By Emily McColeman
With the pressure of environmental restoration weighing heavily on our society, sometimes it feels like I could never make a positive impact on my own. However, if everyone thought this way and gave up trying, no improvements would ever be seen. The good news is that individual actions can add up to positive environmental change. On top of that, by working towards a healthier environment, we often improve our own personal health and wellbeing at the same time. Below are eight ways that you can do your part to reduce your environmental impact from the comforts of your own home.
1. Eat locally and in season
The term “Locavore” is becoming more popular as consumers are continuing to realize the benefits of choosing local foods that are in season. Not only does buying local food boost your local economy and farming community, it is also better for the environment as local foods don’t have to travel as far to land on your plate. This reduces greenhouse gas emissions and improves your carbon footprint.
2. Grow your own herbs and vegetables
In addition to buying local, there is also the option of growing your own. Even if you have the tiniest balcony as your only outdoor space, there are still ways you can grow your own herbs or vegetables. Innovative products are now widely available to help you maximize your garden space, even if it is simply a small planter that hangs over the railing of your balcony. It not only saves money but also has similar environmental benefits of buying local. Plus, knowing you grew it yourself will help it taste three times better!
3. Switch to biodegradable detergents
Most detergents on the market today are chemical ridden and very difficult to eliminate from municipal waters. Using a biodegradable detergent for your dishes or your laundry is excellent for both you and the environment. When looking for a product on the market, check that it is biodegradable, free from artificial fragrance and shy away from products that do not list their ingredients. If a product doesn’t list its ingredient that’s usually a good sign not to buy it. Thankfully new products are always surfacing along with additional research for consumers to help you choose the detergents that are most effective.
4. Ditch paper towels and plastic bags
Investing in reusable cloths and containers may seem like an obvious suggestion but it is often forgotten when convenience takes over. However, both items are used worldwide on a daily basis, contributing to an obscene amount of waste in landfills. Replacing disposable items with reusable substitutes will always reduce your negative environmental impact. There is also a good chance it will save you money down the road as you won’t have to buy new as often!
5. Unplug appliances and electronics when you aren’t using them
It may be hard to believe, but our appliances and electronics still use electricity when they are turned off. As long as they are plugged into the wall, they will keep sucking up power. If you think about how many items you keep plugged in even when they are shut off, that is a lot of wasted energy. By unplugging your electrical appliances, you will be reducing your energy pollution and your energy bill at the same time.
6. Replace all light bulbs in your home with LED’s
LED lights are highly efficient and are said to be the most eco-friendly form of illumination. LED light bulbs have long lifetime expectations and are free of toxic chemicals. These features make them more desirable than incandescent or fluorescent lighting. LED light bulbs are also 100% recyclable and will help reduce your carbon footprint drastically. Replacing your existing light bulbs with LED won’t be a task you regret down the road. It is a simple way to save money and improve your environmental impact at home.
7. Hang your clothes on a dry rack or clothesline instead of using the dryer
In most households, the dryer takes third place as being the most energy-hungry appliance, which is why using a clothesline or dry rack can greatly impact your home’s environmental impact. Reduce your carbon footprint by reducing the amount you rely on your dryer. If you don’t have much room for a clothesline, dry racks are ideal as they don’t take up much space and collapsible easily for storage when not in use.
8. Walk, bike, or take public transportation
Although this doesn’t directly relate reducing your environmental impact AT home, it is a critical strategy when trying to reduce your impact travelling to and from home. While it is exciting that electric cars are becoming more common, they aren’t yet a realistic purchase for most of the population. Walking or biking is the most environmentally friendly and healthy modes of transportation around. If neither of those options appeals to you or the distance to travel is too great, you can always rely on public transportation. The fewer CO2 emissions you pump out into the world, the better!