As we enter the year 2021, we are hopeful for a new beginning as we try to put the COVID-19 pandemic behind us and return to a more familiar state of normalcy. We all need to do our part to make the world a better place again as we head into the new year, and one of the best ways to do that is to think about living a more sustainable lifestyle.
When many of us think about reducing our carbon footprint and doing our part to improve the earth, it can seem like a hill too steep to climb. However, while one person may not be able to change the world, together, we can make it a safer place by making smart ecological life changes, and you can start today. Let’s look at some big changes you can make in the new year.
Modify Your Routines
The best way to start living a more sustainable lifestyle is to think about your daily routines and how you can modify them to make a smaller negative impact on our world and resources. For instance, you can save money by cutting down your shower time by a few minutes each day or turning off the sink while you lather your hands when washing up.
Think about what you are using while you’re in the bathroom. You likely have a plastic toothbrush, but those are quickly discarded and fill up our landfills. Instead, consider using an eco-friendly toothbrush made of bamboo that degrades naturally over time.
Speaking of items you use every day: when you are making the big life choice to live more sustainably, think about what you can swap out. If you are like many people, then you probably go through many bottles of water in a week.
So, instead, opt for a reusable bottle that you can fill up time after time and avoid unnecessary waste. Also, instead of storing your food in plastic bags, purchase a reusable container, or reuse the to-go containers you get from restaurants.
A big change that you can make to your routine is to ditch your car or truck and instead ride a bike to work and to run your errands. Unlike a motor vehicle that creates pollution and uses valuable fossil fuels, a bike operates cleanly.
Plus, bikes use up less space on the roads. So, if everyone rode a bike, there would be less of a need to cut down plant life and lay down the concrete necessary to make more roadways. On top of all that, actively riding your bike and getting the exercise you need can lead to improving certain chronic conditions.
Change Your Home
Now that you understand how to start making better ecological life changes, continue that momentum by making little modifications around your home that can make a big difference.
In general, most of these tips come down to using as little electricity as possible because to power our homes and devices, fuel must be burned, which leads to harmful air pollutants that hamper our natural environment.
Start with your lighting. Replace your incandescent light bulbs with LEDs that not only produce higher-quality lighting but also last longer and are 90% more efficient, so you are throwing out and buying new bulbs less likely. On top of that, make sure to turn the lights off in every room that you are not in and turn off all electronic devices when not in use.
While you are doing laundry, you should use cold water. Doing so reduces the energy your water heater needs to create to make hot water, and cold water is actually better for your clothes. When the clothes are done, opt to skip the dryer and air dry them outside instead.
In the kitchen, use smaller appliances like toasters instead of the stove when possible to avoid extra energy usage. Make sure that the oven and refrigerator doors are always closed to avoid wasted electricity.
Finally, think about your thermostat and the energy you are wasting by overheating or cooling your home. One way to keep these temperatures regulated is with a programmable thermostat that is set at 78 degrees during the winter and set it to raise the temperature when you are at work or school, so it doesn’t turn on as much when you’re gone.
Think About How You Shop
While many people have come to terms with the fact that they need to save energy when at home, you may not realize that you can also make smarter choices while you are out shopping as well.
At a minimum, you should always avoid disposable plastic bags and instead buy several reusable cloth bags that you can bring with you every time you shop. You may not realize it, but a plastic bag can take hundreds of years to decompose, so you are doing the earth a big service by switching to reusable. Plus, your cloth bags are less likely to break from repeated use.
Now that you have your bags, think about where you shop and how your choices can make a difference. Instead of going to the big superstore to buy your food, consider going to the local farmer’s market. The food there is often better for you because it is made with fewer chemicals, and since it was grown locally, large trucks aren’t required to drive across the country while polluting the air to deliver it.
While you are out doing your shopping, give serious consideration to buying products made out of hemp. In 2018, Congress passed the Farm Bill that allows farmers to grow hemp, and it’s a good thing because it can be used in everything from shoes and clothes to backpacks, sunglasses, food, and more.
When you buy these products, you encourage farmers to grow more, and hemp is very good for the environment as it turns CO2 into cleaner air, and it doesn’t require pesticides to thrive, so you are doing a good thing for the world when you buy these alternative products.
As you can see, making more sustainable choices in 2021 is not as daunting as it initially seems. However, you need to be dedicated to making the change. Start with these simple tips, and you’ll be amazed at how you can help Mother Earth.