As the adage says: ”new year, new you” thus, it's time to reflect on our routine and make resolutions for the upcoming year. Some of you might want to lose weight, or simply eat better for a healthier and more eco-friendly lifestyle. But, if you are aiming to lead a more sustainable life, there are already several small steps you can take.
Energy, water, petroleum, and our daily lives are sapping life out of Earth's seemingly endless pool of resources. To preserve our planet, be careful with its valuable resources. By taking a few simple steps, we can significantly reduce our footprint on our planet and environment and thereby help preserve it for many generations to come. Let’s start with what we can do to save energy in our everyday lives.
How to be more energy-efficient?
When buying new appliances and electronics, ensure they are energy-efficient, with the best ranking possible. Remember that it’s an investment that will pay off in lower electricity, gas and/or water bills! For example, a front-loader washing machine uses less water than a top-loader, so get wise before shopping.
Also, you might want to reconsider your specific needs: a toaster oven is more energy efficient than a conventional oven for cooking a single portion. A kettle uses less energy to bring water to a boil than a pot on the stove. So buy and use the right appliances for what you want to do.
Unplug devices not in use
When not using them, make sure you unplug devices to avoid “phantom power” which describes the electricity those items use in standby mode. A multiple-socket outlet with a switch is your safest option to control several appliances, such as all gadgets connected to your TV, at the same time. Turn off your lights when you are not in a room and all lights when you leave the house.
On this topic, you should also make sure you have the right lights installed: Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFL) and Light Emitting Diodes (LED) are much more energy-efficient than conventional light bulbs and have a longer life as well! Therefore, the next time you bust a bulb, replace them with an energy-efficient solution.
Be careful not to unplug every device: your modems, routers, and cable boxes should be left plugged in, as they often take a while to reboot when you turn them back on.
Eco-friendly changes you can make to reduce energy consumption
When washing your clothes, try to wash as much as possible on cold, and only choose hot water if necessary. Avoid using a drier altogether; use a drying rack or clothesline instead. When using a washing machine or dishwasher, do not run it if it’s only half loaded. Choosing the “delay” option on your washing machine or dishwasher is also practical. With this handy trick, you can use the off-peak energy hours and save yourself some cash.
When cooking, a pressure cooker can be convenient for boiling potatoes or making stew. The cooking times are lessened, and you can save a lot of energy. In everyday life, you might want to learn to cook with residual heat: switch off your oven at least 5 minutes before your dish (or cake) is cooked entirely. And just do the same, when boiling pasta: you can switch off your stove after 5 minutes, and the pasta will still keep cooking.
Another resource we need to try and preserve is water. While water is not a finite resource such as petroleum, it is still important to try and save as much water as possible. Bonus, it will help reduce your hydro bill. Also, chemicals in the water only harm the environment, and they are difficult and energy-consuming to remove - so that we can have safe tap water. Therefore, we must ensure we don’t waste water and limit our use of chemicals as much as possible. We can, for example, buy and use all-natural personal care products and home care products, such as cleaning products. Especially if you are connected to a septic tank!
Finally, here are some easy ideas on “how to save water every day”:
- Avoid taking baths - regarding the amount of water, a single full bathtub equals several showers, so opt for showers instead. Try and take shorter showers as well, to avoid unnecessary waste of water. Use a low-flow shower head to reduce the water flow further, or make sure you don’t turn the water all the way on. When brushing your teeth or washing your face, turn off the water while you scrub instead of running the tap the whole time.
- Doing the dishes - don’t run the water the whole time. Instead, fill the sink or a tub with water and some natural dish soap, wash all your dishes, then rinse them quickly. Also, If your faucets are leaking, fix them immediately!
Ways to reduce waste
When talking about waste, we can’t forget the major culprit: our garbage. To live more eco-friendly, it’s crucial that we try to avoid waste as much as possible and dispose of our trash the right way. The three R’s can help you with this.
True, our garbages are regularly collected by our communities. So, we tend to have much more of it than is strictly necessary. For our planet, it would be better if we could eliminate waste because it takes resources and energy to dispose of it. Therefore, less is always better.
One of the easiest things to get rid of is paper. Unsubscribe from catalogues and junk mail you don’t need. Don’t buy every paper book on your list; instead, invest in an e-book reader and buy most of your books electronically. Not only you will save a lot of space in your house and money in the long run, but you will also help your planet. Read your newspapers, magazines and other publications online. Print and write as little as possible. For example, instead of sending Christmas cards, you could send e-cards! Instead of writing shopping lists and other notes on paper, use your smartphone. Opt for paperless bills whenever you can, and pay your bills electronically. Use microfiber cloths instead of paper towels for cleaning, and cloth napkins instead of paper ones. By the way, did you know that you can wash and reuse microfiber cloths for years?
How to avoid using plastic?
Another material we should aim to reduce as much as possible is plastic. Many plastics could be recycled, but part of the world population doesn’t separate plastic from trash properly. Some even go further, and dump their trash in nature, so most plastics end up not being recycled after all. Plastic in the environment is dangerous, responsible for killing animals and plants, polluting the oceans and disintegrating into tiny particles which make it into our food chains, so far with unknown consequences. And even if properly disposed of, plastic takes many years to decompose because of its composition of large molecules. Therefore, we should reduce our use of the material. It can be a lot simpler than you think!
Here are some alternatives to plastic:
- Buy and carry around canvas bags for your grocery shopping, and opt for “no bags” when possible.
- Buy loose fruit and vegetable instead of pre-packed plastic bags from the supermarkets.
- Buy bulk with the help of reusable containers.
- Invest in reusable water bottles, bowls, plates, and cutlery made of glass, aluminum or stainless steel.
- When getting takeaway, use your own food storage container, bring your own cutlery, and avoid the typical styrofoam container and plastic fork and knife.
- If you are throwing a party, use normal plates and glasses and wash them instead of producing bags and bags of paper plates and plastic cups.
- Stay away from designated single-use items, such as razors, and from unnecessary plastic like floss with handles or plastic toothbrushes. Look for more environmentally friendly alternatives.
Buy less and ultimately spend less
Another great way of avoiding the build-up of garbage is by only buying what you truly need. There are a lot of great alternatives out there.
- You can rent books and movies from the library or other organizations.
- You can also buy or rent them online, through Netflix or other platforms.
- You can also borrow other items, such as lawnmowers, tools and many more. What used to be good practices amongst neighbors are now turning into a trend. Websites and apps to connect owners and users are flourishing, and it’s a great alternative for anyone not needing a power drill every day.
- And finally, if you own tools and other appliances and they break down, have them fixed instead of replacing them (if possible). This way, you will avoid creating more waste.
Ways to reuse
A lot of what we throw away can still be used. Another way of avoiding waste is to reuse what we have. Take your kitchen trash, for example. Instead of throwing everything together, start to separate your detritus. Egg shells, fruit and vegetable peel and stalks can all be composted, and then use the compost for your house plants or in the garden. If you don’t have the space or time to cultivate your compost, see if one of your neighbors might be interested in your compostable scraps. Many communities also offer to collect compostables.
Another great way of reusing what you have is by hosting and/or visiting yard sales or flea markets. Some people might pay a lot of money for what you would consider useless! You can also swap clothes and other items with people, giving both sides a new wardrobe without the need to buy new clothes. Once again, websites and apps are great at facilitating that. Donate your old clothes and other items if they are still in good condition. If not, turn them into rags for cleaning. Your old toothbrush is great for scrubbing your bathroom and kitchen grout! And if you do have plastic bags from shopping trips, you can use them as trash bags for the bathroom bin. See, this is simple. You just have to keep in mind that when you throw something away, it’s because it’s utterly necessary!
Why is it important to recycle?
Unless you are amazing at this, you will always have some garbage. And that is perfectly okay, as long as you dispose of it correctly. If you need to refresh your knowledge on “how to recycle” follow that link. Make sure you know about the garbage and recyclables collection in your neighborhood, and what goes in which container. If your local community is not offering a collection, find a place where you can dispose of your garbage correctly. Make certain that you separate it right. Paper, cans, bottles, glass, plastic, electronic devices etc. have to be recycled on their own, which is why there are separate containers.
Recycling is absolutely useful. Making sure that our planet’s resources are kept in circulation should be one of our top priorities. This way we don’t have to get more petroleum, aluminum ore etc. You should also make sure, when at the store, that you buy recycled items. Recycled paper, toilet paper, kitchen towels, aluminum foil and plastic bottles work just as well as the ones not recycled. A company which truly cares about the environment will always offer a recycled option.
Public transportation: be part of the change
We all know that public transport is better for the environment than driving a car, but sometimes you can’t do otherwise. If you absolutely have to drive, do it right:
- Combine multiple errands into one trip. Thereby you will save gas and time.
- Carpool with friends or colleagues on your way to work.
- Make sure your car is in perfect condition: check the tire pressure and ensure that they are enough inflated. Too little air pressure will increase your fuel consumption, while too much pressure increases risks of accidents.
- Empty your car and trunk of all the junk you might usually keep in there. It will keep the weight down.
- Remove the roof and bike racks to decrease the aerodynamic resistance.
- Make sure your engine runs smoothly and with enough oil and coolant. It might help to use a proven fuel additive to reduce fuel consumption.
- When driving, keep your speed to the limit. Brake and accelerate gently; driving with a consistent speed is better for the consumption and your nerves! If you drive stick, change to the highest gear as soon as possible, and step off the gas for downhill cruising.
There are many things we can do to make our daily routines more environmentally friendly. Never forget that you don’t have to do it all at once. Every little step you take will further preserve our natural resources and help protect the planet. It is the only way to ensure the planet’s resources will last for another few generations. So use the new year to get rid of some bad habits and adopt an eco-friendly living lifestyle!
And you don't have to do it all by yourself either. Did you know that AspenClean cleaning products are all-natural, sustainably sourced and packaged in bottles made from 100% recycled post-consumer resin plastic? We also have a zero-waste collection! And our AspenClean's home cleaning services only use these eco-friendly cleaning products? So if you want a clean home without harming your family's health and the environment, book a house cleaning service. Yes, you can trust us!