Some people (probably those who hate mowing) think big grassy yards are outdated. They can take a lot of water, chemicals, and fertilizer…not to mention time! This fall is a good time to consider adding native trees, bushes and flowers to lessen your grass footprint. You can always start small and add on gradually. If you do plant grass, look for brands with deep roots, which need less watering, or try clover- which will give you a different look (and bees!) and add nitrogen to the soil.
A tried and true way to save energy and money is to turn the thermostat down, especially at night. Ours drops to 62, which makes for great sleeping- even for the kids! (Our automatic thermostat has the house warm by the time we get up.) But slipping in and out of bed can be a chilly experience. Invest in flannel sheets to keep cozy. Stay enviro-friendly by choosing products certified by GOTS, which limits chemical use and includes social & environmental responsibility criteria, or OEKO-TEX, which certifies textiles are free from harmful chemicals and has similar social & environmental guarantees.
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!
The US uses about 40-100 billion plastic utensils a year. Instead of one-use, disposable cutlery, use your own utensils, whether at home or at work. Ditch the plastic forks with your take out as well. Yes, you will have to wash a fork or spoon, but it’s a lot less resource intensive than making and tossing a plastic one. It saves $$ for restaurants too, so share the love!
Even when they’re off, energy vampires like computers, DVRs, cable boxes, chargers and even coffee makers slowly drain electricity. Vampire loads use about 5% of the energy consumed in the US, costing electric customers more than $3 billion each year. Tonight turn off your lights and look for standby lights. They’re a sign that something is draining power, even though it isn’t being used. Unplug them when they’re not in use, or use power strip to make powering on and off easier.
Take your pick, or preferably, bring your own bag. But some studies show that what you put in your shopping bag and how you travel is much more important. To make a bigger difference, eat less meat, walk/combine trips, fly less and buy locally-made products. Bottom line: reuse whatever bags you have at home- until they fall apart.
October 2nd is National Energy Efficiency day https://www.energyefficiencyday.org/, which is supported by local governments, corporations & utilities, universities and other organizations. Join the crowd- change a light bulb, turn down your hot water heater and check for leaky windows and drafty doors (among other things). Make every day an energy efficiency day!
I do like the feel of a paper bill in my hot little hand, but I ‘m trying to change my unnecessary and trash-producing ways. And heads up, I just took a closer look at one of my utility bills, and they have a monthly charge for sending snail mail! Remember, you can get an electronic notification and pay however you want.
If you can’t go cold turkey and never use another plastic bag, reduce when you can. Keep a couple of reusable shopping bags in the car so you’re always ready.
Think you’re the only one packing your stuff? Look around at the checkout counter- you could be pleasantly surprised. Or be the trailblazer in your community. If others see you doing it, they might too!
Plastic bags never. Break. Down. They get infinitely smaller, and we ingest the micro-pieces. If the 126 million households in the US used ONE less bag a week, we’d use 6.5 billion fewer plastic bags a year. End to end, they would wrap around the Earth over 7 times. Stuff that in your kitchen drawer.