Earth Day *every day*! Simple eco-friendly changes you can make at home.
Kermit was all wrong when he crooned that it wasn’t easy being green. It’s wicked easy being green. Earth Day is April 22 and I’ve got some simple ways for you to get green (and save some green) at home. Ready? Let’s do this.
Do you know what it’s like to go to the mailbox and find only bills, bills, bills? I used to, but I’ve recently requested that all my creditors either automatically deduct payment from my account (no more late fees!) or send me a bill via email. Now the only thing I find in my mailbox are Sephora packages (don’t tell my better half) and coupons—both of which make me much happier than an envelope from Comcast.
Reusable Shopping Bags
The best thing about reusable shopping bags? While driving home, my groceries no longer free themselves from the flimsy plastic bags and start joyriding all over the place in my trunk. Now the groceries are nice and tidy, packed like a Jenga puzzle in a sturdy, and sharply designed I might add, rectangular bag. Reusable bags are also great for the environment, obviously. I keep a stash of them in my car and use them for not only the grocery store, but for making returns, department store shopping, lugging snacks for the baseball team and more. And usually for $1 each, there’s no excuse. Get some!
Energy Efficient Light Bulbs
To save yourself some money, it’s recommended to use LED bulbs for all lighting fixtures as they are more energy-efficient and last up to 40 time longer than incandescent light bulbs (the ones we’ve all been buying for years). LED bulbs are more expensive to purchase up front, however the cost savings you get from your electric bills and minimal bulb replacement will more than make up for it.
I’m obsessed with cloth napkins. I’ve been using them ever since I got my first apartment post-college. They look beautiful, are durable and save the planet from an incredible amount of waste each year. To avoid needing to wash cloth napkins after each use (or using somebody else’s, blech!), purchase a different napkin ring for each member of your family so everyone knows which napkin is theirs.
Recycle, Reuse, Repurpose
I’m the opposite of a hoarder. I get excited about purging but I rarely throw things away—particularly if I know someone else may be able to use it. Before you get rid of items that are no longer useful to you, think: Is there another way I could use?; Would this be useful to someone else?; Is there a safe way to dispose of this? Check out our Repurpose feature here.
Having pasta or a vegetarian soup on Mondays might not seem like a big deal, however adding one meat-free meal per week (for a family of four) has the same impact as driving a hybrid car! Raising livestock produces a large amount of greenhouse gases, so cutting back, even one night per week, makes a big difference.
Ready to recycle? Here are some Do’s and Don’ts when it comes to tossing items into your recycle bin.
For Paper: Do recycle paper with staples, clips, or spirals intact–the metal will be filtered out by machines later. Don’t include any paper with food stains (think pizza boxes) as they can contaminate a load.
For Plastics: Don’t forget to remove bottle caps. They’re made of a different type of plastic and can mess up a whole batch. Do return plastic bags to stores, you’ll find special boxes for them.
For Glass and Metal: Do rinse out bottles, jars, and cans; throw away (or recycle) caps. Don’t: Worry about labels–they’ll burn off at the plant. Do include washed pie tins and foil, metal bottle caps, wire coat hangers, scrap metal.
For Furniture: Don’t make the town dump your first stop. One person’s trash is another’s treasure. Do try offerUP.com, Craigslist or a thrift store that does pickups when you want to ditch an old item. See our local charities list.