Every year, every day really, the message to “go green” becomes louder and stronger. This is obviously a good thing because it means the original movement has gone mainstream and become part of our lives. But at some point, the constant message can also become more like white noise. People hear it but don’t always practice it. They know what they “should” do but for whatever reason, they don’t do it. Or they become overwhelmed and feel like they can’t make a real difference. One of the most important things to remember about being green is that simple, everyday actions DO make a difference.
We all understand that recycling and turning off lights are good things to do for the planet. But there are many other easy, everyday actions we can take to truly make a difference. Here are 11 of our favorites.
Information is key. Why should we recycle or turn off lights or drive a hybrid car? Once you learn the reasons for eco-actions, you’re more likely to incorporate them into your life. Start slowly though, or you could quickly fall into the overwhelmed pit. Read a newspaper or search for environmental blogs and stay updated.
When you support a local farmers’ market or farm-to-table restaurant, you are a double do-gooder. Not only are you supporting your local economy, you are helping to reduce the pollution created from transporting those products.
Go Vegetarian Once a Week
This is another multi-benefit action you can take. Incorporating Meatless Monday or any other day into your week offers health benefits for sure, but there are some other important reasons to consider this. The meat industry generates almost one-fifth of the world’s man-made greenhouse gas emissions. Cutting back on meat helps slow that down. It also minimizes the enormous amount of water usage needed to care for livestock, plus can help reduce fossil fuel dependence.
Bring Your Own Shopping Bags
Less plastic means less waste in landfills and less chance for animals to eat them or become entangled in them. Trash that is not biodegradable collects in our oceans and wilderness areas, threatening the eco-system and possibly causing the release of dangerous chemicals. Plus it just looks ugly. So the short answer is, bring your own bags when you shop.
Take Waste-Free Lunches
If you saw our post on eco-friendly school lunches, then maybe you’re inspired to carry this through for yourself too. Taking your own lunch to the office is not only healthier, it’s cheaper and can be an excellent way to be green. Pack your food in re-usable containers (glass storage containers are best) and bring your own utensils. Waste-free is the way to be.
Downloading is your friend. DVDs, CDs, and computer software are still very common things people buy. Think about the packaging alone and the amount of waste that could be prevented by downloading instead whenever possible.
Continuing the technology embracing…take the time to change all of your bank statements, credit cards and utilities to paperless. Bask in the joy of small piles of mail as opposed to the dread of mail mountains.
Turn Off Your Computer at Night
By turning off your computer instead of leaving it in sleep mode, you can save 40 watt-hours per day. That adds up to 4 cents a day, or $14 per year. But don’t do it for the money. Do it for the power. The power required to run all one billion of the world’s computers for just one night is enough to power the Empire State Building for 30 years.
Wash in Cold or Warm
If all the households in the U.S. switched from hot-hot cycle to warm-cold, we could save the energy comparable to 100,000 barrels of oil a day.
Invest in Your Own Coffee Cup
A reusable cup not only cuts down on waste, but also keeps your beverage hot for a much longer time. Most coffee shops will happily fill your own cup, and many even offer you a discount in exchange. Plus let’s face it, coffee always tastes better in your favorite mug.
Trees, flowers, gardens or seeds. Plant something and be amazed. You will be reducing air pollution, providing food, creating beauty, and participating in our incredible eco-system. Do this with kids and revel in their reactions to watching things grow. Do this for yourself and revel at the amazing way our planet works.
For even more ways to go green by keeping things out of the landfill, you can recycle them! See our comprehensive list of 200+ common household items you can recycle for more ideas.
What are your favorite ways to be green? Share with us in the comments section and keep the conversation going.