As postconsumers, we’re all constantly working (and playing) to let go of our addiction to “stuff” and reduce our carbon footprint. It’s fairly easy to get caught up in wanting the “big changes that everybody needs to make” to reduce your daily carbon footprint. That can be overwhelming and also set you up for failure when you don’t succeed right away. The truth is that there are many smaller, easier ways to reduce your carbon footprint and the waste that you leave behind. Here are ten of our favorite quick and easy ways to reduce the waste you generate in hopes that something is right for you.
#1: Take a Shower Instead of a Bath
Leisurely soaks in the bathtub can be luxurious, but a shower typically takes only 1/5 of the energy required to run a bath. You can also reduce energy use and waste even further if you install a low-flow shower head and shower using lukewarm or cool water instead of hot water. We know! We love our hot water showers, too. Consider saving the hot showers for when you need them and taking lukewarm showers more regularly.
#2: Switch to a Laptop Instead of a Desktop
You may be surprised, especially with the deluge of tablets and mobile devices, how many people still use a large desktop computer. If you need a desktop for work purposes, that’s unavoidable. But the reality is that a good laptop typically uses up to 80% less energy than a desktop would. Smaller, lighter, thinner…and more energy efficient, too! Go smaller with your computer.
#3: Don’t Use Black Trash Bags
Many of us grew up with the dark black kitchen trash bags that we still use. Making an incredibly simple switch to using white trash bags can reduce your carbon footprint exponentially. The pigment that’s used in black trash bags isn’t biodegradable, so those bags can’t be recycled and will be sitting in the landfill…forever.
#4: Close Your Curtains – Or Open Them!
Curtains are an often underutilized way to control energy use in your home or office. When it’s cold outside, closing the curtains can minimize drafts and heat loss so that you use less of your fossil-fueled heating apparatus. That saves energy and saves you money. When it’s not cold, open the windows to let natural light in so that you can reduce the number of electric lights that you need to use. Again, you’ll save energy and money (and it’s always nice to see real sunshine).
#5: Read the Newspaper Online
If you haven’t joined the digital newspaper revolution yet, it’s time. Yes, you’re using energy for the electronic device that you’re reading the newspaper on, but it’s far, far less than the energy and resources used to print a physical paper. Books, too, can be read online on mobile devices for less resource and energy drain. We know, we know. For many people, the idea of giving up touching what they’re reading is hard – but it’s better for the planet.
#6: Ceiling Fans Rule
If you own your own home, install ceiling fans in most rooms. You’ll absorb some cost on the installation, but you may end up being shocked at how much less you’ll need to use your air conditioning. The energy required to run ceiling fans in a house is far less than to air condition a house.
#7: Cook On the Top Shelf Of Your Oven
It’s such a small change, but added up it can lead to lots of global energy savings. While the bottom half of your oven is hotter because it’s nearer to the actual heat source, the top half of your oven actually cooks food faster and more efficiently because (remember middle school science) heat rises. Put your baking projects on the top shelf for faster, more energy-efficient baking.
#8: Turn Off the Tap While Brushing Your Teeth
For so many of us, it’s simply natural to allow the tap to continue to run while we brush our teeth. But if you add up all of the water and energy wasted every day while millions of people leave the tap running while brushing their teeth, the impact is significant. Wet your toothbrush. Then turn off the tap until you’re ready to rinse. Multiplied and added up, we could all make a huge difference if we did this.
#9: Unplug Chargers When Not In Use
It’s so much easier to just leave phone and mobile chargers constantly plugged in and then just plug the device into them when ready to charge. But the truth is that those chargers are drawing power from the outlet even when you’re not using them to actively charge. Pull the charger out of the plug when you’re not actually using it.
#10: Remember the Art of Walking
All Americans need to walk more. Take a moment every time that you leave your house to consider if you should really be getting into a vehicle, or if you can get where you’re going with just your two legs.
Small changes, added together, can make a huge difference in the consumption and waste problem in the world. Are you already part of the solution? Are you going to be part of the solution? Pick one small item from above and get started today.
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Photo: andyarthur via Flickr