Looking for something to do right now? I just painted my bedroom, so I checked the electric sockets to see if I felt a draft. These holes let in outdoor air, particularly in older homes. Outlets and light switches are usually ignored when it comes to insulation, but can be a source of heat loss.
Foam outlet covers block the air trying to get in, and take minutes to install if you have a screwdriver- they go under the plastic cover you already have. Also, you really only need them on external walls. You might not see immediate savings on your power bill, but little easy steps like this eventually add up!
We keep paper towels in a cabinet for certain messy situations, but not within easy reach. Paper towels are one-use, bleached products that are not recyclable (except for the brown paper core). We use cloth instead- one for dishes and one for hands.
If you can’t pry the paper out of your hand right away, look for half or quarter sizes and unbleached versions. If every US home used 3 less rolls a year, we’d reduce paper waste by 120,00 tons. One less roll a year would save over half a million trees. You use cloth towels in the bathroom- why not in the kitchen as well?
Do you use a new disposable razor every couple of weeks? Billions of plastic razors are tossed into landfills each year. Razor blades eventually rust away, but the plastic casings hang around a lot longer. The best environmental choice is an all-metal safety razor, which is 100% recyclable. I’m happy with a replaceable cartridge and reusable handle, which I’ve had for years. Apparently most men in the US already use reusable razors, but not women. What’s up with that?
I’m eating out a lot this holiday season, and tossing the one-use containers I bring home doesn’t feel very festive. So I’m emulating my Aunt Betty, a grand lady who loved good restaurants, but who never left food on the table. I think the waste of good food, the effort that went into making it, and the fact that she wasn’t big on cooking played into the rumor that she always kept a bag for leftovers in her designer purse. I tucked a reusable container in my bag this week- no one even noticed when I scooped up the rest of my meals. It doesn’t make for a pretty photo, but this was the best of the lot!
Don’t beat yourself up if you use a whole roll of paper towels one day, or forget your grocery bags, or still use all incandescent light bulbs in your house. Keep making greener steps- no matter how small- and remember that there are a lot of other people, organizations, and businesses out there doing the same thing!