Do you want to help the environment, but find the cost of 'going green' daunting? Living life a little greener doesn't have to mean spending green, too. There are many ways to reduce your carbon footprint without spending thousands on solar panels and new appliances. Here are just a few ideas to get you started:
It may sound like common sense, but many people don't realize just how much of their trash is recyclable. If you already have a recycling service, check the company's website for a list of materials accepted. Often there will be links provided with information on how to recycle items they don't accept, also. Most metro areas offer recycling pick up as part of their trash service. Even if they don't, many smaller towns without curbside service have community bins for recyclable. Stores like Best Buy, Home Depot, and Computer Renaissance also offer free recycling for electronics, special light bulbs, and more.
2. Buy Responsibly
When shopping, try to buy products that have recyclable packaging and/or were made with recycled materials. Buying 'green' light-bulbs and energy-saving appliances (when you're in the market for them) can also help to go green, in addition to saving you money in the long run. Supporting businesses who use recycled materials helps those who share your ideals, and in making recycled products more widely available.
3. B. Y. O. B. (bring your own bottle)
Instead of paying for bottled water or buying bottled drinks, bring your own bottle. Buying a sturdy water bottle to take with you can save you lots of money, and bottles. If you want filtered water, buying a small filter to put in a jug or on your faucet will do the trick. If you prefer soda or tea, just tell the cashier you brought your own cup and fill 'er up. (Some places, like Starbucks, will even give you a discount for bringing your own cup!) The more people who see you doing this, the more the idea will spread!
4. Re-usable bags
Either reusing old grocery bags, or using canvas totes can make a big difference. Totes come in handy for a lot of things, and most people have more than a few floating around the closet anyway. Throw them in the car to reduce plastic use! And if you have a bunch of plastic bags lying around, consider taking them back to the store with you. They can be reused or put in the recycling bin most major food stores now offer.
5. Turn off and unplug
Did you know that appliances that are left plugged in, but not turned on, still continue to use electricity? Save yourself some money (and the earth some greenhouse gases) by putting your electronics on power strips so you can cut off the current to multiple devices easily. Turning the lights off in rooms when not in use will also increase your 'green.'
6. Reduce paper-product use
Paper towels, plates, and napkins add up to a lot of waste. Use cloth towels, napkins, and real tableware instead to save yourself money and serious landfill space. Also try to use automatic hand dryers in public restrooms. Not only do they reduce paper trash, but also the number of bugs and germs crawling around.
7. Rechargeable batteries
Rechargeable batteries come in all types, and are cheaper than they used to be. Find a good battery charger that fits multiple-size batteries, and start using rechargeable batteries around the house. Slowly converting all your batteries to the rechargeable variety is the cheapest way to go, instead of trying to convert everything all at once. Consider how many everyday things use batteries! Remote controls, flashlights, video games, radios, baby monitors, garage openers, cameras.... Trust me, it adds up!
8. Green coffee
If you are one of the millions of people who love their morning cup of Joe, here's a few ways to make it green: use a filter-less coffee machine, or, if impractical, buy recycled filters. Coffee grounds can be saved and used in mulch. If you use a Keurig or single-cup machine, buy the optional grounds/filter basket to fill with your own coffee. This will save you money, and reduce the trash made by all the single-use pods!
Did you know that most of the power used to wash your cloths goes to heating the water? Switching to cold water will use about 80% less energy for your laundry.
10. Green transportation
There are many ways to go greener while getting around If you can't afford a hybrid vehicle or a cooking-oil consuming diesel, try a few easy maintenance tricks! Changing your oil and air filters when needed will make your vehicle much more efficient, saving you money and the world from noxious fumes. Also keep your tires inflated properly and rotated on schedule. Another trick to use is to combine your trips; the less you drive, the less gas you burn! And of course, nothing beats walking or riding your bike!
These are just a few tips to help you on the way to going green. Don't overwhelm yourself by trying to do everything 'greener' right away. Start small and adjust your lifestyle as you go along, and before you know it you will be setting a great example. Helping your friends and family live greener can also make a huge difference. The more people you can help live a greener lifestyle, the better!