From using resources that create the greenhouse gas emissions contributing to climate change to clogging oceans and open spaces with plastic waste, humans have an enormous impact on the planet. And while saving the planet may seem like a daunting job, there are a number of simple habits you can adopt that can go a long way to saving energy and water, conserving resources, and reducing pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Here are 10 you can try today.
1. Turn off the lights
Simply flipping the switch when you leave a room can not only reduce energy used—electricity generation is a big contributor to greenhouse gas emissions—it can also save you money on your bill each month. Try this: Turn off all lights and devices that use electricity when they’re not in use. Then, check your electricity bill to see how much you’ve saved. Challenge yourself to see how much you can cut that bill from month to month by conserving power.
2. Regulate your thermostat
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, you can cut your heating and cooling bills by as much as 10 percent by simply turning your thermostat back 7 to 10 degrees for eight hours per day. So, in the summer, you might keep your thermostat at 75 degrees while you’re at work or turn down the thermostat during winter months to 63 degrees while you sleep (and throw on an extra blanket). Not only will you save money, but you’ll be helping to conserve energy.
3. Conserve water
Water is a precious natural resource that we often take for granted. There are number of simple ways to use less water: Turn off the faucet while you brush your teeth. Take shorter showers. Only water your lawn when necessary. Fix leaks. If you’re especially ambitious, consider installing water-conserving toilets and shower heads.
4. Repurpose or reuse
Think twice about the items you throw into the trash. Could you re-use that takeout container to for storing leftovers? Could that food waste be turned into a compost pile for your garden? Is there a way to donate or recycle the item? When possible, use plates, cups, and utensils that can be washed instead of paper or plastic versions.
5. Plan your errands
If you have a few errands to run in your car, take a few moments to plan the route so you’re being most efficient. Better yet: bike or walk—if possible and safe—to get some exercise, too.
6. Maintain your car
Car maintenance may not be at the top of your list of things to do, but consider this: Keeping your tires properly inflated can improve fuel economy by up to 3 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Using the manufacturer-recommended motor oil on schedule can add another 1 or 2 percent. That’s good for fuel usage—and your wallet.
7. Use planet-friendly products
The chemicals found in everyday cleaning products can be harmful to the environment. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has made it easier to choose more planet-friendly products with its Safer Choice label. The agency reviews each product according to strict safety criteria for human health and the environment, including “carcinogenicity, reproductive/developmental toxicity, toxicity to aquatic life, and persistence in the environment.”
8. Rethink your lawn
According to the EPA, 30 percent of U.S. water use is for outdoor purposes and half of that is used for watering lawns. You don’t need to water your lawn every day. If you step on it and it springs back, it’s probably fine. Use outdoor watering tools that have the EPA’s WaterSense label to help conserve water and look for watering tools with rain sensors, so you don’t needlessly water your lawn when Mother Nature already did it for you. And plant regionally appropriate plants and grasses that might not need ad much water.
9. Eat locally—and sustainably
Local farmers are an essential part of our food system and need to be supported. When you buy food from local farms, you not only provide income to them, but you also cut down on the need to transport foods long distances. Look for farmers that have organic and sustainable practices. Check out this handy tool from Local Harvest to find one near you.
10. Stay informed
Read up on sustainable household practices and share what you learn with friends and on social media. The EPA has a wealth of resources and ideas. You can also look for green living groups on social media, as well as reputable blogs, podcasts, and other information sources.
Interested in volunteering to help the planet? Visit www.createthegood.org for ideas.