It doesn’t matter how big or small. It could be anything from taking shorter showers to taking the bus to work or school every day instead of driving.
I recycle, I limit my driving, I shop locally and buy ‘green’ products whenever possible (‘green’ label debate notwithstanding) … but the lifestyle change I’m most proud of is my participation with GreenAnswers. Of course I love knowing that I’m doing virtually everything I can to reduce my own carbon footprint, but I personally feel like education and information distribution is the best way to truly push change on a global scale. I feel like most people waste because they simply don’t know a better way – through answering questions and helping people on a personal level, we can help people understand how a few simple changes in all of our lives could end up literally saving the planet.
Recently I stopped buying paper towels, which has sustainability benefits both economically and ecologically. Generally I use cotton rags and towels for every sort of spill, use it till its dirty, then toss it in with the laundry. If we all did this it would help reduce over-logging and excess paper waste. On the topic of laundry, I always make sure it is on “small” or “medium” size load so not too much water is used. In the summertime, i will sometimes dry rags and clothing in the sun as a natural clothes dryer.
I also grow as much of my vegetables at home as possible. I have greatly reduced how much produce I buy, and if I do buy produce it is from the local farmer’s market. This is a way to avoid the wastefulness and fuel-heavy demands of produce getting trucked across the world only to have lost its flavor and health benefits in the process. By growing your own vegetables, pesticide use is reduced because it is less necessary on the small scale.
Reducing plastic use is also an important green part of my lifestyle, although it can be difficult to do so. Plastic is wasteful to produce and to recycle. I try to avoid plastic and to reuse it when possible. I focus my recycling on more efficient and useful recycling processes like paper and glass.
One of the easiest yet surprisingly effective lifestyle changes is to unplug appliances in the home when you’re not using them -or at least when you go out or go to bed at night. Even when not turned on, appliances like televisions, computers and cell phone charges continue to consume electricity. Unplugging them when not in use is a simple way to reduce your carbon footprint -not to mention your electricity bill!
I walk to work everyday and to the grocery store when I don’t have too much to buy. I keep appliances such as TV and gaming consoles on a power strip so that I can turn them all off at once. I keep my AC on 78-80 degrees when it’s warm out and 65 when it’s cold. I’ve been able to keep it turned off for most of the time during October, November, and December because of cooler weather. I recycle anything I can: from glass to plastic bread bags. I also buy recycled paper bedding for my bunny.
I like to keep myself hydrated, and I had a nasty habit of using a plastic water bottle every day. So for Christmas, I bought myself and the rest of my family Nalgene bottles. This has encouraged me to use less glassware as well, reducing the amount of water and soap I use to clean them. It appears that the rest of my family is catching on and hopefully no more plastic water bottles will be purchased for my household.
Last summer I received a little 5-minute hour glass shower timer that suction cupped to the wall. It really cut down on my water time, but it didn’t stick well and broke.
I’ve gotten so out of the habit of driving (thanks to walking, biking, and public transportation) that now driving seems like too much “work” and I really have reconsider if that car trip is worth it. I’ve gotten really good at bringing my own reusable grocery bags. I have mesh produce ones too, but am still working on remembering them.
Food: I limit the amount of meat that I eat, make an effort to buy organic food, shop at environmentally friendly stores (Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s),
I think about the packaging of an item before I buy it, I buy recycled products wherever possible and I bring reusable bags to the supermarket.
Habits: I use cloth towels where I used to use paper towels, and I bought a kindle (even though in my heart, I am more of a traditionalist), I turn off my computer when I am not going to be using it. I walk to the supermarket and to nearby restaurants. I take the train into the city when not too inconvenient.
I’ve been a vegetarian for most of my life, but I’ve also recently given up dairy completely. The horrific practices of factory farms, and their huge environmentally-degrading impact (see here) was enough to put me off eggs and milk until I can find a good, local, organic farm. I’ve also recently reduced the water pressure of my showers and limited my shower time. Instead of circling around for a parking spot closer to the store, I’ve also recently started intentionally parking farther away (two birds, one stone – more exercise, less emissions).
For more tips of living green, check out GreenAnswers own blogs. They include everything from green shopping to green Valentine’s day.
I got a CSA (Community Share Agriculture) from a local farm last summer. Once a week I recieved organic, locally grown vegetables and fruits while I supported the livelihoods of those who work on the farm.
I’ve been a lifelong cyclist and at 23, have managed to avoid buying a car. Recently, I’ve made a point to begin composting, not only to help facilitate a better garden next time around, but also as a way of reducing the waste my house puts out. I’ve also been making a point to pick up and reuse materials I find in my neighborhood on garbage and recycling days, whether it be wood, jars, bottles (I started my garden in re-used containers), and buying second-hand at every possible junction. Not only has this year been very eco-friendly, I’ve also saved a ton of money!
I’ve spent the majority of my transportation time on buses, I’ve tried to be more conscious about leaving lights on and off, and I’ve helped recycle at school.
As Sarahtonen mentioned, turning off and unplugging appliances when not in use can make a big difference in energy consumption. I try to shut down my computer every time I leave my apartment in the morning, or whenever I know I will not need to use it for a while. Though I sometimes miss the convenience of having my laptop immediately available for use, it takes just a few minutes and less energy to start-up a computer than it does to keep it running for a long amount of time. Some newer computers even come with ENERGY STAR monitors or a sleep mode feature, which uses about 70% less energy than a screen saver.
I have been plugging all my electronics into power strips so I can turn off the strip when not in use and won’t have to worry about vampire energy drain. I’ve been using a biodegradable shampoo, keeping the heat and air conditioning lower, walking to the library instead of driving, walking to the grocery store when I can manage to carry it all back, and only using energy efficient night lights in rooms that are used at night.
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