Installing a solar array or getting your own wind-turbine can be an expensive investment for some. Sure, it pays itself back over the next few years, but the lump sum can be a hefty investment.
Just because you can't afford to go off the grid right this second, it doesn't mean you can't do your part to help the environment. By tweaking your everyday habits, you reduce your carbon footprint and spread the worldwide message of sustainability.
These 5 simple habits will cost you nothing and maybe even save you money!
1. Walk as often as you can
Cars are responsible for 20% of the worlds carbon dioxide emissions. These noisy automobiles pump chemicals into our air that harm both our lungs and our planet.
Choose to walk or cycle to your destination if possible. A good metric to use is the 15-minute rule.
Rule: If any area is within 15-minutes walking distance, you should never use a car.
Bonus: You'll get some definition your legs, gain some muscle and burn off extra calories! Being environmentally friendly has never looked so good!
2. Turn of lights when you aren't in the room
Even if you are using power saving light bulbs, one should never be wasteful. If you plan to leave a room for longer than 10 minutes, turn off the lights and save electricity.
Quick Tip: To remind yourself, stick a post-it note above each light switch. After a few days, you'll have ingrained the habit into your daily patterns and won't even notice you are doing it.
Turning the lights off can reduce your monthly electricity bill by a surprising amount, but you can make even more powerful changes to your electricity habits.
- Turn off appliances and unplug things like cell-phone chargers when you aren't using them. These draw a small amount of electricity called a 'phantom current'.
- Use human power instead of appliance power. For example, switch from a vacuum cleaner to a broom or from a leaf blower to a rake.
- Instead of tumble drying clothes, hang them outside to air dry.
- Set your hot water temperature to the perfect temperature so it doesn’t waste electricity overheating water.
3. Conserve water all the time
You might not think of water as a commodity right now, but the truth is that it's not limitless. Of all the water in the world, only 1% is available for human consumption.
As populations grow, more and more pressure is being placed on water processing plants and reserves. Cape Town, South Africa is the first major city to almost run out of water due to drought and a building population.
Saving water helps keep water distribution systems healthy and reduces the pressure on ecosystems surround large cities.
Remember: A massive amount of electricity and energy goes into treating and distributing water. If everyone saves just a small amount, we can make a big difference in the quantity of electricity needed.
Here are some habits you can form to save water:
- Make sure your taps are closed and not leaking.
- Limit the number of wasteful baths per week or stop taking baths all together.
- Fit a water saving showerhead in your shower.
- Only open the tap when you need to and don't leave the water running while you brush your teeth.
- Cut shower time to 10 minutes.
- Set your appliances to water saving mode.
- Reduce the amount of water your toilet uses to flush.
- Install a grey water system to water your garden.
4. Don't buy single-use plastic items
Plastic is a problem.
We have giant islands of plastic floating in the ocean, twice as big as Texas.
A massive 50% of plastic we use is single-use plastic. That means we only use it once before throwing it away. A miniscule amount of this plastic is recycled or sent to a landfill. Instead, most of it ends up in our beautiful oceans.
Did you know: Single-use plastic often contains harmful BPA chemicals that can negatively affect your hormones.
Ditch the single-use plastic completely and opt for more sustainable options. Make it a habit to carry items with you that support your decision.
Some products that can help turn you around are:
- Reusable Straws instead of plastic straws
- BPA-free, reusable water bottles instead of single-use plastic bottles
- Reusable, personal cutlery instead of throwaway plastic cutlery
- Personal ceramic coffee cups instead of takeaway coffee cups
Tip: If you don't want to invest in long lasting products, choose biodegradable products instead. These products are often edible and will dissolve into nothing after being disposed of.
Your personal choices add up and make a large difference to the environment over time. Simplifying your life and using the least amount of plastic possible will reduce your carbon footprint dramatically.
5. Tell people about what you are doing and why
Being loud and vocal about your stance on environmental matters is one of the most important habits you can keep. Education and awareness are the two key factors in ending humanities dependence on plastics.
Don't be aggressive and angry, just calmly mention what you are doing to help the environment and why it's necessary. If you lead by example, your friends and neighbours will slowly start to follow your example.
Educate your children about the environment. Teach them the importance of saving and the wonder of the natural world. You can even do some fun solar power projects to help broaden their minds.
Keep fighting the good fight
With the world's government agreeing to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), it is more important than ever before to do your part to help the planet prosper.
Having a fancy solar panels array isn't the only way to be an environmental warrior, these little habits are the perfect way to get going. Even if you only pick up one of these habits, you will be helping the environment enormously.
If you need more information about anything on this list or want to do, even more, let me know in the comments and I'll be happy to help!