Alright, you probably won’t save the world, but with these ten tips, you’ll at least be able to do your part in protecting our planet. If you’re new to the whole “going green” thing, I suggest taking on one of these challenges each day for the next ten days. By the end, you’ll be a green connoisseur!
Day 1: Paper
- Recycle old newspapers after you’re done reading and clipping the good coupons.
- Be conservative and use both sides when printing.
- Do yourself a favor and take your address off the mailing list for all those useless pieces of junk mail. (You already have six credit cards. You probably don’t need another one.)
Day 2: Lighting
- Switch to CFLs. They have an extended life span and will save you money in the long run. Plus, incandescent bulbs are being phased out, so finding them in stores will start to be more difficult.
- Use natural lighting whenever possible. Open the drapes and enjoy basking in the warm sunlight.
- Remember to turn off all lights when they’re not in use. This one is pretty obvious, but often needs to be reiterated.
Day 3: Water
- Wash your hands and clothes in cold water. If everyone in the U.S. opted to wash their hands with cooler water, the amount of energy saved would be equivalent to the carbon emissions of 299,700 homes!
- Choose to take a shower instead of a bath. The EPA estimates that a full bath could use upwards of 70 gallons of water. While a five minute shower only requires about 25 gallons.
- If you yearn for the greenest lawn on the block, water your grass early in the morning (ideally between 4am and 9am). On hot, windy afternoons, a substantial amount of water doesn’t even reach your grass. It evaporates or gets carried away with the wind gusts.
Day 4: Energy
- Avoid energy vampires! The average U.S. household ends up spending about $100 a year to power electronic devices that are turned off, but not unplugged. Energy is slowly being sucked from your home while these devices provide little to no function.
- It’s time to show off that fancy pair of underwear. Channel your ancestors and dry your clothes on a clothesline this summer.
- Stop pre-heating the oven when you cook. Save energy by simply turning it on once the dish is inside.
Day 5: Transportation
- Take advantage of the carpool lane and drive with a buddy as often as you can.
- Walk or ride your bike whenever possible, or be adventurous and take public transportation. Who knows, you might even be part of a surprise Macklemore performance.
- Make one large trip when running errands instead of thirteen small ones throughout the week. It’ll save you time and gas money.
Day 6: Plastic
- Spend the dollar and switch to reusable bags when grocery shopping. Those plastic ones can barely hold a can of tuna without ripping. Many retailers even offer discounts to those who use reusable bags!
- Invest in a reusable water bottle. The EPA has stated that the U.S generated 32 million tons of plastic waste in 2011 alone. Places like Concord, Massachusetts have already placed a ban on the sale of single-serve plastic water bottles.
- It seems like every product comes in a plastic casing these days. Be sure to recycle it!
Day 7: Recycle
- Throw your empty soda cans in the recycling bin instead of the trash can. The Aluminum Association compares throwing away one aluminum can to “pouring out six ounces of gasoline.” What a waste.
- Donate the clothes you don’t wear anymore. Someone else will love them.
- It’s time to take the old, black and white television out of your basement and bring it to your local electronics recycling center. Your grandchildren will have no interest in seeing that ancient artifact.
Day 8: Food
- Consume at least one meat-less meal every week. Not many people are aware that the livestock division is one of the largest sources of carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide emissions.
- Stop by the farmer’s market and purchase locally grown fruits and vegetables. They often require less packaging materials and travel time.
- Be a part of the new craze and go organic! The lack of unnecessary chemicals is healthier for you and the environment.
Day 9: Shopping
- Buying in bulk will save money and packaging materials that would probably end up in landfills. It may take a while, but you’ll use all those razors eventually.
- Invest in products and brands that are known to last a long time. It might cost you a little more upfront, but you’ll be pleased when you don’t have to replace it every month.
- Search the internet for websites that offer trendy secondhand clothing items. You’ll be able to find designer items for a fraction of the cost!
Day 10: Heating and Cooling
- Adjust the thermostat at night or whenever you leave your house. You’ll be warm enough under the blankets, and heating an empty house is just a waste of money and energy.
- Installing a programmable thermostat will make your life easier when it comes to monitoring the temperature of your home. It will automatically adjust the temperature according to your schedule.
- Be sure to replace your furnace filters and clean the ductwork regularly. This will increase the efficiency of your heating unit and cut down on wasted energy. Plus, you might be surprised at what you find in there.
There you have it. A ten day program to guide you in the direction of efficiency and conservation. If you have any additional suggestions on how to go green, we’d love to hear them! Post your ideas in the comments section below.
Photo Credit: Saving the World/shutterstock