It’s cold out, which means it’s time people start thinking of all the different ways they are going to improve their lives in the coming year. Working out, eating well and spending less are a few popular goals, but what about taking the time to improve both yourself and the planet by having a more environmentally friendly daily life?
Luckily, with each new year it seems a little bit easier to form eco-friendly habits. Organic foods have become more accessible and environmentally sound household products line our grocery store shelves. Even still, there are simple actions you can take at home that will help improve the environment and, often, your bank account too. Here are our Top 5 suggestions.
1.) Clean Your Clothes the Right Way
According to the experts on energy efficiency at Energy Star, the average household does almost 400 loads of laundry each year, which consumes about 13,500 gallons of water. And don’t think this lets your dryer off the hook. For most families, the dryer is one of the primary energy-wasters in the home.
Luckily, there are a multitude of ways to cut back on water and energy waste produced by run-of-the-mill washer and dryers. For example, by only using cold water when washing your clothes, you’ll save on the energy required to heat warm or hot water, while also preventing shrinkage and color-fading from occurring to your clothing. When using cold water, you’ll also want to invest in an eco-friendly, biodegradable liquid detergent (it’ll break down better than the dry stuff when used in cooler water).
In terms of drying your clothes, it’s not necessary to ditch the dryer entirely, but switching to a line dryer even part of the time will help save quite a bit on energy. Cleaning the lint filter after each drying session is another good rule of thumb, since it keeps the hot air moving efficiently and shortens the amount of drying time.
2.) Monitor Your Home’s Temperature
Ensuring that your home or apartment is properly insulated is another way to prevent wasteful energy-loss. A lot of heat is lost when when walls aren’t properly insulated, so it’s worth contacting a handyman to come check it out.
The ideal temperature for your home is 78 degrees, and a simple way to keep it there is through using a programmable thermostat, like this one.
3.) Make Use of the Weather
Collecting rainwater is a simple, hands-off way to become more environmentally friendly. This can be done by installing a rainwater harvesting system into your yard, but can also be accomplished by leaving out good old-fashioned water jugs. It’s slightly tricky to use this water for drinking, but it can easily be used on plants, and for washing cars, windows and other surfaces.
But let’s start small: If you’re just looking to ease into collecting rainwater, these Petal Drops are a great way to funnel rain into plastic water bottles.
4.) Give Coffee and Tea New Life
Spent coffee grounds and tea leaves have a surprising amount of uses in your daily life. Not only do they serve as natural pest-repellants, but they also contain an abundance of nutrients that benefit outdoor and household plans alike. These same nutrients can also rejuvenate your skin, and simply mixing the grounds with honey or coconut oil will make a nice, natural exfoliant.
Additionally, coffee grounds serve as good deodorizers, and after drying out overnight they can be used in your fridge or sprinkled on top of your cat’s litter box. And we can’t talk about saving the environment without talking about supporting the people who harvest it safely. So whether for your face, your cat or your garden, it’s always good to buy fair trade coffee and socially responsible tea.
5.) Get Your Overall Water Situation On Lock
We’ve already mentioned washing machines and rainwater, but it doesn’t end there. Living in a new era of climate change has made drought more prevalent, and therefore water more precious. Changing your daily attitudes towards H2O is not just efficient, it’s crucial.
One of the easiest ways to maintain eco-friendly water habits is by buying a glass or BPA-free water bottle. It reduces the purchasing of wasteful plastic water bottles, and also helps you monitor your own water intake throughout the day. Purchasing one with a filter is even more convenient.
Simple changes like turning off the tap while brushing your teeth, avoiding unnecessary flushes of the toilet and taking quick showers can also save gallons in the long run. Washing your own dishes rather than using a dishwasher might seem like a hassle, but it’s another small change that can benefit the environment. It allows greater control of the water used, and also avoids wasting your home’s energy by drying dishes on a drying rack.