If we don't curtail our wasteful ways, the demands we place on our planet will limit generations to come. We may have a separate bin for our recyclables, and that's a great start—but we can do more to assist the efforts to save the planet.
Join the green revolution by incorporating these eco-friendly habits:
Switch to a Sponge
How many bulk packages of paper towels do you go through in a year? It's too many. Get a pack of sponges and start cleaning your counters with them instead. Worried about bacteria that could grow on your sponge? Remove food particles, keep it dry (bacteria loves moisture), and every couple of days or so, microwave the wet sponge with a half-cup of water or run it through a dishwasher cycle.
Reuse Your Bags
Keep reusable canvas tote bags on hand at all times. Why? National Geographic reports that they are refined from crude oil and natural gas and are not biodegradable. Invest in a couple of strong totes and keep them in your purse or in your car. You just never really know when you'll need them.
Stop Printing at Home
A study from the National Institute of Public Health found that laser and ink-jet printers emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs), ozone and particulates that harm both nearby users and the environment. In addition, the process of manufacturing at-home printers releases unsafe air emissions. You and the environment would be better served by using a service like DigMyPics.com, which makes digital copies of your media for emission-free sharing.
Replace Your Light Bulbs
Do you know the most environmentally friendly light source? OK, it's the sun. But the second is an LED light bulb. By replacing your incandescent bulbs with LED bulbs you get longer bulb life, use less electricity and save money in the long run. Choose Energy Star-rated LED lighting to be sure it's as efficient as can be.
Take Your Foot Off the Gas
Hybrids are settling into the mainstream now, paving the way for completely electric vehicles. In addition to using greener transportation modes like bike riding and public transportation, conserve gas by avoiding rapid and unnecessary acceleration and keep your car parts clean and well-maintained.
Shop at local farmers markets for fresher, more flavorful foods and your money will go back into a sustainable system that advances the local economy. Investing in your community creates jobs and helps solidifying a city's infrastructure. The Austin Independent Business Alliance is campaigning to get people to shift 10 percent to locally owned businesses from chain stores. It will add hundreds of millions to the local economy and create thousands of new jobs.
Ditch Plastic Water Bottles
Get a stainless steel water bottle to fill throughout the day instead of buying single-use bottled water with toxic polycarbonate plastics. While plastic bottles are recyclable, a reported 75 percent of water bottles end up in landfills and pollute waterways because people don't recycle them, according to worldwatch.org.