A recent survey shows 77% of people want to learn how to live more sustainably (Forbes). Here are 15 easy easy ways you can help make a big difference in the world, and maybe even save you some money, too.
Go Paperless. Choose the email option when available on receipts. Thermal receipts contain chemicals that are known to be hazardous to health and are a waste of paper. Go paperless with your bills and unsubscribe from junk mail.
Compost at Home. Food scraps and yard waste together currently make up more than 28 percent of what we throw away, and should be composted instead. Making compost keeps these materials out of landfills where they take up space and release methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Mulch your leaves and grass clippings instead of bagging to reduce the need for chemical fertilizers (EPA). If you can’t compost, reuse as much as possible. Make soup out of leftover veggies and broth from a chicken carcass.
Cut Back on Paper Towels. Invest in reusable towels and cloth napkins. Drop them into the wash to be reused again and again. Use rags made from old clothes for the nasty jobs and limit the number of paper towels you use daily.
Pack a Sustainable Lunch. Ditch the idea of “kid foods” that often encourage less healthy eating and pack locally grown veggies and fruit. Skip the individually wrapped food and use reusable food containers. Pack reusable bottles instead of juice boxes and include a washable cloth napkin instead of paper napkins.
Think Reusable Containers. Keep a tote bag with a few reusable food containers in your trunk and under your desk at work. Bring your bag of containers with you when you dine, and use the containers for leftovers. Bring your own coffee cup to work instead of using paper or Styrofoam.
Shop Secondhand. Make the pledge to buy at least some of your new wardrobe vintage or second hand. While you are shopping, donate your still usable clothing items to the resale shop for others to reuse.
Declutter Smart. When you clean out the closets to make room for all the new stuff you acquired over the holidays, donate what is still useable and recycle what you can to limit what ends up in the landfill. Take your old electronics to the Hazardous Household Waste events to further protect the environment.
Meal Plan. Avoid readymade foods with extra packaging that often can’t be recycled. Shop at your local farmers market to support your community and reduce fuel waste and emissions from long distance shipping.
Plant Native and Adapted Plants. Texas SmartScape advises the use of native and adaptive plants to conserve water, reduce stormwater runoff, prevent water pollution, provide wildlife habitat and to save time and money. Check out the Water & Environmental Class schedule for upcoming Texas SmartScape Classes.
Say No to Polystyrene Foam. Every year Americans waste enough polystyrene (Styrofoam) that it could circle the Earth 426 times (EPA). Polystyrene foam is a plastic that is not accepted in your curbside recycling cart, even though it often has a recycling symbol printed on the product. Request aluminum foil, or better yet, take your own container instead of a take out box from your favorite restaurant. Buy your eggs packaged in recycled paper cartons. Bring your own coffee cup to work. Take your unwanted packaging pellets/peanuts to a local packing and shipping store for reuse.
Kick Litter to the Can. Most littering doesn’t just happen. Someone had to put it there in the first place. People often choose convenience over finding a trash can and the litter they create winds up in our waterways, polluting the precious water resources that we all depend on to survive. Do what you can to help. Pick up trash every time you walk the dog or jog in the park. Take a minute to find that trash can, even if it means making an extra effort.