The time machine comes to a halt and the double doors begin to slowly part in front of you as a wave of fresh warm air rushes over your face. You squint your eyes to adjust to the bright outside light as a voice from the intercom above recites, “Welcome to the year 2116. Enjoy your visit.” You step through the doorway and onto the sidewalk of a city park. Children are playing, dogs are chasing Frisbees and a young couple are having a picnic under an oak tree. You take a deep breath and exhale a sigh of relief as you think to yourself how good it feels to be outside . . .
Being in the fresh air is magnificent and it is time for us to look at how we’re treating the environment so it will be as beautiful in the future as it is now. If we all make an effort to live an eco-friendly life, we can help preserve the splendour of our world for years to come. Not to mention, it can help you cut back on some extra costs. Follow the tips below to get started.
Use less electricity
A lot of the electricity we use comes from fossil fuels, which when burned are harmful to the environment because they create greenhouse gas emissions. Reducing the amount of electricity we use can be simple. For example, heating and air conditioning often use the most electricity in our homes, but your home doesn’t have to be the perfect temperature if no one is there to feel it. Program your thermostat so it has to do less work during the day when you’re not home, or turn it down at night while you sleep.
Lighting your home also uses a lot of electricity. Open your curtains to let natural sunlight brighten the room during the day and use only the lights you need in the evenings. For the areas of your home that you use less frequently, consider installing motion sensors. Motion sensors will turn the lights on when you’re there and turn them off when it senses you’re not.
Another easy way to save electricity is to unplug your electronic devices and appliances when you’re not actively using them. Even though most of these things have an off switch, they’re still using electricity if they’re connected to a socket. Standby power consumption can account for almost half of a household’s total energy usage, so it’s worth the extra effort to unplug the toaster before you leave for work in the morning. If this seems like a hassle, consider investing in a smart power strip. This will sense when a device enters standby mode and then entirely cut power to that socket.
Reduce, reuse and recycle
The easiest way to reduce waste is to start recycling. Ensure you have a separate bin for recyclables and actually use it! Consult your local recycling program to confirm the types of materials they collect and whether or not they need to be sorted. You can also reuse items you might normally throw away. Poke holes in an old milk bottle to create your own watering can for plants or reuse glass jars to collect loose change and store other items. Instead of throwing away plastic shopping bags, reuse them as rubbish bin liners or packing material.
To further reduce your household’s waste and also create a rich soil additive for your garden or house plants, start composting. Composting is simply the process of the decomposition of organic materials such as grass clippings, leaves and fruit and vegetable scraps. The resulting matter is a dark, nutrient-rich soil fertiliser, which will fuel plant growth. Not only will composting make your garden flourish, it will also help to curtail the amount of rubbish that ends up in a landfill.
What you send out of your house is just as important as what you bring into it. Many items such as cleaning products and paints can contain harsh chemicals, which can be harmful to your health and the environment. Look for non-toxic products that contain only natural ingredients – or even make your own! Baking soda and vinegar are two of the most underrated and underutilised cleaning products.
When you’re making large purchases for your home, especially big ticket items like electronics and furniture, think about the longevity of what you’re buying. Is it going to last? Or is it going to end up in a landfill in a couple of years because you had to replace it? Sustainability is one of the keys to being eco-friendly. It’s best to not only buy products that will last a long time, but to buy ones that were made sustainably.
These tips may not seem like they could have a great impact by themselves, but they do. If we all take the time and put in the effort to make a few changes, we can all look forward to a healthy future for our families and ourselves.