There are choices you can make every day that will decrease your impact on the environment. Besides being eco-friendly many of these actions also save you time and money, improving your quality of life and putting a little extra green in your pocket. Kermit the Frog is always telling us “it’s not easy being green”, but perhaps he hasn’t considered these simple things you can do every day to make your life a little greener.
Buy food that is in season and grown in your area, requiring less travel time to your table. It is becoming easier to buy local products. Many cities have farmers markets, where local farmers sell their products. Locally owned grocery stores tend to favor local producers. Ask your grocer where they buy their produce, and frequent those that buy locally. Also, use natural ingredients as much as possible rather than processed foods. Besides being healthier, natural or raw ingredients require much less energy to produce than processed foods.
Buy in Bulk
Much of the energy cost of a product is wrapped up in its packaging. Buying gallons rather than quarts, reduces the total amount of packaging required for the same amount of product. This will save you money as well as result in fewer trips to the grocery store. If buying in bulk is not feasible, look for products that use minimal or reusable packaging, achieving the same net result of lower energy costs.
Minimize Personal Vehicle use through Planning
Besides driving to work, you also have to make trips to the grocery store, pharmacy, dry cleaners and bank as well as take your son to baseball practice. Your spouse has his own list of errands to run. Plan your family’s errands ahead of time so that you minimize travel. This not only saves you fuel, but will give you extra time that you can spend with family. Support the businesses that are close to your home. When the weather allows, walk or bike to a nearby restaurant – make the entire experience an outing for the family.
Develop a Sustainable Garden
By choosing the right plants and the right mix of plants you can make the best use out of the natural resources (soil, sunlight, water) in your garden, requiring fewer external inputs such as fertilizer and pesticides. Use native plants. Native plants have adapted to the local conditions (temperature range, amount of rainfall and sunlight) and will not require fertilizer, pesticides, or watering. Use a diverse set of plants that optimize the use of your soil. The right diversity will also attract birds, butterflies, and beneficial insects, creating a sustainable ecosystem. Find a local nursery that specializes in native plants, they often offer services to help in garden design. Spend the time upfront planning out your garden, utilizing a diverse set of native plants, and it will save you countless hours and money in upkeep.
Reduce Energy Consumption in Your Home
You can reduce the energy usage in your home without impacting your comfort. Cooling and heating your home uses a great deal of energy. Why cool or heat the house when you are not home. Buy a programmable thermostat that controls to your comfort level when you are home, but allows it to drift when you are not.
When buying new appliances, look for those with an Energy Star Label, which are designed to minimize energy consumption. Using Energy Star qualified fluorescent light bulbs, particularly in places that are lit most frequently, can save more energy than many of the other recommendations in this article combined.