Every day, our decisions have an impact on the environment and planet. From the amount of energy, we use to the things we choose to buy, each action has a ripple effect of impact. But the good news is that we can also take positive actions that can help us be more “green.” Here is a five-point plan to help the planet right now—and possibly save a few dollars, too.
While most of the planet is covered in water, the amount of clean water available for drinking and bathing represents just a fraction. Conserving water is one of the easiest things we can do to preserve this precious resource. Some of the easiest things we can do are to turn off the faucet while brushing teeth or scrubbing hands, turning the water back on to rinse. Watch for leaky faucets, toilets, and pipes and be sure to repair them as soon as possible. Taking shorter showers and installing low-flow shower heads can save up to 4.5 gallons of water per minute, according to the Ecology Action Center (EAC). And foregoing the pre-rinse on your dishwasher settings could save up to 20 gallons of water per use. With a good detergent, your dishes should be just as clean, according to the EAC.
Every second electricity or other energy sources are powering a light, device, or system in your home, you’re likely paying for it on your bill. So, treat conservation in your own home like a game. Be vigilant about turning off lights when you don’t need them. Turn off computers and televisions when they’re not in use. Turning the thermostat up or down is another effective way to save money: You can save as much as 10% per year on heating and cooling by turning your thermostat back 7°-10°F for 8 hours a day from its normal setting, according to the Department of Energy. Another tip: Be sure to keep your tires inflated. You may improve your gas mileage between .6% and 3% by keeping your tires inflated to the proper pressure.
There’s impact in numbers and getting your community involved can broaden the impact you have. Think about starting a community initiative, such as a composting project to help divert food waste from the landfill and turn it into nutrient-rich material for gardening. Organize a cleanup of a local park, beach, or river. Find a spot for a community garden. Or simply gather some friends and pick up litter in a local park (wearing gloves, of course).
Every time you plant something, you’re making Earth a little greener in several ways. First, follow the guidelines for planting flowers, shrubs, trees, and other plants that are native to the area and good for pollinators. The United States Department of Agriculture has tips, or you look for a master gardener program in your area for advice. Look for plants, trees, and shrubs that are hardy and which do not require excessive watering.
Research the brands you buy and the companies from which you purchase them. What are their sustainability policies? Many companies will have that information on their website. You can also look for lists of sustainable companies, such as the one that Earth.org publishes. When you do business with a company, ask what sustainable practices they have in place. When you choose products from companies committed to good environmental practices, you reinforce that behavior and know that the products you’re using are better for the planet.
Want more ideas for making the world greener and better overall? Visit Create the Good® online.
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