Today’s environmentally conscious homeowners regularly tweak their lifestyles in dozens of small ways to save energy and protect our planet. Most of us know the typical tricks – programming thermostats, unplugging electronics and appliances when not in use, switching to “green” cleaning products and always having reusable shopping bags handy. These are great ways to dip your toes into the world of eco-friendly living, but the team at Ernest Homes has discovered quite a few new and surprising ways to contribute to the green movement. The list below could raise a few eyebrows, or even produce a few giggles, but every suggestion is tried and true. See which tactics you can try in your battle for a better environment!
Get Clever in the Kitchen
The kitchen is one of the busiest places in your home, and one of the best places to conserve energy and resources. Most people don’t know that their choice of cookware can make a difference. Glass, silicone and ceramic dishes improve oven efficiency and reduce the temperature needed to prepare food. They’re also the best choices for your microwave, which typically uses half the energy of a conventional oven. Pressure cookers are a great way to prepare food – these compact energy savers can reduce the cooking time of most foods by 70 percent.
Check the placement of your refrigerator for optimum efficiency. Fridges should be at least 7.6 centimeters from each wall in order to allow sufficient air flow. They should also be kept in a shaded area of your kitchen; refrigerators will use more energy to keep contents cool if forced to combat the warmth of sunshine. If your family doesn’t use the ice maker on your fridge often, you can turn it off to save energy. According to TIME, the average refrigerator’s ice maker can increase energy use by up to 20 percent when it’s running non-stop. Or if you’re in the market for a new fridge, consider one without an ice maker if it isn’t necessary. The old “tray way” is better in the long run if you don’t use a lot of ice.
Kiss your Keurig goodbye – the convenient plastic pods are filling landfills as well as your trash can.
And don’t forget that eating at home can make a big difference when it comes to maximizing the efficiency of food consumption. We can control the amount of food we make when dining in; when we eat out we’re often served much more than we need. Leftovers tend to spoil in the fridge before they’re eaten.
Shopping locally for fruit and vegetables when possible is a great way to boost your regional economy, but also to open your mind to one of the biggest problems we have when it comes to choosing our food – the ugly factor. Put aesthetics aside and choose produce wisely to minimize waste.
One of the best ways to go green is to re-buy (and re-sell!) merchandise. Clothing, household goods, books, furniture and other items can be rescued from landfills and dumps when you buy from thrift stores, consignment shops and flea markets. Demand for new items falls when the market need for them decreases. By giving useful items a second go-round, we’re reducing the need for conspicuous consumption. And believe it or not, thrift shopping has become fashionable! Getting the bargain of a lifetime for .99 cents? Just ask Macklemore – it’s all the rage!
Bonuses for the Bath and Laundry
One of the largest uses of energy is heating water for the wash. 80-90% of the power used can be saved if you wash your clothes in cold water instead of hot. Choose concentrated detergents with less packaging to shrink your carbon footprint. Or better yet, get some Soap Nuts. They’re the ideal laundry detergent, and available quick as a wink through Amazon Prime.
Shorten your showers by one minute, and you can save 150 gallons of water per month. Shorter showers will also use more water than a bath, which can increase water usage by 14 percent. Here’s another way to eco-shower…shave afterward! Fill a small cup with warm water and rinse your razor in it as you shave, rather than swiping the razor under a running tap or shower stream. Your shave will be cleaner, smoother, and less rushed – fewer nicks and cuts!
The Truth About TP
And here it comes – the suggestion that none of us like to think about, yet alone talk about. Looking to go “greener” when you get “cleaner”? Buy recycled toilet paper! This TP isn’t made from previous TP – it is manufactured when other types of paper are recycled. Read up on the pros and cons here. And then…if you’re really ready to go full steam ahead on your quest for a smaller carbon footprint, try cloth toilet paper. Yes, it is a “thing”…and it’s not for everyone. But it may just be your favorite adjustment yet!