When you think of a green home, you might picture solar panels on the roof and an electric car in the driveway. But sustainable homes are simply those that make good use of resources, reduce waste, and lower their bills in the process.There are all kinds of lifestyle changes that can help you and your family live more sustainably, and many of these are straightforward, actionable and easy enough to implement today.
Buying food locally and seasonally reduces the distance your food travels. One way to become more sustainable in your diet is to follow a seasonal produce guide for your area. Most urban centers also have subscription services that can connect you to your local farms. As mentioned below, transportation accounts for a significant portion of greenhouse gas emissions and this includes the imported products at your local supermarket. It’s also good for supporting local businesses.
According to the EPA, transportation accounted for 29 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in 2019. As driving is a daily necessity for most families, but there are many opportunities to optimize existing routines and cut back on miles. Later this year, Google Maps will help you choose a route that minimizes the amount of gas you use based on traffic data. But small changes in habits can also be effective: making one large grocery trip in a week instead of three small ones would save you eight car trips in a month. Bicycling or taking public transportation to the office once a week would save over 90 car trips a year.
Next time you replace your lawn equipment, consider buying an electric lawn mower, trimmer, or chainsaw to reduce your greenhouse gas emissions.
Whether you’re making lunch for a child or wrapping up leftovers, there are a number of options to replace paper bags, cling wrap, and aluminum foil. Reusable beeswax paper can be used to wrap food like sandwiches. It’s breathable and easy to clean, though typically not safe for the dishwasher. Japanese bento boxes are a great way to pack a lunch, as their compartments can be used to separate different components of a meal. At the supermarket, avoid using plastic bags for produce when possible.
When it’s time to buy new lightbulbs, consider that CFL (compact fluorescent light) and LED (light-emitting diode) bulbs are more energy efficient than incandescent ones. They also have a longer lifespan. It’s a quick fix that can provide energy savings over time because of frequency of use. According to Consumer Reports, LED light bulbs can last for 20,000 to 50,000 hours.
We often recycle because we believe it is the right thing to do. We tend to forget that reusing materials can be more environmentally friendly. Next time you move or do a spring cleaning, consider donating old clothes, electronics, and books. Some charities even provide a pick-up service to make life easier.
If you have the space, planting a tree in your yard is an effective way to offset your existing carbon footprint. According to One Tree Planted, a charity with a mission to help global reforestation, trees “use carbon dioxide to build their trunks, branches, roots, and leaves” which makes them natural carbon absorbers. Young trees can absorb about 13 lbs of carbon, while a mature tree can absorb up to 48 lbs per year.
Clean water is a limited resource, but most of us are lucky enough not to live in areas where water scarcity is not an issue. Brushing your teeth without the water on can be the first step in changing the way you use fresh H20.
There are additional ways to optimize water usage in your home, including only doing full loads of laundry or dishes, which can reduce energy costs. When it’s time to replace your washing machine, consider buying a high-efficiency model.
A simple solution to lower the water flow in your toilet is to place a two-liter bottle of water in the toilet tank. Ensure that the bottle doesn’t touch any of the parts inside the tank. The difference in water flow may be imperceptible, but this solution will save gallons of fresh water over time.
Everyone’s green home is different. It’s important to explore different options to make our homes sustainable in a way that makes sense for our families and their daily routines. Changing the way we live can seem daunting, but going green doesn’t require a huge overhaul. There are practical steps we can take every day to make better use of our resources and reduce waste.
Photo by Jessica Rockowitz on Unsplash