You want to become more environmentally friendly, but life is busy. It’s difficult thinking about how you can contribute to the world without throwing away your current lifestyle. Well, you’re in luck. The good news? You don’t have to be an expert gardener, a raw foodist, or any extremist to begin taking steps to living a more eco-friendly life. Here are 10 basic ways you can make a difference without the stress:
1. Take Shorter Showers
The average length of a shower in the U.S. is about 8.2 minutes. This is a tough one for a lot of people which is exactly why I listed it first. If you’re like me, you LOVE long hot showers with the steam filling the bathroom as it opens your pores. It’s your time to relax and enjoy simply being clean. There’s nothing like that warm, toasty water striking your skin the moment you step into the shower.
The good news is that you don’t have to give up your steamy showers completely. Instead of 30 minute showers, try cutting back to 15 or 10 minutes instead. You’ll save lots of water and inevitably save money on your water bill. Set a timer in the bathroom if you need to. You’ll be surprised at how fast the time flies!
2. Start Composting
You don’t have to live on a farm in order to compost. A simple little bucket or container with a lid in the kitchen to store all of your food scraps is more than enough. Don’t worry- your apartment won’t smell like rotting food if you keep a lid on it. During the winter I can get away with not having a lid, but you want one when the weather warms up. If you have plants, compost will be a great treat for them instead of commercial fertilizer. If you grow plants outside, you’ll be adding nutrients back to the soil which is exactly what it needs. Just make sure your compost is ready before it’s added to the soil.
For more information about how to compost check out the post below!
3. Keep House Plants
Plants provide us with oxygen and cleaner air! Plus there are many varieties of plants that require very little care like Aloe Vera or succulents. Herbs are incredibly easy to care for and can be used for multiple purposes. Keeping plants that don’t require as much watering can also contribute to saving water, so it’s a win-win!
4. Use Greener or Alternative Cleaning Products
I love using essential oils to clean my house. They are very effective and last much longer than household chemicals. If you don’t have any essential oils, there are many products like Mrs. Meyers or Eco All Purpose Cleaner that is better than acid-based products. Indoor air pollution can be just as deadly as outdoor air pollution. Begin eliminating those harsh chemicals so you don’t inhale them.
5. Make Your Own Soap
If it goes down the drain, it’s affecting the water. Try getting creative and make your own soap! Homemade soaps like laundry soap, dish soap, and shampoo are great activities for kids and work much better than commercial detergents. Making your own soap can even help you save a ton of money in the future.
6. Bike or Carpool
Cars are extremely convenient. Unfortunately they are the worlds largest source of outdoor air pollution. Thankfully car companies are working hard to reduce the amount of CO2 emissions that come from vehicles. Over 70% of CO2 emissions have been reduced from cars made after the 1970’s. We still have a long way to go though. Try limiting your driving by taking a bike or carpooling when you can. Biking is a great family activity and an excellent way to stay in shape. Trick out your ride by adding baskets and biking to the store. Take your bikes to the city and enjoy a nice bike ride in your downtown area. Don’t have a bike? Many cities offer bike rentals as a means for transportation and to help reduce the amount of city air pollution.
7. Glass Instead of Plastic
I’ll admit- I’m a jar hoarder. I have TONS of jars in my root cellar. But jars are so convenient! You can use jars for literally anything. You can ferment, sprout, store your leftovers, store your homemade soap, store your flours and grains….the list goes on. We eliminated many of our plastic containers by simply saving jars from food that we bought from the grocery store. When you buy food that is in a jar (like pasta sauce), you’re spending some change on the jar itself. Put your money to use and get creative.
8. Reusable Produce Bags Instead of Plastic
Reusable bags are a life changer. I always hated coming home from the grocery store and being left with a pile of plastic bags. Reusable plastic produce bags will definitely solve that problem. You may come home with a few plastic bags every now and then, but they won’t be piling up in the drawer in your kitchen waiting to be used. Reducing the amount of plastic bags you come home with will certainly reduce the amount of waste output from your home. If you do have the option, ask for paper instead of plastic. Many stores still offer paper bags as an alternative.
9. Bring Your Own Cup to Gas Stations or Coffee Shops
Many shops and stations will offer a discount if you return the glass bottle the drink originally came in, or if you bring your own cup to fill. Companies have no problem re-filling cups. It saves them money by not using up as much of their waste products.
Of course the last one one the list. We’ve been educated since we were wee lads to recycle. Recycling is much easier than it sounds. You don’t need a fancy recycling bin (many of which are way overpriced) to start recycling. If you use aluminum cans, recycle them and turn them into cash at your local recycling center. Recycle your paper and learn to make homemade recycled paper at home. You would not believe how many products on the market are from recycled material. Remember the three R’s- reduce, reuse, recycle. The more you reduce, the more you reuse, the more you will recycle.
This list is by no means the only 10 things you can do to help keep the Earth clean, but it’s a start. You don’t have to sacrifice your Saturday by going to the local park and picking up trash (although that is very helpful!). The real change begins in your life. It begins with the choices we make that we don’t give consideration to.