Everybody wants to be as green as they possibly can be, helping the environment with eco-friendly habits. But it really isn’t easy these days — even when you’re dealing with debates that you thought were decided years ago.
Take the paper versus plastic bags as a good example. Even this simple question can be confusing once you really do the research and understand everything that goes into the production and waste process. Yes, paper bags biodegrade quickly and don’t end up in the oceans, so they seem like a no-brainer. But they also require a lot more energy to produce than cheap plastic bags and are less reusable, so the equation is a bit more complex.
In this case, there is an obvious solution: bring a cloth bag to the store with you. In other situations, however, you are left thinking you need a degree in environmental engineering just to figure out the best way to live your day-to-day life.
To help streamline the decision-making process and improve your eco-friendly habits around the house, here are a few simple words of advice that anyone can follow.
Walk and Bike More
Remember the basics. Start with the most obvious way of cutting your carbon footprint — by using your feet. If you live in a big city, chances are you already walk more than your small-town counterparts. But rural folk can easily walk and bike more if they just build a bit more time into their schedule. In time, you will even grow to enjoy the time away from your car.
Plant a Garden
In a reversal of the first tip, people who live outside of major cities have the leg up here cultivating eco-friendly habits. If you have even a small yard, you should be trying to grow and eat at least a little bit of your own food. Planting a few tomato plants or some sprigs of rosemary won’t change the world, but helping to cut down on transport and fertilizer costs will help both the environment and the growth of a more sustainable economy. Plus, the more you do it, the bigger your green thumb will get. There is nothing like making a salad for guests out of only home-grown veggies, and you will soon want to expand your plot to produce even more produce.
Develop Greener Shopping Habits
Now that you know what bag to use, it’s time to make sure you’re putting the right things in it. To help protect Mother Earth, try to stock up on items from companies known for environmental stewardship and manufacturing products that meet the Environmental Protection Agency’s scientific standards. Be sure to do a little product research on your own and then start improving your buying habits.
Better yet, try to buy things that are still useful even though their old owners don’t want them anymore. Cheap Ikea furniture is appealing for convenience and price, but you can probably find an even less expensive bookcase from someone in your town. And nothing is more green than not participating in the mainstream consumer market.
Even when you aren’t using electronics, they suck a little bit of energy out of the socket whenever they are plugged in. While it isn’t a huge amount, this so-called “vampire energy” can add up over time. And unplugging your toaster, blender or rarely used lamp is too easy to not make it one of your everyday eco-friendly habits. Here’s a good rule: Unless you’re using it at least everyday, there is no need to leave a device, gadget or appliance plugged into the wall.