Make no mistake—the environment needs help, and there are plenty of simple things you can do to make a significant impact, while saving some money, too.
1. Change the Light Bulbs. Replacing older incandescent light bulbs with CFLs (compact fluorescent light bulbs) saves enough electricity in a year to easily pay for their cost, and the CFLs last longer, too.
2. Adjust the Thermostat. By setting your home’s indoor temperature a few degrees lower in the winter and a few degrees higher in the summer, you will save on heating and cooling costs, while reducing energy usage.
3. Save Water. Installing an inexpensive low-flow showerhead pays for itself through water and energy savings. A faucet aerator on each faucet will help conserve heat and water, too, while keeping water pressure high.
4. Drink Filtered Water. Bottled water is expensive and creates large amounts of container waste. Use a water filter to purify tap water, which can be carried wherever you go in a reusable water bottle, preferably made of aluminum.
5. Use Cloth Shopping Bags. Plastic bags are a leading contaminant of the environment. Make them unnecessary by bringing your own cloth bags for shopping. Keep some in the car or near the front door so you don’t forget them.
6. Borrow, Don’t Buy – Local libraries lend books, music CDs and DVD movies for free. Neighbors may have tools you can borrow for a one-off project. You’ll save money and the resources needed for manufacturing such items.
7. Eat Local, Whole Foods. Processed food is not only less healthy for you than locally grown whole produce, it also drains resources and creates waste in production, transportation and storage. Your local economy will love you.
8. Eat Less Meat. Reducing meat consumption frees up grains used as feed. Choose sustainably caught fish and seafood, instead. You might also want to designate one day a week as a non-meat day, such as Meatless Monday.
9. Leave the Car at Home. Take every opportunity to avoid driving. Commute to work by carpool or try bicycling. Walk to the store. Ride the bus or public transportation. You’ll save on fuel costs and reduce pollutants.
10. Spread the Word. Get two family members, friends, co-workers or other individuals to take the nine actions listed above. When enough people make small changes, they add up to a big change for the benefit of us all.
Alfablue, April 2012