When embarking on a sustainable lifestyle, the same myth comes into play. Many assume that living green is an all or nothing approach. However, within our eco friendly consulting practice, we opt for the thought “a little bit of something, is a better than a whole lot of nothing.” Why? Because it shifts ones perspective from an all or nothing approach to curiosity of how small changes can add up. Thinking this way generally sparks enthusiasm that generates forward momentum in the recognition that every eco action is part of a larger whole. Here’s a look at how seemingly small sustainable lifestyle changes add up to savings for your wallet and the environment:
- Buy perishable groceries only as needed: It saves $50 a week and eliminates wasting produce and dairy products.
- Recycle cans, bottles, and paper: This cuts the family’s contribution to landfill by 66 percent.
- Insulate your hot water pipes. Insulation will not only raise the temperature throughout the system with a lower water temperature setting, but you also conserve water since you don’t have to wait as long for hot water whenever you turn on a faucet or a shower.
- Switch to CFLs, unplug computers, and turn out lights when leaving the room: That reduces electricity usage by one third.
- Grow a vegetable garden: It saves $300 a month on summertime groceries.
- Buy an annual share in a local organic farm: reduce what you pay each week for produce.
- Fix plumbing leaks. A single leaky faucet can waste over 200 gallons of water a month
- Insulate the attic floor: It saves 156 gallons of oil — and approximately $546 — over one winter.
- Install a rain-water-collection system and soaker hoses: That cuts summertime water consumption in half.
- Install shades, drapes, awnings or sunscreens. Consider products that block light on hot sunny days and retain heat during cold weather. This may seem old-fashioned and “lo-tech”, but it’s time-tested and surprisingly effective.
- Buy a programmable thermostat. By setting your thermostat on a timer you’ll save energy but still enjoy heating and cooling when you need it most.
- Lower the temperature on your water heater by a few degrees to save gas and/or electricity.
- As old appliances fail, purchase new appliances with the Energy Star rating.
- Reduce unnecessary electrical consumption: unplug seldom used devices (think cell phones and iPods). Only 5% of the power drawn by a cell phone charger is used to charge the phone. The other 95% is wasted when it is left plugged into the wall.
- Utilize power strips for commonly used devices. Choices include Watt stopper and Bits limited.
- Close the fireplace damper tight when the heating season is over.
- Wash full loads when using the washing machine or clothes dryer. Using less hot water around the house saves energy too. Launder clothes in cold or warm water and take a shower instead of a bath.
- Plant shrubs and trees around the air conditioning condenser to improve its operating efficiency. The shade makes it work less to cool the refrigerant circulating from the inside air handler. In fact, the Arbor Day Foundation offers ten free shade trees when you purchase an annual membership.
When you think about it small changes do add up. When combined with others living sustainable lifestyles, the impact is bigger. If you need help in building a sustainable lifestyle or bringing eco awareness into an area of your life or business, we are here to help.