We all want to do our part for the planet by making eco-friendly decisions that will result in a minimized footprint left during our lifetimes. As the decision to be environmentally friendly becomes more trendy, the price of that choice seems to get higher and higher. While we can’t all install solar panels and green roofing on our homes, we can make simple everyday decisions that will better the planet and not obliterate the bank account. Here are a few ways you can go green on the cheap.
Lose the light bulbs One of the easiest ways to go green is glowing right above your head. Traditional light bulbs take an enormous amount of energy to run, and lose much more energy through heat than energy-efficient bulbs. Although the cost is a little higher to begin with, it is estimated that households save $35 off their energy bills for every energy-efficient bulb they purchase. As you can imagine, this quickly adds up if you are using green bulbs throughout your home. All across Europe the old energy inefficient light bulbs have been almost phased out, replaced by greener bulbs that are saving European households hundreds of dollars a year. They have estimated that replacing light bulbs with ones that are energy efficient can reduce the national electricity consumption by 2%, which is equivalent to an entire nuclear power station! If you want to go green, and even save yourself some money along the way, energy efficient light bulbs are a smart start.
Ditch plastic bags!
If you are looking for additional ways to go green, chances are you already use eco-friendly bags for your shopping. If not, it is time to give up the plastic bags and use re-usable alternatives. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that over 380 billion plastic bags are used by American consumers every year, which averages out at more than 1,200 plastic bags per individual annually. Those plastic bags require 12 million barrels of oil to be produced and the bags are then thrown away to pile up in landfills. Switching to re-usable bags makes an enormous difference on your individual impact on the environment. You can also choose bags according to your personality, with thousands of design options out there to choose from.
Wash away household cleaners.
It is always a bad sign when you can’t pronounce or identify half of the ingredients in a product. Many of the chemicals that are found in basic household cleaners are extremely toxic and harmful, and in truth have little reason to be in the home. Manufacturers are not required to disclose all of the ingredients they use in these products, so as consumers we really have no idea what it is that we are spraying all over our homes. Consider using natural products to clean your home, for effective non-toxic cleaning that will still leave your counters disinfected and clean. Baking soda is a terrific green cleaner that helps remove odours and is great for tasks such as cleaning the oven. White vinegar is cheap and will give you streak-free windows, shiny floors, and even remove soap scum. Keep it in a re-usable bottle and use it as you would any multi-purpose cleaner. Tea tree oil is a fantastic disinfectant and fungicide, just add a teaspoon into a spray bottle filled with water and you can rid your kitchen of harmful bacteria without using toxins. The toxic chemicals in household cleaners can make their way into rivers and lakes, and are harmful to consumers as well. Give a natural green alternative a try, you won’t ever look back. Going green in your everyday life doesn’t need to be expensive. Making simple changes in your daily habits and purchases can make a world of difference. What are you waiting for?
Jessica Galbraith is an American freelance writer living in the UK. She is author of the travel blog The Fly Away American – besides writing about travel and the environment she also writes about marketing strategies and online reputation management services at reputation.com.