Going green is a great way to reduce your environmental impact, save money, and improve your health. While it may seem overwhelming at first to make the change, there are small strides you can take to live a more sustainable life. Here are a few environmentally-friendly ways to go green in everyday life!
Sustainable Home Tips
- Replace light bulbs throughout your home. Energy-efficient LEDs or CFLs can last up to 3-25 times longer than conventional bulbs and save up to $75 on electrical bills.
- Open the blinds to heat up a room, and close the blinds to cool it down.
- Mind the thermostat. Keep it turned down in the winter and up in the summer. A smart thermostat not only allows you to adjust the temperature from your cell phone, but also can save up to 12% on heating costs and 15% on air conditioning costs!
- Take shorter showers and install low-flow shower heads to save water.
- Turn the lights off when leaving a room. During daylight hours, avoid turning on the lights by using windows to let in natural light.
- Unplug appliances when not in use. Appliances and chargers plugged into the wall can use up energy even when turned off.
- Add plants to each room. Along with improving air quality, plants are a sustainable way to decorate.
- Make your own cleaners using natural ingredients. DIY household cleaners are not only easy to make, but they cost much less than store-bought products.
- Ditch wasteful paper towels and repurpose old clothing instead. Tear shirts or other pieces of used fabric into sheets to wipe down surfaces, and then simply wash them before the next use!
- Change your HVAC filter. You can see benefits in air quality and HVAC efficiency by changing the filter every 90 days.
- Wash laundry in cold water. Between 80-90% of the energy used by a washing machine is to heat the water. Save energy and money by sticking to the cold cycle.
- Go paperless! The average person receives 41 pounds of junk mail a year. Help save 100 million trees and nearly 30 billion gallons of water per year by opting for electronic document delivery.
- Collect scrap paper and reuse them for notes, doodles, or sketches.
- Shut down your computer instead of leaving it on sleep.
- Use rechargeable batteries to cut down on waste.
- Collect rainwater and use it to water plants.
- Save gift wrap, gift bags, boxes, and ribbons and reuse them as much as possible.
Sustainable Commuting Tips
- If your city has public transportation, utilize it! Taking public transit to work instead of driving isn’t just good for the environment. It can also help commuters save an average of $10,160 a year!
- Try bike commuting. Bicycling is a healthy and fuel-free way to avoid rush hour.
- Take the steps instead of the elevator. It gives you a great workout and avoids unnecessary electricity.
- Form a carpool group and alternate who drives each week. Carpooling just two times a week can save up to 1,600 pounds of greenhouse gas annually. Carpooling can also save drivers up to $600 a month in fuel and maintenance costs!
- If available, take advantage of flex hours at your office. Working from home is a great way to save gas, cut down on greenhouse gas emissions, and eliminate time sitting in traffic.
- Consider upgrading or trading in your vehicle for a more environmentally-friendly hybrid model or an electric car.
Sustainable Shopping Tips
- Choose reusable cloth bags over disposable plastic ones. Plastic bags can take between 15 and 1,000 years to decompose! Buy a few reusable ones at the grocery store or make your own.
- Frequent your local farmers market. Buying in small markets helps area farmers, stimulates the local economy, and minimizes the fuel utilized by supermarket trucks and planes that ship produce from around the world.
- Avoid buying items that are wrapped in plastic. Better yet, bring your own reusable produce bags and skip the single-use bags at the store.
- Stop buying “fast fashion.” This term refers to cheap, trendy clothing that isn’t meant to have a long life. Because of how quickly trends change, these items have a higher chance of being tossed into the trash. The average American buys up to 80 pounds of clothing annually with over 85% being thrown away.
- Donate clothing to thrift stores, consignment shops, or shelters instead of throwing items away. Buying your clothing from secondhand shops is also an eco-friendly way to reduce waste.
- Keep an eye on labels. Purchase clothing brands that have a good track record of sustainability practices.
- Opt for a laptop instead of a large desktop, as laptops require less energy for operation. Laptops can also be recycled! TIA E-Cycling Central provides a list of state-by-state recycling options, and many Best Buy and Staples locations offer free recycling services. You should also make sure to recycle smartphones, tablets, and other devices!
- Think before you buy. When purchasing something new, ask yourself if you really need it.
Sustainable Dining & Kitchen Tips
- Avoid using plastic straws. Americans use nearly 500 million straws every day, which clog up oceans, choke plant and animal life, and can take up to 200 years to decompose. If you must use a straw, opt for washable metal straws instead.
- Bring your lunch to work in reusable containers. Not only will preparing food at home save you money, but it will also save you from using wasteful takeaway containers.
- Keep your freezer full. It takes more energy for your refrigerator to cool an empty freezer than a full one.
- About 38 billion water bottles are used in the U.S. per year, so skip the plastic ones and buy a reusable water bottle to cut down on waste.
- Try not to use plastic silverware. More than 100 million pieces of plastic forks, spoons, and knives are used each day in the U.S. Fight against waste and buy a set of reusable bamboo utensils instead.
- Save your scraps and create a compost pile! This is a great way to recycle your food scraps and minimize methane gas buildup from landfills.
- Repurpose glass jars as storage containers or vases so they don’t wind up in a landfill.
- The next time you have a seafood craving, use Seafood Watch to choose a sustainable option. This resource teaches consumers about the importance of ocean conservation and helps consumers find sustainable seafood options at grocery stores and restaurants.
- Consume less meat and dairy. The production of both uses over 80% of available farmland and produces almost 60% of agricultural greenhouse gas emissions. Each day that you choose plant-based options over meat, you can reduce your carbon impact by 8 pounds—that’s almost 3,000 pounds a year!
- Plant your own herb or container garden and enjoy fresh produce straight from your kitchen.
- Upgrade kitchen appliances like the oven, refrigerator, and dishwasher with Energy Star certified models.
Sustainable Beauty Tips
- Though you might not realize it, a hair dryer can use some serious energy. One hour of blow-drying your hair can tack over $67 onto your energy bill. Skip the blow dryer and air-dry your hair instead.
- If you use numerous cotton balls each day, cut down on waste and opt for washable, reusable cotton rounds instead.
- Make your own toothpaste from simple ingredients like baking soda, coconut oil, and essential oils.
- Some deodorants can contain less than eco-friendly ingredients like aluminum and irritating additives like perfume. Avoid these ingredients by making your own deodorant at home.
- Use eco-friendly makeup brushes that are made with bamboo or synthetic fibers. These brushes are easier to recycle and keep clean.
- Only wash your hair once or twice weekly. Not only does this help keep your hair and scalp healthy, but it also cuts down on water use.
- Conventional nail polishes can contain abrasive ingredients like formaldehyde that are harmful to your health and the environment. Opt for eco-friendly nail polishes instead!
- Switch out shampoo bottles for a no-waste shampoo bar. These bars are travel-friendly, packed with natural ingredients, and can last up to 80 washes.
- Make your own face scrubs with natural materials like sugar, coconut oil, and essential oils. Some store-bought exfoliants and scrubs can contain microbeads that pollute waterways.
Living an eco-friendly life doesn’t have to be difficult! With these easy sustainable living tips, going green has never been easier. Looking for even more ideas to create a green home? Check out these energy-efficient home improvement ideas for more inspiration!