April 22, 2016 was another Earth Day celebration, but it also marked the day when representatives from 175 countries came together to sign a climate deal in Paris. The goal? To slow down the continual rise of harmful greenhouse gases. This is a big step for the environment (and humans, everywhere), but what are some easy ways to be environmentally friendly that we can all take? Below are 10 simple steps to be a little bit more environmental:
Bring A Mug
You can be that weird person who brings your mustache mug or mason jar to your local coffee shop. Just bring your own mug, and ask the barista if you can have your coffee or tea in it, instead of a paper or Styrofoam cup. Chances are, they’ll say yes, although some places don’t allow it. By using your mug you won’t be contributing to the 58 billion paper cups that are thrown away each year.
Use Tote/Cloth Bags
Some counties and cities are already doing away with plastic bags, but if you are in an area that hasn’t, then remember to bring your reusable bag. In just one year, Americans go through about 100 billion plastic bags, and those bags are in the top 12 most common item found on beach cleanups. I keep my cloth bags on top of my fridge, but you can keep them by your front door so you don’t forget them when going shopping, or even in the car. And don’t think that the grocery store is the only place to use them; you can use a big bag when at the mall.
Get And Use The Seafood Watch App
The Monterey Bay Aquarium has a seafood guide called the Seafood Watch. The Seafood Watch “helps consumers and businesses choose seafood that’s fished or farmed in ways that protect sea life and habitats, now and for future generations.” If you want that mahi mahi sandwich, but aren’t sure if it is sustainable to eat farmed mahi mahi, the Seafood Watch App can help you make the best choice for you and the ocean.
Use The Dishwasher
Contrary to belief, using your dishwasher actually uses less water and energy than washing the dishes by hand. Newer dishwashers may use as little as 3 gallons of water per load, while it estimated that washing that same amount of dishes by hand would require 20 gallons of water. It’s even better if the dishwasher is full, but if you live by yourself and have limited dishes, then don’t wait. If you really do want to or need to wash your dishes by hand, use cold instead of hot water.
Unplug your chargers (phone, computer, tablets) when not in use; unplug your hair dryer; unplug your coffee maker; unplug your gaming console; even unplug your bedside lamp. All of these devices are sucking in small amounts of energy, even when not in use (they’re known as Energy Vampires). You’ll even see a small decrease in your electricity bill by unplugging what you are not using.
Use Cold Water For Laundry
So not only does cold water keep the colors in your clothes looking brighter for longer, but an estimated 75% of the energy used by washing machines goes to warming up the water. That is a lot of energy, and in turn, it is also using a lot of your money to heat up the water. If you feel like your clothes won’t be clean in cold water, either buy a detergent specifically for cold water, or at least start using warm or cool water, as opposed to hot.
Eat Less Meat
I’ve never been the type of vegetarian that tries to push my eating habits on anyone; eat what you want, when you want. But this will be my exception. With livestock contributing 18% of greenhouse gases, going vegetarian for just one day means that you will be preventing America from emitting 1.2 million tons of carbon dioxide. If everyone in America participated in Meatless Monday—again, just one day a week—the U.S. would also be saving 100 billion gallons of water, and 70 million gallons of gas. Be a friend to the pigs, cows, chickens and turkeys, and make the world a little happier.
Bike When You Can
I once read that you should bike everywhere if your destination is under 10 miles. While that may be unrealistic for most of us, biking to places that are less than three miles away is doable. Many people (myself included) are guilty of driving to a store only a mile away, which is crazy. Bike when you can, and you’ll be happy to know you are saving gas and money, and getting exercise.
Keep and Reuse Your Glass Containers
All of those glass containers that your salsa, marinara sauce, jams, and pickles come in could be recycled, but even recycling takes a lot of energy. Instead, save them. You can use them to hold your leftovers in, to carry your food to work or school, or use instead of a mason jar. You can even use them to hold pencils, flowers, or your toothbrush.
Reusing is always better than recycling, but recycling is always better than adding to a landfill. For real darlings, recycle when you can, and when you can’t, put that water bottle in your bag or car to take home to recycle later. Recycling reduces pollution (because of the methods used in landfills to deal with the trash), and it cuts back on deforestation (even if it is a small amount, it still does), and it is just as easy to do as throwing something in the trash.
Do you have any of your own tips for being environmentally friendly! Tweet us @LitDarling!
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