5 Practical Tips for Going Green
For some, “Going Green” means dumpster diving to build salvaged furniture to decorate your off grid, chemical free, hand built living experience. Doing your part doesn’t mean you need to start your day in the alley, there’s a lot to be gained (both personally and as a society) from taking just a few extra minutes out of your day to be a bit more environmentally friendly. Not only does going green make for a cleaner, healthier environment, in many cases, it’s actually a more affordable option to traditional alternatives. For those of you who are moving into a new space after having found the perfect match on Roommates.com, here are some tips to help you on your way.
Use CFL Light bulbs: 70% of our electricity is derived from fossil fuels, making responsible energy usage around the house all the more important. CFLs, or Compact Fluorescent Lights, are an excellent alternative to incandescent bulbs as they use only about 25% of the energy as their traditional counterparts.
Because they save energy, and because energy costs money, CFLs mean lower electricity bills for you and your roommate!. In fact, CFLs usually pay for themselves in about six months. When using a 12 watt CFL bulb instead of a 40 watt incandescent bulb, the average user will save between $40-$90 over the lifespan of the bulb. Which means lower electricity bills for you and your roommate!
Don’t Purchase Bottled Water: Bottled water is both needlessly expensive and needlessly wasteful. Drinking the recommended eight glasses of water per year costs less than $.50, whereas the same amount of water is close to $1,500 per year. In addition, 85% of non-PET water bottles in the United States eventually wind up in landfills, making them one of the largest contributors to the garbage problem in this country.
Not only is bottled water harmful to the environment and more expensive than tap water, but it is also less pure than tap water. The FDA, whose standards are more lax than that of the EPA, which regulates our tap water, regulates bottled water. Furthermore, bottled water that is not scheduled to cross state lines is regulated by the state’s themselves, whose restrictions are even looser than that of the FDA in most cases. Which would you rather drink? Plus, no more arguing with your roommates about who left what half empty bottle where or whose turn it is to take out the recycling again.
Combine Your Errands: Grocery shopping, the trip to the post office, picking up a birthday present for your niece from the mall, getting an oil change… Weekly errands can pile up pretty quickly, so rather than stress over it all, sit down and make a list of what errands need to be completed every Sunday night. This will allow you to take care of everything in one trip, saving gas and lessening your carbon footprint.
Not only will combining your errands save you time and reduce the amount of driving you normally do, but it will also help keep you organized and less stressed. However, if an unexpected errand arises during the week, ask yourself if you really need to drive your car to accomplish it. Sometimes that prescription or gallon of milk is just a short walk or bike ride down the street! Double up on this one by taking your roommate and save you both time and money.
Repurpose Glass Jars: Saving your glass jars and reusing them for separate purposes is not only environmentally friendly, but finding new uses can also be fun and allow you to flex a bit of creative muscle. Of course, there are the basics: drinking glass, food storage, flower vase, piggy bank, etc. But old jars can also be used for craftier purposes such as building scenic dioramas, crafting your own homemade candles, or cutting up your favorite photographs and making some super sweet picture frames.
Pay Your Bills Online: A huge portion of our waste comes in the form of bills that could easily be paid online. When you set all of your bills and statements to paperless, it immediately decreases a large percentage of your paper waste. For some it may be difficult to adjust, so set reminders on your phone or calendar to ensure that your finances are kept up to date. While you’re at it, unsubscribe to any coupons or catalogs and make sure that you are on the “Do Not Contact” list for credit card and insurance companies. These steps will reduce clutter, eliminate junk mail, and streamline your finances.
Contrary to popular opinion, you don’t have to grow a beard, subsist on granola, and wear Birkenstocks to take advantage of the green movement. The tips above are simple, effective, and convenient. They make your life easier while increasing the life of our beautiful but fragile planet. Of course finding a roommate for a place close to your work helps cut out your travel emissions!
But definitely go ahead and eat granola if you want. Granola is delicious!