In honor of Earth Day, I’d like to share with you a review of my favorite planet, Earth. You may have heard of it. One of the best things about Earth is it’s ability to sustain life- animal, plant, and in between. However, it does require some amount of maintenance, and the current owners have been really falling behind on that.
We have done so, so much damage to our planet over the years. Much of what we have done can be reversed, however, with a little bit of planning, elbow grease, and learning.
These are some of the things that you can start doing today in your home for no money that will add up to BIG savings in the long run. After all, many small changes add up to huge changes in the end. No change you can make is too small to make a difference.
1- Stop dumping that boiling pasta/veggie water down the drain.
This was a bit of a DUH moment for me when it finally occurred to me – that big pot of water is a whole lot of water to just waste. Let it cool down and use it to water plants – indoors or out. Especially if it was used to boil veggies, it will have a lot of nutrients in it that will be good for the plants. This step is an easy way to reduce the amount of water you use. Extra bonus – if you used it to cook veggies, you can also save it to make veggie stock.
2- Stop washing each piece of clothing you wear after only wearing it once.
This does not apply to everything (please wash your underwear & gym clothes after just one use), but it can apply to an amount of your total laundry. If you are wearing layers of clothes and have some layers that don’t even touch your body, like a cardigan, ask yourself if it truly needs to be washed each time it’s worn. Give it the smell test – and if it’s just a little smelly or stale smelling, consider using a linen spray and letting it dry before you deign to wash it. Granted, everything will need to be washed eventually, but when this thought finally occurred to me, the amount of wash I did each week decreased drastically, and no one so far has called me out for wearing clothes that have been worn before since being washed (to my face). 2.5- Dry your laundry in the sun! Free clothes dryer, and if you spray it with a little lemon water, it will come in SO FRESH!
3- Fill your freezer to full. It requires much less energy to be used to fill a freezer that is full, rather than empty. This does not mean you have to go to the store and buy a bunch of frozen pizzas to save money, however. If your freezer is on the bare side, take some empty milk jugs (reusing, another green step) and fill them with water. Throw those in the freezer to take up extra space, and once they are frozen solid, you’ll be saving energy. *Bonus tip – did you know that milk can be frozen, and that it doesn’t need to have any space made in the jug? The round indentations in milk jugs are there for a purpose; as the milk (or water, in this case) freezes, those round areas pop out of the jug to allow for room for the expansion of liquid. So next time you see milk on sale, feel free to grab some extra jugs and freeze them.
4 – Go VEG! Embrace Meatless Mondays.
A vegetarian lifestyle is so much better for the environment than our western diet of MEAT MEAT MEAT. I know that can be a scary thought, and I have not even been able to make the 100% switch to no meat, I have made strides and feel much better for it. Try planning one day a week where you don’t eat meat – plan ahead and google some really good plant based meals to make it easier. Commercial meat farms & production wreak havoc on soil, air, water… Think about this – if a family of 4 skips meat & cheese just one day a week, it’s the equivalent of taking your car off the road for five weeks for air quality, OR reducing everyone’s daily showers by 3 minutes for water quality.
5 – Give online grocery shopping a try.
So technically, you’ll be using energy to power the computer that you are ordering groceries from. But ordering your groceries online and opting for delivery actually prevents excess CO2 emissions from entering our air. It’s a carpool service for your groceries. Another added bonus (see how a lot of my tips have added bonuses? It’s nice that way) is that you’re less likely to buy food that you don’t need or that you won’t use, which leads us to…
6- Stop wasting food! Food waste is such a huge, un-talked-about problem here in the US. Households on average buy $640 worth of food annually that will just be thrown away. Factor in the money that went to produce and distribute that food and the environmental impacts of that, as well as the space that the food is taking up in landfills and the methane gas it is creating as it decomposes, and you’re left with a really ugly picture of how much of a problem this is. To help prevent this, be very purposeful with your grocery lists and meal planning – plan for leftovers, buy only what you will use before it goes bad, and freeze whatever leftovers you can if you won’t eat them in time. Again – little changes here add up to big impacts.
7 – Opt out of junk mail.
Anymore, I make a habit of stopping at the paper recycling box -which is conveniently placed by the door into my house – after I get the mail. And it’s here that I’m usually able to dump 75% of the mail that comes to my home. How sad that people are putting that much time, effort, and NATURAL RESOURCES into sending me ads for things I don’t want or need. If you would like to stop receiving these products before having to recycle them, visit these websites to opt out of receiving junk mail, ads, phone books, and more:
http://www.41pounds.org/ (this is a pay for service, but reviews show it to be the best)
Another bonus step!! If you haven’t already, request that all of your bills be sent to you electronically. This reduces the amount of paper produced, transit costs, and provides security against mail fraud (but there is the element of email security, so it’s not a complete wash).
8 – Move your fridge a few inches from the back wall and check your temp. Providing a buffer area of just a couple of inches between the wall and fridge increases the air circulation and results in less energy usage. Additionally, make sure the temp of your fridge is not set to be below 38 degrees – any colder than that is a waste of energy and not needed to maintain food’s freshness.
9 – Fool your toilet tank into using less water by putting a bottle of water into it. By filling a plastic water bottle with water and putting it into the tank on your toilet, it will use less water to fill. Savings! Full disclosure – I’ve never tried this, so if you do, let me know how it works. I need to do this tonight…
10 – Use the dishwasher, and stop pre-washing your dishes. Using the dishwasher to wash your dishes uses less water, which means savings on your water bill, water conservation, and less power used to heat the water you would be using your sink for. So don’t feel guilty about using the dishwasher! However, you do need to stop pre-washing, or rinsing, your dishes before you load them up. Do scrape any leftover food bits off, but rinsing them is not necessary as long as your dishwasher isn’t a hand-me-down from the 80’s. Research has shown that a pre-wash doesn’t make your dishes any cleaner than not pre-washing them, so load those dirties in there. That’s what the dishwasher is made for. And frankly, the soap you are putting in works better if it has dirty particles to attach to. It only means you’ll have to wash your dishwasher every few months or so (which you should be doing anyhow).
I hope you try some of these simple to do changes that have a huge impact over time. It can feel daunting to try and save the world, but I promise that it’s the little things that add up to a huge difference.