Guest Post Author Bio: This is a guest post from Little House in the Valley who blogs about saving money with a plan. Many of her posts share finance tips, little house plans, and tips to becoming more environmentally friendlier.
A few years ago, I decided I wanted to reduce my consumption and live a ‘greener’ lifestyle. My initial focus was on reducing the amount of trash I created and that included finding ways to limit packaging and containers. I found that it was easy for me to swap from plastic or paper grocery bags to reusable canvas ones. I didn’t even seem to have a problem remembering to take them with me when I went shopping. I also started carrying around my own water bottle and coffee cup; reusable containers I’ve now owned for years. Slowly I transitioned to composting my kitchen scraps, again limiting the number of items that ended up in our city’s landfill.
Yet with all my efforts to leave a lighter footprint on our Earth’s surface, I find that I can do more by including these five simple steps.
- Adjust the thermostat: To reduce my use of energy and lower my bill, two benefits due to one action, I’m trying to make a point of lowering my heating temperature in the winter, and turning it up in the summer. I’m a bit of a wimp when it comes to cold weather; I often like to simmer in a warm 78 degrees. I’ve been turning down my thermostat down to 72 during the day and 65 at night. Since I seem to be able to handle warmer temperatures better than cooler ones, this summer my goal is to set my thermostat to 80 degrees before the air conditioner turns on. Thankfully, our nights are usually cool, so opening up the windows at night should eliminate the use of the air conditioner for a good eight-hours per day.
- Bike and walk for local errands: Living in a busy suburb means shopping is accessible by bicycling or walking. I became a bit of a bike fanatic around the time I started using canvas shopping bags. I found that errands within a 2- to 3-mile radius were actually quicker by bike than by car since I could cut through parking lots and open spaces. My goal this year is to increase my cycling; I know I can do better and can ride farther so I’ve made a goal to cycle 1,000 miles this year.
- Buy locally-grown produce: Though I live in California, one of the primary growers of produce, I’ve found that many of our fruits come from central and South America. That seems like an awful lot of energy wasted to deliver a single orange or banana. My focus this year is to buy locally-grown veggies and fruits. There are a few farmers markets around my area, I just need to take the initiative to shop there instead of the shopping the grocery chains.
- Reduce paper consumption: Paper towels come in handy for cleaning up pet accidents. However, I’ve noticed that for many of my paper towel uses, I can use cloth rags instead. I’ve been substituting cloth rags for wiping down counters, drying pots and pans, and cleaning glass surfaces. Now if only I could switch over to handkerchiefs for my continually runny-nose, I’d be greatly reducing my paper waste.
- Be water wise: I live in a region that is constantly affected by drought. Since I no longer have a lawn to water, minimizing my water usage is entirely up to me. I’ve been making sure to use the least amount of water when washing a load of laundry by selecting ‘small’ on the water cycle and I use the ‘eco-wash’ feature on my dish washer. I’ve also gotten better at limiting my showers to 5 minutes or less.
Someday I’d like to take my eco-measures to the extreme and completely eliminate packaging from my shopping trips, or reduce my dependence on oil-based fuel. But that won’t happen until I consistently follow my five steps to being greener.
Terrific article and thanks for some great ideas! Now that summer is coming, I hope to buy more locally sourced produce, too, and want to pay closer attention to its source.
@ Eliza I think this is something we are all working towards. Unfortunately some places get a better supply than others.
Thanks for sharing! I think that the water wise tip is the hardest of all, a delightful warm shower is really one of life’s little luxuries.
@ Silly Simple I agree. I love a nice hot shower but if it helps mother nature then I can make the sacrifice.
Great article! Not only is biking greener and quicker, but it is better for your health too!