For all the ways we try to show compassion in our daily lives, we might ask how we can include mother earth in our efforts. Just like we wouldn’t harm individuals, it is just as essential to actively reduce harm to the planet.
Steps for going green don’t have to be complicated. You don’t need to redo your whole lifestyle. Here are ten small changes you can make to be more eco-friendly. Some of them so easy there’s no excuse not to try them.
Eat Less Meat
Cutting meat from your diet is a way to be more eco-friendly. The meat industry currently generates 20% of greenhouse gases. But if you’re not ready to reconsider your entire diet, making little changes is still effective. Try shooting for more vegetarian meals or resolve to abide by Meatless Mondays. You can also choose to eliminate just one type of meat or you can opt to only eat meat when you order out at a restaurant. There are lots of ways to be flexible!
Consider a Commuter Mug
Many of us need our morning joe or hot tea. If you’re a regular commuter, you may be getting your macchiato in a to-go cup. But many of those materials used to hold your to-go beverage aren’t so earth friendly. Styrofoam, lined paper cups, plastic straws, and lids aren’t usually recyclable, and some of them leach. Invest in an easy-to-wash commuter mug. Most baristas have no problem fixing your drink in a commuter mug and they’ll be happy to price your drink accordingly.
Ditch Plastic Bags
Plastic bags, which are standard for almost every purchase we make, are not biodegradable. Instead, they often get shredded and wind up in our oceans. Start cutting back. For small purchases, ask the clerk not to bag your items: your prescription refill or that new pair of socks doesn’t need a whole plastic bag to itself (especially if it fits right in your purse or briefcase). For larger purchase, get into the habit of reusable bags. Keep a bunch in your car. You can get also get collapsible ones that fit right into your purse or messenger bag.
Recycle the Rest
Sometimes you may forget your reusable bags and you end up with a few plastic ones. Never fear. Plastic bags are recyclable. But wait before you toss them in the blue bin! Most local collection facilities don’t accept plastic bags. The good news? Many grocery stores and shopping are equipped with specific drop-off bins for plastic bags. Research to see if any of these stores are close to you. You might find you already frequent them for your regular shopping!
Take Shorter Showers
Every minute spent in the shower uses up about five gallons of water. Even just reducing your shower by two minutes saves ten gallons. A helpful trick? Make a shower playlist! Choose a few songs and play them on your phone in the bathroom. Challenge yourself to be done before two songs or three songs have played (the average pop song runs about 3 minutes and 30 seconds).
Wash on Cold
Heating up laundry water accounts for about 75% of the energy used by washing machines. Hot water for laundry is not only wasteful, it’s unnecessary. Unless you need to wash out a nasty stain or seriously disinfect an item, cold water suffices plenty. Cold water is also kinder on fabrics and less likely to wash out dyes.
De-Clutter Your Mailbox
Maybe you still get catalogs from that one company you ordered from ages ago. Perhaps you’re sent mail from an organization you’re not particularly active with anymore. Don’t be afraid to call these places and asked to be taken off their mailing list. In regards to junk mail, there are specialized services that you can contact to have you taken off their mailing lists for promotional flyers. If you pay bills through the mail, consider going paperless. Most companies have online systems where you can pay your bills automatically.
Stop Hoarding Napkins
The next time you grab food to go, really consider how many napkins you’re taking. It’s compulsion for some of us to grab a huge wad, but we really only need one or two. This may seem like a silly inconsequential habit, but it makes a difference (same for paper towels in rest rooms)!
Change Your TV’s Settings
If you own a high definition TV, it was likely shipped and packaged with the screen on “Torch Mode.” Torch Mode renders images in bright colors and high contrast. While it looks great in stores, it sucks up energy. Take a moment and see what your TV’s settings are. Adjust them to Standard or Cinema. Avoid settings such as Bright or Vivid.
Avoid tossing busted cell phones in the trash or leaving old TVs out on the curb. When electronics go to landfills, it means heavy metals and chemicals end up in the earth. The next time your electronics go caput, invest a little effort to make sure they end up in the right place. Many local facilities have special programs for recycling electronics, as do stores like Staples.
See? We told you! Some of these tips are just too easy. And they're just the tip of the iceberg. There are so many small meaningful ways you can live a more eco-friendly lifestyle.