I’m only one person, will what I do really make a difference? Yes, it will!
If everyone in the US alone followed the following tips, we’d save billions just in energy costs. Habits you adopt now will show up as savings in your pocket. Here’s how:
45 Simple Habits we can adopt ASAP
1. Use cloth napkins. You can save hundreds of dollars a year if you stop using paper napkins. Sames goes for paper towels. (Use hankies instead of tissues too!)
2. Use both sides of the paper. Unless you’re presenting a document to someone, copy on both sides.
4. Take a shower, not a bath. And shorten your shower time to save water and energy costs.
5. Turn off lights. We’ve been told this growing up, and it really does help!
6. Turn off the water when you brush your teeth. Again, something we’re told as kids that just makes sense.
7. Plant a tree. Trees use carbon dioxide and create oxygen. Plant a few while you’re at it!
8. Get a tune-up. Your car will run better, use less fuel and produce less emissions when properly tuned.
9. Convert to CNG or propane. If you can, convert your vehicle to compressed natural gas or propane. Both will save you money at the pump and run cleaner, so it saves your engine life and produces fewer emissions.
10. Buy local. When you buy local produce you save money in shipping costs, get fresher produce, and support local farmers. Same goes for eggs, milk and even lumber! (LocalHarvest.org is a great resource for locating farmers in your area.)
11. Keep thermostats moderate. No one wants to walk into a freezing house when it’s 90 outside, nor do they want to broil if the house is too warm. Keep your thermostat at 74° in the summer and 62° in the winter. Better yet, use fans instead of air conditioning.
12. Bring your own coffee cup. I work at a coffee shop at a local college. Every day I see the same kids come in and get paper cups with their coffee. At the 50¢ we charge for a cup, that’s $2.50 saved for the week, not to mention landfill waste. The cups are compostable, but the lids aren’t. It adds up.
13. Group activities. Run errands, get groceries, and carpool to soccer games together. You’ll save on gas… and frustration too.
14. Ride your bike. Gym membership? Nah. Save your money and get in shape by riding your bicycle more often.
15. Unplug appliances when not in use. Even plugged in but turned off, appliances can drain electricity. A computer that’s turned off can save you about 40 watts a day, or about 4¢. Over a year, that adds up to $14.00. While that’s not much, it’s only one thing you can save on.
16. Don’t pre-rinse your dishes. You’ll save 20 gallons of water by just putting your dishes through a normal wash cycle.
17. Don’t preheat your oven. Most ovens bake food just fine without preheating, which wastes energy.
18. Use a “solar” clothes dryer. Yep, hang them out to dry. My family did it out of necessity when I was young because we didn’t have a dryer. Now we do it to save energy, and it leaves laundry smelling great too.
19. Use cold water when you wash clothes. Most detergents will wash just fine in cold water. (You can dissolve homemade powdered laundry detergent in a cup of hot water, then add to a cold load.)
20. Replace your appliances with energy star rated ones. When it’s time for the refrigerator to go, get a more energy efficient one.
21. Stop cutting your lawn, or don’t cut so close. Let you lawn grow out a bit. It’ll save on gas and you won’t have to water as much.
22. Recycle your cell phone. Approximately 130 million cell phones are replaced every year. Donate yours to a local women’s shelter or another charitable location. Even with no service, a charged cell phone can dial 911 in an emergency.
23. Telecommute. Work from home if you can.
24. Use matches, not lighters. These can contribute significantly to waste.
25. Stop using plastic bags. Bring your own reusable shopping bags. This brand folds up into a tiny pouch, making them perfect for storing in your car or purse! You can also make your own reusable food wrap.
26. Use paper based cotton swabs.
27. Pay your bills online.
28. Go paperless with paycheck stubs, bank and insurance statements.
29. Keep your freezer and refrigerator full. They will run better and stay cold longer. (Don’t want to buy more food to fill up a freezer? Fill gallon or half gallon jugs ¾ of the way with water and freeze.)
30. Use rechargeable batteries.
31. Grow your own food. You can find all our garden related articles here.
32. Take the bus. If you live in an area with public transportation, use it. In my area, all of the city buses are being converted to CNG, or Compressed Natural Gas.
33. Recycle your ink and toner cartridges.
34. Recycle what you can.
35. Compost what you can’t recycle.
36. Buy in bulk to reduce packaging. Here are some great tips for saving money by buying in bulk.
37. Consider a solar charger. You can get small ones that will charge your mobile phone and tablet, and also ones that will run a refrigerator for a higher cost.
38. Shop at thrift stores. Consider this another form of recycling.
39. Install a low-flow shower head. This will cut water usage drastically.
40. Put bricks in your toilet tank. Really! A water filled soda bottle will work as well. This displaces the amount of water used to flush each time.
41. Recycle your motor oil. Don’t dump it down the drain.
42. Recycle your tires. I buried mine in the yard, covered them with a pool liner and made splash pools for the birds.
43. Use cloth diapers instead of plastic ones. Over 18 billion diapers are used each year. They make up 1% of the land fill and take up to 500 years to decompose. It takes 1,265,000 metric tons of wood pulp and 75,000 metric tons of plastic to produce these. A cloth diaper can be reused hundreds of times, can be used for rags when worn out and the cotton only takes 3 years or so to decompose.
44. Consider going meatless one day a week. It will force you to eat more of that produce you’re growing/buying!
45. Connect with friends. Friends can often give others ideas that they’d never have thought of.
What are some other simple sustainable habits we can adopt?
image credit to Megan Ann