Want to help save the environment, but don’t know where to start? What better place than in your home! You think one person can’t make a difference? Wrong! If one person recycles just one aluminum can, that one can saves enough energy to run your television for three hours, so now imagine if instead of one person we all recycled? A few changes can go a long way. Here are 15 easy household changes that can and will make a difference for our environment.
1.) Say no to plastic bags
Ditch plastic bags and opt for reusable bags when grocery shopping. Over 1 trillion plastic bags are used every year worldwide and 10% of those plastic bags usually end up in the ocean. If you can’t part ways with your plastic grocery bags then recycle!
2.) Unplug all appliances when not in use
Unplug all items that have a light on even when you have turned the item off, not only will you save energy but you’ll save money too.
Don’t forget to search online for “vampire appliance’s” to know which of your appliances suck up energy while you’re away or asleep.
3.) Buy local groceries when possible
In case you didn’t know, majority of the food in grocery stores come from faraway places, some travel up to 1,500 miles! Transporting these products sold in grocery stores burn up a lot of fossil fuels which then result to pollution.
So buy locally! Not only are you helping your local farmers but you are also getting the freshest food possible.
4.) Look for products that contain post-consumer material
What is a Post-consumer recycled product? It is a product made of materials such as paper or glass that were recycled after being used and where kept out of landfills.
Look for items that have high post-consumer material in them, the bigger the number the better it is for the environment. Nowadays you can buy from post-consumer toys to post-consumer toilet paper.
5.) Change your light bulbs to energy efficient.
Replace your incandescent light bulbs to compact fluorescent bulbs, they convert most of the energy they use into light rather than heat. Compact fluorescent bulbs consume about 75% less electricity and last up to 10 times longer than incandescent light bulbs.
6.) Turn off the lights when not in use.
Save yourself some money and just turn off the lights. During the day just open up the curtains and let that good old sunshine illuminate your home.
7.) Recycle everything you can
The typical categories of things you can recycle are; Metals, Paper, Cardboard, Glass, Plastics, Batteries, Bulbs and Electronics. It is best to check with your city for certain items you are not sure about. Styrofoam can be recycled but you must check if your city is currently accepting Styrofoam and if not go online and find a place that you can drop it off or send it to for recycling. You can also go to Earth911 to find locations that can take specific electronics, metals, batteries, etc.
Here is a list of things you can recycle.
8.) Use Eco-friendly cleaners (save the water from toxic chemicals)
When we use harsh chemicals to clean up our homes we don’t realize we are polluting our soil and water, which can harm many animals and plants, we are also risking our own health by bringing in some pretty nasty toxic chemicals into our homes. Choose green, biodegradable, non-toxic cleaners or make up your own vinegar, water and baking soda formula.
9.) Cut up plastic soda can rings before throwing them out
It might seem tedious but cutting up those plastic soda can rings helps prevent any animals from getting stuck in them.
10.) Turn your computer / laptops off at night
Even in sleep mode your computer is still sucking up energy. Save all your material and turn off that computer!
11.) Hang dry your clothes (makes your clothes last longer as well)
Dryers consume more than 6% of your total household electricity usage, which can add up to $100 every year! Each dryer emits an excess of one ton of carbon dioxide per year!
So hang out your clothes to dry, it’s better for your clothes, cheaper for you and better for the environment.
12.) Lose the plastic bottle – use reusable water bottles instead.
Buy reusable water bottles instead of plastic water bottles. Last year, Americans used about 50 billion water bottles but only recycled about 23%, which means 38 billion water bottles are thrown away and end up in landfills each year.
13.) Adjust your thermostat by one degree (in summer & in winter)
By keeping your thermostat 68 degrees or below during the winter and 78 degrees during the warm summer you’ll save energy and money. For every degree below 68 degrees and above 78 degrees you are saving 3%-5% off your energy bill!
14.) Pay bills online
Save paper and time by paying your bills online. A lot of companies encourage their customers to go paperless and pay online by making it fast and easy on their websites.
15.) End bank statements
An environmentally friendly alternative is to opt for online bank statements. A lot of banks usually suggest you go paperless when you first start an account but if you decide not to in the beginning they also inform you, if you change your mind in the future, how to change the settings online so you can solely receive your statements online.
- Recycling a single run of the Sunday New York Times would save 75,000 trees.
- If all our newspaper was recycled, we could save about 250,000,000 trees each year!
- The average American uses seven trees a year in paper, wood, and other products made from trees.
- The amount of wood and paper we throw away each year is enough to heat 50,000,000 homes for 20 years.
- Approximately 1 billion trees worth of paper are thrown away every year in the U.S.
- Americans use 85,000,000 tons of paper a year; about 680 pounds per person.
- The average household throws away 13,000 separate pieces of paper each year. Most is packaging and junk mail.
- Every day, Americans buy about 62 million newspapers and throw out around 44 million of them. If we recycled just half our newsprint every year, we would need 3,200 fewer garage trucks to collect our trash.
- Americans throw away the equivalent of more than 30 million trees in newsprint each year.
- For every 15,000 tons of old newspaper recycled annually, 30 jobs are created to collect the paper, and 40 jobs are created to process the paper.
Bikes are considered one of the most environmentally friendly ways of transportation we have but even with that they cause a problem in our landfills. Annually more than 15 million bikes are thrown away in the US alone. So what’s the proper way of disposing of your bike? Donate it! Maybe your bike isn’t suitable for you anymore but it sure can help out someone else. You can donate it to Bikes to the World, which collects, refurbishes and donates bikes to lower-income people and institution in developing countries.
More than 12 million crayons are made in the US, every day! That’s about 60 tons of crayons made with petroleum based waxed that will eventually end up in our landfills. We all have that small box filled with broken and unused crayons in our homes, not really sure what to do with them but can’t throw them away. Well the National Crayon Recycle Program will gladly take all your broken and rejected crayons off your hands! They have now collected over 93,000 pounds of unwanted crayons and made them into beautiful works of art for kids to enjoy!
That’s right, Bras. The Bosom Buddy Program collects old bras and gives them to women in shelters or other programs. So if you have a bra that doesn’t fit or a bra that you just won’t wear any more than wash it out, fill the donation form, package it up and either drop it off at a location near you or mail them directly to The Bra Recyclers.
Wine Bottles and Corks
Have wine bottles or corks taking up space in your kitchen? If you didn’t know, the wine bottle itself is glass recyclable but what about the cork? ReCork American collects those tiny corks and turns them into flooring tiles, automotive gaskets, craft materials, soils conditioner, and sports equipment. They have collected over 47 million corks!
According the EPA, each year Americans throw away 25,000,000,000 Styrofoam cups. Even 500 years from now, the foam coffee cup you used this morning will still be sitting in a landfill somewhere. Why? Because the materials used to make up styrofoam or polystyrene foam take a really long time to decompose. If you want to start recycling your styrofoam then go to Earth911 to locate a styrofoam recycling facility in your area or you can also check your local UPS store or mailing company for styrofoam recycling. Many of these companies accept styrofoam packing peanuts to reuse.
- Aluminum is the third most abundant element in the Earth’s crust.
- It is known as a sustainable metal: with two-thirds of aluminum ever produced still in use to this day.
- Aluminum takes around 200-500 years to fully degrade in a landfill.
- One ton of recycled aluminum saves 10 cubic yards of landfill space.
- The aluminum can you recycled today will be back on the shelf as a new can at the grocery store in 60 days.
- Aluminum beverage cans are 100% recyclable.
- Every minute 105,800 aluminum cans are recycled in America.
- The average aluminum can contains more than 50% post-consumer recycled aluminum.
- We throw away enough aluminum cans every 3 months to rebuild our entire commercial air fleet.
- It’s estimated that over the past 20 years, we have trashed more than 11 million tons of aluminum beverage cans. That’s worth over $12 billion in today’s market!
- Recycling aluminum takes 95% less energy than creating aluminum from raw materials.
Go paperless this year and send your invitations through email or create an event on Facebook, its free! You can also go on evite or punchbowl, they have free online invitations you can browse and if you want to splurge a bit they also have more creative invites your pay for. All you have to do is just create an invitation, add your guests and send it, it’s that easy!
Let’s talk about pizza. It’s delicious and glorious and a football game party without pizza is not a party. We all know we can recycle cardboard but did you know that because of the grease of the pizza it’s hard to recycle pizza cardboard boxes? You can tear off the top clean part of the cardboard box and recycle that but the bottom greased up part is a big no. This year try out your awesome cooking skills and make a pizza! You can find various recipes online and even make a football shaped pizza for your guests!
Buy eco-friendly plates and cups this year! Don’t forget to recycle your beer bottles! Even with the lime you can still recycle them!
Label your trash and recycling bins individually to make it easier for your guests to know where to throw their waste. Have designated areas around your home for the bins whether it be inside and outside our just solely inside.
Paint tin cans and use them to hold your cutlery and if your making popcorn, give your guest decorated glass jars so they can fill them up with delicious popcorn! Look around you, you can probably find some interesting things to reuse to decorate for the party. Go to online sites like Pinterest for nifty ideas on how to repurpose your old stuff!
Check out Dolphin Blue’s Eco-friendly Preserve Products!
- Plastic water bottles take around 450 years to 1000 years to decompose.
- We have about 2 million tons of water bottles in our landfills.
- The making of the bottles to meet our demands uses more than 17 million barrels of oil annually.
- Americans used about 50 billion plastic water bottles last year, yet the U.S. recycling rate is only 23%.
- Nearly half of all bottled water is reprocessed tap water.
- Some bottles might be contaminated and cause health problems.
Go green and ditch plastic water bottles.
- Water pitcher filters are as efficient as 300 standard 16.9 ounce bottles. They filter about 240 gallons of water a year for about .19 cents a day.
- Tap water goes through more regulation than bottled waters since tap water is regulated by the EPA and water bottles are regulated by the FDA. It’s cleaner and cheaper.
- Buy BPA free bottles for when you’re on the go, they’re reusable and can last you for years.
If you just can’t part ways with your water bottles then recycle. Don’t forget, when you recycle plastic, you’re helping save energy, oil and landfill space.
Real Christmas trees are biodegradable; they can be reused or recycled for mulch, sand and soil erosion barriers and are placed in ponds for fishes to use as shelter. Here are some great recycling options for your real Christmas tree.
Drop off Recycling Centers: It’s no charge and you can usually take up to two trees to a drop-off location. Some centers might charge commercial/business drop offs depending on load length. Drop off centers require that you remove all tinsel, ornaments, lights, nails and tree stands before dropping off your tree.
Curbside Pick-up: Most cities will collect trees during the two weeks following Christmas. Some curbside programs might have a certain size limit along with requiring you to remove all ornaments from the tree. Flocked and artificial trees will not be accepted.
Mulching Programs: The Mulching Programs shred the trees, turning them into mulch to use in gardens. Check your local department of public works for more information.
Nonprofit Pick-up: You can call a local nonprofit organization to pick up your tree.
Never burn your Christmas tree! The firs and pines of the trees have a lot of sap, which can explode!
You can go to Earth911 to check on curbside pick-ups and local Christmas tree recycling events.
The Pilgrims may have traveled quite a distance to celebrate the first Thanksgiving, but their food didn’t. They learned to source their sustenance locally, a tough task in a new world, and they celebrated with a feast that eventually turned into modern-day Thanksgiving.
Getting food today doesn’t require nearly as much work for most of us as it did for those Pilgrims in the 1600′s, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t think about where it’s coming from.
Concerned about the way animals are treated? Try celebrating this year vegetarian-style. There are so many yummy meat-free foods at Thanksgiving, you may not even miss it. But if the big feast just won’t be the same without a bird on the table, look for pasture-raised, free-range turkey. This tells you that the animal lived outside, without harmful chemicals and hormones pumped into its body. Here are some other labels, classified by the World Society for the Protection of Animals, to look for when buying food:
A GOOD Start
“Cage free” (eggs)
“Free range” (eggs, chicken, goose, duck, turkey)
“Grass fed” (dairy, beef, lamb)
The “Good Start” labels indicate a meaningful animal welfare standard, but the standard covers only one aspect of animal care, and compliance with the standard is not verified by a third party.
“Free range” (beef, bison, pork, lamb)
“Pasture raised” (dairy, eggs, chicken, goose, duck, turkey, beef, bison, lamb, pork)
“USDA Organic” (dairy, eggs, chicken, goose, duck, turkey, beef, bison, lamb, pork)
The “Even Better” labels generally indicate a higher level of animal welfare because the standards are more meaningful than those for the “Good Start” labels, but the standards are either not verified by a third party or cover only a limited aspect of animal care.
The BEST Options
“Certified Humane” (dairy, eggs, chicken, turkey, beef, lamb, pork)
“American Humane Certified” (dairy, eggs, chicken, turkey, beef, lamb, pork)
“Animal Welfare Approved” (dairy, eggs, chicken, turkey, duck, goose, beef, lamb, pork, rabbit)
The “Best Options” labels cover multiple aspects of animal care, and compliance with the standards is verified by an independent third party.
To get your local store to carry products with these labels, just ask. Have your friends do the same, and the store will likely listen. You can download a request card to put in a store’s comment box or mail to its headquarters.
Decorate your table not with cheesy Thanksgiving-print napkins and paper plates but with pumpkins, gourds, apples, and all the other wonderful edible treats the fall season has to offer. If the thought of doing all those dishes makes you want to scrap the holiday altogether, try Preserve Tableware, an environmentally friendly alternative to the disposable stuff. The dishes and cutlery are made from 100 percent recycled plastic and are strong enough to be reused dozens of times (or just recycled when you’re done).
Top off the look with soy candles and a few sprigs of pine, and you’ll have authentic decor that would make even those who came over on the Mayflower proud.
When It’s Over
After the meal’s done and the leftovers picked through, compost the rest. Of the waste Americans send to landfills, 24 percent of it is organic waste (i.e., kitchen scraps). Keeping that waste out of landfills saves space and reduces greenhouse gas emissions, making it a win-win however you look at it. Making your own compost is easy!