While many of us want to live more sustainably, it can be difficult to make the switch suddenly. Most of us do better with gradual changes. It might take longer to become as green as you want to be, but you are more likely to see permanent changes.
A lot of small, simple changes can add up over time. Start with these 7 simple ways to go green in 2013, and stick with them, and you will not only find yourself living more sustainably, but you will also feel energized to tackle some of the bigger behavioral changes next year:
1. Bring Your Own Grocery Bags
Many stores are perfectly willing to let you bring in your own reusable grocery bags. It saves them money, as well as saving the planet! When you bring in your own grocery bags, you use fewer resources. If you aren’t sure about buying reusable bags, at the very least, you can save the bags from your last shopping trip and bring them in.
If you want to get really creative, check to see if you have any unused tote bags lying around the house. These make great shopping bags, and you won’t have to buy new bags.
2. Stop with the Bottled Water
We installed a filter for our drinking water, and now my family longer needs bottled water. While the filter cost a little more up front, we have savings over time. The filter paid for itself after two years, and the maintenance costs on the filter are still less than what we were paying for bottled water before.
So, instead of using resources for plastic water bottles, we all have our own BPA-free water bottles that we can refill. This simple switch can save you money and green your lifestyle a little more.
3. Look for Used First
Our society has programmed us to look for new first. However, it makes sense to look for used items before you go buy new. Used items don’t use up resources at the same rate, and many of them work just fine. Look for a consignment shop in town, visit Freecycle web site, or check the Classifieds before you go to the store to buy new. You might be surprised at what you can get.
4. Plant a Garden
Gardening is an enjoyable activity, and it can help you improve your sustainability. You don’t need a huge garden, either. In fact, if you are new to gardening, it might be better to start small. Plant three or four things, just to get started. Even if you don’t have a lot of room, you can grow a container garden. The added plants will help with the air quality around your home, and you’ll save money by growing your own food.
5. Replace Some of Your Light Bulbs
Considering replacing your standard light bulbs with CFLs or with LEDs. These light bulbs use less energy, and create a greener home. If you can’t afford to replace all the bulbs in your house at once, create a plan to make the switch a little bit at a time. It took us about a year to fully replace all the light bulbs in our house, and we replaced our Christmas tree lights with LED strings over the course of two years. Now, though, our power bill is smaller, and our home is a little greener.
On a related note, try to be conscious of how much electricity you are using. Turn off lights when you leave a room, and make it a point to use natural lighting whenever you can. Smart plugs can help you reduce the “energy vampirism” of your electronics.
6. Go Low-Flow
Use low-flow toilets and shower heads that use less water. Once again, you can replace your old fixtures over time, using a schedule. While you’re at it, be mindful of how much water you run. Do you need the faucet full blast while you rinse dishes? Could you turn off the faucet while you brush your teeth? A little conscientiousness can go a long way.
7. Pick Up Litter
Keep your neighborhood cleaner by picking up trash. You can do a service project with your kids, or just clean up when you can. Keep a trash bag in your car so that you are prepared. It’s a small thing, but it’s a good habit, and it can make your little corner of the world much pleasanter.
As you can see, going green is not that hard and just takes small changes.
What kinds of things do you do be greener?