One of the most popular misconceptions about going green is that it is less cost-effective and will result in a huge net loss of money. But that is simply not true: today there are many little things you can do, both around the house and in your every day routine, to make your life more eco-friendly for free! You heard me right: it will cost you $0 to implement these changes (my favorite price), but it's longterm effect when it comes to saving your planet will be — you guessed it—priceless.
According to a 2016 study by Pew Research, only 28 percent of Americans reportedly live in areas that strongly encourage recycling in their households and everyday routines. That is a startling statistic: that means that the majority of Americans are perhaps knowingly contributing to the landfills and dumps of waste that are slowly but surely taking over, and destroying our planet. When something doesn't seem convenient, or to have an immediate effect, people have the tendency to grow complacent. This is no longer acceptable behavior: it's time to act with urgency.
I challenge everyone to implement at least one of the following changes into their routine, in honor of Earth Day 2018. They're both simple and free! The planet has given as so much — it's time for us to give back.
1Wash Your Clothes In Cold Water
Not only is washing your clothes with cold water good for preserving the quality of delicate fabrics, as well as colors that have the tendency to breathe, it saves so much energy!
2Open Your Windows
As the weather slowly (ahem, very slowly) grows warmer, and us New Yorkers begin to look towards what might reportedly be another "summer from hell", the temptation to blast the AC will be all too real. Instead, try opening a window and letting in the natural breeze, before flipping the switch.
3Separate Your Recycling
This is such a simple, but effective change to implement. Adding a recycling bin to your kitchen and bedroom takes very little time, and through practice, recycling plastics and paper will begin to happen mindlessly, out of routine. Take it one step further, by separating cans, plastics, and paper, before taking out the recycling. It takes five minutes of your time, but has serious long-term effects!
4Turn Off Your Water
Repeat after me: when you are brushing your teeth, turn off the water. Only have the water running when you're actually using it to wet your toothbrush or wash your face. The same goes for your shower — only turn it on when you're getting in, not when you're taking off your clothes or make up.
5Start A Compost Bin
Composting can use up to 30 percent of household waste, that would otherwise be mindlessly tossed into your trash can. This is a significant number: when organic material sits in a landfill, it has difficulty decomposing and returning to the earth. Instead, it breaks down into methane, which is harmful to the environment and can lead to global warming. Additionally, composting can lead to a great natural fertilizer for your garden!
6Walk To Work
Reduce your carbon footprint and get all your steps in at the same time by waking up a little earlier than usual and walking to work! Not only is that vitamin D great for your health, and the endorphins from physical activity fantastic for your mood, but it's also wonderful for the environment as well! If you live to far from work, try carpooling instead.
7Unplug Your Electronics
In order to conserve energy, unplug your chargers, speakers, or hair straighteners (which are already dangerous to leave plugged in BTW) before you leave the house. It's a small gesture that makes a large difference in the long run. Plus, it'll actually save you money!
8Reuse Your Paper
If you have scrap paper lying around the house, or pages of printed material that did not print correctly at work, save it and reuse it. It's much less likely to go to waste or get thrown out if it's reused in another capacity — such as note paper, or re-printable paper.
9When Possible, Go Paperless
Cut paper in little ways when you can. For example, instead of sending out paper invitations, consider sending email e-vites or making a Facebook unvite instead. Not only is it cost-effective, and greener, but I actually think it's a way better method of communicating with your party.
10Save Your Shopping Bags
When you're given little plastic bags at the grocery store, instead of mindlessly tossing them in the trash. Instead, reuse your bags when you go grocery shopping, to hold your sweaty gym clothes, or even in place of trash bags for your recycling bins. By reusing your bags, you're preventing shopping bags from going to waste and ending up in a landfill.
12Plant A Tree
Next time you and your partner need a fun weekend activity that involves the great outdoors, consider planting a tree before propping up that picnic. Planting trees releases oxygen into the air, reduces ozone levels and helps remove carbon dioxide from the air, which cools the earth. Just one tree releases enough oxygen to sustain two people!
There are little ways to conserve water in your everyday routine than you think. Are you someone who wakes up in the middle of the night to pee? Consider leaving the toilet un-flushed until the morning. It sounds gross, but it truly makes no difference and conserves a lot of water. Just make sure your roommates are cool with it first!
You might be subconsciously littering and you don't even realize it! Do you know how many receipts and coupons and gum wrappers end up populating the streets? Try to be more conscious about your litter — it's a small step up of awareness that will have huge rewards.
15Institute Meatless Mondays
Meatless Mondays are a win-win-win: not only is going meatless once a week good for your health at it lowers your risk of several chronic diseases, it also reduces your carbon footprint because meat uses so many resources, such as water and fossil fuels, to be processed packaged and sold.
So next time you're far away from the recycling bin, feeling extra lazy, and you don't want to have to walk all the way over there when the trash can is right next to your desk, think twice — one tiny step towards the recycling bin, might be one giant step for mankind.