“Going green” might seem like something that may be too challenging or require too much commitment to be sustainable for your daily life. Often, being able to live green has been seen as elitist. Surprisingly, though, there are many simple steps you can take to easily begin transitioning into green living, including options that will save you money in both the short and long term!
There are so many great ways to save energy every day. With a little practice, you can make many of these a part of your daily routine. For instance, turn lights off when you leave a room or wait to turn lights on until later in the day. Many of you can’t stand a dark room, especially when it’s the first thing in the morning, but what about opening up your curtains or blinds and letting in natural sunlight? That can help delay the need for artificial light. If you do need to use lamps, though, consider purchasing LED bulbs. For slightly more cost upfront compared to a regular bulb, you will have one with extended life that uses significantly less energy.
Although it may cost more upfront than delaying turning on your lights, consider installing solar panels. It sounds like a great idea, but how do solar panels work? Solar panels collect the sun’s energy. Part of the equipment that collects that energy is also able to convert it into regular electricity that can then power your entire home. Despite the upfront cost, this is a huge money saver over time, often within the first year. After you install the panels, you are still connected to the traditional power grid. When you don’t use all the power you have produced, the “extra” energy is sent to your power company, allowing you to accrue credit with your energy company. Also, don’t forget, when you add things like solar power or other energy-efficient updates to your home, you may be eligible for a tax credit.
Many of you may already be into “reusables.” Perhaps you like thrift shopping for awesome clothes, or repurposing old t-shirts as cleaning rags. However, several other reusables can make an even more significant difference. Plastic pollution is an increasing problem worldwide, so consider exchanging your plastic straws for washable metal ones. They often come in a family-size pack with a special brush for cleaning and can easily slip into a purse or a backpack, so they can be ready when you are. Start using metal containers to carry your water instead of buying plastic water bottles.
One of the best things you can do is take reusable bags shopping to limit the number of plastic bags you bring home from stores. There are a variety of sizes and types. Some have hooks to hang from a keychain or belt loop. Others can be easily folded into your pocket or stuffed into a crossbody bag. Once you get in the habit of carrying them, you will use them all the time.
Often, when people think about going green, they are really thinking about gardening. While having a large garden can be a huge undertaking, consider having a small outdoor herb garden, or growing some simple plants like peppers or tomatoes. For those of you wanting to learn to compost, this would be an excellent time to use the results as fertilizer!
You don’t have to have a lot of outdoor space to reap the benefits of nature. Even in a small urban apartment, you canstart an indoor herb garden. Aside from the benefit of having fresh herbs to flavor your meals, you will also have freshly scented indoor space, as well as a natural air purifier.
Many of you probably already participate in some form of recycling, and that is a significant first step in moving toward a more sustainable lifestyle. For those of you looking for more things to do to try to ease into “green living,” consider a few simple, yet cost-effective changes. Limit the use of artificial light, decrease your consumption of single-use plastics, and consider literally going green with a small herb garden. The changes will come more naturally than you think!