You guys already know that living an environmentally conscious lifestyle is important to me. I grew up with extremely earth focused parents, I was the president of my high school’s eco club, I interned for a large environmental non-profit throughout college, and then I worked as a designer for an eco-friendly clothing label for 14 years. I’ve always tried to keep the earth in mind with my choices, but since becoming a parent, I’ve paid even more attention to finding ways we can be eco-friendly, especially in our own homes.
With all of us being stuck at home these days, and the 50th anniversary of Earth Day this week (April 22nd), I thought I’d share some tips for simple ways to make eco-friendly choices in your home everyday.
1. Turn off the water when brushing your teeth.
Shutting off the water while brushing your teeth can save as many as 200 gallons of water a month. Imagine how much water would be conserved if everyone did the same! This is a great one to teach your little ones as soon as they as old enough to brush.
2. Reuse paper.
Reusing paper saves time, money, and the earth. The amount of junk mail we receive daily can be overwhelming, but those blank envelopes make great grocery lists, note paper, and scrap paper for the kids to color or practice school work. (Be sure to recycle left over mail, and opt to pay your bills online.)
3. Wash clothes in cold water.
I once read somewhere that there is no proof that hot water is superior to cold water in terms of getting clothing clean, and I immediately started washing only in cold. And since 85% of the energy used when a washing machine washes clothing goes to heating the water, it was a no brainer to switch to cold. You can take things a step further by line drying clothing rather than using a dryer.
4. Pay attention to your thermostat.
Lowering the thermostat by a few degrees in winter and raising by a few degrees in summer can make a big difference. You’d be surprised how quickly this adds up in terms of saving energy (and money!).
5. Use reusable water bottles.
Disposable plastic water bottles are absolutely terrible for the planet. Reusable water bottles are 100% the more eco-conscious choice. My kids, husband, and myself keep them with us throughout the day. Everyone stays hydrated, and you’re doing a favor to all those landfills here in the U.S. that currently contain 2 million tons of discarded water bottles. (Ditch those single use plastic straws for reusable straws while you’re at it!)
6. Grow your own food.
When you grow your own food (we love our little veggie and herb container garden!), you reduce your carbon footprint, and when you choose to grow organic, you avoid pesticides and other harmful chemicals. It’s also a wonderful way to teach your kids responsibility, and about where food originates.
I am so excited that our town has just started a composting program! If you’re town doesn’t have one, and you have a garden, your can easily start your own like we have. Composting reduces waste because you’re reusing things that would normally be thrown away, and it helps your plants and gardens grow without the use of toxic fertilizers.
8. Turn off your lights.
It takes a lot of energy to power lights, and there isn’t a easier way to be eco-friendly than simply switching off a light when you leave a room.
9. Use eco-friendly light bulbs.
Compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), light emitting diodes (LEDs), and Halogen incandescent lightbulbs last 3 to 25 times longer than regular lightbulbs, so they’re money savers and time savers. They also use 25% to 80% less energy than regular incandescent light bulbs, which is better for the environment. No brainer!
10. Appreciate nature.
Even if you can’t go hiking or explore natural areas right now, you can find ways to appreciate nature in your own back yard, from your balcony, or even just out your window. Making connections with nature everyday right now helps to reduce my anxiety and make me feel more grounded. And in turn, when we appreciate the earth, we tend to be more aware of ways we can make a positive impact on it. This is something that we are making a huge part of my kids’ lives right now, and I can see what a big difference in makes in their moods and desire to learn about the world around them.
Happy Earth Day! How do find ways to be eco-friendly at home?