Sustainability Tips - What Does Going Green Mean for the Whole Family?
A 2015 report from the University of California-Santa Barbara tells us that each year, about 8 million tons of plastic end up in the world’s oceans. Moreover, it seems that it takes over 500 years for plastic to be broken down in junkyards. These are frightening statistics but are sadly real and by the looks of it, they’re only getting worse. Unless people convince themselves and their families to adopt a sustainable lifestyle, there might not be a way out of this problem. Going green is the best solution through which people can minimize the impact they have on the environment, but what does this actually mean? This is a question that’s on everybody’s lips and which we are going to answer in this article.
What Does Going Green Actually Mean?
Taking that big first step towards a greener lifestyle can be scary and overwhelming. However, according to research, sustainable cities in the United States are a lot happier than all the others. These are cities that use natural light in the most efficient way possible, recycle, and reuse. This results in a more positive attitude of the people living there, more productivity at work, and an overall happier life. And while everybody’s mental health is impossible to measure, it’s not a secret that families living in greener houses are very happy and pleased with the fact that their home has a lot less impact on the environment than others.
This is, in fact, what going green is all about. It means reducing the impact that you have on the environment as much as possible without decreasing the quality of your life. You have to decrease your environmental footprint by making small but important changes. The first rule is simple: use as little stuff as possible! This means that you don’t have to take 15-minute-long showers, for example.
Also, avoid using your car as much as possible and go for a bike instead! Go for reusable and recyclable products every time you go shopping! Each year, American people throw away about 250 million tons of trash. Now imagine where this planet would have been if all this waste was instead recycled, composted or reused.
Industrial farming is another thing that damages our environment greatly, and which not many people think about. So, when you’re going grocery shopping for your family, try to buy from locals. You will not only help the planet but also help your own community grow and expand.
Finally, going green means taking better care of your body by having a balanced diet, avoiding fast food, and even going for eco-friendly products. You can also make even more drastic changes for your family, like move out of a big city and into a village. This depends on every family’s perspective, but starting with small changes can do a lot for the world we live in. Remember that teaching your kids sustainability at home can be crucial in their understanding of the issue. So, if you are now convinced that a sustainable lifestyle is indeed right for your family, here are some important tips that will certainly help you in your journey to becoming better and help the environment.
Make Your House Greener!
- Do you want to save money while helping the environment? A programmable thermostat is exactly what you need! The idea behind these eco-friendly systems is that they are smart enough to figure out when you are not using them and therefore maintain a balanced temperature for when you return home. Eco-friendly power strips do the same thing, as they cut off power when you are out. You may not know this but even after you’ve stopped charging your devices, the charger will keep on drawing energy from outlets if left in there. Want even more good news? These smart systems are not even that expensive to beging with, so you should definitely be on the lookout for them if you want a greener house!
- Go for ceiling fans instead of air conditioning in your home! They only use 10% of the energy that ACs do and, believe it or not, they can still maintain a cool temperature in a room, despite what many people think. Moreover, you can also use them in the winter by reversing the direction and allowing them to bring warm air down into the room. This is one of the very first things that you should change about your home and it will save you energy and money, while also helping the planet.
- Shut down your computer when you’re done using it! This is very important because such devices still use energy even if they’re in sleep mode. So, if you don’t absolutely need to use your laptop or home computer at night, turn them off completely, monitor included too. It’s a great and simple way to save some energy and money.
- Rechargeable batteries are the way to go! It may be difficult at first but, in time, you should definitely invest in sets of rechargeable batteries for all your devices. Look for the best deals and when they’re on sale, buy many at once. This solution will not only save you a lot of money in the long run, but it’s also good for the environment because you will no longer keep those dead batteries lying around the house.
- LED lights instead of light bulbs! Energy-efficient lighting is something that we should all be considering, especially nowadays. So, the best way to implement this change in your own house and for your own family is to replace your old light bulbs with LED lights. They may be a bit costly, but in the end, considering the lifespan of these lights, it will all be worth it. Such lights can last up to ten years, so think about the money you save and let’s not talk about energy! Look for LED lights on sale and make this investment! You will not regret it!
Make Your Kitchen Greener!
- Use dishwashers instead of the sink! They not only use 50% of the energy of the sinks, but they also use one-sixth of the water and even a lot less soap. You will be making a lot of savings this way, even if you may have to invest in a dishwasher if you don’t have one.
- As for clothes, wait for a longer time to do the laundry and wash more clothes at once! You will save both water and energy by doing this. Moreover, another good idea would be to wash them using cold water. It’s a myth that only hot water can dissolve the dirt in clothes. By using cold water, you save a ton of energy and you will still end up with perfectly-clean clothes!
- Avoid using dryers! In fact, they consume so much energy that they don’t even come with an Energy Star rating! Line dry your clothes instead and you will save a lot of energy that would otherwise be wasted. Moreover, by doing this, you can avoid water and air pollution that comes from power plants. A win-win situation!
- No more paper towels! Go for washable rags instead for your daily chores and you will save a lot of trees. Apart from this, you will save money too and keep paper away from the landfill.
Make Your Bathroom Greener!
- Throw away your vinyl shower curtain and invest in one made from PVC-free plastic, bamboo or eco-friendly plastic. Apart from the unpleasant smell it has, that vinyl also emits dangerous chemicals that you and your family inhale each time you go into the bathroom. Avoid that by buying an eco-friendly shower curtain.
- Take shorter showers and avoid baths! You don’t have to spend one hour in the shower or in a bathtub full of water that will go to waste to feel clean. An even better idea would be to install a water flow restrictor on the shower head that will prevent you from using too much water. The same thing goes for your toilet leak. Fix that problem and avoid wasting so much water on nothing. You also save a lot of money this way and help the planet.
Go Green When Shopping!
- Restrict your spending for a month! This is a great way to find out what you absolutely need to survive and what things are extra and not really necessary. Things like rent, utilities, food, water, medicines etc. are certainly indispensable. However, you probably can survive for a month without movie tickets, new clothes, new devices, haircuts or Starbucks drinks. After this month, you will realize just how important essential things are and how much money you can actually save.
- Stop buying bottled water! Most of the times, the quality of bottled water is the same as your tap water. However, it contains a lot more toxins from the plastic bottle it comes in, leaves a lot of waste behind, and costs a lot more. If you are uncertain about the quality of your tap water, invest in a good water filter and get a reusable water bottle, too. This can save you a lot of money in the long run as well as help the environment.
- Cook at home as much as possible! The idea here is to learn how to cook tasty and healthy food using only minimally-packaged things like eggs, vegetables, meats, grains, and By doing this, you will ensure a healthy lifestyle for your entire family, save on groceries, and decrease the impact that you have on the environment. Try to buy what you need from local farmers and discourage industrial farming which is very harmful, as we previously mentioned.
- Choose reusable bags! These eco-friendly reusable shopping bags are not difficult to find nowadays, and most stores sell them. They are incredibly useful and the best alternative when it comes to protecting the environment. These bags or purses can be recycled very easily, are very pretty, easy to acquire and carry around, and most importantly, are a very easy step to take towards a sustainable-based lifestyle. Most are made from organic cotton, recycled PET, natural jute, hemp or even recycled banners or billboards. You can even use them as a fashion statement that is getting more and more trendy, or as bags to carry your laptop or notebooks around. Versatile, pretty, and sustainable!
- Shop at second-hand stores! Yet another great way to reduce your environmental footprint is to buy things from second-hand stores as frequently as you can. Nowadays, these stores don’t only sell clothes (which you can, by the way, recycle too), but you can find toys, shoes, accessories, and even good furniture at low prices. This is truly a money-saving, eco-friendly method to adopt as soon as possible.
- Use Bee’s Wrap instead of plastic wrap for food storage! This is an excellent sustainable and natural alternative to all that plastic that you use to wrap various things in, especially food. It is washable, reusable, and made from all-natural ingredients like beeswax, organic cotton, jojoba oil, and tree resin. It also looks very nice and will maintain the properties of your ingredients intact and won’t contaminate them with plastic toxins anymore.
Go for Green Cleaning Too!
- Make your own eco-friendly home cleaning products! It’s actually quite simple to do this and you will definitely end up saving lots of money. With just a few simple ingredients like water, vinegar, soap, baking soda or even borax, you can create very efficient and green cleaning products that your neighbors might want to try too.
Make Your Diet Greener and Healthier!
- Give up on frozen and packaged food! Instead, try to cook your own fresh meals and avoid using the microwave as much as possible. Also, these processed foods are not healthy, make you gain weight, and their packages end up being wasteful. Buy vegetables, fruit, meat, cheese or anything else that you like from your local farmers. They are certainly fresh, you know where they came from, and taste infinitely better.
- Buy eco-friendly coffee! Shade-grown coffee is the best if you want to go the eco-friendly and sustainable route because these beans don’t require rainforests to be cut down or any dangerous pesticides or chemicals to be used. Nowadays, most respectable coffee shops will have at least one type of shade-grown coffee for you to enjoy. This type of coffee, apart from being eco-friendly, is also good for you and for the planet. Win-win again, right?
All in all, it seems that a sustainable way of life is not that difficult to achieve, especially if you involve your entire family in this process. Going green should be a common effort to save what’s left of this planet and it should not represent the struggle of a few people who want to make a difference. From transforming your kitchen, bathroom, and entire house into a greener one you can seriously decrease your environmental footprint. Finally, being smart about what you buy, the clothes that you wear and even the bags you use for your groceries can act as a huge example for all the others. Remember that this is the only planet that we have (for now) and we should do everything that’s in our power to keep it healthy. Difficult, but not impossible.