In celebration of Earth Day (April 22), here are six easy ways you can make your life greener today.
1. Go veggie once a week
We get it – meat is delicious, nutritious, and a valuable part of a balanced diet for many of us. But the production of meat creates a lot more greenhouse gases than the production of vegetables, and contributes to our fossil fuel consumption. It’s estimated that it takes 25 calories of fossil fuel energy to produce just one calorie of animal protein, which is a less-than-great ratio no matter how you slice it. So kick off every week with a Meatless Monday to make a small, significant difference.
2. Print double-sided
Such a no-brainer, and yet so many office printers still don’t have 2-sided printing as their default option. American businesses waste an estimated 21 million tons of paper every year, and you can halve your paper consumption by using double-sided printing – not to mention the money you’ll save on refills.
3. Bring your own coffee cup
That single cup of takeaway coffee seems pretty harmless, right? But if you buy just one cup of coffee (or tea, or hot cocoa) in a disposable cup per day, you’ll create around 10.4kg of waste in just one year. Not so harmless. So invest in a cute, personal mug and bring it with you for the barista to fill up. Many places, from Starbucks to office cafeterias to local coffee shops, will give you a discount for bringing your own, so this is really a win-win.
4. Don’t run and brush
That is, don’t run the water while you brush your teeth. We’ve all done it, and it makes sense – the sound of running water is the natural soundtrack to teeth brushing. But assuming you take the dentist-recommended two minutes to brush your teeth, that’s roughly five gallons of water going to waste down the drain. Turn it off until you need to rinse.
5. Go paperless
For your bank statements, for your boarding passes, for your movie tickets. Some reports estimate that if every American household paid all their bills online, it could reduce landfill waste by more than 800,000 tons per year, and save around 18.5 million trees per year. Plus… it’s just easier. There’s basically no reason to ever print a bill or a ticket on paper again, and in the very near future paperless will become the non-optional norm, so it’s time we all get with the program.
6. Use your dishwasher
If you’re lucky enough to have one, use it, even if you live alone. While it may seem wasteful to run a less-than-full dishwasher, the average dishwasher cycle uses about half the energy and one-sixth of the water that washing dishes by hand does.