Guest Writer for Wake Up World
Green living isn’t just a fad anymore. It’s a way to implement modern solutions to help stall or reverse the effects of climate change. While individuals may not be able to turn back the clock themselves, when enough people and corporations join in, the planet feels the effects and love. You can make your household greener one small step at a time and feel like you’re making a difference. Here’s how.
1. Opt for Paper Bags
If bringing a reusable bag to the grocery store isn’t an option for you, always choose to take paper bags over plastic ones. Plastic isn’t biodegradable, meaning it will stay in the environment forever. With paper bags, you can carry just as much stuff sturdily without taking a toll on the environment. You can also recycle them after you’re finished with them.
2. Conserve Water
Many people are told to conserve water, but few actually follow that advice. There are simple ways to save water from being wasted in your household. Encourage people to take shorter showers or turn the faucet off when not using it. One of the main ways to stop wasting water is to turn the tap off while you brush your teeth. Your water bill and the environment will thank you for making the change.
3. Unplug What Isn’t in Use
If you aren’t using something, pull the plug. Leaving something plugged in can make it sap electricity, which means more significant stress on your electricity bill. Remember to unplug things when you’re going on vacation, as it can also lower your fire risk while you’re away. Don’t just leave your phone charger sitting there – unplug it and take it with you.
If you aren’t recycling already, now is the time to start. Recycling can help repurpose materials that don’t break down in the trash as easily into new products that can serve you later. If your city doesn’t offer a recycling service, sort your waste anyway and take it yourself to the local dump. That way, you can sort your recyclable items into bins and not feel as bad as you would by simply throwing them out.
5. Turn Off the Lights
Since around 90% of the energy a lightbulb gives off is due to heat, not light, you must observe just how many lights you have on at any given time. Rooms may grow hot due to lights being on for an extended period, which can be terrible in the summertime when you’re trying to keep your home cool. Instruct your family to turn off the lights when they leave the room. Doing so can save you energy and prolong the lives of your lightbulbs.
6. Reduce Your Red Meat Intake
Cattle take up several resources, such as pasture and water, that could be better spent elsewhere. Plus, cattle release methane gas, which isn’t good for the ozone layer. Try to steer your family away from eating red meat. “Meatless Mondays” are a creative way to incorporate a more plant-based diet into your lifestyle. Otherwise, opt for fish or poultry, which are better for you, anyway.
7. Donate Items
If you have things you aren’t using anymore but are still in good shape, don’t trash them. Donate them to your local charity or thrift store. You can write off charitable donations on your taxes, so you should strive to donate everything you can – as long as it’s still good quality. Go through your items to donate and ensure clothing is intact and food containers still look tidy. Give your items a second chance at life by passing them on to someone else.
8. Go to Farmer’s Markets
What better way to support local workers than by going to farmer’s markets? There, you can pick out produce that looks great to your family. Your kids may be more interested in eating healthily if they get to pick out their own food. Consider involving your whole household for every step of the process – from picking out the food to creating a yummy, healthy meal.
9. Shop at Thrift Stores
Recycled clothing is always better than buying new or from fast-fashion locations. Plus, it’s an excellent alternative to buying new clothes every school year for your growing children. If you know they’re only going to stay in a size for a single season, it’s better to buy it much cheaper second-hand than to spend a lot on something that will only get used for a couple of months. You never know what you’ll find at a thrift store, making it a great surprise every time.
10. Change Your Lightbulbs
Switch out your old, outdated lightbulbs for LED ones. LED lightbulbs are brighter but use less electricity than their counterparts. You can mix and match lightbulbs in different rooms. You might prefer a less-harsh lightbulb in your bedroom, while LED might be great lighting to have in your kitchen to ensure you see everything. LED bulbs also don’t give off extra heat and last much longer, so you’ll have to deal with them less often.
11. Upgrade Your Appliances
Your appliances won’t last forever. Over time, they become less environmentally friendly. Your big appliances, like your refrigerator, can be around 25% of your energy bill each month. After a time, it’s crucial to replace your appliances with more eco-friendly ones. That way, you can ensure your whole house operates as optimally as possible, saving both money and the environment.
12. Take a Class
When you don’t know where else in your life to reduce your energy consumption, turn to trusted educators. You should be able to find classes online that can teach you all about green living and making more sustainable choices. If you’d rather have an in-person class, your community may offer a masterclass on changes you can make to your daily life. If there isn’t one, show your interest in the topic. They may just start one.
13. Keep Track of Your Carbon Footprint
Take a test together with your household to see what your carbon footprints are. This assessment will tell you how much energy you use and how eco-friendly you actually are. Seeing your score may be a shock at first, but you can work to lower it actively. Make better choices and check again in six months – you’re sure to see a more environmentally friendly score.
Promote Green Living for the Future
While you may have had not-so-green habits in the past, you can still change the future by encouraging your household to go green. You’ll start to appreciate how much your quality of life increases by making minor changes. If you can get your whole home to change, you’ll be making a difference in the world and living sustainably and guilt-free.
About the author:
Kara Reynolds is the Editor-in-Chief and founder of Momish Magazine. Mom, stepmom, and wife – Kara wants to normalize big blended families. She enjoys pilates, peanut butter, and pinot grigio – but not at the same time.