Living a greener lifestyle is something many of us aspire to. We now turn off the water when we brush our teeth and put on a sweatshirt rather than turning up the heat. But if you’re ready to get serious about your commitment to the environment, here are ten ways you can truly make a difference. Be forewarned … some of these are not for the faint of heart!
1) Walk or bike to places less than two miles away. Leave the car keys in the drawer when your trip is a short distance. You'll save money, the earth, and maybe your health as well.
2) Shop at thrift stores and garage sales. The U.S. has become a disposable society, and as a result our landfills are overflowing with perfectly good, usable items. Buy used - it's as simple as that. And when you have no more use for an object, sell it or donate it to someone who does.
3) Turn your hot water heater down to its lowest setting. Showering and doing laundry are just as easy with lukewarm water. It may not be as comfortable, and may not follow manufacturers' instructions, but it saves a lot of energy.
4) Eat your leftovers. Americans generate 30 million tons of food waste each year, and 98 percent of that ends up in landfills.
5) Turn off the AC and use a fan. Carry a fan with you from room to room. Why use energy to cool down an entire house when you can only be in one room at a time?
6) Compost all biodegradable kitchen scraps. This reduces landfill waste and after sufficient time in the compost heap, you can use your spoils to improve your garden soil.
7) Grow your own fruits and vegetables. Millions of tons of greenhouse gasses are released into the atmosphere in the process of transporting food to market. Plus, when you grow your own food, you can opt out of toxic herbicides and pesticides that poison our soil and pollute our groundwater.
And for the really serious stewards of the earth …
8) Flush toilets once a day. Follow the old adage, "If it's yellow let it mellow; if it's brown flush it down." Flushing toilets accounts for 27 percent of residential indoor water use. If you're truly going to live a green life, you need to get over the grossness factor and move forward.
9) Stop using paper towels, paper napkins and toilet paper. Replace all three of these items with cloth. Yes, toilet paper, too. Family cloth is becoming more common and can easily be found for purchase on the internet. Or better yet, make it yourself from old clothes or towels.
10) Shower once a week. You'd be surprised how clean you can get with a wash cloth, bar of soap, and sink full of water. Thoroughly cleaning your body once a day is a necessity, but showering to accomplish that is not.