With Earth Day just two days away, we should each consider our environmental footprint. The earth is big and we are small, but together we can make a tremendous difference, not only on a local level, but also globally. Starting a more environmentally friendly lifestyle may seem daunting. Like any lifestyle changes, baby steps are the best approach to long term change. We’re sharing 10 simple ways to start saving the earth today as an initial step to jumpstart or renew your commitment to sustainable practices this Earth Day.
1) Pay bills and view statements online. Most of us get between five and ten regular monthly bills and at least one bank statement a month. If these are mailed to you, the paper being used grows pretty quickly over the course of a year. That’s not to mention the ink, energy to print and environmental expense of sending items through the mail. Cut down on all of these negative impacts by paying bills and viewing statements online. Most utility, phone and television companies, as well as banks, offer online options to keep your bills in order and cut out unnecessary snail mail.
2) Bring reusable cloth bags to stores. Plastic bags are not biodegradable and often end up in the ocean and eventually the food chain. This wastefulness (and health hazard) can be avoided by bringing your own cloth bags whenever you go shopping. This not only includes the grocery store, but also when you shop for clothes or visit discount department stores. Cloth bags will be sturdier anyways.
3) Change your light bulbs. Compact florescent light bulbs create significantly less pollution than regular high watt light bulbs. If the tone of the light bothers your eyes, use them in spaces where you don’t spend much time, such as closets, pantries and your garage.
4) Pick up litter when you see it. It may seem unpleasant but cleaning up trash from around your neighborhood and parks is a big way you can support your community. Besides being unsightly, trash can disturb animal habitats and lead to harmful water streams. Litter is a public danger and fire hazard too. Plus, if you don’t pick it up, someone will be hired to do it, which will cost you money in the long run.
5) Don’t drink bottled water. With all the wonderful reusable, dishwasher safe water bottles available, drinking bottled water on a regular basis is just not necessary, even if you recycle the bottles. Plastic is not biodegradable in landfills and can cause water and air pollution.
6) Use rechargeable batteries. Disposable batteries pose a big threat to our environment because they contain heavy metals that eventually release into the air. Buying a battery charger and rechargeable batteries prevents battery accumulation in landfills. This expense will also pay off as you will not have to continuously buy batteries.
7) Maintain your car. When your car works optimally, it will release less harmful emissions and save on gas. Regularly checking oil levels, tire pressure and air filters will ensure your car works properly. Maintenance and improving the performance of your car may prevent major issues that could impact the environment and cost a lot of money to repair. Also, try not to carry around extra weight as that requires more gas.
8) Wrap gifts creatively. Instead of buying wrapping paper and gift bags, get creative with your gift wrap. Use newspapers, paper grocery bags or your child’s artwork as a fun and unique way to give a present.
9) Unplug unused electronics and turn off your computer. Believe it or not, leaving cell phone chargers, night lights and hand-held vacuums plugged in all the time pulls energy as does leaving your computer on all night. Besides lamps and clocks, try to unplug items when they are not in use to save household energy.
10) Use water conservatively. Running water can be quite wasteful. Baths, long showers and leaving the faucet on while brushing your teeth are among the biggest unnecessary uses of household water. Also, only run the dishwasher and washing machine when you have a full load. Use warm or cold water for your clothes as hot water uses much more energy.
Happy Earth Day!