Live More Sustainably
Choosing renewable energy is one of the most important – and easiest – things you can do to help protect the environment, but it isn’t the only thing. Here are simple ways to green up all of your daily activities.
Home is where the heart is. Now you can make it a healthier, more sustainable place to live.
Improve dishwasher efficiency
Wash full loads and let dishes air dry instead of using the heat cycle.
Green your kitchen
Choose non-toxic, eco-friendly kitchen accessories made from bamboo, which is more sustainable wood because you don’t have to chop it down to harvest the bark. A single tree can be harvested an average of 16 times during its lifetime, storing more carbon dioxide each time.
Toss out chemical cleaners
Opt for non-toxic or plant-based cleaning products. They work just as well as your average cleaning product but are safer for your family and better for the environment. No need to spend lots of money on fancy cleaners. Plain, unassuming baking soda is non-toxic and can be mixed with a little water to clean tubs, sinks and other surfaces. All for less than a dollar!
Unplug for a day
For one day (or even an afternoon), turn off the TV, computer, phone and other electronics. Go for a walk or a bike ride. Connect with family and friends face-to-face. Be mindful of the world around you. Try it once a week for a month to give yourself and the planet a break.
Water is one of the world’s most precious resources. Aerators on your household’s faucets and low-flow toilets can help you save water without even thinking about it. Also, be sure to fix that leaky faucet! A single dripping water faucet can waste 212 gallons of water a month.
Recycle old cell phones
Each year, 130 million cell phones are thrown away, weighing approximately 65,000 tons. Recycling last year’s model prevents hazardous elements like mercury, cadmium and lead from ending up in our landfills. Learn how to donate your old cell phone here.
Unplug your appliances
“Phantom” loads occur in most appliances that use electricity, such as VCRs, televisions, stereos, computers and kitchen appliances. In the average home, 75% of the electricity used to power home electronics is consumed while the products are turned off. Unplug appliances when you’re not using them or use a power strip to turn everything off at once.
Say goodbye to junk mail
Save trees and reduce waste by stopping your junk mail. Contact the Direct Marketing Association to take yourself off many companies’ mass marketing mailing lists for up to five years. You can contact phone book and catalog companies directly to request removal from their mailing lists.
Nothing brings people together like food. Make sure your food is healthy and delicious with these easy tips.
In the United States, food typically travels between 1,500 and 2,500 miles from farm to plate. Transporting our food that far means higher energy consumption and less local agricultural investment. See what’s available at your local farmer’s market this week – we think you’ll like how it tastes!
Choosing organic produce is a great way to avoid harmful pesticides and to support farmers who help conserve soil and water. Look for the label “USDA Certified Organic” on all organic foods at the grocery store to be sure you’re buying a more sustainable product.
Grow your own organic vegetables
What’s more local and organic than food from your own garden? Plus, you might just appreciate the food more when your own time and effort has gone into growing it.
Green-up your lunch at work
Bring reusable food and drink containers to work rather than disposable varieties. Packing a lunch is a great way to save money, eat healthier and cut down on the packaging materials that typically come with take-out or frozen meals.
Outside is our favorite place to be. Fresh air, birds singing, tree leaves rustling in the breeze…what could be better? These tips will help keep the great outdoors…well, great!
Plant a tree
Trees not only help reduce carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere, they can shield your home from direct sunlight and keep it cooler in the summer.
Avoid artificial fertilizers
Common fertilizers can be harmful to the environment and the local water supply. Choose organic fertilizers made from plant or animal by-products rather than chemicals.
Control pests the natural way
Look for plants that are naturally pest-resistant. Encourage helpful insects that prey on pests by growing nectar or pollen flowers and choosing perennial ground coverings. Also, try keeping your grass at a higher length. Higher grass mowed by sharp blades will prevent weeds from taking root.
Choose plants that are native to your area
Native species will be better adapted to dryer climates and less susceptible to disease. Visit http://www.wildflower.org/collections/ to determine which plants are best for your region and quality of soil.
Clean your pool more efficiently
For swimming pools, reduce filtration to six hours a day and install a timer to control the pump’s cycling. Several short cycles will keep the pool clean all day and reduce your electricity usage, too.
The EPA estimates that up to 1.5 billion gallons of water are wasted each year to irrigate landscaping. Reduce evaporation by watering in the early morning and mulching around gardens and shrubs. If possible, install a drip irrigation system, which uses 50% less water than a normal in-ground sprinkler system.
Shopping is the great American sport (well, maybe after football). Just enjoy it more sustainably – and in moderation – using these helpful tips.
Bring your own reusable bags
Plastic bags are made from oil and usually end up in landfills. Paper bags require trees to be chopped down and actually take more energy to manufacture than plastic. The next time you’re asked “paper or plastic?” answer with “I brought my own, thanks!”
Eco-friendly product glossary
Try to buy products that are biodegradable, 100% organic, free of BPA (a chemical used to make plastic and other consumer products that can affect infants and children), non-vinyl, non-toxic or made from sustainable wood like bamboo.
Buy in bulk
Reduce waste by purchasing items that have minimal packaging, buying the largest size of an item you can reasonably use and buying in bulk. Make your own single-size snack packages instead of buying them – just fill your own bags and containers (don’t forget to wash and reuse).
Join the sharing economy
Buy (and sell) products on ebay, Craigslist, Yerdle, in thrift stores and at garage sales. Manufacturing new items uses more natural resources, and reusing or upcycling reduces what gets sent to the landfill.
Skip the bottled water
Of the 25 billion single-serving plastic water bottles Americans use each year, 80% end up in landfills. Recycle your water bottles or, better yet, use a refillable water bottle made from BPA-free plastic or stainless steel.
Transportation is the second biggest contributor of greenhouse gases after electricity generation in the U.S.. Make sure you’re treading lightly by reducing the impact of your transportation.
Maintain your vehicle
Improve fuel efficiency by keeping your tires at the right pressure level and getting regularly scheduled maintenance like inspections and oil changes. Check your car’s owner’s manual to make sure you’re using the right type of oil.
Take it easy
Slamming on the breaks or accelerating too fast is a waste of gas and can also be unsafe. To improve your gas mileage, be gentle on the gas pedal and breaks. Avoid high speeds because gas mileage drops rapidly at speeds above 60 mph.
Use public transit or carpool
Fewer cars on the road means less carbon emissions, cleaner air and a reduced dependence on oil. Take the bus or train or share a ride with a friend, ideally in a hybrid or plug-in electric vehicle. Doing this just once or twice a week can make a big difference.
Fly less – or at least go non-stop
Airplanes create more pollution than automobiles typically do. Before you book that flight, ask yourself if videoconferencing or Skype will do instead. Choose nonstop flights wherever possible. Taking off and landing burns the most fuel, so more stops means more CO2 emissions.
Walk or bike
At the Office
Be sustainable at the office, too. Whether you’re a super-greenie trying to influence your co-workers or a corporate leader looking for ways to reduce costs and motivate your employees, these tips can help.
Cut back on electricity usage
Be sure all employees turn off lights, computers and other office equipment when not in use to reduce utility costs and your business’s carbon footprint. Installing lighting controls or an energy (or building) management system (can automate these processes.
Look for ENERGY STAR®
Look for office equipment that has earned the government’s ENERGY STAR rating. ENERGY STAR computers, copiers, fax machines and printers deliver the features and performance you want AND help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Create an office recycling center
Set up blue bins in the break room and by employees’ desks for recyclable materials such as glass, plastic, aluminum, mixed paper and hazardous materials. If you don’t have a pick-up service, ask employees to sign up and volunteer to take the materials to a local recycling center each week.
Setting office printers to automatically print double-sided is an easy way to reduce paper consumption by up to half.
Choose reusable supplies
Use reusable products to cut costs and reduce waste. For example, choose reusable ink cartridges through a cartridge refilling program. Many companies, such as Staples, even offer discounts on future ink cartridge purchases, so you’ll be saving money in more ways than one.
Buy in bulk
Purchase products and supplies in bulk to reduce packaging and shipping waste. This could save you money and time.
Choose environmentally friendly packaging materials, reuse whenever possible and consider a green shipping program to offset the carbon associated with your businesses parcel and freight shipments.
Incorporate plants into your business space
Moving means a fresh start. Unfortunately, it also comes with some baggage – waste produced from packing up your things and moving them to your new home
Look for eco-friendly moving companies
Some moving companies follow environmentally friendly practices. For example, Go Green Moving has bio-diesel trucks, moving pads composed of 100% recycled cotton and rentable crates for packing.
Choose reusable crates instead of cardboard boxes
Moving companies usually require new, unused cardboard moving boxes to ensure stability. Instead, use sturdy, reusable crates, which come in a variety of sizes, can be made from recycled plastic and generally include drop-off and pick-up service. Just search the Web for “reusable moving crates” in your city.
Use alternative materials to protect your belongings
Instead of using packing paper, wrap your breakables in old newspaper or even sheets, towels and other linens. Buy biodegradable packing peanuts instead of using bubble-wrap or Styrofoam.