Lately I’ve been noticing that I am easily distracted. I get my mind set on doing something based on what an “expert in the field” is saying only to turn around and hear another “expert” telling me I need to be doing something else. With all the modes of communication available to me it’s easy to be bogged down with excessive information. I feel like they are just throwing bits and pieces of stories at me and hoping something will stick.
This is especially true when it comes to living green. There are about a hundred thousand things everyone could be doing to build a better world but it would be impossible for every person to do each of these things. I’ve narrowed it down to what I believe are the top five things. These are the actions I personally can see myself continuing to do or working toward doing more often.
1. Buying less stuff
We live in a culture where buying and having more stuff and a bigger place to keep it all is marketed as the fastest way to find happiness. I believe this to be wrong. Work on finding happiness within yourself through relationships, hobbies and activities. Collect only things that you actually need, rather than things that are advertised to make you think you want them.
2. Buying products from socially responsible companies
There are certain things you will probably never stop buying and for each person these special items may be different. Be sure that you are purchasing your favorite items from socially and environmentally responsible companies. Follow the links to my guides below for more information:
And be sure that when you do make purchases you bring your reusable bag.
3. Using alternative forms of transportation
The most significant change an individual could make toward reducing their carbon footprint is to cut down on how much they drive. Trains, buses, bikes, carpool. Avoid spending time in a vehicle occupied only by yourself and your imaginary friend. Read more in Getting Around.
4. Eating less meat and more sustainably grown and harvested food
When it comes to conserving energy and water, small adjustments can have a big impact. Protect the environment by conserving energy and water with these 100+ tips. Additionally, check out The Pros and Cons of Wind Power.
Water is vital to the survival of everything on the planet and is limited in supply. Earth may be known as the “water planet”, but even though about 70% of its surface is covered by water, less than 1% is available for human use. The Earth’s populations and demands for water use increase the water supply remains the same, but we can all do our part to protect this critical and precious resource. When it comes to conserving water, small adjustments can have a big impact. Save water and protect the environment.
Inside Water Savings
When washing dishes by hand, don’t let the water run. Fill one basin with wash water and the other with rinse water.
Dishwashers, especially Energy Star, typically use less water than washing dishes by hand.
Look for water efficient dishwashers if you are thinking of buying a new one.
Use only one glass or container for your beverage of choice each day to cut back on the dishes you need to wash.
Soak pots and pans instead of letting the water run while you scrape them clean.
Use the garbage disposal sparingly. Instead, compost vegetable food waste.
Wash your fruits and vegetables in a pan of water instead of running water from the tap.
Don’t use running water to thaw food. Instead, defrost food in the refrigerator.
Install an instant water heater near your kitchen sink so you don’t have to run the water while it heats up. BONUS: This also reduces energy costs.
Collect the water you use while rinsing fruit and vegetables. Use it to water house plants.
Reuse leftover water from cooked or steamed foods to start a nutritious soup.
When doing laundry, match the water level to the size of the load.
Have a plumber re-route your greywater to trees and plants rather than the sewer line. Check with your city and county for codes.
If you’re looking to buy a new washing machine look for water efficient models.
Shorten your shower by a minute or two and you’ll save up to 150 gallons per month.
Time your shower to keep it under 5 minutes. You’ll save up to 1,000 gallons per month.
Turn off the water in the shower while shampooing and conditioning your hair, while washing your body and shaving your legs to save 150 gallons a month.
Toilet leaks can be silent! Be sure to test your toilet for leaks at least once a year. (To test for leaks add food coloring to the tank, if you see color in the bowl you have a leak).
When running a bath, plug the bathtub before turning on the water. Adjust the temperature as the tub fills.
Turn off the water while you brush your teeth and save up to 4 gallons a minute. That’s up to 200 gallons a week for a family of four.
If you’re in the market for a new toilet, consider buying a dual-flush toilet. It has two flush options: a half-flush for liquid waste and a full-flush for solid waste.
When washing your hands, turn the water off while you lather.
One drip every second adds up to five gallons per day! Check your faucets and showerheads for leaks.
While you wait for hot water, collect the running water and use it to water plants.
Install water efficient faucets and shower heads.
Outside Water Savings
Group plants with the same watering needs together.
Reduce the amount of lawn in your yard by planting shrubs and ground covers appropriate to your site and region.
Plant species native to your region.
Start a compost pile. Using compost in your garden or flower beds adds water-holding organic matter to the soil.
Use mulch to retain moisture in the soil around plants.
Use sprinkler that deliver water in larger droplets. Mists evaporate before hitting the ground.
For hanging baskets, planters and pots, put ice cubes on top of the soil to water without overflow.
Water only when necessary. More plants die from over-watering than from under-watering.
Apply water only as fast as the soil can absorb it.
Minimize evaporation by watering during the early morning hours when temperatures are cooler and winds are lighter.
A running hose can discharge up to 10 gallons per minute so time your use.
Examine soil moisture depth. If the top two to three inches of soil are dry, it’s time to water.
Collect water from your roof by installing gutters and downspouts. Direct the runoff to plants and trees.
Adjust sprinklers so only your lawn is watered and not the house, sidewalk or street.
Mow your lawn to between 1.5 and 2 inches to shade soil and protect roots.
If you walk through your grass and you leave footprints it’s time to water.
Make sure your grass seed is suitable for your region.
Aerate your lawn so water seeps into ground instead of running off.
Water your summer lawns once every three days and your winter lawn once every five days.
Use porous material for walkways and patios to prevent wasteful runoff and keep water in your yard.
Use a broom instead of the hose to clean off the driveway, sidewalks, paths and patios.
Let your kids play in the sprinklers over areas of your lawn that need water.
Wash your car on the lawn to water it at the same time (use biodegradable soap and a hose head that you can turn off the water).
If you see water leaking from public sprinklers or fire hydrants report them to the city.