I’m sure you’ve heard it all before, turn off the sink when you’re brushing your teeth, use paper and not plastic, live green, and go vegan! I know I never cared about any of these things growing up, just like many others. I always had that smug voice in the back of my head telling me that I’m just one person, it doesn’t matter what I do. In reality, every small contribution helps in the grand scheme of things.
A lot of people think that going green or even living green makes them a tree-hugging hippy. That you have to have dreadlocks and wear Birkenstocks to care about the earth or recycling. I’m here today to tell you that it’s simply not true, shocker, right?
You might be reading this thinking; well I’m not going vegan! That’s fine. I wouldn’t give up a juicy steak for avocado toast either, but that’s beside the point. There are tons of small things we do in our day-to-day lives that we can do more “greenly” if you will, to help us live a greener lifestyle. So, the Earth is dying, what can we do? Here are five tips I’ve put together on quick and easy ways to give back to the Earth and live a little more green.
- Recycle more
This seems like common sense, but a lot of people don’t recycle. It’s almost completely free and accessible to pretty much everyone nowadays. Most cities provide free recycling programs that pick up recycled waste and even have plants you can take your recycled goods too. Stores and outlets even have their own dedicated recycling bins next to the garbage can. I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve seen somebody toss their plastic water bottle in the trash when they have a recycling bin right next to it.
- Reduce water consumption
Remember the old saying I mentioned in the beginning? To turn off the sink when you brush your teeth? That bit of advice can save you up to 200 gallons of water per month. You can also moderate the time you wash your hands or the time you’re in the shower which can lead to giant savings, so your wallet and the environment are happy. Even using your dishwasher as opposed to washing dishes by hand can save you up to 16 gallons per load!
- Use less paper and plastic
It’s hard to get away from these two, they’re literally everywhere. When the bagger asks you at checkout if plastic is fine, you can also opt to say paper which is a little better on the environment. If you’re a person who uses a lot of paper, try and cut down by using your electronics to take notes or do work on instead of a notebook. Another thing you can do is opt out of paper statements and bills and choose to have them sent electronically.
Pro tip: Get junk mail? No problem, head over to http://www.dmachoice.org and remove yourself from the junk mail list. You can also remove yourself from the credit card and loan offers list by heading over to http://www.optoutprescreen.com
- Donate unwanted items
I often fell victim to this as well. I would get a stain on a t-shirt or ruin a pair of shorts while working and often just throw them out. Believe it or not, the saying is true, another man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Donating clothes or any other unwanted items to places like Goodwill or the Salvation Army is one of the easiest things to do. When you donate items, you can often write them off on your taxes as an itemized deduction!
- Use energy efficient items
I think just about everyone sees the “energy efficient” logo plastered everywhere, on just about every item. Some of these items actually work and save you money in the process. Your lightbulbs are one of the easiest to switch to save items. A few other good items to consider switching or upgrading to are charging stations and smart power strips. When shopping for new appliances, make sure they are all energy star appliances, and check out the new smart thermostats that hit the market not too long ago. You’ll thank me later.
In the end, I don’t think a lot of these would kill us to practice more, they’re all quick and easy. Trash and waste will never be obsolete, but we can all do our part to try and help out in the process and kill two birds with one stone. Maybe the next time you run to the grocery to pick up your six-pack, tell them to hold the bag or put it in a paper instead of plastic and you can feel even better when you get home and crack open a cold one.
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