If one of your goals for this year is to lessen your impact on the environment, you’re setting a great and very achievable goal for yourself. There are many small (and big) ways that you can consciously be more environmentally friendly this year. Here are a few examples of how you can start being greener today.
1. Shop Local
Making an effort to shop at small local businesses can greatly lessen your impact on the environment. When it comes to classic retail items like clothing and home goods, shopping locally will mean that the products aren’t transported long distances, and smaller businesses often have less of an environmental impact than major retailers. With food items, like fruits and vegetables, shopping locally comes with the added benefit of the food being fresher and having fewer preservatives in it. Not only is it better for the environment, but it’s also better for you. When you can speak with the farmers who you’re buying produce from, you can learn more about your food than you could from food transported halfway around the country (or world).
Composting is a great way to be more eco-friendly. Compost is made from the breakdown of organic materials, such as food scraps, and can be used as a great fertilizer for your garden. If you have the space for a compost pile, there are many great guides on what you need to start one as well as the required maintenance for one.
If you don’t have space for a full compost pile, you have a few options. There are products called compost tumblers that are space-saving and can even make the composting process easier. If you have no outdoor space, like if you live in an apartment, you may still be able to compost. In some areas, you can sign up for community compost where you get your compostable scraps picked up on a regular basis and eventually get back some of the finished, compostable product. Make sure to research the options in your area.
3. Conserve Water
Conserving water is a great way to be eco-friendly. When it comes to water conservation, there are many different actions that you can take. Here are a few examples:
- Go Low-Flow. Low-flow versions are available for things like toilets and shower heads. So make sure that if you need to replace something that dispenses water you opt for a low-flow option.
- Fix Your Faucet. If you have a faucet or pipe that is leaking, you could be wasting up to 90 gallons of water every day. If you notice any issues, don’t wait for them to get worse — get them fixed right away to avoid wasting more water.
- Collect Rain Water. Collecting rain to water your garden is a great way to not use more freshwater than necessary. If you live in an area where it rains regularly, place a barrel outdoors, preferably under the spout of your gutters. This will help it collect as much water as possible during the next rainstorm. If you aren’t expecting rain for another few days, cover the barrel to ensure the water doesn’t evaporate.
- Ditch Your Lawn. Although you may love the grass in your lawn, the grass is notorious for needing a lot of water to look as green as it’s meant to. If you find yourself having to supplement your grass with extra water, it may be time to replace it. If you want to go synthetic, one square foot of synthetic grass saves up to 55 gallons of water per year, which is a great option for areas experiencing drought. If you want to stay natural, you have many options. If you want to keep the green appearance, try clover for sunny areas and moss for shady spots. You can also plant wildflowers, ornamental grasses, or any other ground covering plant if you aren’t concerned with keeping the appearance of grass.
4. Only Buy What You’ll Use
If you want to live a lower waste life, you have to think about what you will actually use in your day to day life and what will end up sitting in a drawer for years before eventually being thrown away. This applies to all aspects of your life from clothing to food to beauty products. If you don’t have an immediate use for the item or if you already have something extremely similar, you probably don’t need whatever it is that you have. For example, if you love skincare, make sure that you only purchase products you’re going to actually use. Some pharmaceutical creams have great active ingredients, but these ingredients become inactive after some time, leaving only preservatives in as little as one year. Pay attention to everything you buy and ensure that you actually need it before bringing it home to decrease the amount of waste you produce.
5. Check Your HVAC System
Being environmentally friendly doesn’t necessarily mean cutting out modern conveniences like heating and air conditioning. Instead, it just means you should be smarter about how you’re using your HVAC system. For example, if you feel like the effectiveness of your HVAC system isn’t as good as it usually is, you should get it checked out. There could be something wrong with your system that impacts its ability to heat or cool your home, meaning you have to crank it up in order for it to work the way it used to. You should also make sure that you are being realistic in your expectations for your HVAC system to avoid turning it on too high and wasting energy. AC units, for example, need to use 20 BTU per square foot of space they cover, so you’ll have to ensure that you have a unit that is up to the job of cooling your entire space or lower your expectations of how cool your space will be.
When you’re trying to be more eco-friendly, you don’t need to completely change everything you’re doing. Instead, by implementing small changes, you can still live a greener life.
How do you lead a greener life? Let us know in the comments below!