10 Easy Things You Can Do Right Now to be More Eco-friendly
(and not spend a dime!)
1. Turn off the lights when you are not in a room. Sounds simple right? They say it takes something like 21 times to form a habit. It might take little sticky note reminders on the switches to get the family to remember to do this, but once it become a habit, you won’t even think twice about it.
2. Turn off the water when you brush your teeth. Super easy and can save you gallons per person each day. That adds up quickly.
3. Turn your thermostat down in the winter and up in the summer. Even just a few degrees can make a difference in your energy bills. Throw on a blanket or sweatshirt in the winter and wear lighter clothing in the summer. Your body will adjust over time to the temperature changes.
4. This is one that people love to hate. Don’t use fertilizer, pesticides, and weed killers on your lawn. I never understood suburban America’s obsession with the perfectly manicured lawn. Yes, that expanse of uniform greenery looks pretty, but it’s such an effort in futility to me. Nature will always win and monoculture is not natural. I’m not saying that everyone needs to plant gardens on every square foot of their yard, or let the yard go completely wild, but you can let it get a little wild and still look nice. Or even plant a low growing species of plant that doesn’t require mowing. If you are not one to harvest all the wild edibles that grow well in yards (never harvest from lawns that have been sprayed for at least 5 years after last administration), you can easily dig up weeds by hand with a weeder tool. Another way to easily keep weeds out is to mow on the highest setting to allow the grass to block out sunlight from reaching the weeds.
5. Recycle. An oldie but still relevant and easy to incorporate once you get in the habit. Many cities actually require recycling by law, so check with your local government if your trash pickup doesn’t already include recycling bins. You can recycle just about everything these days including pizza boxes, aerosol cans, milk cartons, juice boxes, plastic grocery bags, books, and gift wrap. And for random things that your recycling center won’t take, check out this list.
6. Use your bath towel more than once. You use it to dry off an already clean body, so why not get a whole week’s use out of it?
7. Wear clothes for more than one day. I’m obviously not talking about undies or socks, but if you have a day job that doesn’t require a lot of physical energy, is in a climate controlled environment, and doesn’t get covered in some sort of external dirt, there is no reason you can’t wear that pair of pants a few times before washing. We wear our shoes many, many times and those are on our feet! Same with jammies. Generally, you can get at least a few days wear out of a pair of pajamas before washing.
8. In keeping with cutting back on laundry, why not wash your lessened load in cold? There are many eco-friendly detergents that work just as well in cold water. Can’t get past that hot water to sanitize mentality? Try washing only one load in hot – towels, socks, and undies – and wash everything else in cold (your colors will thank you by staying brighter longer, and your cottons won’t shrink as quickly).
9. Hang clothes up to dry. There’s nothing like the smell of freshly washed clothes that have been line dried in the summer sun. UV rays from the sun are a wonderful alternative to bleach as well – think brighter whites, and a free sanitize cycle!
10. Make reusable napkins from old clothes. This tutorial shows just how easy it is to cut up old clothes to use as napkins – no sewing required. We used scraps of old tee shirts for ours.
Looking for a few more easy changes at minimal cost?
Add timers to your lights.
Swap out your old thermostat for a programmable one.
Switch to an eco-friendly laundry detergent like this one.
Swap the dryer sheets (they can cause fires) with wool dryer balls like the ones we love.
Start a compost pile or bin for food waste.
Switch to reusable grocery bags or boxes like these.
Feel free to comment and add your own favorite suggestions or ideas below!