Forget the Environment - Save Yourself
Updated: Jan 29, 2019
Call your state representatives and express your views on climate change
Turn off lights you’re not using and replace incandescent bulbs with LED or compact fluorescent lightbulbs.
Turn off the facet while brushing your teeth or washing hands
Use canvas bags for all of your shopping
Take plastic bags to Walmart recycling point – usually just inside the door
Pick up litter on your street
You could save an animal from choking on the trash or stop garbage from contaminating local rivers and streams
Don’t leave the fridge open, the car running, the shower on, etc.
Add the Ecosia search engine to your web browser
I recently switched from Google to Ecosia, worried I had just signed up for some Bing equivalent. But Ecosia works just the same as Google, and it uses 80% of its ad revenue to plant trees in regions of the world that need them most. Learn more about what they do here.
Similarly, wait until trash bags are full to empty them
(or use reusable trash containers)
Maybe you could even live without buying trash bags
Even though I try to avoid taking my groceries home in plastic bags, they still find their way to me. I forget my canvas bags sometimes, or a friend will return something borrowed in a plastic bag. So I just use these for trash bags - and I haven't wanted for a proper garbage bag in years (actually).
Let your waiter or cashier know that you don’t need a straw, napkins, etc.
once you get into the habit, it's not too hard to simply consume less.
Use Tupperware containers instead of plastic sandwich and snack bags
Use washable cloth towels instead of paper towels
I know, I didn't think it was possible either. But I'm proud to report that I haven't bought paper towels in at least 11 months.
Avoid purchasing multi packs of disposable water bottles
If you buy these regularly, how much do you spend each month? Each year? Save that money and invest in Brita filters, reusable water bottles, or water filtration taps. There are many options that allow you to save water and petroleum-made plastic products.
Use power strips so that you can easily unplug all electronics when you leave for extended periods
$19 billion in ‘vampire power’ – energy used by devices that were plugged in, even though they aren’t in use – is wasted every year.
Alter your laundry habits to conserve energy and water
Wash full, large loads; wash with cold water when possible; do not overuse detergent; hang clothes to dry instead of using the dryer, clean your lint filter!
Eat locally – and organic
This will cut down on carbon emissions produced when shipping food to you. Organic foods are not treated with pesticides, which are bad for the atmosphere.
Ensure your garbage gets recycled
Recycle what trash you can in your neighborhood or community center. If your building or neighborhood doesn't offer a recycling program, get one started in your area.
Now We’re Really Talking…
Change your Amazon shipping preferences
Ship multiple items as one order instead of many individual packages when possible to reduce emissions produced when getting you your products
Place a 1L bottle of water or sand in your toilet’s tank, this will save water with every flush
The average toilet takes 9L to flush (about 2.5 gallons). Think about all of that water down the drain!
Take your old electronics to an e-recycler near you instead of throwing them away
This prevents them from taking up scare landfill space AND the parts can be made into brand new electronics, yay!
Fix any leaky faucets and encourage your school and workplace to do the same
Avoid contributing to the nearly 1 trillion gallons of water wasted every year in the U.S. through household leaks.
While you’re at it, replace taps and shower heads with specialized faucets meant to save water.
Stop using k-cups.
So, so convenient. Unfortunately, they can’t be recycled and aren’t biodegradable –
billions of k-cups are piling up in landfills right now. Consider your Keurig a sunk cost and move on to greener, and usually cheaper, alternatives.
Buy used goods instead of purchasing new
Whatever you are looking for, chances are someone else has already bought and already doesn’t want it. There are so many platforms to connect with these people and buy new and fairly used goods at low prices. Check out Oodle Marketplace, Poshmark, Facebook Marketplace, even eBay and Craigslist (where I bought my current car!)
Try the bike or scooter sharing services in your area instead of driving your car to shrink your carbon footprint.
Don't toss those old clothes!
There is always someone in need of all sorts of clothing items – go to your local homeless shelter, Goodwill or The Salvation Army, or even the people without a home on your block. No one wants your old undies, though.
While we’re on clothing, don’t buy into ‘fast fashion’-
Retailers like H&M have an endless cycle rotation of cheap clothing. While there used to be 4 fashion seasons in a year, now there are 8-12. It requires mass amounts of energy and water to continue this cycle, which is supported by your demand. Avoid falling for the cheap price tag - avoid contributing to sweat shop factories and child labor (a story for a different article), but you will also avoid contributing to the tons of textile waste that pile up in landfills.
Insulate and seal your home to save energy
Reduce drafts and air leaks with caulk, insulation, and weather stripping. Many states offer programs and incentives to facilitate this, and a great example is Energy Upgrade California.
Thank You for Personally Saving Our Species!
Move away from dairy and red meat towards a plant-based diet.
Install solar panels on your roof and encourage your employer or school to do the same.
It can actually save YOU a lot of a money! And, if you live in a state with a Net Metering law, you could even earn money by selling electricity back to the grid. Many companies like Sun Run and Solar City specialize in home installation or you can learn how to do it yourself via the internet.
Plant a garden!
Plants absorb heat and carbon dioxide. Even city-dwellers can make space on their terrace, windowsill, or rooftop.
Purchase an energy efficient hybrid or electric car.
Browse some of the highest performing models here. While they are still out of reach for many, there are many more affordable electric car models now that there were 10 years ago.
Don’t buy a truck or SUV if you don’t need it.
I put this tip here in the 'difficult' category because I get it, your vehicle is very much a personal representation of who you are, and I’d hate to tell you to compromise that. SUVs and trucks are the most popular cars to drive in America. But if you’re not hauling, driving up steep and rocky roads, or doing other truck stuff on the reg, this vehicle is a bigger spend and it comes at a bigger cost to the environment. Just something to think about.
Even if you can recycle it or reuse it, what the world really needs is for you to reduce it. Slow the demand for products made of nonrenewable products (things like paper, plastic, etc). Production of these products is not only unsustainable, it is responsible for a significant portion of annual carbon emissions and water usage in the U.S.