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In light of concerns about the increasing demands on scarce resources, many people are looking for ways to reduce their impact on the Earth. From giving up certain products and habits to recycling more, there are a number of ways you can lead a more sustainable lifestyle.
Here are five practical tips for making your way of life more sustainable.
Think about all the ways you waste water. Running a partially full dishwasher or washing machine doesn’t use water efficiently. Instead, operate these water-consuming appliances only when you have full loads to maximize their capacity. Many people leave the tap water running while they brush their teeth rather than turning it off until the very end. Install a shower head that helps you use less water during bathing. These are small, meaningful steps you can take toward leading a more sustainable lifestyle
In addition to these basic steps, you can position barrels to catch rain that runs off your home’s roof. Then, use the water you collect to irrigate your lawn and garden or wash your car and your home’s windows. Put in place eco-friendly systems from LifeSource to soften tap water without potassium or sodium. By improving the taste of your home’s water, you can say goodbye to the waste associated with disposable water bottles. This system also uses backwash to irrigate areas around your home rather than merely wasting it.
The simple act of buying food that’s produced in the geographic region near you reduces the carbon footprint of your diet. Instead of relying on food that’s shipped by train or truck for hundreds of miles, you’re supporting local producers who travel, at most, 50 miles (give or take) to get their food to the market. Encourage local farmers to use organic methods that don’t introduce harmful chemicals into the environment. You can also request farmers who raise livestock to implement sustainable practices that reduce run-off from animal waste that could pollute area waterways.
The same idea of buying local applies to programs that let you buy a share in a Community Support Agriculture (CSA) project. After purchasing your share, you receive a basket of fresh food each month from the local CSA farmer. Most CSA programs also bring consumers closer to the source of their food by asking them to work a certain number of hours on the farm each year.
Use Less Paper
Sign up for paperless e-statements from all companies that you conduct business with. Pay bills online to avoid having to print out statements and mail in payments. When you do have to send paper through the mail, use products made from recycled paper. Rather than purchasing hard copies of books, read on your e-reader. Avoid printing materials at home and at the office unless it’s absolutely necessary. Let your smartphone hold coupons, rather than handing over printed ones.
Lots of people like to dust off their bicycle during “Bike to Work Week.” However, think about the opportunities you have throughout the year to use your bike or alternative modes of transportation to get around. Many cities, even mid to small-size towns, offer bus service. Some buses even have bicycle racks, making it easy to bike from your home to the bus stop.
If riding in a car is a must, consider organizing a car pool with colleagues at your office or neighbors who work near you. Take staycations during which you enjoy the parks and recreational activities close to home to avoid burning fossil fuels by driving or flying someplace far away.
Take Advantage of Green Entertainment
Rather than buying new books or movies, consider checking them out from your library. Some public libraries even let you borrow children’s toys. Shop for adult and children’s books at yard sales instead of buying brand new products.
Create new toys for children from empty, clean food packaging such as plastic tubs and bottles. Use items such as brown paper bags for coloring and drawing, and empty egg cartons to hold paint or small parts for crafts.
What are some easy ways you’ve chosen to make your lifestyle more sustainable?