by Tiffany Kresinski
There are tons of ways to modify your lifestyle to become more sustainable these days but, if you’re like me, you don’t have the time to incorporate them all. Since making the commitment to live a more eco-friendly lifestyle, my family and I have begun making small changes to our lifestyle. I firmly believe that making small changes as an individual is the first step in working towards a better environment as a whole. I’ve also made it a goal to learn about some of the larger initiatives taking place around the globe, learning to adapt my own life to support the grand-scale efforts. By improving our own lives, we aid the efforts of big businesses and people who are trying to help the environment – together changing the direction of our planet.
1. Don’t just recycle – upcycle
Recycling is a great way to sustain an eco-friendly lifestyle, but there is more to it than collecting empty bottles and cans in a bin. It’s a good idea to think twice before tossing something to the curb and consider ways to convert those items into something useful, without having to melt it down first. If you’re interested in learning more about how others are using upcycling, I suggest reading up on William McDonough’s Cradle to Cradle project. This is just one of the examples of big businesses, and architects who are making strides in improving how our population operates.
2. Make small modifications to appliances
Peter Busby and Eric Corey Freed are two others making strides in sustainability. Busby’s sustainable design initiative, and Freed’s organicARCHITECT help encourage businesses to build the most efficient buildings possible. Their ideas are geared towards corporate buildings, individuals can contribute by making small changes in their own homes as well. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, “appliances account for about 13% of your household’s energy costs.” Take a look through these minor adjustments from the department’s site to help decrease your energy bill:
• Make the switch to energy-efficient light bulbs, they might be the more expensive initially, but will last longer and help you save on your electric bill – saving you money in the long run.
• Defrost freezers and refrigerators as frost buildup can decrease the appliances energy efficiency. This might seem like a hassle, but I like to take the opportunity to really clean out the fridge as well, combining the two projects makes them more manageable.
• Uncovered foods release moisture and make the compressor work harder so be sure to wrap foods stored in the refrigerator, not to mention leaving foods uncovered causes them to go bad faster, smell, and ultimately ends in wasted food!
• Save energy by air-drying clothes on lines or drying racks. Honestly, its possible to cut back on how much laundry you do altogether – if a shirt you wore to work isn’t dirty, don’t wash it. Cutting back on the frequency of washes will help the clothes last longer and save you money.
• Invest in a timer. I know we can all be a bit guilty when it comes to over-using water, and it wasn’t until I put a cooking timer in our bathroom to cut down on shower time that I actually got better at this. Adding a timer, and doing simple things like turning off the water when brushing your teeth, can add up to huge water savings.
3. Cut down on the trash
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 4.38 pounds of waste were generated per person, per day on average in 2012. Rethink your trash habits with these tips:
• I’m not the best when it comes to remembering to bring reusable bags every time I shop, but I do make a conscious effort to reuse the plastic bags around the house after I get them; whether it’s as garbage bags, lunch bags or for storage, reusing these prevents me from buying new ones and contributing to the waste problem.
• Store food in reusable containers instead of disposable plastic bags. Spills are prevented this way too!
• Bring your own mug to coffee shops – some have programs where you may even receive a discount for doing this.
• Bring your lunch to work in a reusable lunchbox (or get some more use out of that grocery bag), rather than spending money for brown bags.
4. Sustainable cleaning
Another method to decrease your environmental footprint that often goes unnoticed, is the use of organic cleaning supplies. Certain cleaning products can have a negative impact on the environment. Organic cleaning supplies are available at most grocery stores, but you can also make everything from all-purpose cleaner to laundry detergent with simple recipes. Other household necessities, such as insect repellent and air-freshener can also be made at home without the toxic ingredients of store-bought versions.
With these simple, budget-friendly tips, you can kickstart your eco-friendly lifestyle. Little changes go a long way, and before you know it, your eco-friendly habits will have a positive impact on those around you.
Tiffany Krezinski is a wife and mother who strives to “live green.” She is always looking for new ways to improve her lifestyle and support the environment, keeping track of her experiences on her blog,