6 Tips for Green and Sustainable Living
Living a green and sustainable lifestyle has grown increasingly popular in recent years as we have begun to see how our actions harm the planet and to more fully understand the need to be more environmentally friendly. Despite the desire to protect our planet, the challenge can feel overwhelming, and you may wonder what you can do on an individual level to benefit the environment.
Fortunately, by making simple and realistic changes to your lifestyle, you can drastically reduce your carbon footprint and help to take care of the planet we call home. Here are a few things that you can do to live a more sustainable lifestyle.
1. Reduce Your Energy Consumption
One of the easiest things that you can do to reduce your carbon footprint is to cut back on your energy consumption. Taking simple steps such as turning off lights when you leave a room and setting your thermostat higher in the summer can significantly reduce your energy consumption and your electric bill. You can also reduce your water and energy consumption by only running the dishwasher and washing machine when they are full and by washing clothes with cold water whenever possible. Additionally, if you have room in your apartment to hang laundry, this is a much greener alternative to using the dryer.
To further reduce your energy consumption, you should also consider looking around your apartment to see how many power chords you have plugged in throughout your home. Many people do not realize that devices such as TVs, radios, and phone chargers draw energy even when the device is not being used. Remembering to unplug devices that are not in use can further reduce your energy use.
2. Reuse When Possible
Many people are also increasing their sustainability by re-purposing old items rather than sending them to landfills. A quick Pinterest search for "up-cycling" or "re-purposing" will yield thousands of ideas for how you can make use of old items you may have otherwise thrown away such as plastic bags, glass jars, and old clothes. One great way to save money and reduce waste is to use old worn-out t-shirts as cleaning rags rather than throwing them away. Of course, clothes that are in decent condition can be donated to a thrift store where they can find a second life, and you may even receive a tax write-off for your donation. Any step that you can take to reduce how much waste you send to the landfill can go a long way in reducing your impact on the planet.
3. Choose Cloth Over Paper
Paper products such as paper towels, napkins, and tissues have become such an integral part of our everyday lives that we often do not think twice about using these products. However, finding alternatives to paper products can help to reduce deforestation, which is why many people are switching back to cloth products wherever possible. Not only will investing in cloth drying rags, hand towels, napkins, and handkerchiefs reduce your reliance on paper products, but it can also save you money in the long run. As a result, you may be surprised to learn how much money you have been spending on products you literally throw away.
4. Catch Excess Water
While more people than ever are doing what they can to reduce their water consumption — such as taking shorter showers and by not leaving the water running when brushing their teeth-- sometimes it can feel like water waste is unavoidable. For instance, you may feel this way when waiting to get hot water for a shower or to wash dishes, as it can take several minutes for the pipes to warm up in some instances. One way to reduce your water waste is to keep a bucket in your bathroom and kitchen to catch unused water as you are waiting for it to warm up. This water could then be used to water plants in your apartment, for small cleaning jobs, or to fill your pet's water bowl.
5. Embrace Reusable Water Bottles
While it is likely that you have seen many of your friends and family start to use reusable water bottles, the fact is that plastic water bottle use is still on the rise. In the United States alone, more than 50 billion plastic water bottles are used each year, and around 90% of these water bottles are not recycled, which means that billions of plastic water bottles are entering our landfills and oceans each year. One of the easiest things you can do to go green is to embrace reusable water bottles. Consider purchasing a metal reusable water bottle and take it with you everywhere you go rather than buying plastic water bottles. Not only will you be helping the environment, but you will also save money by not buying bottled water, and by carrying around your reusable bottle, you may find that you start drinking more water.
6. Travel Smarter
Something as simple as changing the way you travel and commute can significantly reduce your daily carbon footprint. In fact, by simply reducing your speed and accelerating and braking at a slower rate, you can improve your fuel efficiency by up to 25%. You can also improve your fuel efficiency by keeping your tires inflated, having your oil changed regularly, and keeping your air filters clean.
Of course, if you are looking to reduce your carbon footprint further, then you should consider taking public transit or carpooling with friends when possible rather than driving by yourself. If you live in an urban area, try walking or riding your bike when running errands several times a week as an alternative to driving.
As we continue to understand our impact on the planet, it is essential that we all do our part to live a more sustainable lifestyle. To learn about what we are doing at Essex to help reduce our environmental impact, read about our sustainability initiatives.
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