Tiny Tips for a Greener Home

Green Tips | February 22, 2019

It’s understandable to be overwhelmed by the environmental issues our world is facing. You may be asking, how can just one person help fix such a big problem? Research suggests that a global issue like climate change can lead people to incorrectly feel useless as they think about addressing it.

However, small changes can make a big impact, not just for the environment but for your wallet too. While big changes are necessary on a policy level, you can start making tiny changes today in your own home to reduce your carbon footprint. Check out our tiny tips for going green at home.

Food

You can make a difference when making choices about the food you consume. Consider reducing your meat consumption too, even just one day per week. The meat industry is energy intensive and contributes significantly to our greenhouse gas emissions. Reducing your meat intake can help lower your risk of illness too. Learn more in our guide to Meatless Mondays.

Also try to avoid wasting food. Buy only as much as you are reasonably going to eat before it goes bad or freeze foods if you will not be able to eat them. Store produce for maximum freshness so that fruit and vegetables don’t go bad before you can eat them. You can also try arranging your fridge and pantry with food that is likely to spoil sooner in front of more long-lasting food. More tips available here.

Errands

Limit the number of car trips you take to run errands by planning ahead of time and combining all of your shopping into one car trip. You’ll save on gas too! A typical passenger vehicle emits 4.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year, so reducing just one trip to the store each week can have a sizeable impact on the environment. Better yet, take public transportation, bike, or walk to nearby stores.

Electricity

Cutting down on your electric bill means following some simple steps to conserve energy. Compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) last up to 10 times longer than traditional incandescent light bulbs while light emitting diode (LED) bulbs last even 25 times longer than incandescent. These types of energy efficient lighting use up to 80% less energy and can also save $75 per year for the average homeowner.  

Pair this easy switch with unplugging your appliances when not in use, and you will see a difference on your next bill. Next time you’re on the market for a new appliance, buy one with an energy star label to ensure its efficiency.

Heating/Cooling

Curtains can help you reduce your heat consumption. By leaving your curtains open during the day you let the sun warm the room, and closing them at night can help keep the drafts out. Another easy way to conserve energy and save money is to lower the temperature of your house while you’re at work or otherwise not home and at night while sleeping. You can save 10% a year on heating and cooling by keeping your thermostat 7°-10°F lower than its normal setting for eight hours a day while you’re out.

Water

According to the United Nations (UN), 3.6 billion people worldwide live in potential water-scarce areas, which threatens the availability of and access to clean and safe drinking water. You can help combat water scarcity by turning off the tap while brushing your teeth, washing your hands, and scrubbing dishes.

Did you know that the average family could save 2,900 gallons of water per year by installing WaterSense labeled showerheads? This simple switch to a more efficient showerhead will leave a notable and lasting effect on your family’s water usage. Some other quick fixes are to repair any leaky faucets and greening your laundry routine.

You can also turn to nature for water supply. Install a rain barrel to collect rainwater for any houseplants, gardening, or landscaping needs.

Paper

Reduce the amount of paper you buy and use. The paper industry cuts down 80,000-160,000 trees a day, and the industry itself is responsible for 20% of air pollution in the U.S. Save money and trees by eliminating paper products and replacing them with reusable materials. Instead of buying paper napkins, try reusable cloth napkins. Create a paperless kitchen by using sponges and old t-shirts or socks as cloths for cleaning. Check out these reusable food storage bags to eliminate plastic sandwich bags and takeout containers. Another simple way to cut out paper is to opt out of by-mail bills and simply pay your bills online.

Household Items

Repurposing, or upcycling, household items is a fun and creative way to reduce waste and save money. With online shopping as easy as ever, it can be tempting to impulsively buy something that you don’t really need. Instead, check out some of our tips to upcycle household items like dish racks, ice cube trays, or desk drawers.

Make sure to donate clothes or shop at thrift stores! Compared to 15 years ago, the average person buys 60% more items of clothing and keeps them for about half as long. By shopping at thrift stores, you pay less money and give an old piece of clothing new life rather than buying a new piece. Read our guide to thrifting here.

Also, Don’t Forget to Recycle, and Do it Right!

Since 1992, local recycling programs have diverted more than 320 million tons of recyclables from landfills. Make sure you’re sorting your recyclables correctly and not trying to recycle items that are prohibited including broken glass or batteries. Read our Green Tips for recycling here.

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