By Elise Morgan
Going green requires more than recycling plastic bottles. In fact, China has stopped buying recycling from the United States. As a result recycling often ends up in the landfill these days. The best route for now is not creating waste at all by reusing glass and metal bottles. For example:
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- You can carry a bamboo fork and knife set in your bag so that you don’t use plastic flatware when you go out like these.
- Try a stainless steel coffee mug like this one for beverages and water so you don’t use to-go coffee cups
Beyond changing our consumption and waste-creation habits, we can shift the amount of energy that our homes consume. In fact, the building sector (residential and commercial) consumes about 40 percent of total U.S. energy. This is a great place to look for ways to conserve energy.
We might want to live a more environmentally sustainable life, but how do we prepare our homes and change our habits to do that?
Start the process by decreasing your home’s energy consumption by simply going room by room. One step at a time, starting with the big living spaces.
Living room energy-saving tips
The living room is the largest single space in most homes. It will require the most energy to operate. So – start here with a small task that can yield a significant green impact.
Replace old-school light bulbs with one of a range of energy efficient bulbs. There are halogen incandescent bulbs, compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) and light emitting diodes (LEDs). Using any of these options can cut electricity usage up to 80 percent. These types of bulbs last three to 25 times longer than traditional bulbs, depending on the type you use. While more expensive than the customary bulbs, they will conserve energy and cut down waste in your trash bin.
Another great way to support the environment in your living room is to use second-hand furniture created from recycled materials. Because it takes less energy to manufacture furniture from sustainable/reclaimed materials than it does from scratch, using salvaged furniture is a great way to reduce energy consumption in the grand scheme of things.
If you’re crunched for time or money but are still wanting to go green in the living room, consider using curtains to control the temperature of your home. We’ve all moved into a home or apartment with way-too-old vertical blinds that hurt your eyes as much as they smell bad.
Instead, look into heavier shaded curtains [like these] in the summer to reduce sunlight emissions into your home and cut energy costs, and lighter shaded curtains in the winter to allow the sun to send in some much-needed heat. This way, you’re not only making your living room look better, but it will cut energy costs as well—it’s a win-win!
Kitchen energy-saving tips
As the heart of the home, the kitchen is another room that can go green. Although the home has many appliances, the fridge uses the most energy. Make sure that your’s is Energy Star rated.
You can also put your fridge on a timer. This way it will turn off for a few hours at a time during the night. People living off-grid with solar power on-property often do this with energy-sucking appliances. Set a timer for two hours on and two hours off during the night when the air is coolest. This will help you save on your utility bill as well. Here’s a timer that you can set.
Set your fridge at the right temperature to use the least amount of energy as possible while still keeping your foods safe.
Bedroom energy-saving tips
Literally go green in the bedroom by adding some indoor plants to your décor. These plants won’t only add some color and style to your interior design, but they will also naturally purify the air by eliminating toxins and improving your IAQ (Indoor Air Quality). This is one of the best and most low-maintenance indoor plants because it doesn’t require a lot of light. It’s a shadow plant and it only needs to be watered a few times a week.
With some indoor plants situated throughout your space, you’ll be sleeping like a baby in no-time with your newly-purified sleep environment.
Bathroom energy-saving tips
Using bathroom appliances in an environmentally-friendly way is a great way to live more sustainably. A shorter shower can save roughly six gallons of water per shower. That’s 1,250 per year if you shower four times per week. You alone can save that much by cutting your regular shower from 8 to 5 minutes.
If taking shorter showers proves to be a struggle in your daily routine – don’t fret! There are also low-flow water heads [we recommend this one!] that you can use that restrict the amount of water being used up. This way your longer showers will use up around the same amount of water as a short shower would.
Shifting your life to be more sustainable is an ongoing process. Remember that with every step you take towards a more sustainable living pattern, the better off our future, planet, and children will be.
Elise is a freelance writer located in the mountains of North Carolina. Since studying exercise science in college, Elise has found a passion learning and writing about health- and wellness– related topics, whether it be physical, mental, or environmental. When she is not writing, you can find her practicing yoga, hiking the trails, or attempting a new recipe in the kitchen.