So you want to save the Earth and have no idea where to start. Whether you’ve been inspired by various green Instagram influencers or just want to avoid another year of intense natural disasters, you are well within your right to be concerned. UNICEF has pointed out that research from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) shows that we have about a decade to avoid climate change’s detrimental effects.
Now, this may seem overwhelming because oh, I don’t know, EVERYTHING IS COVERED IN PLASTIC. However, there are some simple ways to reduce your carbon footprint on this beautiful planet. Plus, some of these tips will save you money down the road. Earth is green and so is cash — just saying.
Use Water Wisely
Opting for a reusable water bottle and Brita instead of plastic single-use bottles is not the only way to show water some environmental love. You can limit your water usage by turning off the water when you brush your teeth, shave, and soap up in the shower. Try to be mindful of how much water you actually need. For instance, does your retainer have to be floating in its case, or can you soak it in less? Do you need a 15-minute shower every night, or can you shave off some time by washing your hair less throughout the week?
Also, use cooler temps when you shower, wash your hands and do the dishes. Your skin will thank you.
Ah, the second “R” of the trifecta “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle”. This is where money-saving seriously comes in. Reduce single-use items such as cotton balls, makeup wipes, paper coffee filters, sponges, and plastic sandwich bags for the sustainable, reusable versions of these. Package Free and Eco Roots have some of these items and more to make that swap. The best part? Products from these companies arrive without all that plastic wrap many major online retailers use.
Shop from Your Closet
Hold off on buying new clothes and see if you already have something similar. If you want to KonMari your wardrobe, that’s cool too — no need to keep anything that’s invading your mental or physical space. For clothes that are too damaged to donate, find another use for them. Old t-shirts can be used as rags and are a great paper towel alternative, especially for cleaning mirrors and wiping down countertops.
On the subject of clothes, let’s discuss washing them. Unless you’re exercising or an excessively sweaty person, you can probably wash some of your clothes less often. Try to wear a shirt at least twice before tossing it in the hamper. As for drying your clothes, get a drying rack. An added benefit: this equals less wear and tear, and your wardrobe longevity will be increased.
Eliminate or Cut Down on Q-tips
Squeaky clean ears feel great, but there is no need to clean them every single day. By trying to clean them yourself, you can puncture an eardrum among other detrimental impacts. Luckily, our ears are self-cleaning so you can stop throwing away 365 Q-tips a year. If you can’t bear to cut them out altogether, try reducing your use of them to every other day or once a week.
Buy a Safety Razor
These bad boys are not only made of stainless steel but give a much closer shave than most plastic razors. Talk about a double whammy. When you finally run out of shaving cream, contemplate using a shaving bar of soap. Other items in your bathroom that can use some Earth-friendly love: your toothbrush, plastic shampoo bottles and soap, floss, hairbrush, and more.
Use (Some) Electricity Sparingly
You don’t have to live under a rock or unplug your fridge, but there are ways to cut down on electricity use. Instead of charging your phone/tablet/laptop/anything else overnight, charge it for a few hours in the middle of the day instead. Remember to leave outlets unplugged if they are not in use. If it’s nice outside, turn off the air and open some windows (check to make sure this doesn’t do any harm to your AC unit first). When possible, use natural light instead of flicking on a light switch.
Get Lit with LED
Speaking of indoor light, change your incandescent bulbs for some LED ones. The latter of the two not only lasts longer but emits less heat and that sickly yellow glow in favor of a more flattering white light (speaking from personal experience here). You’ll be doing your eyes and selfies a disservice not to make this switch.
Eat More Green
You don’t have to become a complete vegan or vegetarian but instead, try to opt for some more veggie-heavy meals. The carbon emissions from meat are incredibly high, so consider going meatless one day out of the week. You can also cut down on the portion size of beef — trade in the 24 oz T-bone for an 8 oz, you animal.
Find Alternative Uses
After grocery shopping, you may end up with a ton of single-use plastic bags that cannot be recycled. While totes are encouraged to avoid this, there are going to be days when you accidentally leave your sustainable bags at home (no one’s perfect).
In these instances, consider saving the plastic bags to return to the store so others can use them. You can also give them “another life” — use them for garbage bags in a bathroom or two. With your consumption of trash reduced, you can stretch out the lifetime of this item for a bit longer than initially intended.
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