So, you’ve decided you want to go green. Time to ditch everything leather, along with all the meat in your diet, buy a bike, and turn your backyard into a composting garden. You ready?
You could make all these drastic changes – go “cold turkey” eco – or you could make these nine small changes that make a big eco-friendly difference.
* Being eco – friendly will not only lower your carbon footprint and allow you to do your part for the environment, but it can also pay you back financially, said Better Homes and Gardens in their “10 no- or low – cost ways to lessen your impact on the planet, create a healthier house and garden, and even fatten your wallet.”
Start with your light bulbs. “Installing a compact fluorescent bulb (CFL) is the quickest, easiest way to save energy — and money,” said BHG. “Unlike incandescents, CFLs convert most of the energy they use into light rather than heat.”
That translates to less cost over the life of the bulb – a savings Better Homes and Gardens says can be $83 for one 75-watt incandescent bulb swapped out for a 25-watt CFL. That’s big when you consider that Energy.gov says energy for lighting accounts for about 10% of the average family’s electric bill.
* That gorgeous French door refrigerator you’ve had your eye on? Here’s another great reason to buy it: It could actually save you money! Older appliances can be energy suckers. Check EnergyStar.gov and take their test to see how much energy you could be saving by upgrading your fridge.
According to Energy Star, “a household with Energy Star products uses about 30% less energy than the average household — an annual savings of about $570.”
* Do a home audit. A home audit can give you a close-up look at your home’s energy usage and identify areas that could be more efficient. But Fox Business estimates an audit would cost between $300 and $500. If you’re just trying to shave a few bucks off your electric bill in the summertime, it might make sense to go another route, like a self-audit of the most likely suspects. (Energy.gov recommends starting by making “a list of obvious air leaks (drafts),” because the “potential energy savings from reducing drafts in a home may range from 5% to 30% per year.”)
But if you’re about to spend $15,000 on new windows, a few hundred bucks of before-hand checks won’t hurt.
* Talk about simple. Improving your eco-friendliness and removing toxic substances from your house is as easy as buying a spray bottle and a bottle of vinegar. If you really want to get crazy, get a couple of lemons and some olive oil, too.
“As many as a third of Americans have an adverse reaction to common household chemicals. Safer products can save you money, too,” said Martha Stewart. “While furniture polish will set you back about $4, cleaning with 1/4 cup of distilled white vinegar and a few drops of olive oil costs mere cents.
* Switch to showers. A typical bath takes 30 to 70 gallons of water, while the average eight-minute shower uses only 17 gallons, said Stewart. If you just can’t bear to can’t give up your weekly soak, installing low-flow shower heads and toilets will help offset the greater water usage.
* Recycle your water. It’s far easier (and way less disgusting) than it sounds. “For many areas of the United States, rainwater harvesting systems could probably provide at least 50% of our water needs, saving the huge amounts of energy required to process the water and transport it to the home,” said Live Green. All you need is a 50-80 gallon rain barrels that you can connect to your downspout, and rainwater collected can be used for gardening.
* Recycle…your clothes. We all know about recycling paper, plastic, and glass. But what about clothes? Donating your unused clothes has an impact on the environment, and on the individuals who receive your items.”
“By some estimates, for every item of clothing donated, 27 pounds of carbon emissions are reduced based on the fact that you don’t have another item being produced while one is headed to the landfill,” said Real Simple. You can donate to a local charity or list your items on Freecycle.org.
* Hold on to that holey pair of sweats or the t-shirt you never got rid of from your college ex and turn it into a rag to clean with. “13 billion pounds of paper towels are used in the U.S. every year. If all Americans used one less paper towel a day, 571,230,000 pounds of paper would be spared over the course of the year,” said Earth 911.
* Go Meatless on Mondays, says RealSimple.com. Think you can handle a day a week living like a vegetarian? “Raising livestock produces a large amount of greenhouse gases, so cutting back, even one night per week, makes a big difference.
How big a difference? “Adding one meat-free meal per week (for a family of four) has the same impact as driving a hybrid car,” they said.
Written by Jaymi Naciri