We all read about ways that an individual can help the environment; buying carbon offsets, purchasing a hybrid car, driving less, recycling cans and bottles, etc.. But there are many more ways that little changes in your every day life can affect the big picture if more of us started doing them. I am going to attempt to list a few of them here, and I hope you will leave comments with your tips and ideas for everyone to learn from. Here are the ways I think that small changes can make a big difference.
1. Replace the light bulbs in your house with compact fluorescent light bulbs. Yes, they cost more than regular bulbs, but they use way less electricity (saving you money on your utility bill) and they last around 10 years. Good for the environment and good on the wallet in the long term.
2. Bring reusable bags to the grocery store when you go shopping. This should be a no-brainer, but I still see people walking out of the store with 3, 4, 5 or more plastic and paper bags full of groceries. Do you really need that many extra bags at home? I know growing up my mom seemed to think that some day there would be a run on paper bags, so we had about 11,000 of them in the closet. You dont need that many of them! We use 4 canvas bags every time we go to the grocery store, and very rarely do we need an extra paper one. But if we do, it gets filled with paper recycling when we get home and goes out the door. Do you know how many plastic bags the world goes through? A good place to learn more and pick up some bags (and other cool stuff) is reusablebags.com. Check them out!
3. Get the stuff you want used from other people that want to get rid of their stuff! Craigslist.org and freecycle.org are great places to start looking for stuff you want..for FREE!
4. Use your local library. Seriously, use it. Your local library has music, movies, magazines, books and more that normally you would A. have to pay for and B. eventually throw into a landfill. Plus, you are already paying for it with your tax dollars, so you might as well actually get something for all the money you get taken out every week!
5. Buy it used! Both Amazon and half.com have used CD’s, books, clothing, video games and much more that people are selling. Saving money while reducing packaging trash”¦a great idea.
6. I know you have heard it before”¦in the summer set the temperature in the your house a few degrees higher and in the winter set it a few degrees cooler. You wont notice the difference, but your wallet AND the environment will!
7. Get your car in for a checkup. An oil change and an air filter change will run you about $30. Well worth it if you consider that running your car with dirty oil and a dirty air filter is the equivalent of spending an extra $0.15 per mile. Over time, that can add up. Plus, your car runs cleaner, emitting less pollution. Go ahead, make an appointment!
8. Turn that faucet off! Yes, that one! The one you leave running while you brush your teeth, shave, talk on the phone, knit a sweater. So much water is wasted in this country you would think there was an endless supply. Well guess what, there isn’t, and its going away faster than the acid rain can replace it. Just be aware of the amount of water you use, and please”¦there is no need to water your driveway, the neighbors car, your kids’ dog or the side of the house. Make sure your sprinklers are watering the actual plants and grass. Seriously, nothing will grow in the middle of the street, you don’t need to water it.
9. Participate in a town “clean-up” event. Near my old house they had several “Clean the Beach” days where people can help to get rid of all the trash that the tourists leave on the beaches. Every little bit helps!
10. You know that $4.00 you spend every morning on a cup of black water at Starbucks? How about putting that water in a re-usable thermos or mug? So many paper and plastic cups get thrown away every day in the country it makes me ill. You already spend a fortune on coffee, pick up a mug for $5.00 and use it everyday. Just think how superior you will feel when you pass a trash can full of cups!
11. If you can”¦and I know it costs money”¦try to get a smaller car next time you go car shopping. Just a little smaller, please?
12. Seems everything in our houses is on standby about 75% of the time, just waiting for you to walk in from work and turn them all back on again. If you can put your electronics on power strips that you can turn off, you will save money on your utility bill AND require less electricity for your footprint..which helps the environment!
13. Think about your purchases before you splurge. Think about where your groceries come from”¦are they local foods or were they imported from New Zealand? The closer your food source is to home, the less gasoline and preservatives it needs to get to your store.
Anyone with more ideas, please leave them in the comments – I look forward to hearing your ideas!
Photo by Flipped Out. The original version of this article appeared on this site 2 years ago