Editor’s Note: This post is a Care2 favorite, back by popular demand! It was originally posted on April 22, 2014. Enjoy!
Happy Earth Day! Last year, Care2 writer Judy Molland helped us celebrate the holiday with the “Top 10 Ways to Make Every Day Earth Day.” The idea was to encourage habits that we could continue all the time to make environmentalism more than an annual activity.
The response was massive! Thousands of you committed or perhaps recommitted to making green lifestyle changes, with many commenters chiming in with their own suggestions for making environmentally smart decisions. This year, weíre upping the challenge to thirty. Can you incorporate these 30 reasonably simple practices into your everyday lives?
Letís start by recapping Judyís ten ideas:
1.† Awaken Your Senses. Nature is all around you, even in the city. Just step outside, and nature is right there. Is it windy? What do the clouds look like? Is it sunny? What is the first bird that you hear?
2.† Use Less Water. Turning off the tap while you brush your teeth will save four gallons a minute.† In the shower, turning off the water while you shampoo and condition your hair can save more than 50 gallons a week.
3. Attack the Energy Monster. Always turn off the lights when you leave a room, and replace incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs). They are more expensive but will last much longer. Use the minimum amount of outdoor security lights by setting them on a timer or motion sensor so they turn off during the day.
4.† Commute Without Polluting. Take mass transit or at least carpool if you can. Best of all, ride a bike! There are huge physical and fiscal benefits to biking. The obesity rate for adults is at almost 36 percent in the U.S., while countries like the Netherlands, Sweden and Germany, which promote biking as transportation, have the lowest incidence of obesity.
5.† Know the Top 10. According to the National Recycling Coalition, these are the top 10 most important items to recycle: aluminum, PET plastic bottles, newspaper, corrugated cardboard, steel cans, HDPE plastic bottles, glass containers, magazines, mixed paper and computers.
6.† Just Say No to Paper and Plastic Bags. The average consumer makes 1.9 trips to the grocery store every week. If you take home two bags each trip, thatís about 200 bags a year. Even if you recycle your bags, itís better not to use them in the first place, due to the energy used to produce those bags. Instead, carry your stuff home from the store in a reusable tote bag.
7.† Put a Cap on Bottled Water. Roughly 50 billion plastic water bottles end up in U.S. landfills each year, which is 140 million every day. And according to the National Resources Defense Council, 40 percent of bottled water is nothing more than tap water anyway. Youíve paid taxes for your tap water, so drink it! Head out to buy some refillable water bottles.
8.† Buy Locally Produced Food. When you do, you are helping reduce the pollution and depletion of resources associated with the transportation and packaging of food. On average, domestically grown produce sold in conventional supermarkets has traveled some 1,500 miles from farm to table. Not to mention, itís probably been treated with fungicides so that it can be stored.
9.† Weigh Your Waste. Iíve done this and itís scary to see how much my family accumulates each week. Weigh on a bathroom scale every bag of garbage you create before you take it out. Do this for a week, and multiply by 52 to get a rough estimate of how much waste you produce in a year. Then figure out how you can cut your waste production!
10. Avoid the ďPrintĒ Button. Itís an obvious one Ė but really, think twice before printing from the computer. You can read most documents and magazines online, and you can pay many bills via the web these days. When you do print, use both sides of your paper as much as possible.
Then throw in some great suggestions from the Care2 commenters:
11. Buy items secondhand whenever possible. Used goods donít require additional resources or energy to produce them and reduces the demand. (Suggested by Maureen S.)
12. Go vegan, or at least vegetarian. Not only does it spare animal lives, but far more resources go into getting meat onto your plate compared to other foods. (Suggested by Yogesh K. and Sofia L.)
13. Turn down the water pressure on your sinks in order to cut down on your waster use. (Suggested by Lydia S.)
14. Start composting. Itís surprisingly easy to decompose your food waste into usable soil. (Suggested by Sara T. and Kate R.)
15. Unplug your appliances and power strips when you arenít using them. Even if electronics are ďoff,Ē you waste electricity when they are connected to a socket. (Suggested by Leigh H.)
16. Take unwanted electronics to a proper e-waste recycling center. Putting them in the normal trashcan means that theyíll squander and pollute in a landfill rather than being repurposed safely. (Suggested by Andrea J.)
17. Stop reproducing, or at least limit the number of children you have. The earth cannot sustain the current rate of population growth, so do your part not to add to the problem. (Suggested by Suba G. and Judith S.)
18. That said, still live collectively. By cohabitating with multiple people, youíll share resources more efficiently and effectively. (Suggested by Rebecca L.)
19. Clean litter as you pass by. When you go for a walk, bring a bag and gloves with you to take care of the trash you encounter. (Suggested by Alexandra D.P.)
20. Save and reuse junk mail to print or write on the other side of the paper. (Suggested by Pam W.)
21. Don’t fly! One cross-country flight adds more carbon into the atmosphere than one person produces in a year.†(Suggested by Joellen G.)
22. On a sunny day, hang your wet clothes outside to dry rather than machine drying them to save energy. (Suggested by Rebecca L.)
And finally I’ll throw in 8 more that I’ve learned in my own pursuit of living a green lifestyle:
23. Trade items! Thereís no denying the thrill of owning something new, but that doesnít mean you have to be a consumer. Swap things with your friends and neighbors for the excitement of change without depleting additional resources.
24. Convince your office to have work-from-home days. By getting you and your coworkers to eliminate their typical commute even just once a week, thatís a significant reduction in carbon emissions.
25. Enroll in paperless billing programs. Itís a waste to have bills and statements mailed to you each month when you can even more easily receive the same information in the form of an email.
26. Check your insulation regularly. You could be wasting a lot of energy (and money) on heat that is escaping your house that a quick repair could improve greatly.
27. Only run the dishwasher when itís completely full to conserve water. Avoid selecting the pre-rinse cycle as it doesnít actually help your dishes get any cleaner.
28. Stop using aerosol cans. Although they donít exactly ďdeplete the ozoneĒ in the way they were rumored to in the past, they do still emit gasses that contribute to global warming.
29. Research plant species that are native to your area to decide what to grow in your yard. When you choose plants that are regional, they require less water, fertilizers and pesticides to grow and care for.
30. Go without. If you donít absolutely need something, why buy it? That helps to cut down on production costs, shipping costs and packaging.
Happy Earth Day!
Do you have any additional tips that we can add?†