you can get a power strip to do it for you?
Ideally, if you’ve got the money, look for an “advanced” power strip — one with technology that reduces “vampire” loads that drive up your power bill by shutting down power to devices you’re not using. A few of these tend to pay for themselves, as you’re coughing up less for your bill, but even a simple strip with a switch you flick off when you’re done will do better for both the environment and your wallet.
Shut Down Junk Mail
Your average American gets 41 pounds of junk mail a year. That’s a lot of useless crap that eats up resources to make, package, deliver, and usually trash. You can go online to wipe out junk mail at the source and inform junk mail companies via their lobbying group that they can strike you from the list. And if for some reason you’re not already using electronic billing, now’s the time to start.
Buy Local And Native Foods, Where You Can
For all the hype around “organic” food, the reality is, to qualify as organic, all you really have to do is abide by a few federal standards. There’s been little indication, if any, that organic produce is better for the earth, mostly because it doesn’t have to be.
What is better, however, is local produce and products, and the reason is simple: Transportation. Once you load any food onto a truck and drive it a few thousand miles, its impact on the Earth is going to be higher. There’s a catch, though; the food also has to be native to your area, or else it’s a lot of wasted resources. So determine what grows near where you live, and where you can, buy accordingly.
When Doing Laundry, Lay Off The Hot Water
If we all just used cold water for laundry, starting tomorrow, 75% of the greenhouse gas emissions from getting our clothes clean would vanish. If you switch to a liquid detergent, unless your clothes deeply reek or you have, say, cloth diapers to consider, you can wash pretty much everything cold. And, as a side benefit, it’s another thing that will save you money on your electric bill.
Keep Your Car In The Garage
Most of us don’t own an eco-friendly hybrid or an electric car, and even if we do, it’s generally a good idea to keep it in the garage unless we really need it. Keep in mind, most Americans don’t drive much in the first place: On average, we take two trips a day: To work, and from work. So, instead of driving, look at public transit, biking, or walking to cut down on environmentally damaging emissions.
The latter two options also offer obvious health benefits. Not just the health of the planet you should be mindful of, right?
Put A Brick In Your Toilet Tank
Any toilet can be turned into a low-flow toilet with a brick, a plastic bag, and five seconds’ work. Just put the brick (or fill a plastic bottle with sand) in the tank, being careful not to damage any sensitive parts, and you’ll use less water per flush.
Cut Down On Meat Consumption
While going vegetarian or vegan isn’t necessarily any greener or more sustainable, there is a kernel of truth to the idea. Meat is the most environmentally intensive foodstuff as you have to grow feed, give the livestock water, and ship it somewhere to process. Among other things.
That doesn’t mean that you have to stop eating meat completely if you don’t want to (though, that’s another way to clean up your own body), but maybe focus on eating less of it and varying up your protein sources with dairy, eggs, and plant-based protein like beans and chickpeas.
If you follow through with these slight life changes, you won’t save the world, but it’s a few steps in the right direction and every little bit helps. And as we mentioned, you’ll probably save a few bucks and maybe cut a few pounds in the process. Everybody wins.