11 Small Ways You Can Help The Environment

We are all environmentally conscious these days, whether we like to admit it or not. With new developments in environmentally friendly technology and the word ‘green’ appearing in almost every political debate and corporate policy, protecting the environment has now become a regular function of our everyday lives. Yet being environmentally aware does not require a corporate mandate, a seal of approval from the health inspector, or unnecessary spending on anyone’s part. We can all work to protect the environment in our own small way.

Here are 11 ways you can help the environment in your home and community:

1. Turn off the lights

The majority of energy that we utilize goes to powering our lights and entertainment devices like televisions, laptops, and smart phones. You can save a ton of this energy by turning such devices off or unplugging the chargers when you are not using them. Turn off the light whenever you leave a room or your house, and be sure to unplug any chargers not currently being used. This can also help you avoid an electrical fire hazard.

2. Throw your trash in the trashcan

We have all been guilty of being lazy and just discarding our trash wherever we stand, but the solution to this one is so simple it may put you in shock….walk to the nearest trashcan and throw it away! There really is no excuse for laziness. Most cities have trashcans lined up on every single block, and pretty much every business that you go to (even grocery stores) have a trashcan located somewhere on the premises, if not right at the door.

3. Take a walk, ride a bike, or carpool

Try to avoid driving whenever possible. There are plenty of people pumping carbon monoxide into the air without you using your car to drive down the block when you can easily walk or ride a bike. You can even use a public bus or train if you have to go further than a few blocks. And if that still doesn’t tickle your fancy, ask a friend to carpool.

4. Get a recycling bin

Recycling is just as simple as throwing something away. Get a separate trash bin for your home and designate it for recycled materials. These can include canned goods, aluminum soda cans, plastic containers, plastic cups/silverware, milk cartons, cereal bags/boxes, and so much more! This one is also extremely simple, so long as you’re not too lazy about it.

5. Take a shorter shower

There is almost nothing better than a long hot shower, especially when we need to wake up in the morning. Taking long showers, however, can quickly run up your gas and water utilization. The average 5-minute shower uses up to 10 gallons of water, and every time we flush the toilet we use another 5-7 gallons (depending on the model toilet). Consider taking a bath or setting the timer on your phone for 5 minutes to reduce the amount of water you utilize in your home. You can also install a low-flow showerhead to lower your water use.

6. Use more Tupperware and less plastic wrap

Tupperware can be useful in a variety of ways. You can use it to keep cooked foods fresh in the refrigerator, store condiments like sugar, or to organize the spices in your pantry. Using less disposable plastic storage items like Plastic Wrap or Aluminum Foil can greatly reduce the amount of trash you take out of your house. Using items like reusable grocery bags and rechargeable batteries can also help reduce the amount of trash you produce each week.

7. Never let the water run

Anyone who grew up watching Barney & Friends, like my children, will tell you not to let the water run. When doing the dishes or brushing your teeth, even washing your car, be sure to turn off the water supply until you need to use it again. You can also install water-saving devices in your pipes and faucets, only wash full loads of laundry (not a bunch of smaller loads), and check for leaks in your pips and appliances.

8. Use fluorescent light bulbs

Using fluorescent light bulbs is a much more energy efficient way of lighting your home than using incandescent light bulbs. They tend to cost more than traditional incandescent bulbs, but they nearly twice as long, use less electricity, and run at a much lower temperature. Fluorescent lighting is, however, a double-edged sword. Because they are made with mercury and other substances, disposing of them can be just as hazardous to the environment as using more energy to light an incandescent bulb. Be sure to follow disposal guidelines for this material very carefully.

9. Install weather-stripping material around the doors and windows

Weather-stripping your doors and windows can drastically reduce your energy consumption. It helps seal in temperature-controlled air and allows your appliances to work less in keeping the house temperature at a constant level. Not having to constantly utilize your air vents can also help keep your filters clean so that you do not have to replace them as often.

10. Keep your filters clean

We all love to come home to a nice cool house in the heat of the summer months, but we seldom recognize how much energy we utilize to keep our homes at a comfortable 70 degrees Fahrenheit. In order to keep your air conditioner running efficiently, be sure to replace the air filters on a regular basis. This will help keep the machine from using more power in order to compensate for lost effort.

11. Consider alternative energy sources

This solution can be a little more on the expensive side, but the payoff can be well worth it. Solar panels not only absorb and utilize the sun’s power during daylight hours; they also store the energy for use at night. This reduces your electrical expenses and reduces your overall energy use. Also, the next time you have to buy a new car, you might consider a Hybrid model. They save money on gas and leave a much smaller carbon footprint in their wake.