What does it mean to be “Earth-friendly” and “eco-friendly”? Being earth/eco-friendly is about learning to consume items that cause the least to no harm to the environment. It is about understanding what a carbon footprint is and doing more to lessen that footprint. (A carbon footprint is the amount of carbon dioxide and other carbon compounds emitted due to the consumption of fossil fuels by a particular person, group, etc. Thank you dictionary.com!) Being Earth-friendly is also about striving to support other in living eco-friendly lives and create sustainable communities. Earth day is every day and today’s post is just a reminder of the little things we can do daily to be Earth-friendly.
1. Brush without running the water.
Everyone brushes their teeth! (Right?) Brush your teeth and encourages others to brush their teeth without running the water. Doing so will conserve up to five gallons of water per day if you stop. FIVE GALLONS!
2. Take a shorter shower.
Another daily action is taking a shower. Every two minutes you save on your shower, you will conserve more than ten gallons of water. So, imagine not running the water while you brush your teeth and taking a shorter shower… At that point, you have officially conserved FIFTEEN GALLONS of water! If everyone in the country saved just one gallon from their daily shower, over the course of the year it would equal twice the amount of freshwater withdrawn from the Great Lakes every day.
3. Buy local.
I love local farmer’s markets. Being in California, I am fortunate to have many different fruits and vegetables constantly in-season because of the weather and strong agricultural presence here. Buying local is a good habit when considering the amount of pollution emitted for our food to get to our table. Some where someone produces a fruit on a farm. That fruit has to be packaged (using more material that is most likely non-compostable). Then, this packaged fruit usually flies/drives its way here (leaving carbon emissions in the air). After transportation, the product either goes straight to the market or calls for more trasportation to restaurants or to factories producing processed meals. Whenever possible, buy from local farmers or farmers’ markets. In doing so, you would support your local economy (yay!) and reduce the amount of greenhouse gases created when products fly, drive, swim (swim?), or shipped in.
4. Don’t use paper/plastic bags when grocery shopping.
I’m happy to see many cities and states enacting laws about paper/plastic bags over the last few years. In Long Beach, it is an extra $0.10 per paper/plastic bag from any super market or retail store. Although, between paper and plastic bags, choose the paper because paper is compostable when it is ripped up or balled up. Over 100,000 pounds of non-biodegradable plastic bags are in landfills every week. On a daily basis, these plastic bags make their way to the oceans and consequently affect our food chain. Help this issue by carrying your own reusable cloth bags, or, if necessary, paper bags. Reusable cloth bags are inexpensive and readily available in many local markets.
5. Pick up trash when you see it.
Speaking of landfills and plastic bag trash, picking up any trash when you see it is another habit everyone should pick up. Picking up trash is beneficial in that it won’t go into the sewers and clog them up or go straight to the ocean and kill turtles and fishes and other oceanic animals. Picking up trash is also simply a good habit because we are all living on this planet together. It may not be your trash that you put on the floor, but it is your home. Do you really want to live in a pig sty?
6. Go vegetarian once a week.
I remember learning about this from a colleague many moons ago when I first started college. He was the Student Senator of Innovation and Sustainability and he created a campaign encouraging a Meatless Monday. I also learned about how it requires 2,500 gallons of water to produce one pound of beef. ONE POUND! As for another interesting, but scary fact: for each hamburger that originates from animals raised on rainforest land, approximately 55 square feet of forest have been destroyed. You don’t have to cut meat all together, but taking that one day off of eating meat makes a world of difference. One less meat-based meal a week helps the planet, your diet, and the trees being destroyed to make way for animal farms on rainforest lands.
7. Invest in reusable water bottles and coffee cups.
I love my water, my coffees, and my teas. So, naturally I collected a fair share of reusable water bottles, coffee cups, and enclosed cups for my iced tea drinks. Nearly 90% of plastic water bottles are not recycled, which solidifies the notion that it would take thousands of years to decompose. Did you know that Starbucks gives 10% discount off a beverage if you bring your own coffee cup? Most coffee shops will happily fill your own cup, and many (like Starbucks) offers discounts in exchange! I have yet to purchase a teal and white customizable KeepCup as shown/recommended in ilikeweylie’s January 2015 favorites video.
8. Pay bills online.
By some estimates, if all households in the U.S. paid their bills online and received electronic statements instead of paper, we would save 18.5 million trees every year, reduce 2.2 billion tons of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, and reduce 1.7 billion pounds of solid waste. Some banks will pay you a dollar or have some sort of benefits offered if you cancel the monthly paper statements you get in the mail.
9. Adjust heating and cooling depending on season.
When it’s blazing hot in the summer, choose to use a fan over an air conditioner. Even better, turn everything off at home and go to a mall that already has communal air conditioning. Utilized shades to keep heat out during the summer and heat in during the winter. Last but not least, when your apartment or home is vacant all day, remember to turn the air conditioner/heater off to save money and energy.
10. Shut of electrical things when you don’t need them and especially at night.
If you don’t need other light sources for work or at home, turn them off. Other than lights, electronics such as computers and laptops should also be turned off instead of left on sleep mode. Turning off computers and laptops will help save 40 watts per day (this adds up to $0.04 a day, or $14 per year). TIP: If you don’t want to wait for your computer to start up, set it to turn on automatically a few minutes before you get to work, or boot up while you’re pouring your morning cup ‘o jo.
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Live your life Earth-friendlier by following the 10 simple habits listed above. Although this is not a habit, I encourage you to share this post with others. Take what you just learned and pass the knowledge on. If every person you know could take one small step towards being more eco-friendly and “greener,” the collective effort would make countless changes for our environment. Again, this is our home. Let’s do our best to take care of it.