Living a greener, more sustainable life is becoming increasingly important in our day to day lives. An eco-friendly lifestyle can often seem like a monumental task, but it doesn’t have to be as difficult or expensive as you might think. There are loads of small changes we can make that will play a large role in reducing waste, air pollution, and our overall carbon footprint. Here we reveal some simple ways you can go green to contribute to a healthy planet for years to come.
Landscaping choices can have meaningful effects on the populations of insects, birds, and other native species. This year, instead of filling your garden with exotic, tropical plants, opt for native plants that can adapt to your local climate. Not only will your yard be much easier to maintain, it will also create a friendlier habitat for wildlife. Native plants can even help conserve water and combat climate change. Strategically planted trees and shrubs can help to regulate your homes temperature. Use this handy database to identify native plant species in your area.
About 12 percent of the average home’s electricity bill comes from lighting. An easy way to help reduce your energy bill and your carbon footprint is to replace the light-bulbs in your home with CFL or LED bulbs. Energy Star certified light-bulbs can use anywhere between 70 to 90 percent less energy on average than incandescent bulbs. And they last anywhere from 10 to 25 times longer.
Buying local means having fresh produce and allows you to support local businesses. If that wasn’t enough incentive to change your purchasing habits, buying local is also better for the environment. One of the most important ways it cuts down on your carbon footprint is by reducing your food miles. When you shop at the grocery store, some of those food items have traveled thousands of miles overseas or on long truck rides to get to you. Many local farmers pride themselves on keeping their products organic, hormone free, and pesticide free. Not only is this beneficial for the consumer but it’s also beneficial for the environment as well.
Many appliances use electricity if they are still plugged in, even if you have turned them off. They are called “vampire appliances”. Computers, modems, hair tools, and even Google/Apple TV boxes all suck up electricity even when you think they are “dead”. One solution is to invest in a power strip that you can turn off when it’s not needed. Or you can go the manual route and pull the plug when you’re done using an appliance.
Nearly half of the trash the average household creates comes from food scraps. Composting contributes to a sustainable lifestyle by converting your home’s organic material into nutrients for your garden’s soil. It also helps you save on fertilizer, while keeping the rotting food scrapes in the dump from releasing methane into the atmosphere. Almost anything that has a tight sealing lid can be used to store your compost. Or you can buy an outdoor composter from anywhere between $100 and $600, depending on the size.
Household cleaning supplies are full of powerful, bacteria-killing chemicals that wreak havoc on the germs hiding in your home. But when they seep into our rivers, lakes, and soil, they can be just as detrimental on the environment. Next time you need to restock your cleaning supplies, reach for the all-natural, eco-friendly, or bio-degradable versions instead. Or if you prefer something cheaper, concoct your own green cleaning solution.
Insulation helps keep hot air out in the summer, and warm air in during the winter. Whereas HVAC systems are the biggest contributor to energy costs in the average home, insulation doesn’t rely on energy. While insulating your home is eco-friendly in nature, the materials in your insulation, such as fiber glass, can be harmful to you and to the Earth. Sheep’s wool, cotton, or soybean foam insulation are alternative options that are renewable, made from recycled materials and can help reduce your energy costs by 10 to 30 percent.