Green is the “it” color for modern living. Here are seven tips for reducing, reusing, and recycling in your day-to-day life.
Use the dishwasher
It may seem counter-intuitive, but washing dishes by hand actually uses an average of 20 gallons more than washing dishes in an energy-efficient dishwasher. Just make sure to only run the dishwasher with a full load.
Unplug unused devices
Devices continue to draw power from outlets even if the device isn’t turned on. In other words, the television may be turned off, but it’s still sucking power from the outlet. The same goes for cell phone chargers that aren’t currently charging the phone. It may seem insignificant, but these so-called energy “vampires” contribute to greenhouse gas production. Avoid this by unplugging chargers and devices when not in use. You can also plug devices into a power strip and turn off the power strip when not needed.
Bring your own bag, that is. Store canvas bags in the car so you can avoid the plastic and paper bags from stores. And don’t forget to include some small bags so that you aren’t stuck using flimsy, store-provided produce bags. Some stores even give customer discounts to those who shop with their own bags. Just remember to wash or wipe down your bags after every few trips to avoid bacterial growth.
Most bottled water is actually just tap water sold with a fancy label. You usually can get the same water from your kitchen sink. Invest in good quality steel or aluminum water bottles and forgo the cost and environmental impact of the bottled version. Don’t like the taste of the water from your local supply? A filter can probably help you out.
One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, which is why thrift store popularity has exploded. Trust me—there’s someone out there who’d love your 1980s boom box. Instead of throwing away unwanted clothes, toys, or household goods, donate them to a local thrift store. Thrift store patrons are incredibly creative and may be able to recreate your old wardrobe in ways that are unimaginable to you. Consider shopping at thrift stores yourself, and keep an open mind. An outfit that doesn’t fit quite right may be perfect after a trip to a local seamstress, and an old piece of furniture may be revitalized with a fresh coat of paint. (Note: be sure to check thrift store finds for recalls.)
Meat takes an incredible amount of resources to produce, but you don’t have to become a vegetarian to make an impact. Forgo meat at one meal per day, and then choose one day to eat nothing but plant-based options. Investigate vegetarian and vegan cooking sites to glean ideas for simple yet tasty dishes to eat during your meatless meals. (It doesn’t have to be complex, either; pasta is a great meatless option!)
Sleep on it
Opt to be a conscious consumer. Think long and hard about each and every purchase and its impact on the world. Cut out the purchases that aren’t absolute necessities, and change your habits to help with those that are (or feel like it). Carry a reusable coffee mug, pack your lunches in multi-use container, or consider bringing your own silverware to the office. Challenge yourself to think about other ways to use an item before discarding it.
Editor’s note: Want to save money on your meatless menus? Check out this article by contributor Sadie Lankford: Save your Green for Greens