While heating alternatives are the basis of this site, there are many things the average environmentally conscious person can do to help do their part to help conserve the planet’s resources. Here are some of my favorites.
GREAT USE FOR NEWSPAPER
I know you probably have some old newspapers laying around and hopefully you recycle them,
but another idea that I love is to use it as gift wrap.
You can choose an appropriate section for the receiver(like if someone loves to read the comics, use that section for their gift) and use some nice twine or felt for an added decorative idea.
You will save money on commercial gift wrap that can’t be recycled and the receiver can recycle the newspaper instead of having to throw it away! Win for your wallet and the environment.
INVEST IN A REUSABLE WATER BOTTLE
Did you know that it takes thousands of years for a plastic water bottle to decompose in our landfills? Not to mention, the sea life that are killed each year because they swallow harmful plastic that has been disposed of in our waters.
At the very least, I hope that you recycle your plastic water bottles, but purchasing one that you can reuse over and over again (I LOVE my Klean Kanteen) is simply a better choice for the environment and for your wallet. Think of the money you could save if you make a one time purchase and don’t have to buy those awful plastic water bottles again.
Whenever possible it is so beneficial to you and to the environment to buy local and organic, especially produce and meat. Not only are you supporting your local farmer, but just think for a minute how far your food travels before it gets to your table. Next time you are at the store, read labels to see where things come from, especially produce.
When you buy items that are in season, they are more likely to be local and will taste so much better because of this. Visit and purchase items at a local farmer’s market if you can. It is really cool to meet the person who grew the food you are about to eat.
UNPLUG, UNPLUG, UNPLUG
You might be surprised what a difference it could make on your electricity bill and your carbon footprint if you unplug appliances and other electrical items in your home when they aren’t in use. If you have several on the same power strip, a simple way is to turn off the switch and everything won’t have power. Unplugging items with an internal clock(such as a microwave) is important because it continues to need power for the clock to run. Always unplug cell phone chargers when not in use, too.
As far as that goes all chargers should be unplugged when not in use or you are just adding to your electric bill for no reason. On the same note, keep your thermostat as low as you can tolerate in the colder months. Every degree below 70 will save you money and so will turning down your hot water temperature!
BUY IN BULK
Buying in bulk is one of the best and easiest ways to save money and be eco friendly at the same time. I have saved so much money since I started buying in bulk and have way less waste because of it. Just start with a few things that you buy often and compare the bulk prices with what you would pay for a new package of the same item. The shelf tag under the item should say what the price per pound is for the full sized item. A great example of this is herbs and spices. They can be very expensive and when you have a recipe calling for a tiny amount, who wants to buy an expensive full size container.
Recycle an old spice bottle and take it to store to refill in the bulk section. You will literally spend pennies on the dollar and get just the amount you need. Some other favorite bulk items that I love to buy in bulk are quinoa (an amazingly healthy grain), flour, oatmeal, yeast, maple syrup, black beans, rice, and oats-to name a few.
When storing large amounts of grain, make sure they are placed in a sealed container in a cool, dark location. You don’t simply want to leave things in bags or various household critters will begin to move in. And let me tell you, there’s nothing worse than trying to get rid of a dead mouse smell from your home.
A great container to recycle for bulk items is an old peanut butter jar. I wash them out and put them in the cupboard for my next trip to the bulk aisle! Don’t forget to take your reusable tote!
ELIMINATE PAPER TOWELS
This might sound crazy and completely out there for you to even consider, but consider this: we Americans use paper towels so much that it adds 3000 tons of waste to landfills EVERY day! That is waste just piling up that can’t be recycled and remember they are created from trees. Imagine where we will be if we keep using paper towels at the same pace. At the very least a change to recycled paper products is an absolute priority for the sake of our environment and the environment our kids will grow up in.
The only paper products I buy are toilet paper and tissues and they are ALWAYS recycled. I have completely stopped buying paper towels and it feels GREAT!!!!! My family has adapted really well and the environment and my wallet are very thankful! What I did to accomplish this was to take old t-shirts and cut them up into rags, then placed them strategically throughout our home so when someone needs one they can just grab it, use it, and throw it in the laundry! Oh, and my favorite items to have are cloth napkins. I have a drawer filled with many of all different colors! I look for deals and buy a couple at a time. They even go in the kids’ lunchboxes!
REUSABLE TOTE BAGS
There are way too many plastic bags decomposing in our landfills (it can take up to 1000 years!). You may already have some canvas totes in your home that you could use right now. I always keep a few totes in my car and even one in my purse so I always have at least one for trips to the grocery store or any store for that matter! It is such a great feeling to know that I am not not adding to the landfill or cluttering my home with those awful plastic bags.
Even paper bags are not the best choice as their production has a major impact on the environment. I would rather walk out of the store with my arms filled with stuff than a paper or plastic bag…….I have actually done this!
I know you have probably heard this one a lot by now, but it is so important! There is so much that you CAN recycle and it is so good for the environment and, ultimately your wallet! Basically, most towns offer recycling for FREE, so the more you recycle, the LESS that goes in your trash can and fewer bags to PAY for at the transfer station! A win for you and the Earth.
From newspapers to junk mail, and plastic containers to aluminum cans. We can all do it, one item at a time. We have actually switched to a garbage can that is half the size of our old one since we started recycling more. We have way less waste and it feels oh, so good!!
WALK, RIDE A BIKE, OR CARPOOL
For so many reasons this one is beneficial to you and the environment. You get exercise and the environment is less polluted! Oh, and let’s not forget the extremely HIGH gas prices. The more you walk or use alternate ways of getting around, the less money out of your pocket for gas.
CFL OR LED LIGHT BULBS
Ideally you should try to replace all of your existing light bulbs with LEDs or CFLs (the curly ones). The major reasons are that they last longer, use less energy (better for your wallet), and create less pollution. Now, they are more expensive, so I would suggest maybe committing to buying a new one each week to replace your old bulbs and before you know you entire home will be earth and energy bill friendly!
FYI: CFL’s are considered hazardous waste and need to be disposed of responsibly. Here is the simplest way to find the nearest place to your home. Go to www.earth911.com and at the top of the page above where it says the word “what” type in the item you need to dispose of and in the space above the word “where” simply type in your zip code or city and state and it will tell you the station nearest to your home. One more thing, once you’ve installed all of your new CFL’s and while you still have the old light bulbs, too…..always remember to turn off the light when you leave a room.
HANG YOUR LAUNDRY
This time of year, we have almost no excuse not to hang our laundry. Whether you have an outdoor clothesline or a wooden drying rack, you truly should hang your laundry to be earth-friendly and wallet-friendly! Next time the dryer is running, go check your power meter……you may RUN even faster to turn off the dryer and hang those clothes. It is even great to hang on wooden racks inside in the winter because it will help put moisture in the air when it tends to be more dry from having to use heat in colder climates.