Moving to reduce wastefulness and live in a greener way is a great goal, but it can be overwhelming! Luckily, there are a number of small, easy shifts that can shift your impact. Focus on smaller changes, and work your way up to the big stuff. Here’s ten easy changes you can make:
SHIFT AWAY FROM MEAT.
Reducing meat consumption can have a big impact. Over 30% of Earth’s livable surface is devoted to raising livestock. A UN study found that “cattle-rearing generates more global warming greenhouse gases, as measured in CO2 equivalent, than transportation.” By changing your diet to favor vegetables and seafood, you support industries that help the environment!
CUT DOWN ON PAPER.
With a world filled with computers, paper is easier to discard than ever. If your job or school still requires you to use paper, you can still help by recycling the paper you use. Over 40% of city-generated waste consists of paper products. Not only does this conserve the resources needed to make paper, but creating recycled paper sheets conserves energy. Recycling remains one of the best ways to be green.
CANVAS, NOT PLASTIC.
Many grocery stores offer attractive canvas bags as an alternative to plastic. While they cost a little bit, they’re incredibly useful to have around. Canvas bags are much more durable than plastic, and can hold bigger loads both at the grocery store and when using them for other purposes at home. They’re plenty useful for moving, as well! Even if you don’t prefer canvas, you can still reuse or recycle plastic bags. Even these small shifts have a big impact.
GET A COMPOST BIN.
Compost has been trending in the United States, and for good reason! Compost bins reduce waste by encouraging reuse of receptacles you might throw away, but also help plants grow at no additional cost. There’s no reason to purchase somebody else’s compost if you’re making it out of your own trash. If you garden, or know somebody that gardens, composting makes for a great investment!
GET THE IDEAL LIGHT BULB.
This isn’t something you should do immediately, but when a light bulb burns out, be sure that the replacement is from a green brand. Compact fluorescent lights are what to aim for. These bulbs use much less energy than normal bulbs and last up to five times as long. They’re also brighter, so after installation you might not need as many lights in your home!
CHOOSE CLOTH OVER PAPER.
How many paper towels might you use in a week? Instead of purchasing a bunch of new rolls, consider cutting up a worn T-shirt or piece of clothing that you were planning on tossing out. This conserves resources, and cuts costs as well! Once you’ve got a rag stash, store and wash them together, and you’ll find that your reliance on paper towels goes down considerably.
CONSIDER URBAN SOLAR AND GREEN ENERGY.
A bigger shift that you can make is acquiring solar paneling for your home so that you’re both creating your own green energy and saving money! Even urban solar can be a big saving opportunity, and inviting energy consultants out to take a look and see if solar paneling is a good option for you is free and educational. Energy consultants specialize in helping people reduce their energy costs and make the shift to eco-friendly energy sources. While urban solar paneling is a great option, if that doesn’t interest you, an energy consultant can still advise you on ways to cut costs and energy consumption.
BORROW, DON’T BUY.
Not only is borrowing a great way to save money expenditures, it’s also super green. Consider exploring used-goods stores or getting new books, movies and games from the library instead of purchasing your own. This will reduce the amount of waste that will just wind up in landfills! Local stores and the internet have a lot of incredible used-deals, and it’s great knowing you’re helping the environment with your shopping habits.
REDUCE WATER WASTE.
Using less water and cutting down on bottled water has a big impact. Consider a low-flow showerhead and shorter showers in the morning – good news, this will also cut your water bill! Even if you’re not a fan of your tap water, a water filter will help improve flavor and purity, and save you lots of money in the long run.