Although the drought may be over in California, being sustainable should still be in the forefront of everyone’s minds. We must all do our part in protecting our environment. What better place to start making conscious changes and to lower our carbon footprint than right at home! The six tips we have below are not drastic changes that are hard to implement. They are easy to incorporate into your life! Below are six simple tips to help you live a more sustainable lifestyle, protecting your health and that of the planet!
Tip #1: Conserve more water – Fresh water is vital yet limited resource that we must be mindful of when consuming. In several parts of the world, and even within the United States, people are already experiencing severe droughts or lack of availability of fresh water. So those of us that have easy access to plenty of water should really treasure it. Taking little steps like turning off the faucet when brushing your teeth and not taking long, dragged out showers definitely add up. Going the extra mile and replacing leaky pipes and switching to low-flow showerheads and toilets are also terrific ways to conserve water, as is waiting to do laundry and run the dishwasher until you have a full load.
Tip #2: Buy more natural cleaning products – Many of the conventional cleaning products we commonly buy are actually quite toxic to both people and the environment and many of them are actually petrochemicals – a variation of petroleum. Replace the harsh cleaning products for natural alternatives that work just as well. Aside from finding them at natural supermarkets, many of the big stores have started carrying sustainable brands as consumer demand is rapidly on the rise. Nearly anything you usually buy has a natural counterpart, even bleach! Not only are they much better for your health and that of your family’s, but also they don’t contaminate the water supply when they get rinsed off! Be aware that at this point in time, natural cleaning products might end up being more expensive. Although it might be more expensive, these products will also not be as toxic to your family or the environment.
Tip #3: Waste less energy – Unfortunately, a large majority of the electricity we use at home is still derived from fossil fuels. While most of our energy use is based on necessity, we also don’t fully know how much we actually waste by doing things such as leaving appliances and electronic devices plugged in, pulling phantom energy from the outlets even when they’re turned off! Switching CFL or incandescent light bulbs for LED ones can save up to 90% more energy and they last about 20 years, making them a great investment. Regularly replacing A/C filters to prevent airflow blockages and adjusting the temperatures before you leave home also helps save lots of energy. You can even turn off your heat or air when you leave the home or leave ceiling fans on instead. Easy adaptations such as changing your laundry settings to ‘cold wash’ and turning off the lights when you’re not home or in a particular room are other options to being more energy efficient. Lots of little things can go a long way! You might even notice that some of your bills will go down because of your energy saving.
Tip #4: Eat more vegan meals- Very few people are aware of the vast amounts of greenhouse gasses that the animal agriculture industry emits, mostly from methane discharged from the animals themselves and from the CO2 that is released through deforestation needed to grow feed for them. Aside from emitting much less pollution, plant-based diets also require far less energy and water to grow and process their products, making them significantly more sustainable. Experiment with eating one vegan meal a week, perhaps on Meatless Mondays, and discover how delicious vegan and vegetarian diets can be. Look up recipes for inspirations and you will be shocked at all the decadent meals you’ll be able to make — way beyond simply eating plain fruits and vegetables! Also, try to shop at local farms or farmer’s markets. You’ll not only get great, locally grown produce, you’ll also be supporting local businesses.
Tip #5: Buy less plastic and recycle it- Another great way to lower your carbon footprint is by buying less plastic. Plastic is derived from hydrocarbons such as natural gas, oil, and carbon and they take hundreds of years to degrade, making them extremely difficult to get rid of. Therefore, the first step in solving the pervasive plastic problem we have is to avoid buying it. Stop accepting plastic bags when you shop, take your own reusable one. Don’t keep buying disposable water bottles, buy a reusable water bottle. The second step is to recycle the plastic that you do buy. This ensures that it doesn’t end up in a landfill, or even worst, in the oceans! If you buy plastic bottles for drinks, you can save those bottles and bring them to a local recycling center where you can get money back. The more you save the more money you will get back.
Tip #6: Landscape more sustainably- Having sustainable practices outside of you house is equally, if not more important than inside of your home. What you put on your lawn, be it fertilizers or pesticides, have a direct impact on your entire community and on the planet as a whole. Choosing organic options versus synthetic ones will prevent the runoff from producing algal blooms in nearby bodies of water, leading to dead zones where marine life can no longer survive. In addition, having a garden and planting trees is a great way to offset your carbon footprint as plants take in CO2 and put out O2. Also, be sure to set your sprinkler system to go off later in the day. If you water your lawn in the middle of the day, the water will evaporate much faster, leading to more water usage. Instead, set your sprinklers to go off in the late afternoon. Make sure that you regularly have your sprinkler system checked for any leaks or poorly functioning parts. You’ll end up saving money if everything is working properly.
Making simple changes in your lifestyle towards becoming more sustainable yields many benefits to you health, the environment, and can even save you money! Being a more conscious consumer, reducing waste, and conserving more of the world’s precious resources are all part of the paradigm shift we are working towards as a society. Jump on the bandwagon and live more sustainably.