It’s not always easy to be environmentally friendly, especially when you’re busy and time-crunched. But there are plenty of simple ways to do your part without having to make big changes to your daily routine or your life in general. These eight tips will help you live greener without much effort on your part at all!
1) Shower with a friend
We all know that showering is a waste of water, but some people have found a clever solution: Taking a bath or shower with another person. That way, you both save water. A bonus for small families or couples: You can do other things together at bath time (read a book! have sex!). Plus, there’s something meditative about taking your time in the shower—even if you’re alone.
2) Switch from plastic to glass
Plastic bags are convenient and cheap, but when it comes time to dispose of them, plastic is nearly impossible to recycle. This means that millions of tons of plastic end up in landfills every year. By switching from plastic bags to glass ones, you’ll cut down on your use of non-recyclable plastics and help protect our planet for future generations. If you can’t find glass, try using cloth or paper instead. And if you really need a bag, opt for recycled paper or fabric instead of plastic.
Plastic straws also pose a major threat to the environment. They’re made with oil – a resource that’s in limited supply – and they’re difficult to break down once they’ve been used. Consider making the switch from single-use straws to reusable options like stainless steel or glass straws instead.
3) Recycle properly
One of the easiest ways to help curb our collective impact on our environment is to recycle properly. If you’re wondering what does and doesn’t get recycled, check out these guidelines for paper, plastics, aluminum cans and glass bottles. Check with your city for their specific recycling rules—many cities have separate programs for plastic bags and cardboard. It’s also a good idea to buy products with minimal packaging—particularly things like drinks sold in cardboard containers as opposed to cans or plastic bottles. When you’re shopping, avoid buying food that comes in wasteful amounts of packaging or items made from materials that can’t be recycled. You can also make an effort to reuse materials instead of throwing them away–things like cloth shopping bags instead of plastic ones and old newspapers instead of tissue paper.
4) Use rechargeable batteries
Did you know that Americans buy 7 billion single-use batteries per year? And we dispose of 20 billion pounds of used batteries annually. Instead, use rechargeable batteries whenever possible, which can be reused hundreds of times. Not only will they save you money but they’ll also reduce your environmental impact. They aren’t perfect—batteries contain toxic metals such as cadmium and mercury—but these chemicals are released into landfills when we discard them, not during battery use or recycling. To help minimize the risk, keep old batteries in a closed container until you’re ready to recycle them. If the old ones run out before the new ones arrive, keep a couple sets on hand for emergencies. Choose energy efficient appliances: Energy efficiency is about conserving resources for future generations by using less electricity now. Consider investing in appliances with higher energy efficiency ratings; even if it costs more up front, your savings over time could be significant.
5) Buy fewer things, make your own instead
The more you buy, particularly single-use plastic items and packaging, and then throw away, means an increased environmental burden. Instead of buying paper towels and napkins, use rags or old t-shirts. Instead of buying water bottles, refill a reusable one. And when you get a plastic bag at the store, reuse it as much as possible until it’s no longer useful; you can carry laundry in them or put your lunch in them for work or school. One other way to reduce waste is by using reusable grocery bags instead of getting plastic ones every time you go shopping. You can even purchase cotton bags with cute designs on them if you want something pretty!
6) Cook more
Ditch takeout and make your own meals. It’s healthier, cheaper, and better for your planet. Not only will you spend less money—it doesn’t cost much at all to cook (organic) food from scratch—but you can control exactly what you eat. If you’re too tired or don’t know how to cook, follow the directions on a pre-made package and buy the ingredients instead of getting take-out. Buying ingredients also means that if you want more of something in the future, it’s easier because all the parts are in one place! Clean up after yourself: Recycle as much as possible and donate any unwanted items that are still in good condition instead of throwing them away.
7) Avoid disposable products as much as possible (i.e. disposable razors, paper towels, etc.)
Most of these products are made from polystyrene, a plastic which is not recyclable. If you want to be more environmentally friendly, avoid disposable products as much as possible and switch over to reusable items. From an environmental standpoint, it’s better for people and safer for wildlife. Learn how making small changes like switching from a disposable razor or paper towels can save you money. Some of the best sustainable swaps are: swapping out your old light bulbs with LED bulbs, changing your shower head, swapping out your regular toilet brush for a bamboo one (look on Etsy!), and recycling when possible.
The most important thing to remember is that there are always ways to make things less harmful – especially when it comes to being environmentally conscious!
8) Get rid of junk mail
Junk mail is both annoying and bad for our environment, so one easy way to be greener is by cutting down on its flow into your home. Rather than having mail sent directly to your door, consider opting in for Neighborhood Mail Delivery—another great service provided by your local postal service. The U.S. Postal Service will deliver mail that has a street address but not a specific recipient (like bulk mail) once or twice per week to a centralized location within each neighborhood. Postage stamps can also be purchased through the USPS website which cuts down on paper usage.
Ways to make your life more eco-friendly:
1) recycle as much as possible
2) buy products with less packaging
3) compost all food waste