Sustainability is one of those buzzwords that are everywhere these days. And now that Earth Month has started, expect to hear it a lot more often! In fact, we hear it so often that we may never stop to think about what it means for something to be sustainable.
Sustainability can really be understood two different ways. The first concerns materials and assumes there is a finite amount of resources available. Material sustainability means we should use products that make use of those resources in the best way possible.
The second type of sustainability refers to practices and habits. It’d probably be pretty tough to find someone who wants to actively “harm” the planet. But when most people are faced with ways to be more materially sustainable, they find that they’re just too dang hard.
So in honor of Earth Month, we’re offering some tips on how to transition to a more eco-friendly lifestyle. These habits are fairly easy to build into your regular routines, so we hope that you can sustain these ways of being sustainable. While we understand that you can't implement them all, pledge to do your part whenever you can, because every little bit helps.
- If you forget your reusable grocery bags at home, go ahead and use the plastic disposable ones. While most home recycling programs don’t accept plastic bags, all supermarkets have bins to collect and recycle them. So collect them and return them to the grocery store on your next visit for recycling!
- Save up to 90% of the energy your washer uses by washing your clothes in cold water instead of hot.
- Speaking of appliances, new dishwashers only use about 1 gallon of water per cycle, while hand-washing dishes can use up to 15! So run your dishwasher every night, even if you’ve only got it halfway full.
- Put a stop to those paper-wasting “pre-screened” credit card promotions for good. Just go to www.optoutprescreen.com to remove yourself from credit card companies’ lists.
- Take the stairs instead of the escalator at least once a day. That way, you’re burning off your energy (calories) instead of the planet's!
- When driving, avoid "jack rabbit" starts and stops. Flooring the gas pedal not only wastes gas, it leads to drastically higher pollution rates. One second of high-powered driving can produce nearly the same volume of carbon monoxide emissions as a half hour of normal driving.
- Teach kids to turn off the water while brushing their teeth. Leaving the tap running during the recommended two minutes of brushing can waste up to five gallons of water a day.
- Say "no" to Drain-O. If you have a clog and there's no standing water, pour in a cup of baking soda, then chase it with three cups of boiling water and repeating if necessary. If there is backed up water, pour a cup of washing soda into the spot over the clog, wait for it to settle, then use the baking soda technique.
- When you are leaving your desk, be sure to switch off your computer screen, especially during long periods like your lunch break. A computer that is set to “screensaver” mode uses nearly as much energy as it does when it’s being used.
- Let the companies you buy from know that you support businesses that take strides to be environmentally responsible. If it’s a merchant, let them know that you prefer to buy organic, recyclable products. Companies will follow the demand of their customers.
- Switch to soaker hoses instead of sprinklers in your garden, as they can reduce water waste by as much as 70%. Soaker hoses apply irrigation water directly to the roots of your plants, so water doesn’t evaporate like it does with a sprinkler. Also, avoid watering during warm hours of the day.
- Print on both sides of paper or use the backside of used paper for notes or for kids to color on.
- Reuse our shipping boxes by unhooking the tabs that snap the box together, or remove the tape holding the box together. Flip the packaging around and simply rebuild the box the opposite way and, voila’, one box is good two times!
- Put food coloring in your toilet tank. If it seeps into the bowl without flushing, there’s a leak. Fix it and start saving gallons.
- According to Energy Star, sealing and insulating ducts can improve the efficiency of your HVAC system by more than 20%. That's an energy and money savings that will keep you cool all summer long!
- According to Chattahoochee Riverkeeper, sending fats, oils, and grease (FOG) down the drain can result in untreated wastewater reaching rivers and streams, causing nutrient and bacteria levels to spike and oxygen levels to drop, thereby posing a threat to aquatic life. Instead collect FOG in a can and cool it down before disposing in a garbage can.
- If using solid wood for a project, select products with the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) label, certifying the wood was responsibly grown and harvested. Or find salvaged wood products at local used-building materials retailers.
- Ditch your dependency on disposable sandwich baggies for reusable ones. Either make your own with a little thread and velcro or buy some like these adorable ones on Etsy.
- Many commercial air fresheners use chemicals that can be harmful to pets and a baby's development. Instead, lightly spritz the place with a blend of essential oils disbursed in water or Organic Witch Hazel.
- Commit to using body washes and scrubs WITHOUT plastic microbeads, which post a major threat to our waterways and marine life. You can download this Beat the Microbead App, which will clue you into if your product has microbeads in it.
We hope this list helps you transition to a more green-friendly lifestyle, but this is just a start! There are many more things you can do to minimize your impact on the planet, like using pure nontoxic skin care products like Sally B's Skin Yummies. Let's pledge to make every day Earth Day and to challenge ourselves to continue to make bigger and better strides throughout the year for a more eco-friendly world!