Wednesday, June 6, 2012

10 simple ways to live more sustainably

We all want to help our environment, however, it can be a pretty daunting task with work, school, and everything else going on in our lives. Luckily there are small changes that we can all make that make a huge difference. Here are 10 simple ways you can change your life to be more sustainable.

1) Take shorter showers. Shorter showers help conserve water and they help out your water and electric bill at the end of the month! Rather than falling asleep in the shower each morning, stay alert and get in and out quicker. It may even mean a couple extra minutes of sleep for you if you are a long shower person. 

2) Switch to filtered water rather than bottled. Bottled water will cost you more and the containers create a huge amount of waste. You can even purchase reusable water bottles that have filters in them now, so it's easier than ever to get the fresh filtered taste without all the biowaste.

3) Unplug your appliances when they're not in use. Many appliances still draw energy, even when turned off. You can also get a 'smart' power strip (one that recognizes when appliances are turned off and cuts off energy use) if unplugging all of your appliances seems like a hassle. 

4) Biking is another obvious answer, but if you live in a rural setting it may not be an option to ride your bike to work. If biking and walking aren't options, keeping your car in great condition will still help. Change your oil and air filters regularly and make sure your tires are inflated so that you can get the best out of whatever car you drive. 

5) Plant a garden. Planting a garden can help you supply some of your own food, whether it's herbs, tomatoes or an apple tree. That way it literally goes from you garden to your kitchen, no gas powered transportation required. For the things you can't grow yourself, buying local should be your first choice. Then it's something made in your area rather than something that has to be flown across the world, cutting down on oil and supporting local business. 

6) Bring reusable bags when shopping. This really does make a difference. If you often forget to grab them on your way to the store, keeping them in the car will make sure you're ready to shop whenever you're out. 

7) Go to restaurants/coffee shops that provide 'green' dining options, or bring your own. This one sounds a little strange, but if your local coffee shop isn't providing compostable cups yet, bring your own travel mug. Restaurants are slowly making the shift to compostable to-go containers, but if they don't some people even advise you bring tupperware with you. However, with local restaurants it's always important to support sustainability. If you know one burger joint in town makes huge efforts to be sustainable and offers compostable containers, go there over the fast food chain up the street. 

8) Only do full loads in your appliances. If your dishwasher is half full, give it another couple days before you run it, same for your washer and dryer. These appliances use a lot of energy every time you use them, so if you use them only when they're full then you'll save money on your bill and you'll be more sustainable. 

9) Rather than buying a product, try to make it yourself. With the Internet literally at the tips of our fingers, DIY projects are easier than ever. If you can make your own Ranch dressing, rather than buying it bottled at the store, you're saving a little bit of cash and the plastic from container that you would probably just toss afterwards. 

10) Along the lines of DIY, learn how to upcycle. Upcycling is essentially recycling products by making them into something useful. There are tons of upcycling projects on the web and it can be a great way to reuse single use products and make something great out of them. I've seen upcycling projects for everything, from purses to picture frames. 

With these easy steps you can make yourself more green without having to change your daily habits too much. 

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