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One of the big marks in the YES column of “going green” for me is that usually, it’s the frugal, budget-friendly choice. That’s definitely something I can get on board with! I’m already doing some of the things on this list and the others I’m going to start soon.
You may be wondering what going green actually means. Really it’s just making environmentally-friendly choices about the products you buy and the actions you take. Going green is making an effort to maximize and reduce waste of resources. Going green doesn’t necessarily mean a complete overhaul of your lifestyle. There are really simple changes that result in less waste, energy or resources. If you’ve considered bringing a little more green into your home, read on for some ideas you can start today!
Ideas for Going Green
Switch to LED Light Bulbs
It’s no secret that LED bulbs are the greener alternative to lighting your home. I think what holds people back are concerns about the quality of light and the initial cost. Really, there are 2 choices for greener lighting – CFL and LED. CFL (Compact Fluorescent Lighting) has a lower cost per bulb but they take longer to warm up to full brightness, plus CFL’s contain trace amounts of mercury. With kids around a lot that’s a deal breaker for me. There are a ton of reviews on LED bulbs out there but the one that stands out to me as the best is the Cree 60W Equivalent Soft White (2700K) A19 Dimmable LED Light Bulb. The cost is around $12 for 4, so that’s $3 a bulb. LED light bulbs use about 1/6 of the energy as a traditional incandescent and last about 23 years. So that’s roughly a $150 savings over 23 years and that’s just one bulb. Multiply that by the number of bulbs in your house and you’re looking at thousands in savings. For changing the type of light bulb you use, which is one of the easiest changes to make. Crazy, right?
Skip the bottled water and opt for a reusable system
You can’t go anywhere in America and not see someone with a bottle of water in their hand. We’re drinking more water and less soda or other sugar-filled drinks and that’s a good thing. But what happens when we’re done with all those bottles? Americans throw away between 30 and 50 million plastic water bottles per year and only about 30% of that makes it into the recycling. And if a water bottle still has the label or lid on it, recycling centers will just pitch it. I do recycle water bottles but I always have a lot of them. A better option is to grab a pitcher with a water filter in it like this Brita 10 cup pitcher. Pair that with a reusable water bottle like Kleen Kanteen and you’re all set. A pitcher will take up less room in your fridge than a bunch of bottles too. Both the pitcher and the Kleen Kanteen come in a variety of colors so you can drink that H20 in style!
Switch to microfiber dusting cloths
I used to use the Swiffer Dusters. I really liked how you could get into the nooks and crannies easily and it was a snap to clean the ceiling fans. What I didn’t like was having to buy replacement pads so often. I switched to microfiber dusting cloths a few months ago and love it. No, it’s not as easy to dust around things but I think the microfiber picks up more than the duster did and I find I have to dust less. Yeah, buddy! If going green means I get to clean less, count me in! Just throw one in the washer when it’s dirty and it’s ready to go again. I picked mine up at Target but they’re also available on Amazon in a bunch of different colors.
Ditch the paper towels
Paper towels are one of the items I go through a lot of. I use them to clean up messes (I’m messy) and to wipe down the counters and I don’t even know what else. It’s really frustrating when I use the last one and realize I forgot to pick some up when I went grocery shopping. I’ve been looking into other options for paper towels and have come up with 2. Huck towels, which are the same towels used in operating rooms during surgery and these Nano Towels. I’m leaning towards the huck towels just because I can buy quite a few for cheaper and toss them in the washing machine when the stack gets low.
Stop using paper plates
This one is kind of a no-brainer. The only reason to use paper plates is to avoid doing dishes. It’s not that much more expensive to toss plates in the dishwasher (which is already going to get run) than it is to buy paper plates that are likely going to end up in the trash. I have some BPA-free plastic dishes that I bought for eating outside this summer. I keep them on one of the new shelves in my dining room (which I promise I’ll post pics of soon!). It’s pretty simple to grab one off the shelf and use it. Sometimes I just don’t want to deal with using one of my heavier plates and opt for a lightweight plate to bring into the office and use while I’m working. I don’t feel like I’m running the dishwasher more often and I’m not throwing greasy, dirty plates away in the trash either.
I put this on here in BIG LETTERS only because the majority of Americans still aren’t recycling. Only about 1/3 of all trash gets recycled. But it’s so easy to recycle! There’s no need to set up a complicated, fancy recycling center in your home. Almost all trash hauling companies have a recycling program and if yours doesn’t, you might want to think about finding one that does. My company offers a recycling bin that can be put out with my trash so I don’t even have to make a separate trip to recycle. Our landfills are filling up at an alarming rate and recycling is totally FREE. If you’re serious about going green, you need to recycle. If you’re recycling cans you can even get money back! What’s not to love about that? If you’d like more information about recycling or find resources for your geographic region, head over to the EPA’s recycling website at https://www.epa.gov/recycle.
Reduce your heat in the winter
I don’t like having the heat too high in the house in the winter so this one is easy. When the thermostat is set around 66 or 67 I’m a happy girl. Reducing your heat by even a few degrees results in lower utility bills and also reduces energy consumption and our reliance on oil. I’ve read that you reduce your bill by around 3% for every degree you lower. So if your average heating bill in the winter is $300 (not an accurate estimate, it’s just easier to illustrate the math) and you typically keep your thermostat at 75, reducing it to 74 will save you $9. Reducing it to 70 saves you about $45 a month! If you want to make it even easier to regulate the temp, invest in a smart thermostat like Nest, which learns your habits and adjusts accordingly. The latest version is compatible with Alexa and other “smart home” applications as well. I’ve done my research and will be purchasing one for my house this year. I’ll post an update once I’ve had it for awhile!
Go paperless on your bills
This is another really easy change you can make. I don’t receive paper bills for anything anymore because I get them all electronically. I pay online, either utilizing the autopay feature or if one isn’t available Bill Pay through my bank. And I don’t miss any payments. In fact, I’m less likely to forget about paying something if I’m set up to get reminders through text or email. Potential identity thieves will have no luck going through my trash trying to collect enough info from my bills to set up fake accounts.
Get some houseplants
Houseplants are getting a lot of attention lately because of their ability to purify the air of toxins and release moisture and oxygen. You can pick up some fairly reasonably priced plants at WalMart, Lowe’s or Home Depot. Or you can check out a nursery for a greater variety. If you’re worried that your brown thumb will kill everything the light touches, have no fear. Succulents like jade plants or bigger ones like the peace lily are very forgiving.
Start a garden
Gardening has a lot of benefits. Fruits and vegetables that are free from harmful pesticides would be top of that list. But gardening can also be a great stress reliever. There’s something satisfying about pulling weeds after a hard or frustrating day. You can also freeze or can your bounty to enjoy throughout the winter. I’m not much of a canner but I love to blanch and freeze green beans. Alex loves fresh green beans and it’s so nice to pull some of out the freezer in January to enjoy. Over the years, I’ve tried several different methods of gardening but I think I’ve landed on raised garden beds. This year, I dedicated one bed as a salsa garden and I’m looking forward to some fresh salsa soon!
Use reusable shopping bags
This might be the easiest thing you can do if you’re going green. And plastic shopping bags suck. Most of them are so cheaply made you’re lucky to get home without one of them breaking. Hopefully, it’s not the bag with the eggs. And yes, that’s happened to me. The big grocery stores sell reusable bags with their branding for a dollar or two. If you don’t like the idea of providing free advertising, you can find a bunch of different sizes and colors online, like these large bags from Amazon. That’s one reason I love shopping at ALDI. ALDI doesn’t provide bags as a way to keep costs and prices down. ALDI gets it. 🙂
Reduce the cleaning products you use that have harmful chemicals.
I’ve recently started using Mrs. Meyers. My goal is to work through all the scents but I’m loving the honeysuckle right now. OMG, it smells so good and it lingers after you’re done using it. The ingredients are almost all naturally derived and it cleans like a dream. In addition to the multi-purpose cleaner, there are other products available for your laundry, dishes and more! It’s one of the most eco-friendly cleaning products around. For tips and ideas on natural cleaning products you can make yourself, check out 15 Natural Cleaning Products You Can Make Yourself.
Wash clothes in cold water.
There’s some kind of myth that hot water gets your clothes cleaner. It’s not true. I’ve washed in cold water for years and have never noticed any difference in how clean my clothes are. In fact, hot water can speed up the wear of clothes since the heat in the water can break down dyes and shrink fibers. Washing in cold water reduces the amount of energy needed. You could save between 30 and 50 cents per load by switching to cold water from hot. If you think about how many loads of laundry you do in a year, that really adds up.
Going Green Without Going Crazy
This list is just a small sampling of the things you can do reduce waste and contribute to a more sustainable world. Going green can be as simple as donating old magazines, reading your news online and shutting your computer all the way down at night are a few more. Every little bit you do helps. If everyone on the planet just did one of these things, imagine how much better life would be!
Are there any things you do to go greener? Share it in the comments!