Happy Earth Day! I am notoriously an indoor person, but that doesn’t mean I don’t care about the environment. Despite my vampire tendencies I am all about going green, because it saves energy AND money. So in honor of Earth day, here are 22 inexpensive ways to help the environment.
1. Turn off your computer. Sleep mode uses a lot of energy, because even though you’re not using it your computer it’s still on. At the end of the day at work or when you’re done using your computer at home, shut it all the way down.
2. Use both sides of the paper. Every year American businesses throw away 21 million tons of paper. That’s about 175 pounds per person. You can cut your paper waste in half by setting your printer default to double-sided. Or once your done with one side of the paper, use the other side as scrap paper to scratch notes on.
3. Get a power strip. Plug all of your electronics into it and then turn it off before you go to work or before bed.
4. No more snail mail. Switch all the bills you can to electronic statements to save paper. You can also see if your credit union or bank as online bill pay, which would allow you to make all of you payments securely online. It’s fast, easy, and a lot less hassle than paper.
5. Reuse gift bags and wrapping paper. When you get a gift, don’t throw the wrapping away! It’s expensive and can usually be reused a few more times. I’m pretty sure my mom hasn’t bought Christmas wrapping in about 8 years. She even leaves the name tags on bags and just puts stuff for that person in a bag from the year before. She has it down to a science.
6. Get reusable grocery bags. This is actually the simple solution to my plastic bag problem from my last blog. Plastic bags are terrible to store and terrible for the environment. Invest in a few reusable ones to keep in your car so they’re always handy when you go shopping.
7. Use matches, not lighters. Lighters are made of plastic and are filled with butane fuel, both of which are petroleum products. Using matches instead saves a lot of precious fuel. Also cardboard matches are usually made from recycled material. Or you could just avoid lighting anything on fire in general . . . safety first, kids.
8. Use E-Tickets. You can get e-tickets now for a lot of movie theaters and concerts. Plus using e-boarding passes when you fly saves time, paper, and money. It take $10 to process a paper ticket when you fly, but only $1 for e-tickets.
9. Get a reusable water bottle. Plastic water bottles can be handy, but they’re terrible for the environment. There’s also a misconception that bottled water is safer than tap water. But actually, tap water has almost the same requirements for purity to bottled water in the United States, so fill up a reusable bottle at the tap and bring it with you wherever your day might take you. You’ll save money, resources, and probably be more hydrated.
10. Work from home. If your company gives you the option to work from home, take them up on it! You’ll save on gas money. Plus you can wear your pajamas all day. 🙂
11. Carpool. We all have busy schedules so it can seem cumbersome to share a car. But when you can, ride with a friend. It will help you save on gas. Plus road trips are more fun with a buddy.
12. Get the junk out of your trunk. Carrying extra stuff in your car decreases your fuel efficiency. Empty that trunk out once in a while to lighten your load.
13. Use cruise control. I always forget that my car has cruise control, but I paid extra for it so I might as well use it. On long trips, using cruise control can get you p to 15% better mileage.
14. Go vegetarian once a week. I love bacon too much to be a vegetarian full-time, but at least once a week I try to have a meat-free menu. It takes a lot of resources to raise livestock and manufacture meat. For example, it requires 2,500 gallons of water to produce one pound of beef. That’s a lot of water! Plus meat tends to be more expensive than vegetables or grains. One meat-free meal a week will help the environment, your wallet, and your diet.
15. Reuse items for crafts. I. LOVE. TO. CRAFT. It’s a great way to make gifts or decorate your home in a personal, fun way. Plus it can often save you money. I have an awesome blanket that my friend’s mom made me out of old swimming t-shirts. My dining room at my apartment is entirely decorated by old wine bottles. And I made awesome valentine’s this year using magazine clippings. Before you throw something out, get a little creative and see if there’s a way you can reuse it.
16. Take the stairs. Not only will you save electricity, but you’ll get a work out at the same time. Plus in the event of a fire or zombie apocalypse, you’ll know where the stairwell is.
17. Take a shower, not a bath. This tip actually makes me sad because I love baths. Especially bubble baths. I tend to read in them and then fall asleep. But my love of baths aside, they do use more water than showers. Take short showers during the week and then maybe treat yourself to a luxurious bath on Sunday.
18. Avoid dry-clean only clothes. Dry cleaning is expensive. And it uses a lot of chemicals. And you generally have to drive there to drop-off and pick up your stuff. All things that are bad for the environment. My sister, a noted fabric expert, recommends googling the material your clothing item is made out of to see if it really needs dry cleaning or if you can hand wash and air dry. Hint: if it comes from Forever 21, the fabric is not quality enough to need dry-cleaning. 🙂
19. Only do laundry when you have a full load of clothes. The average washing machine uses about 30-40 gallons of water per cycle. The less you do laundry, the more water you save. Sounds like the perfect excuse to wait until you’re down to your last pair of underwear to do laundry to me!
20. Donate. Before you throw anything out, think about donating it instead. Is it still in good enough shape that someone else could use it? If so, check out places like Goodwill, the Salvation Army, or other second hand stores that take donations. It’s not just clothes they want, it’s also stuff like books, DVDs, toys, electronics, and so much more.
21. Borrow. Don’t buy that new book, borrow it from the library. Don’t purchase a new dress for that upcoming wedding, raid your roommates closet. Avoid buying if you don’t have to. And when you can, purchase second hand.
22. Plant seed. Plant a flower. Plant a rose. You can plant anyone of those. Keep planting to find out which one grows . . . Sorry, I had a Hanson moment there. But really, doing a little gardening is great for the environment. Plant some flowers, a bush, or a tree in your yard. They’ll look pretty and make our air a little fresher.
I got a lot of info for this post here. It’s a great article and you should check it out for more ways to go green.