Really? Surely it doesn’t matter what I personally do, it’s not really going to impact much, right? Wrong. You’d be shocked at what just you, as one person, can do to impact the earth.
Here’s the thing, I’m busy. I don’t really even know what I can do, and I don’t really have time to figure it out, let alone take the extra steps to do it. This was my train of thought, until my 5- and 3-year-old kids started asking me why we don’t recycle. I danced around the topic for a while, but they kept pushing. Then I notice things piling up next to the trash can because they wanted to recycle these items (and of course I haven’t "had time" to get a recycling bin for our house). Yeah, okay, time for me to get onboard.
On a family trip to Home Depot, I spotted a medium-sized blue recycling bin. My husband then picked up a big blue outdoor recycling bin from our trash collection provider. Done. It’s seriously amazing how much of our "trash" is actually recyclable. And since our trash only gets picked up once a week, it’s also nice that we now have two big bins to fill up!
2. Use water efficiently
Easy peasy! Just do simple things, such as don’t let the water run while shaving or brushing teeth, repair all toilet and faucet leaks right away, and run your dishwasher only with a full load. Why does this matter? It takes lots of energy to pump, treat, and heat water, so saving water reduces greenhouse gas emissions.
3. Change light bulbs
Replace lightbulbs with ENERGY STAR® qualified products. This will help the environment AND help you save money on energy bills. When shopping, always look for new appliances or even home electronics that are ENERGY STAR products.
4. Bank online
Pay bills and view statements online instead of through the mail. It's faster than writing checks and waiting for a paper statement in the mail, and you don't have to store all of that paper. If you’re a 1st Mariner customer and have yet to set up Online Banking and register for eStataments, do it now! If you’re not a customer but would like to take advantage of our Online Banking features, just open up an account and enroll in Online Banking and eStataments at the same time…get started saving the earth right away!
Fun Fact- If everybody in the United States started dealing with money online, it would save almost 19 million trees every year [source: IdealBite].
5. Get a programmable thermostat
Stop wasting energy when you aren't home and when you're sleeping (on a different floor). Not only is this another way to save the earth, but you will save on your energy bill as well…win, win.
6. Buy local food
This is another one that has more than one benefit. Buying food that is grown locally will help eliminate transportation (trucks, ships, etc. produce pollutants), and will allow you to support your local businesses. Visit farmers or use a CSA (community-supported agriculture) service to get fresh produce.
7. Reusable fabric bags
Bring them with you when you go shopping. I have plenty of these bags lying in my closet, but I have to admit, I don’t actually USE them to shop with. So, one of my contributions to Earth Day this year will be to bring my reusable bags with me when I head out to the grocery store later today. Seriously. You can hold me accountable if you want. Check back in, I’ll take pictures.
Composting your food and yard waste reduces the amount of garbage that you send to landfills and reduces greenhouse gas emissions. And once you set up a composting system -- basically a bin in your kitchen to put in compostable waste, and a bin in your yard where it can decay -- all of that rich fertilizer is free.
9. Plant a garden
Gardening is not only something you can do to help save the earth, it can also be a fun and relaxing hobby! Plant some veggies and fruits that you will eat so that you don’t have to buy them at the store. Also try to make your yard friendlier to wildlife. Plant lots of different types of vegetation. All kinds of creatures will visit your yard if you provide them with reason to be there.
10. Spread the word
Tell everyone! Peer pressure…for a good cause, of course! Let others know how easy it is, and that they can truly impact our earth.
Fun find- calculate your household's carbon footprint. Use EPA's Household Carbon Footprint Calculator to estimate your household greenhouse gas emissions resulting from energy use, transportation, and waste disposal. This tool helps you understand where your emissions come from and identify ways to reduce them.
If you found this article useful, be sure to check out these related articles:
7 Ways to Save Money Recycling
Infographic: Earth Day 2014
Spring Clean Your Finances in 6 Days - Part 1