Creating a greener living environment can be overwhelming when you don't know where to begin. In fact, many people are apprehensive about going green because they fear that too many changes will be costly and inconvenient. While that is true to an extent, there are some easy changes you can make to your everyday lifestyle that will reduce your carbon footprint. So, if your New Year's resolution is to go green, follow these 10 simple steps to do just that.
1. Go Paperless
This may seem simple enough, but it truly makes a huge difference to opt for paperless billing and online coupons. In the age of smartphone technology, utilizing apps to pay bills or apply discounts to purchases can save thousands of trees. Plus, as a bonus, it will also reduce the clutter in your home. Just be sure to put alerts on your calendars to remind you when bills are due.
2. Switch to LEDs and CFLs
Changing your light bulbs can give you not only a brighter home, but also a greener home. Take your basic bulbs and switch them out for LEDs or CFLs. These lights are brighter, and they don’t waste nearly as much energy from heat emissions. The cost to illuminate LED and CFL lights is also less than standard bulbs, so this step is great for the environment and your bank account.
3. Create a Compost Station
While it is always good to recycle, you can take it even further with an at-home composite site. This can help you ensure that biodegradable food waste has somewhere to go other than landfills. Making yourself a compost station is not only good for a greener way of life, but also for improving your garden. Plus, knowing how to compost is pretty much fool-proof. Spread your biodegradable food waste atop your soil, then add an additional layer of soil above. You can alternate layers as much as you'd like, so every week when you take the trash out, you can add another layer of compost and soil. This is truly a great way to add nutrients to your soil and prepare for spring planting.
4. Seal Gaps in Doors and Windows
Gaps in windows and doors are more wasteful than many people realize. Drafts reduce your heating or cooling system's ability to regulate temperature, letting air in and out, wasting money and energy. Wasting energy is a huge problem because most of us rely on coal and gas as energy sources, but these are hard to come by and cannot be replaced once lost. Plus, many forms of energy cause pollution, so it is important to use energy wisely and efficiently. There are many different ways that you can seal up air leaks to keep drafts out. Use caulk or sealant on any small gaps in your walls or around windows and doors. You could also replace windows and doors for an overall better seal and higher insulation. With doors, you can also place door draft stoppers underneath the opening to reduce air flow between rooms or to the outside.
5. Collect Rainwater
Water is a precious resource, so make sure that you are making good use of it. Collecting rainwater is a great way to reduce wasting such a hard-to-come-by resource, especially for areas that are often facing drought. All you need to do is shorten your gutter run off and place a rain barrel underneath. The water is relatively clean and can be great for cleaning cars, watering plants, or even after it is filtrated bath or shower water. This is a simple step that can help you live greener this year.
6. Go Low Flow
Low flow toilets, sink faucets, and shower heads are simple upgrades that can conserve water without imposing an overwhelming amount of change to your home. All you have to do is replace your current fixtures with low flow versions that can be found at any hardware store or online retailer. Most people don't even notice a difference in functionality.
7. Use Energy Efficient Appliances
The best news about replacing old appliances with energy efficient ones is that most of the newer models offer new gadgets and functions. Truthfully, all "energy efficient" really means is that they don’t emit nearly as much waste as the older models. You can still rejuvenate your older models to make your current appliances more energy efficient. Because at the end of the day, it’s better to be energy efficient no matter whether you splurge on brand new models or keep your older ones. However, if you need an excuse to get something new, going green is a great one!
8. Get a Tankless Water Heater
Installing a tankless water heater is another great way to go green that can also save you a lot of money. The reason is because a tankless water heater takes less time to warm up the water, therefore, you waste less water and less energy trying to reach the correct temperature. Getting yourself a tankless water heater can help save on bills and keep the planet a little cleaner.
9. Separate Your Recycling
No, this doesn't mean going through your trash to pull out recyclables. Simply designate separate bins for trash and recyclable items. Areas like like San Francisco and Los Angeles have adopted a pickup system for this already to make it easy for homeowners and renters alike. Recycling is a great initiative to take for a year of greener living. You can go one step further by separating aluminum from plastic from paper and so on, but that's only for the overly ambitious recyclers. Crushing your cans is a great way to maximize the space in your recycling bins as well.
10. Furnish and Decorate with Sustainable Materials
Creating a beautiful and relaxing space within your home is important. Upgrading the look of your home is a wonderful way to ring in the new year. Completing your upgrade with eco-friendly furniture and sustainable materials can make your home even better. This furniture may be a bit pricier, but it will also give you a better feeling about yourself and your home for the rest of the year.