Each spring, on and around Earth Day, people tend to be more aware of real-life issues with the planet. They might pick up their trash and recycle, possibly post about it on social media, but then what? Life happens, and many well-intentioned people lose the motivation they had only a week prior.  If protecting the environment is truly important to you and you’d like to do more every day, here are a few simple ideas to help.

  1. Conserve Water: Don’t leave the water running while brushing your teeth or washing dishes. Fill the sink with warm soapy water, which allows you to wash more at a time, and then run the tap strictly for rinsing. If you use a dishwasher or washing machine, try to only run a cycle if you have a full load.
  2. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: Many items around the house can be used in a different way, if you get creative. Try refinishing or repainting furniture you already own instead of tossing it or buying something new. Old shirts or beat-up linens can be used as cleaning rags. If you haven’t already switched to re-usable shopping bags, the plastic ones you get from the grocery store can be used as waste bin liners or for cleaning up animal litter. Plastic shopping bags are recyclable in some communities so check with your local authorities.
  3. Compost: Composting can seem like a difficult process but it doesn’t have to be. If you have the room for an outdoor pile you are well on your way. Some of the many benefits of composting include keeping kitchen waste out of landfills and returning the nutrients from organic waste to the earth to help your garden thrive! Don’t want to do it yourself? Check to see if you have an organics recycling program in your community.
  4. E-Pay: Paying your bills online, where offered, can reduce the amount of paper you use. At the cash register, have your receipt emailed instead of printed if that option is available.
  5. Plant a Garden: You don’t need to have majored in agriculture for this one. Use what you have, both in space and knowledge. If you can plant a full vegetable garden it will save you the time, money, and gas you would have spent shopping and you’ll know exactly what you are eating. If you can only plant a small window herb garden, you are still reaping the benefits of what you sow by enjoying the freshest herbs you can get. Research eco-friendly fertilizer and pest control options for your healthy garden. If vegetables aren’t your thing, consider planting a flower garden to attract bees and butterflies.
  6. Choose Wisely: Energy Star® is a government-backed symbol denoting energy efficiency. When buying appliances, check to see if they are Energy Star-certified. Some utilities offer incentives for replacing appliances, so be sure to check at your location. Using the right light bulbs can also help. Choose CFL or LEDs, as they use less energy and last longer.
  7. Cool Down: Set the thermostat a little lower in the winter; the cool air can provide a better night’s rest. Wash laundry in cold water with help from environmentally-friendly detergent made specifically for that purpose. You can even use a clothesline or drying rack when the season is right to cut down on your dryer use.
  8. Share: For items you don’t use regularly, try borrowing from a neighbor, friend, or family member. It isn’t always necessary to buy things like books, movies, tools, yard equipment, or even certain appliances if you only use them once in a while. When you’re finished with a gently-used item, donate it to charity instead of tossing it in the dumpster.
  9. Repair Instead of Replace: Have a torn seam on your jeans? Sew it! If sewing isn’t in your wheelhouse, it still may be cheaper to have someone sew it for you rather than buying a new pair. The same can be said of many appliances, and having them repaired also helps small businesses that rely on this type of work. When an item can’t be repaired or donated, be sure to dispose of it safely – many communities consider batteries to be hazardous waste, for example, and shouldn’t be included in regular trash collection.
  10. Clean Better: Use cleaning products free of harmful chemicals. Did you know that many of the expensive products we buy are mostly made of water and a few chemicals? Here is a link to show you how to make your own cleaning products with ingredients you probably already have at home. Learn how to read the labels of store-bought products to make environmentally-friendly choices. In the U.S., the EPA is a good place to start.



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