People are always looking for new ways to change their lifestyle. You might want to exercise more or spend more time with friends, but you can also change your habits to live more sustainably.
When someone wants to go green, they might think they need to buy an electric car or live off the grid, but there are easier ways to make a difference. Every small step adds up to make a huge impact on the earth, so start your journey at home.
Check out 10 ways you can be healthier and greener at home. You don't need to spend extra time and money while you're out in town to minimize your carbon footprint and lead a healthier life.
1. Encourage Everyone to Recycle
Anyone can recycle if they have the right waste bins. Create a place for plastics, glass and cardboard in your home. Talk with your family or roommates about recycling what they can. Afterward, connect with a recycling program or dump in your area to learn where to dispose of everything.
2. Buy Organic Produce
When you walk through the produce section of your grocery store, do you reach for the organic products? Organic produce options don't count as Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) and don't use chemical fertilizers or treatments. You'll eat toxin-free, all-natural food and feel better for putting healthier food on your plate.
3. Skip Bottled Water
You can find bottled water in almost any store, but plastic isn't good for the planet. In the U.S., people throw out 38 billion bottles in landfills every year. That adds up to over two million tons, so do your part to recycle bottled water or use a reusable bottle from home.
4. Adjust Your Thermostat
Keeping your home warmer in the summer and cooler in the winter could reduce your energy usage by 15%, saving the earth from CO2 produced by electric plants. You'll also save money on your electric bill, which is always a big help.
5. Try Reusable Bags
If you have plastic grocery bags stored in your pantry, it's time to stop using them at the store. Instead of throwing more plastic into landfills, you can sew reusable grocery bags that double as totes.
6. Grow a Garden
Another way to avoid chemical-based treatments in your food is to have a garden. Plant herbs in pots on your porch or grow vegetables in your backyard. You'll know exactly what you're eating and how you grew the food when it's time to harvest.
7. Skip Chemical Cleaners
The household cleaners you've always bought at the store carry chemicals down your drains and into the local waterways. You can avoid dousing wildlife with waste runoff when you make natural cleaning products with things you have at home, like lemon baking soda and distilled white vinegar.
It may feel strange at first to make household cleaners, but give yourself time. Everyone has to experience the stages of habit development to lock down the habit into their new lifestyle.
8. Minimize Your Paper Use
Besides cutting down trees, the paper industry pollutes the atmosphere with gas emissions like sulfur and nitrogen oxides. It's easy to minimize your paper use if you transfer your work online and only print something when it's necessary.
9. Check for Leaks
When was the last time you checked your faucets for leaks? Inspect your sinks and showers and fix the leaky faucet in just a few minutes to reduce how much water your home drains from the planet.
10. Avoid Using Electronics
Even when electronics like your TV or laptop are in sleep mode, they still use energy because they stay plugged in. Unplug your electronics when you don't need to use them for work or school and get active instead. You'll build your endurance, get
stronger and find a more affordable electric bill at the end of the month.
Consider Your Lifestyle
Think about your routine and how you can become healthier and greener at home. You can sew reusable grocery bags, make household cleaners and more to do your part to live a sustainable, healthy lifestyle.
Emily Folk is passionate about environmental sustainability and more of her work can be found on her site, Conservation Folks, or follow her on Twitter for her latest updates.
The retirement years are a great time for seniors to develop, continue with, or expand their eco-friendly habits. Caring for our planet is not only good for the soul and the environment; it can have a positive effect on the finances too.
A few simple ways to start going green
There are several simple ways that seniors can start to change their daily lifestyle habits and go green. Use compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs in light fixtures and lamps; these use 75% less energy and last up to ten times longer than standard light bulbs. Turn the lights off in rooms that are unoccupied, and switch appliances off by unplugging them instead of leaving them on standby. Turning the thermostat down a few degrees will save both energy and money, as will installing separate thermostats in rooms that are rarely used and setting them lower than the rest of the house.
Hand soaps that contain the chemical ingredients triclosan and triclocarban have been found to keep a person no cleaner than soaps without them, so opt for cleansing products that contain more natural ingredients. PVC shower curtains also release unpleasant chemicals into the atmosphere, so swap these out for bamboo or cloth curtains if possible. Install water-saving showerheads and faucets throughout the home, and periodically check for leaks.
Seniors who are avid gardeners can look in their own kitchen cabinets to find natural products that are effective weed killers; for example, mixing vinegar and dishwashing liquid yields a very effective, environmentally friendly alternative to harsh weed-killing chemicals. Speaking of dishwashing liquid, recent studies have shown that dishwashers are actually more efficient and environmentally friendly in that they use less water and soap than washing dishes by hand; just ensure the dishwasher is fully loaded each time you use it.
Cooking and food
When it comes to cooking, it seems that the old-fashioned ways are the best. Modern, nonstick pots and pans employ chemicals known as fluoropolymers, which are released and contaminate the air during cooking, and which have also proven to be carcinogenic. Opt for heavy cast-iron skillets instead, as they have a natural nonstick property.
Freezers that are only half-full have to work harder to keep the food in them frozen, so go shopping and fill the freezer up. Stocking up on food will not only help the environment but may also help to cut down on food bills and reduce the number of trips one has to make to the supermarket. When paying a visit to the supermarket, invest in reusable bags and be sure to leave them in the trunk of the car for the next visit. Even better than driving to the big stores, embrace the local community and when possible shop for food that has been locally sourced. A local farmers’ market is always an excellent option; not only will fruits and vegetables usually be less expensive, but the produce will also be fresher and in most cases taste better.
A bigger lifestyle change can be to ensure that the home is fully insulated. A great deal of energy and heat can be lost through gaps in doors and windows, as well as through basement and attic spaces. Ensuring adequate insulation can be a large financial outlay, however, so it may be worth moving to a place that has already been fully insulated, thereby saving money and energy consumption in the long term. Downsizing may also be a good option if the children have left and you have more house room than you need – or can keep up with on a regular basis. A small house or condo will usually be more cost effective, and far less work to maintain.
Many modern senior retirement communities are embracing an environmentally friendly attitude not only with effective building insulation, but also with other green heating and cooling methods, making it easier for seniors to go green in their retirement years. Some senior living communities also utilize permeable asphalts and native grasses to create insect-friendly outside spaces that will benefit the environment.
If you decide to move to such a community – or simply downsize from a larger home to a smaller one – do not throw away unwanted items that will only end up in landfill sites, but donate them to charities instead. If the items are worth money, offer them for sale on the Internet or have a garage or yard sale. You could also consider ‘freecycling’ them – offering them to people free of charge who are prepared to come and pick the items up.
There are plenty of ways that seniors can help the environment, often by making only simple changes to their day-to-day lives. These changes often have an added benefit of putting money back into their pockets; so green living becomes a win-win way of life.