Earth Day is coming up April 22nd and it is my goal to make green choices all year long. Going green all begins with mindset. Once you and your family decide to make caring about preserving, protecting and restoring our natural world a family value, the rest is easy. Decide that you will do the best you can to go green in your circumstance and within your budget. Here are 20 ways to go green with little effort required. With green living ideas in the spotlight, a lot of families have resolved to live more eco-friendly lives in the new year. This doesn’t have to be as difficult as it might sound. There are a lot of ways to be more environmentally-minded.
Easy Ways To Go Green Right Now
Recycling is one of the top ways to reduce your impact on the environment. A lot of what is put into the trash can be recycled or reused. A recycling service can recycle paper, cardboard boxes, plastic bottles, food packaging, and glass. Here are 6 household items you didn’t even know you could recycle.
2. Become more energy efficient.
Greater energy efficiency at home is a noble goal to strive for. Turning lights off when they aren’t needed, keeping your thermostat a little lower in winter and higher in summer, and buying more energy-efficient appliances are just a few easy ways you can change your habits. Choose eco-friendly LED light bulbs. This will save a lot of energy in the long run.
3. Minimize driving.
Driving is one of the major contributors to our environmental problems. Not only are we rapidly consuming an irreplaceable resource (oil), we are also adding to our planet’s pollution. Every small effort helps. Trade in your oversized car or truck for a more fuel-efficient vehicle. Plan out errands so that you combine trips as much as possible. Walk, ride your bike, or use public transportation as much as possible. If you have the ability to do so, condense your work schedule into four days a week instead of five, or work from home one day a week.
Gasoline is expensive and so is each mile you put in wear and tear on your car. The government is also laying plans and putting tracking gizmos in cars starting a few years so that you will be taxed per mile driven. This is already being done in Germany. The more you walk the more fit you become. Walking is a win, win for you and for the environment. You do not need to walk 5 miles through the snow to get a gallon of milk. However, at least be willing to walk from one end of the mall to the other or to walk with your kids the 3 blocks to the park. Again if each car owner in America saved one gallon of gas a week it amounts to millions of barrels of oil.
4. Vote with your wallet.
Don’t forget about your power as a consumer! Make it a point to support green companies and local businesses whenever possible. Food that is produced locally is greener because it doesn’t have to be shipped long distances. In addition, buying from local businesses means that your money stays in the community, strengthening your local economy instead of supporting national and international corporations. You can read more details on this at Green Consumer Choices.
5. Make use of solar power.
You can also make a difference by installing solar panels and thereby relying less on coal-driven energy. While making a switch to a home solar power system may be too expensive and time consuming for most (unless you get tons of sun year round), everyone can still make use of solar power to some degree.
Get a little outdoor solar landscape lighting. They are now as cheap as $3 for lights that once cost over $20. Use them in your landscaping, for night lights, for accent lights, etc. This will save a bit of electricity and will give you experience with the pros and cons of how solar energy works. While the tiny amount of energy that this green source supplies per unit is minute–when multiplied by millions of people saving a little–it all will add up. This is one of the more affordable, easy ways to go green.
6. Thrift Store Shopping
We instantly think shopping when back-to-school time rolls around! Whether our children have outgrown or worn out their old clothing, there are always items that must be purchased to get ready for the year ahead. For this reason it is both helpful to purge your closets to donate to places like Goodwill and stop and shop while you are there! If you are new to thrift store shopping, consider these tips from US News.
7. Make Homemade Snacks Instead of Buying Individually Wrapped Snacks
I love making my own snack mix for hiking! Not only is it cheaper, but you know exactly what is in it when you make it and I like to make mine organic! I use fresh organic nuts and sulfate-free dried fruits. When you are hiking and get hungry, nothing tastes as good as a healthy homemade treat! Also, fill your own reusable water bottle instead of opting for store-bought individual plastic water bottles to lessen your environmental impact.
8. Choose Green Outdoor Activities
There are all kinds of wonderful things you can do to go green inside and out. This time of year it’s great to get outside and do your part. Here are a five Ways To Make A Difference At Your Local Park.
9. Go Green As A Family
It is a great time to get out and enjoy nature with your family! Spending time and being active outdoors as a family are wonderful ways to build family bonds and memories, as well as foster an appreciation for “Mother Earth”. Here are a few eco-friendly family activities.
10. Find Useful Ways To Reuse Things
Empty glass jars can also easily be reused as food storage containers or even vases. Food waste can be turned into compost. Empty coffee cans can be cleaned and used to store flour, sugar, pasta, or even things like sewing supplies or toys. Used clothing and household items can be donated to thrift stores or given away on Craigslist or Freecycle. Shoeboxes are great because they come in handy sizes with convenient lids and they stack nicely. Once you upcycle your shoeboxes to make them pretty, they can have a variety of uses from storage to gift boxes. Above, I used them to store my cloth diapers, which are another green lifestyle choice.
There you have it- 10 easy ways to go green! There are so many ways you can reduce your carbon footprint and live greener. Simply finding a handful of small ways to change your habits can really make an impact. It all adds up, so never discount the value of doing your part for the planet! What are some of your favorite eco-friendly ways to do more with less? I’d love to hear which of these 10 ways to go green you already do and which ideas you may try to implement.
10 More Eco-friendly Lifestyle Changes:
Whether you care deeply about the environment or simply want to save a few dollars, finding creative ways to reduce your dependency on energy will be helpful. A good place to start is finding areas of your life that you can easily make changes. Listed below are a few examples of eco-friendly lifestyle changes that you can make to help reduce your energy needs. These take a little more work since they are lifestyle changes but they are totally doable.
11. A mindset of conserving.
To reduce your energy needs, you must have a mindset of conserving. This means that you must make every effort to conserve in any way possible. From turning the light off when you walk out the room to using natural lighting during the day, completely changing your mindset will help you reduce your energy needs.
12. Use native plants and natural materials in your landscaping.
Choose eco-friendly landscaping. Find plants indigenous to your area that you find attractive. Use stone for walkways and benches. Plant deciduous trees with the idea of the tree eventually providing energy saving shade. Do not plant imported or fast growing junk trees. Plant oaks, hickory, walnuts, maples, etc. that will live for generations. If you plant evergreens such as pines, cedar, spruce, etc. align them with the yearly path of the sun so that they also will provide shade in the summer without blocker warming sunlight in the winter.
13. Consider alternative energy sources.
Reducing your need for energy may require finding an alternative energy source to fuel your car and your home. Solar energy is quickly becoming an energy saving option that many people are turning to in an effort to light their home. Electric cars are also on the rise and perfect for an eco-friendly lifestyle.
14. Be eco friendly even when on vacation.
Reducing your energy needs will require changing many aspects of your life. This includes going on vacation. Vacationing in areas such as the forest or wilderness as opposed to high energy places can help reduce your need for energy. Be mindful of energy conservation even while on vacation. Camping is a great green vacation. Where will you choose to go that requires less energy?
15. Reuse Your Gray Water.
Put a small dish washing type pan or similar water catching bucket in your sinks and shower to catch the water. Instead of just letter bath water go down the drain dip it out into a container. Use this “gray” water to water plants and to flush toilets. If each American saved just one gallon of water a day, each day’s savings would add up to enough water to supply the needs of a city the size of Detroit or Miami for a week. This really is one of the easy ways to go green once you get in the habit.
16. Turn the thermostat up.
Heating and cooling homes is a major source of energy use. During the summer, choose to run fans rather than keeping your air conditioning on a low setting. In the winter, use natural sources of heat rather than relying on an electric heating unit.
Photo by Pablo Solomon
19. Refusing to use a dryer.
For an eco-friendly lifestyle, choose to line dry your clothes instead of tossing them in the dryer. This can add up to significant savings for you especially if you have a large family. In fact, no single thing you can do saves more energy and money for a smaller investment. So go ahead and put up a clothesline and use the natural energy of the sun and wind to dry your clothes whenever weather and time constraints permit.
17. Eat fresh.
Avoid take out and all of that packaging waste. To reduce your need for energy, consider eating fresh food rather than cooking meals 3 times a day. Grow your own garden and search for recipes that will make eating fresh tasty and appealing. Consider eating less meat or becoming a vegetarian. One of the best ways to go green at the grocery store is look for organic produce and avoid processed individually packaged items. Also, bring your own reusable bags to the store instead of using their plastic bags to make a positive impact.
18. Taking cold showers.
Heating water uses a lot of energy. Make an eco-friendly lifestyle change by taking warm or lukewarm showers instead of hot water so you will be running your hot water heater less. Consider shorter showers. Use cold water for your washing machine.
20. Buying only energy star appliances.
To reduce your need for energy, choose to buy energy star appliances that vow to reduce energy costs. These appliances will put more money into your pocket and also lessen your energy needs. Check the rebate finder here.
Conserve energy by always looking for ways to use less energy throughout the day. Don’t be afraid to invest in new products or appliances that focus on saving energy. Be open and willing to make changes where you need to make changes. Instead of getting in your car and driving a few blocks to where you want to go, choose to walk.
You will probably not be able to adopt these eco-friendly lifestyle changes on a 100% of the time basis but having goals to strive towards is a great thing. Every eco-friendly lifestyle choice you make adds up to making a big difference. Which eco-friendly lifestyle changes will you make?