developing good eco habits

There are small changes we can each make to help the environment.

If loads of us changed our daily routines a little bit we could have an enormously positive impact on the environment. This appeals to me more than attempting to make a major lifestyle shift, which even if I were convinced to try, would probably not last very long. We can often make minor shifts in our routines that are sometimes barely noticeable but can have a major impact over time.

It makes sense not to try and incorporate these small changes all at one time because you might feel overwhelmed. Try one at a time until you are doing all the ones that you found appealing. I felt so proud of myself when I got to that stage even though it was not difficult. Here are some you might be able to incorporate into your daily routines:

Buy LED light bulbs. They are a little more expensive than other types of light bulbs but they last MUCH longer, save lots of energy and will lower your power bill in the long run. Make a habit of buying several at once and as your regular light bulbs burn out, replace them with your LED bulbs and in a few months your entire house will have energy-saving bulbs. Read this ASE article on which brands are considered the best.

Use less non-recyclable aluminum foil. Real Simple reports that according to the Environmental Protection Agency, Americans threw out 2.8 million tons of aluminum – including cans, containers and foil – in 2013. The cans, containers and some foil can be recycled (but it must be clean).  If the foil you use cannot be recycled (or you do not want to rinse it clean) it will take hundreds of years to biodegrade. Instead, use unbleached parchment paper for baking, roasting, covering food and wrapping sandwiches and snacks. It is biodegradable and compostable.

Use your own reusable grocery bags. I will admit it has taken me a long time to remember to grab my reusable bags out of the back of the car when I go shopping. Finally, it has become a habit! I’m so proud of myself not to be accumulating those disposable plastic bags the grocery stores use.

Turn things off. Get in the habit of turning off the lights when you are leaving a room. Turn off the air conditioner when you leave for work if the house will be empty. Turn off the television, game consoles and computer when you leave the room, go out or go to sleep. You will be wasting so much less energy which in turn will reduce the burning of more fossil fuels and reduce global warming.

Use less liquid soaps and body washes. Liquid soaps require 5 times more energy to be produced and almost 20 times more energy for packaging than bar soaps do. Less soap is used with bar soaps than with liquid soaps so less is wasted. A study done by Zurich’s Institute of Environmental Engineering found that consumers used almost 7 times more liquid soap than bar soap when washing their hands.

Wash your clothes in cooler water. According to Energy Star, almost 90% of the energy used by washing machines goes to heating the water for warm and hot water settings.   Use cold water for your clothes washing. You won’t notice any difference, and your clothes won’t shrink.   Try to only run full-load washes.

Don’t leave the tap running. Turn it off when you are brushing your teeth in the morning and at night, and washing dishes. You will be amazed at how much water that saves – over 8 gallons a day! That adds up to over 200 gallons a month.

Do consider composting. Change your habit of dumping your food and plant remains into the garbage and dump them instead into a small composter on your counter top or under your sink. Composting takes those remains and turns them into nutrient-rich food for plants. It also reduces the amount of waste in landfills which pollute the air. See ASE’s article on composting.

Pick up litter when you see it. We live in a busy neighborhood with many students walking to and from school. Whenever we walk around our house we carry a bag and try to pick up any trash we see. Not only does it improve the look of our house, but that of the entire neighborhood.

Carpool when you can. Parking is becoming more and more difficult to find and it’s fun to go places with friends. If you’re all going out to dinner, to work or to a party, see if you can get a ride with a buddy. You will reduce pollution, cost and time.

Good Luck and thank you from the planet.