How to Go Green Today
Going green, what does it really mean? Should you bike to work or boycott certain products to truly be green? These things do make a statement. And they can help the environment. But are they practical for you?
There are countless ways that people can reduce their carbon footprint and help sustain our environment. Some are big, and some are small. Some need commitment and discipline, while others just require you to be mindful. And many are things you can do to help with very little change to your lifestyle. Here are some simple ways you can help make a positive impact on our environment.
#1: Recycle and Repurpose
Yes, recycling is a very obvious way to help our planet. But the EPA’s most recent reports states that we recycle at a rate of about 35%. This rate has not changed much over the last two decades. So, if you are recycling, keep it up. If not, you really should give it a try.
Besides recycling paper, plastic, and glass, you can also recycle many other things such as clothes, shoes, electronics, and even old glasses. Donate clothes and shoes to local charities. Find a location that accepts old electronics. Many communities host recycling days where you can drop off items such as old computers can be more difficult to recycle. And if you wear eye glasses, some optometrists and retail outlets that sell glasses accept used pairs. These glasses are then donated to less fortunate people in foreign countries.
#2: Be Aware of What You Purchase
Another simple, yet effective way to go green is to be conscious of what you buy. Take the organic food market, for example. The supply of organic foods continues to grow because the demand is there. According to the USDA, the market for organic food in the US has reached over $39 billion. And this number is at $75 billion across the globe.
The purchases you make do impact the environment. And the more consumers choose organic foods, sustainably raised meats or buy clothes and other household products made of recycled materials, the more these items will become available.
#3: Replace Harsh Cleaning Chemicals with Natural Solutions
Many of the cleaning products that we use today are not good for the environment. Yes, they clean well and they kill harmful germs and bacteria, but what else are they destroying? The EPA listed some of the most common cleaning product chemicals as the worst for environmental hazards. These include:
- Ammonia – found in most multi-purpose household cleaning products.
- Phosphorus – most dishwasher detergents are at least 30 percent phosphorus.
- Nitrogen – contained in both glass and floor cleaning solutions.
Fortunately, there are many natural solutions. You can find natural cleaning products at most grocery and general merchandise stores. Or, you can choose to make your own solutions. White vinegar, baking soda, and liquid castile soap are all great alternatives to harsh chemicals. And you can easily find tips and ideas on how to make and use these products online.
#4: Use Eco-friendly Plants in Landscaping
The next time you plant new flowers and shrubs in your yard or hire landscapers to spruce it up, choose an eco-friendly design.
How do you do this? Start with simple, small changes. Select new plants and grasses that are native to where you live. Mulching your flower beds retains moisture and requires less watering. You can even incorporate hardscapes into your yard to reduce the amount of grass that needs watering. And if you live in an area that is subject to water restrictions, always try to abide by them. They are there for a reason.
#5: Reduce Energy Usage
Surprisingly, running appliances uses more energy that heating and cooling units in homes. In fact, the U.S. Energy Information Administration rates the use of appliances, electronics, and lighting at around 35 to 40 percent of the energy consumed in homes. There are many ways to cut back on energy usage.
You can replace old appliances with new energy-efficient ones. Or unplug things like televisions and coffee pots at night. Avoid running the dishwasher or washing machine until full. And turn off lights that are not in use.
To keep your air conditioning or heating unit from working overtime, make it a habit to replace the filters regularly. Also, check doors and windows for air leaks. Add a fresh bead of caulk to any windows that are drafty and replace the weather stripping under doors.
If all of this sounds like a lot of work to decrease energy usage, you can always reduce or eliminate your energy bills altogether by doing #6 on this list.
#6: Install Solar Panels
Installing solar panels on your home is easier than you might think. And the price to do so has significantly dropped in recent years thanks to federal and local tax credits and subsidies that are available. With the help of a professional solar installation company, your house can go green and be energy efficient in no time. And the benefits here are many.
First, solar energy usage can reduce your home’s carbon footprint significantly. Because you are harnessing the power of green energy rather than from the electrical grid, you will decrease the carbon footprint of your home by over 35,000 pounds of carbon dioxide each year. If you are committed to going green, this is one way you can make a huge impact.
There is an initial investment for solar panel installation. You have the option of an off-grid solar energy system or gried-tied solar power system. However, since your energy bills will go down dramatically, you will be able to recoup these costs and protect your home against rising energy costs.
And since more people these days are choosing green energy, an investment in solar panels can increase the value of your home. In fact, many homes with solar energy systems are appraised at a higher value and sell faster than their non-solar counterparts.
There are plenty of ways to go green. Some are simple, and some are more involved. However, every time you choose to make decisions that help our environment, you are making a positive impact on the world you live in.