You don’t have to plant a new rainforest to be a friend to the environment. You don’t have to build futuristic housing or drive a $100,000 electric car to be sustainable. Being green is a lifestyle, not a single action or purchase, which means you can choose to be green by making a handful of minor changes to your everyday life. Here are some small suggestions to help you start being green sooner.
Shorten Your Shower
The average American shower costs the environment 204 pounds of pollutants. Contrary to what you might believe, you don’t need to shower every day, and you definitely don’t need to shower for 30 minutes every day. In fact, your hair and skin will benefit if you shorten your shower time to five minutes or less.
Let Your Hair Air-Dry
Speaking of ways to get healthier hair, you can skip your regular blow-drying routine this morning. Even just five minutes of heat on your hair adds 45 pounds of carbon dioxide into the air annually. Conversely, air-drying has no environmental costs, and it helps your hair grow stronger and stay shinier.
Swap Your Hand Soap
You might think washing your hands improves your health and your environment, but actually most hand soaps contain ingredients that may cause allergies, disrupt hormones, weaken muscles, and more. Right now, you can toss out any soaps in your home that containtriclosan and triclocarban; instead, you can use hand sanitizer, which won’t contaminate your water.
Drive the Speed Limit
Few people realize that the primary reason the U.S. enacted speed limits in the ‘70s was due to the gas shortage. Cars are much more fuel efficient at certain speeds, so driving those speeds prevents fuel waste and needless emissions.
Check Your TV Settings
You may have bought your TV for the magnificently colorful picture you saw in the store, but you really don’t need such a bright display in your relatively dark living room. In your television’s settings, you should choose “normal” or “standard” picture, which will reduce the device’s energy consumption up to 20 percent ― and reduce the strain on your eyes.
Open Your Window Shades
During the day time, instead of flicking on your electric lights, you should be relying on free, fresh sunlight to illuminate your home. Natural light has no environmental strain, and it helps you feel more awake and alert throughout the day.
Quit Smoking Cigarettes
Estimates suggest that 120 billion cigarette butts become litter every year, allowing the toxic chemicals and heavy metals from tobacco and filters to leech into environment. You can stop contributing to this contamination by quitting tobacco and switching to an eco-friendly rechargeable e-cig. You still get your nicotine fix, but without harming the environment.
Cancel Your Junk Mail
If most of your mail goes straight from the box to the recycling bin, you might consider cutting back on the post you receive. Many junk mail providers allow you to unsubscribe from their services. Websites like CatalogChoice and 41pounds can help.
Stock Your Freezer
Here’s one more reason to do meal prep every week: Full freezers run more efficiently, saving you time and energy. However, it is important that you freeze your food properly, so you don’t contribute to more waste by creating inedible food.
Carry Reusable Bags
Plastic grocery bags are becoming such a wasteful nuisance that many cities, including Austin and Seattle, have banned their use altogether. If you don’t live in one of those cities, you likely have a cabinet in your house absolutely dedicated to storing plastic grocery bags. Next time you go to the store, bring some of your own plastic bags ― or better yet, recycle your plastic and invest in some hardy cloth bags to carry your groceries.
Use Your Dishwasher More
The results are in: Dishwashers are officially more energy-efficient than hand-washing. Plus, placing your dirty dishes in the machine requires much less time and energy from you. There is really no better excuse to be lazy than saving the environment by using a dishwasher.
Let the Lawn Go
Allowing your grass to grow just a smidge taller than usual ― to a maximum height of about three inches ― will give your lawn deeper roots. This healthier root system will naturally prevent the growth of weeds and better resist browning during warm-season droughts, helping you have a beautiful backyard without excessive use of chemical weed-killer and water. You can also find alternatives to grass here.