You want to be a little bit green, you know there are “things” you can do to help the earth, but it seems a bit daunting…both in terms of effort on your part and the sheer volume of the worlds problems. You have kids and pets and work and volunteer stuff and adding even one more thing to your list seems like it might just put you over the edge. I get it. But there ARE little changes you can make that do NOT make more work for you, but DO help the environment.
Remember, I have four kids and I’m lazy, I don’t want to do any more work than is necessary. These really are small, easy things you can do every day that reduce your footprint or have a positive impact on the environment. Keep reading…
1. Unplug It!
Just by simply being plugged in – even if “off” – many gadgets and appliance use energy. Granted, a small amount, but still, it’s energy that costs you $ and harms the environment. So why not unplug and save yourself some cash and save the earth too? Make this a mental note for a week or two and then it will become habit…I promise, you won’t even notice yourself doing it, but it will add up!
Heres a great little article about vampire electrify with tips to reduce!
2. Turn It Off!
Just like above, let’s save some cash and the earth…simply turn off things when not in use! Leaving a room? Turn off the lights! Leaving town for a week? Turn down/off your hot water heater! Don’t use the tv as background noise. When you’re going to bed for the night, actually shut down your computer (and unplug! See above!) vs just letting it go to standby mode.
If you are leaving home for a few hours, turn down the air or heat! Especially if you’re going on vacation, that one can really add up. If you want to really up the savings, buy a programmable or learning thermostat! We’ve tried both Nest and EcoBee and slightly prefer EcoBee for our family. But any will help!
3. Reusable Bags
I know, I know. You’ve heard this one a million times and you have dozens of cute reusable grocery bags that you always forget. You’ve just got to make it a habit! Like me, you probably have enough bags to go put ten in your car right now. I use them everywhere, not just at the grocery store – Target, the mall, wherever I have things to carry. They really do save, especially if the only other option is plastic. And frankly, they are so much better – they hold more, don’t rip, and I can carry them on my shoulder…helpful when I need hands free for kids. When you make your grocery list, just grab some bags right then and put them together so you can’t forget. 🙂
4. Ditch the Straws!
I know you’ve heard this one before too. I’m not going to tell you anything you don’t already know -single use plastic straws add up, they clog the oceans, they kill animals. Here’s an article if you want to know more about why they are bad. But you like straws, right? Your iced coffee is just not as good without a straw. And a milkshake or smoothie? Of course you NEED a straw. Me too. I get it. And kids…they need straws. But there are so many reusable straw options out there now…they are cheap, better for the environment, and easy to clean! We have both stainless and silicon and strongly prefer the silicon…these are the ones we like! We have both thin (water, coffee) and wide (smoothies, milkshakes) and they come with a little brush for easy cleaning! I do keep a few in my purse and car and simply ask for “no straw please” in the drive thru. (Bonus, these are an excellent teether for the baby! Ha!)
5. Say “NO!” to Bottled Water!
If you’re bored, read this paper on why/how bottled water is bad for the environment. If you just want to trust me and use logic, it saves resources to just drink tap water vs water that gets bottled and shipped. And with few exceptions (Flint, MI comes to mind) tap water is just as healthy and perfectly fine for you and your kids. So stopping buying bottled water…think about all those water bottles floating around in the ocean and landfills! Find a reusable water bottle that you like and fill it up at home. Like many things on this list, this will ultimately save you some cash and if you are diligent about it for a few weeks, it will easily become habit.
I still prefer a good old Nalgene bottle (if you’re nearing 40, like me, you had one in college!) because there is a smaller 16 oz size, which makes it not too heavy to carry around, and has a wide mouth for easy cleaning. This is the one I like.
My kids all like their Camelbak straw cups which come in a variety of colors and style. I actually use the straw brush that comes with our reusable straws to better clean these!
6. Be Lazy – Do Less Laundry!
This is a great one! Next time your kids complain that they their favorite shirt isn’t clean, tell them you’re saving the earth! 🙂 Make sure that you are washing a full load each time, not a partial load. It seems small but this is a big one that can really add up…think if you halved the number of loads of laundry you did each year? How much water and energy could you save?! Not to mention your time!
7. Wash on Cold
Yes, I have four dirty kids. Yes, I wash almost all of my laundry on cold! Don’t believe me that it works? Even Martha herself agrees! Or read here. You save a ton of energy (it takes a lot to heat water!) and money AND it saves your clothes making them last longer, making you buy less, and further helping the earth! Speaking of clothing…
8. Buy Used!
This one has so many pieces, it’s hard to calculate just how much energy and resources are saved, but just think if we could cut down on manufacturing? Not just the actual resources used, which would be huge in and of itself, but the waste materials, the water and the energy in manufacturing, energy and pollution from shipping…wow!
You can buy used furniture, clothing, household goods, really almost anything! You can frequent estate sales, yard sales, Facebook marketplace, consignment stores, or any number of online resale sites. Ask a friend to trade clothing for you or the kids! Pass along things you’ve outgrown – who doesn’t love hand-me-downs?!
I tend to buy more of my oldest boy’s clothing new since there are three of them and we leave it all for the next kid. But my daughter gets almost exclusively used clothing (and some for the boys too)…I love our local FB sale pages! I also get at least half of my clothing used…I am a big fan of ThredUP! I haven’t bought “new” jeans in years…why spend $250 when I can get them for $40?! And fancy events? I always buy dresses used at consignment shops or, again, ThredUP or similar.
I also tend to buy used furniture with only a few exceptions (mattresses and upholstered stuff I buy new). It’s helpful that I prefer antiques anyway, so I look at antique stores, consignment stores, estate sales, and auctions.
It’s also fun to switch toys with a friend…your kids will love getting “new” things to play with and it also helps cut down on the clutter. Which reminds me, anyone want to switch up some puzzles?!? 🙂
9. Meatless Monday
Yes folks, it’s true…cutting back on meat and dairy is better for the environment. It takes A LOT of water and energy to produce meat, far more than plants alone. Don’t believe me? Read here! And, of course, a diet low on meat and dairy and high in whole grains and fruits and veggies is better for your body too. So simply commit to cutting out at least one meat/dairy meal a week! That doesn’t have to mean plain pasta (although who doesn’t like pasta with red sauce and a good salad?!). There are tons of vegetarian and vegan meals online…we prefer veggie heavy pastas or loaded salads (with yummy bread, of course!). We try to do at least two meatless dinners a week (and two seafood) and even my meat-and-potato-loving husband likes them! Maybe that’s a post for another day…
So there you have it, some small adjustments you can make to help save Mother Earth! These are all super easy, cost effective, and just require a little time until the habit forms.
What other tips and tricks do you have to help protect this beautiful planet?!