Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. The three “R” words that are on repeat every Earth Day. While it’s a good reminder to remove your plastics and glass from the rest of your trash and maybe you’ll remember to turn off the lights when you leave a room, it often doesn’t drive action farther than that.
Looking to live a little greener? We’ve got some quick switches and easy habits to shrink your carbon footprint.
Give It Up
Between the bills, appointment reminders, and those credit card offers you’re never going to act on, you get a lot of mail. Take one afternoon to update your accounts, and you’ll seriously reduce your paper waste.
Start with companies you hear from every month like your cable bill, car payment, and any utilities. Either set your accounts to autopay or switch to paperless billing. Your statement will go to your inbox instead of your mailbox every month.
You can also see if any regular appointments you have with a doctor or dentist can substitute a phone call or email for a mailed reminder.
To finish off your paper mail, contact any companies who send mail to previous tenants or offers you aren’t interested in. Ask them to take you off their list and stop sending you mail.
Forego meat once a week
We get it. Giving up steak might not be the in the cards just yet. However, consciously giving up meat just one day a week can reduce your impact on the planet. Raising animals has a much larger effect on the planet than plants. By reducing your consumption, your diet will be a little greener.
If you’re still concerned about getting your protein in, there are a ton of easy substitutes. Going meatless not only helps the planet, it also will expand your recipe repertoire. Try some oats in the morning, tofu and a side of edamame for lunch, and make a conscious effort to incorporate protein-rich veggies like sweet potatoes or broccoli on days you aren’t having meat. You’ll still get all the nutrients you need while helping out the planet.
Once you feel comfortable with going meatless for a day, take it further. You could by make it three days a week or choose a day to cut out animal products completely.
Air dry your clothes
Though household appliances have stepped up their energy efficiency, air drying your clothes is a zero-carbon way to get the same job done. By switching to line drying or a drying rack, you could reduce your carbon footprint by 800 pounds a year.
Invest in a drying rack and hang your clothes up instead of putting them through a tumble cycle. Not only is this is the greener option, it will also increase the longevity of your clothing. Never shrink your favorite shirt again and help out the planet.
Switch It Up
Buy local produce
Buying produce from the farmer’s market instead of your grocery store is a great way to go green.
One of the most surface impacts of produce on the environment is the transportation. Locally grown crops travel a much shorter distance than what’s found at the supermarket. Visiting the farmer’s market also encourages seasonal eating. By shopping local, you avoid driving up demand for a crop that was grown in a climate far from where you live.
Longer term green effects of eating local include supporting your local farming community. They’ll be able to maintain the green growing area in your community with that support.
Grab your reusable bags and shopping list, and spend your Saturday shopping your local offerings.
Invest in a reusable water bottle
Just because they are recyclable doesn’t make plastic water bottles earth-friendly. Every plastic bottle requires fossil fuels to be made and then transported. This convenient trend has a much larger impact than seen on the surface.
Commit to a reusable water bottle and start bringing it everywhere. Whether that’s to the gym, your office, the park with friends, grab it on your way out the door. Once it becomes a habit, you won’t need to grab a plastic bottle out of convenience.
In the event you do forget your water bottle, look for a boxed container. They’re better for the planet when it comes to how they’re shipped and what it’s made of.
Use LED light bulbs
This easy household switch is the most sustainable choice when it comes to light bulbs. When compared with traditional models, LEDs consume 80% less energy on average.
Not only do they use less energy, they also have a longer lifespan. Depending on their use, they can last for decades.
If you’re feeling really ambitious, approach your office manager about making the switch to LEDs for a bigger impact.
Try out alternative transportation
Commuting is one of the most polluting activities we engage in on a daily basis. While our personal vehicle may be the most convenient way to get to work, it’s definitely not the greenest. Giving up your car one day a week can significantly decrease your carbon footprint over a year.
Cut your commute by driving to your nearest transit station and riding the bus instead. You could also try setting up a co-worker carpool or participating in a vanpool. Just one less car on the road can make a difference in emissions.
Is that you, Kermit?
Adopting any of these habits will have a positive impact on your carbon footprint. By taking a closer look at your everyday life, you’ll probably find making eco-friendly choices is easier than it seems. You might even inspire others around you to do the same.
What’s one way you strive to live a greener life? Let us know in the comments.
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