As global warming and its effects continue to populate headlines, it may feel like there’s little you can do to reduce your carbon footprint. However, making your household green may be as easy as changing a few habits each week. By getting all of your family members interested in saving the planet, you can collectively contribute to preserving the environment. Here are six weekly chores that you and your household can transform to reduce your impact on the ecosystem.
1. Reduce your water usage.
This is a big one that is commonly overlooked, but sometimes, the environment reminds us that we aren’t doing an effective job of preserving our resources. Take the drought in California into account.
Although droughts are common in California, according to the Public Policy Institute of California
, the latest one that began in 2014 has prompted the government to declare a state of emergency. State and federal lawmakers approved of a $1 billion emergency relief plan in 2014, highlighting the economic effects of drought.
Households and non-farm businesses account for 20 percent of the human water use in the state. For this reason, legislators have encouraged California residents to reduce water use when possible – this means no lawn watering or long showers. In July 2015, Californians reduced water consumption by 31 percent, according to the Los Angeles Times
. However, it may be a bit premature to celebrate, even in California.
Although 70 percent of the Earth is made up of water, less than 1 percent of it can be effectively used by humans, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
. To reduce water consumption by up to 30 percent, you can install water-efficient appliances and fixtures around your house. Items that have the WaterSense label
from the EPA can help you identify products that may improve your household’s water conservation.
2. Start composting
Even if you don’t have a garden, there are plenty of good reasons to begin composting. The EPA states that composting your waste
can reduce the amount of trash that ends up in landfills. If you choose to use it around your yard, it can add beneficial nutrients to your soil and reduce the need to use pesticides. Compost can be used everywhere from playing fields to golf courses.
3. Get into e-cyclingE-Cycling
, or electronic recycling, is increasing in popularity these days. As we turn to gadgets ranging from smartphones to laptops, there’s plenty of waste to go around once the latest upgrade hits the market. In 2013, the EPA states that 40 percent of TVs, computers, smartphones and other electronics were collected for recycling once they reached the end of their lives. Many of the materials used to create these items can be reused in electronics. In some cases, these devices may even be usable to organizations that collect donations.
4. Change how you do laundry
It’s a chore that few people enjoy, but when the laundry has to be done, you can still keep Mother Nature in mind. About 90 percent of the energy used on laundry comes from using warm water, according to Real Simple
. Try washing your loads in cold water next time to conserve more energy. For additional efficiency, you can ensure that every load has as much clothing as possible. This can reduce the amount of loads you need to do each time to tackle the chore.
5. Use your car less
Two-thirds of the country’s carbon monoxide output comes from automobiles, according to the EPA
. Cars also rely on fossil fuels, and the harvesting of these fuels are increasing the amount of pollutants that enter the environment. There are some places that you simply can’t get to in a short amount of time without your car, but what about everywhere else?
If the weather permits, try riding your bike to locations near your home to reduce your reliance on your car. Walking to nearby places can also give you a good amount of exercise while keeping your car at home. To reduce gas costs and usage, think about public transportation options in your town or city. Encouraging your household members to do the same can help you all go green.
6. Recycle what you can
Whether it’s plastic cups, paper plates or aluminum foil, there are likely plenty of items around your home that could be easily recycled. Many towns and cities also offer free recycling bins for homeowners to use to sort their trash, rather than sending it all to a landfill. To find out exactly what can be recycled, visit the EPA or your city or town’s waste management website for more information.
Once you determine what can and can’t be recycled in your household, you can take steps to be proactive about recycling on a regular basis. For example, you can label your trash bins for specific items, such as paper plates and glass bottles. This will make it easy for everyone (especially kids!) to keep recyclables separate from the actual trash.
Being mindful of the environment ¬outside of the house can help your entire family reduce their carbon footprints as well. For example, bringing reusable bags to the grocery store can ensure that you aren’t taking home more plastic bags than necessary. Purchasing products that are composed of recycled items can also boost your eco-friendliness, as well as buying merchandise that can be recycled after use.
Our planet is already in the middle of the sixth mass extinction of plants and animals, according to the Center of Biological Diversity
. About 75 percent of waste is recyclable, but Americans are only recycling 30 percent of it. An excess of 100 million Americans live in urban areas where the air is unsafe to breathe, according to the EPA. To say that we are overusing our planet’s resources may be an understatement. However, these small steps can help Earth retain all of its glory. Over time, these small changes to your daily lifestyle could have a big impact on the environment as we know it.