If you’re considering a more sustainable lifestyle, you may wonder where to begin. After all, humans are doing a lot of damage to the planet right now. From using plastic bags to taking long, hot showers, most people are living with little regard for Mother Nature and the resources she provides. Without realizing it, you may even be contributing to the problem.
However, everyone has to start somewhere, and noticing the impact your actions have on the planet is the first step toward change. If you’re interested in making a difference, here are a few ways to go green at home and transition to a more eco-friendly lifestyle:
1. Ditch Bottled Water
Globally, consumers buy 1 million plastic bottles every minute. Sadly, only 20% of this plastic ever sees a recycling bin. The vast majority of it ends up in the environment, landfills and oceans. Refuse to be a part of the problem by ditching single-use plastic water bottles for good. Stay hydrated with reusable steel or glass bottles instead.
2. Get Reusable Bags
Another effective way to reduce your plastic use is to forego plastic shopping bags. On average, people use these sacks for just 12 minutes, yet they’ll take up to 1,000 years to break down. Filling your cart with reusable fabric or mesh bags instead can keep plastic bags out of the environment and ensure the planet is beautiful and healthy for many generations to come.
3. Recycle and Repurpose
On the occasions you do use plastic, be sure to recycle it. Better yet, repurpose plastics, glass, metals and other materials regularly to cut down on waste and make the most of what you already have. For example, you can reuse glass jars to store dry ingredients in your pantry and cut milk jugs in half to use as planters.
4. Choose Environmentally Friendly Packaging
Packaging accounts for nearly 30% of municipal solid waste. Often, this includes styrofoam packing peanuts and plastics that will not biodegrade. These materials can take a major toll on the environment, littering natural habitats and decimating wildlife populations. Minimize these effects and the sheer amount of waste by purchasing items from companies that pride themselves on using eco-friendly packaging.
5. Turn Off the Lights
In 2017, carbon-based fossil fuels generated nearly 65% of all electricity, adding a troubling amount of pollution to the air and exacerbating global warming. However, there’s a rather simple solution to this issue. Every time you leave a room, turn off the lights. Of course, this may not entirely solve the problem, but it will certainly mitigate it.
6. Refuse Excess
Just as you refuse to overuse electricity and plastics, refuse to buy more than you need. This practice applies to virtually everything — from food to clothes. By only purchasing and eating things you truly need and will use, you leave more resources for others. Naturally, this strategy also involves refusing freebies at events, grocery stores and even family gatherings when someone tries to give you something you likely won’t use.
7. Conserve Water
The average American uses 80 to 100 gallons of water every day. Meanwhile, billions of people still don’t have access to clean water. Do your part in minimizing this disparity by cutting your water usage. Take shorter showers, install low-flow appliances, fix leaky faucets and only run your laundry when you have a full load.
8. Go Digital
You might also cut your paper waste by opting out of junk mail and receiving and paying your bills online. Additionally, browse online catalogs instead of ordering paper copies. Doing so will save trees, energy and water. The paper industry is the fifth-largest energy consumer, and one ton of paper requires 24,000 gallons of water to create.
9. Use Natural Products
When it comes time to clean your bathroom, look for natural cleaners instead of ones containing chemicals like bleach and ammonia. Most of these green cleaners are safe, non-toxic and consist of natural, biodegradable ingredients that don’t negatively impact the environment.
10. Support Local and Small Businesses
Whenever you’re able, shop locally and support small businesses and farmers. Often, these smaller operations have more eco-friendly practices than large corporations. Purchasing local foods and goods also reduces food miles, thereby minimizing your carbon footprint and doing the Earth a favor. This tip offers a practical and mutually beneficial way to go green at home.
Change Starts With You
Every big change starts with one person’s decision to live differently. As you practice these green habits at home, you may wonder if you’re making much of a difference, but don’t get discouraged! As you press on, others may follow in your footsteps, and you may just become a catalyst for change in your family, neighborhood, and city.