Over-consumption became a way of life for Americans after World War II. Having the latest, greatest stuff was a sign of success. Fast forward to 2020 and we realize that more, or bigger, is not healthy for us, or our planet. Here are six tips to help you live an eco-friendly lifestyle and save money.
Lights and Leaks
Whether you own your own home or rent, changing out the lightbulbs is one of the easiest ways toward a greener home. LED bulbs contain a tiny semi-conductor, or diode, wrapped in plastic and have no wires or filaments. Because of this they produce no heat and are safe to use in any light fixture.
LEDs provide superior visibility, are free of UV emissions and contain no mercury, so disposal is safe. An LED can last up to 25 years and is 60-75% more efficient than a standard light bulb. Available in a full range of colors to enhance any room’s ambience, from dimmable to grow lights, the investment in LEDs is a must for all homes. And do not forget to turn off the lights when you leave a room, as that is why the switch is close to the door.
Faucets that leak are another stealth energy loss in your home. Check faucets periodically and repair worn washers and gaskets. A leak of one drip per second wastes more than 3,000 gallons of water a year.
Insufficient insulation in your home can also be a huge energy drain. Check windows for cracked caulking or mis-aligned windows. Replace the weather stripping around exterior doors if you see light around the door when it is closed. Insulated window coverings can save dollars on air conditioning and heating bills too.
Use a power strip to ensure electronics and small appliances are turned off and you can save money. If your electronics and appliances are plugged in and you are not using them, they continue to use energy; this is sometimes referred to as “zombie power.” Using power strips that have switches can reduce your power usage.
Consider your mode of transportation when leaving your home. A hybrid car combines the technologies of both gasoline and electric motors. The goal is to reduce emissions and increase mileage. If you live in a city with a well-established mass transit system for commuting, use it. At the very least try carpooling to and from work. Arrange your errand days with a friend, you save money and lower emissions by using one car instead of two, and you have the bonus of hanging out with a friend.
Re-Usable and Sustainable
There are so many items that end up in landfills that can be re-used. Glass jars from spaghetti sauce can be washed and used to store dry goods like rice or dried beans. Alternatively, they make excellent holders for pens, pencils, or any other small items around your home. Want to save a half cup of the unique paint color you mixed up? Use a clean sauce jar. Anything that can be washed and saved can be used in craft projects.
Try re-covering or painting a piece of furniture to give it new life rather than throwing in the dump. If you can fix an item instead of throwing it away, only to buy the same thing, you save money. This can also provide a nice boost in your interior design.
Household goods should be made from sustainable materials like bamboo linens, cork flooring and wool rugs. When shopping for groceries or other small items remember to take your re-usable bags.
How many plastic lunch containers have you thrown away in the last year? Buy a set of washable lunch containers and a re-usable insulated bag to pack lunches in. More than 60 million plastic bottles are thrown into landfills every day and these sometimes end up in our oceans creating a deadly environment for sea animals.
Use a re-usable water bottle and feel good about doing something healthy for the planet. Washable coffee cups save you money and keep excess cardboard and foam out of landfills, and it will not cost you seven dollars for a cup of coffee.
A big step to becoming more eco-friendly and saving money comes from not using paper products. Use cloth napkins to add a little style to every meal. You are going to wash clothes anyway, so toss those cloth napkins in with a load of towels. Invest in a bunch of microfiber rags and you can stop throwing roll after roll of paper towels in the trash.
Laundry day is another time to become eco-friendly. Instead of throwing your clothes in the dryer, try air drying. If you think towels are a little too stiff after drying in the air give them a five-minute cycle in the dryer to fluff them up. Dishtowels, rags, and napkins can all be produced with sustainable materials, check the labels before you buy.
Saving money and being eco-friendly is a lifestyle that is easily within your reach. Make a conscientious effort to keep our world healthier and help reduce our carbon footprint.