Save The Planet Without Breaking The Bank
In the last year or so, I’ve become a bit obsessed with finding easy ways to lessen my carbon footprint. I’m going to blame it on the bizarre weather we’ve had, which makes our impending doom seem all the more evident thanks to the mounting climate crisis. But I feel like I have more control over the madness if I try to be eco-friendly.
I did some research, and as it turns out, there are TONS of ways to be more earth-friendly without breaking the bank. Can’t afford solar panels? Opt for an electric company that relies on green energy. Don’t want a hybrid car? Commute to work once a week.
And there are other things you can do besides practicing eco-friendly habits. Another way to lessen your carbon footprint is to make environmentally-friendly purchases.
Here are some affordable, eco-friendly practices and purchases to help lessen your carbon footprint.
Eco-Friendly Practices & Habits
Want an easy way to keep food scraps out of landfills? Composting is your best bet. Whether you want to compost in your backyard, use a composting machine or subscribe to a compost pick-up or drop-off service, composting is a straightforward practice that saves around 60% of household waste.
Summertime weather is becoming increasingly harsh as the climate crisis progresses. Watering plants and lawns can be difficult, especially when your area is experiencing a drought. However, you can save up water throughout the fall, winter and spring to use in the drier months.
If you don’t already have a rain barrel, this is a simple, straightforward way to conserve water while maintaining your yard’s appearance. You can either build your own rain barrel or purchase one online. They’re relatively inexpensive and can help you save up to $35 a month on water bills in the summertime.
Use Your Dishwasher
I don’t know about you, but my husband and I always debate whether or not hand-washing dishes uses more or less water than a dishwasher. I decided to do some research (and hopefully win the argument so I didn’t have to hand-wash dishes again.) As it turns out, a dishwasher uses much less water than hand-washing dishes.
Per the Natural Resources Defense Council, “You use up to 27 gallons of water per load by hand versus as little as 3 gallons with an ENERGY STAR-rated dishwasher.” Save yourself the extra labor and water – use your dishwasher instead.
A lot of people set aside cans, jars and bottles for recycling. But did you know that most of your recycling ends up in the trash because it’s not recycled properly? One way to lessen your carbon footprint is to find out about recycling rules in your city and adhere to them.
For example, you’d assume that cardboard pizza boxes can be recycled, right? In New Jersey, if your pizza box has oil on it, you can’t recycle it. Take time to look up any recycling rules and ordinances in your area, and be sure to recycle items properly.
Lessen Meat Intake
Okay, full disclosure: this one is hard for me. As someone who has low iron, I typically need to have some kind of protein for every single meal. But there are still ways to lessen meat intake, even if you prefer protein.
I’ve started substituting my egg white breakfast sandwich for a smoothie with a plant-based protein powder. So even if you can’t go fully vegan, lessening your meat intake will have a positive impact on your carbon footprint over time.
Make Environmentally-Friendly Purchases
Buy Reusable Products
Discovering reusable products has been really fun, especially since I love learning about various companies dedicated to helping the environment. Here are some eco-friendly products you can buy to help lessen your carbon footprint.
- Travel Straw: Most coffee shops have stopped offering straws outright simply because they cause so much environmental harm. Getting a travel straw is a great way to save the turtles AND save your teeth from coffee stains. I use this brand, but there are plenty of options out there. NOTE: Remember to clean reusable straws regularly to prevent bacteria growth.
- Reusable Razors: I have yet to try this, but buying an eco-friendly reusable razor is on my to-do list. And I’ve heard great things about the Leaf Razor. A friend of mine uses it and hasn’t had any issues with knicks or cuts. Plus, when the blades are dull, you can send them to Leaf for proper recycling.
- Glass Food Containers: I had no idea plastic food containers are harmful for the environment. Not only is it difficult to recycle plastic food containers, but they also leech plastic into the water every time you wash them. I’m in the process of slowly replacing my Tupperware with glass food containers like these ones.
- Period Underwear or Menstrual Cups: I’m a big fan of reusable menstrual products. I use both washable period underwear and menstrual cups, and they make that time of the month so much easier. The menstrual cups usually require a learning curve, but it’s worth it to not run to the bathroom every 4 hours to change sanitary products.
- Travel Thermos: This one is an oldie but a goodie. Bring your travel mug with you to avoid using single-use coffee cups. They save you money, keep coffee cups out of landfills and keep your drink warm. If you want to level up your water intake while saving the planet, you can get some great reusable water bottles, too.
- Compostable Trash Bags: Did you know most trash bags take 1,000 years to break down in a landfill? That’s before you even get to the garbage inside! Purchase a composable trash bag to ensure your trash breaks down as quickly as possible.
Offset Or Lessen Your Travel Carbon Footprint
Technically, there’s no real way to offset your travel carbon footprint, especially if you fly consistently. That said, there are ways to lessen your travel carbon emissions. For example, you can donate to causes working to rebuild deforested areas. Or you can opt to travel by hybrid car or train instead of traveling by plane.
Choose Green Energy Suppliers
Did you know you can get your electricity from a green-energy electricity company? If you can’t afford to add solar panels to your house, you can opt for reusable energy created by windmills, solar panels or hydropower. However, be sure to monitor your rates carefully, as some energy companies change rates or charge fees after your first year.
It’s rare for someone to suddenly be able to afford a composting machine, electric car and solar panel installation all at once. Making environmentally-friendly changes is great, but they likely need to happen over time. Instead of having an all-or-nothing attitude about reducing your carbon footprint, think about realistic ways to adjust in the immediate.
Whether you find a new eco-friendly product you love or sign up with a local compost company, everyone can lessen their carbon footprint in some way. And if you adjust gradually over time, you’ll create a lasting impact that makes a difference. After all: think global, act local.
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