If you watch the news or read magazines, you might be under the impression that going green means taking grandiose (and expensive) measures such as installing solar panels all over your roof or giving up the family car for a smart car. If you’ve ever tried to take three kids and a dog to the park in a smart car, you’ll likely want to forget going green altogether; however, there are lots of ways to make greener choices, and these good decisions add up to a green lifestyle for you and your family.
Here are six simple changes to help you go green.
1. Think about alternative replacements
As your light bulbs blow out, install more efficient compact fluorescent bulbs. These use far less energy than incandescents. When it’s time to replace the refrigerator, dishwasher, oven, or water heater, look for Energy Star–certified appliances. For your next roof, think green materials such as tile, single-ply thermoset, or metal.
2. Find new ways to reduce
If possible, bike to work or at least to the corner store. Do you live in an area without sidewalks? Put some pressure on local officials to provide bike paths for safe cycling. Is your destination simply too far to bike? Consider carpooling. When these options are simply unworkable, plan to combine your weekly trips into one and reduce your vehicle’s environmental impact.
3. Rethink how your family heats and cools
Heating and cooling bills account for 40% of your home’s energy costs, so they’re the perfect place to target green initiatives for huge improvements. Start setting your thermostat 2 degrees cooler in the winter and 2 degrees warmer in summer for a savings of about 10%.
4. Examine your laundry and dishwashing
About 85% of the energy used to wash clothes goes into heating the water. Wash laundry in cold water and, when possible, use a clothesline or drying rack instead of the dryer. Use the most water-efficient setting on your dishwasher (usually the lowest setting) and forgo the heat-dry cycle.
5. Construct a greener landscape
Planting drought-resistant greenery means you can have a beautiful landscape around your home without having to water. Is landscaping too expensive? Water plants with gray water collected in containers from rain or recycle your bath water. The soap is actually a natural pesticide, so you’ll also cut the need to buy and add harmful chemicals.
6. Learn to shop local and buy used
Every time you buy a new item, it contributes to more manufacturing. Manufacturing uses tons of power and often dumps countless waste products into the environment. Book and magazine publishing also costs trees. Instead, depend on the local library for your reading needs and cancel magazine subscriptions for greener online mags.
Support local growers at farmers markets and produce stands, which in turn eliminates transportation of goods to supermarkets. Additionally, when you can, buy used products. It’s usually cheaper and always has less impact on the environment.
Daily, small changes add up to make big changes in the environment.
What are some recent changes you’ve made to go green? Share your thoughts in the comments below.