1. of, relating to, or being a method of harvesting or using a resource so that the resource is not depleted or permanently damaged
2. of or relating to a lifestyle involving the use of sustainable methods
Each and every consumer can take steps to help the environment. You very well may be doing some of these things already. Add another one each month and before long you’ll be living a sustainable lifestyle that will make the world healthier for our family and planet.
By making products from recycled materials instead of virgin materials, we conserve land and reduce the need to drill for oil and dig for minerals.
It usually takes less energy to make recycled products; recycled aluminum, for example, takes 95% less energy than new aluminum from bauxite ore.
Clean air and water
In most cases, making products from recycled materials creates less air pollution and water pollution than making products from virgin materials.
When the materials that you recycle go into new products, they don’t go into landfills or incinerators, so landfill space is conserved.
Save money and create jobs
The recycling process creates far more jobs than landfills or incinerators, and recycling can frequently be the least expensive waste management method for cities and towns.
Reusable shopping bags
Save oil and/or trees. In the US, about 12 million barrels of oil and 14 million trees go to producing plastic and paper bags each year. Be a role model bring reusable bags when you go shopping. Other shoppers will watch and learn.
Buy products packaged in recycled paper
Some packages claim the percentage of recycled material. If it’s not stated you may be able to determine the recycled content. For example, when shopping for cereal, cookies, crackers, and other groceries packaged in cardboard boxes, make sure boxes are made from recycled paper. If the underside is gray or dark brown, the cardboard is made of recycled material. If it’s white, it is made of non-recycled material.
Cut down on packaging
About half of what we throw away is packaging. By buying products that have as little packaging as possible, you can help to reduce those mountains of trash.
Save gas and cash
The difference between a car that gets 20 MPG and one that gets 30 MPG amounts to $1,000 per year (assuming 15,000 miles of driving annually and a fuel cost of $4.00/gallon). That’s $5,000 extra in fuel costs over five years! If you are not ready to buy a more fuel efficient car, do these simple things:
- keep your tire pressure at the recommended level for greater fuel efficiency
- set the AC on low, running it on high decreases your car’s fuel efficiency up to 25%
- check your air filter, because a clean one can make your car 10% more fuel efficient
- drive a little less. Cars release about a pound of CO2 for every mile driven, so avoid driving 20 miles a week and you’ll spare the environment 1,000 pounds of CO2 emissions in a year.
Bike instead of drive
Riding your bike instead of driving your car saves energy and reduces pollution, of course. It’s also great exercise.
Avoid fast food
Most fast food is over packaged and most fast food companies are responsible for producing mountains of trash. By avoiding fast food whenever possible, you’ll help reduce this needless waste (not to mention the health issue).
Create a compost pile
It’s easy to do. Find a corner of the yard that’s out of the way. Carefully throw food wastes (leftovers, eggshells, coffee grounds, spoiled vegetables, etc.) into a pile and mix with dirt. Every week or so, turn the pile over with a shovel to give it more air. In a few weeks, it will turn into a rich, nutrition soil that will help plants grow.
Eat organic produce
Organic produce contains far fewer chemicals than other produce. That’s better for your health and it is definitely better for the environment. All those chemicals get washed off of farmers’ fields into rivers and streams, where they pollute our water. In addition, many of the chemicals are made from petroleum and other nonrenewable resources.
Buy local produce
Before it gets to your dinner table, produce travels an average of 1,500 miles, burning needless gallons of fuel when so much can be bought locally in season. Choosing local and organic fruit and vegetables will also cut out petroleum-derived synthetic fertilizers and pesticides.
Plastic in the kitchen
Petroleum-based plastics are all over kitchens, from vinyl floor tiles to storage containers, and handy wraps. But the phthalates used to soften plastics and vinyl enter the air and our food, affecting the hormones of developing children. Choose phthalate-free, recyclable containers and wraps. For phthalate-free kitchen floor tiling consider cork tiles and natural linoleum.
Americans use an average of 2,200 paper napkins per person per year. It’s actually cheaper to throw cloth napkins in the wash than to buy paper ones. And of course, buy organic cotton napkins.
Healthier indoor air
Cleaning supplies and pesticides are major sources of indoor air pollution, releasing chemicals that can provoke respiratory problems and asthma attacks. Choose simpler ingredients like vinegar, lemon juice, and baking soda for your cleaning needs or choose from among the growing number of safer brands.
You can be squeaky clean without antibacterial chemicals such as triclosan in soap or shampoos fragranced with phthalates that may alter hormones. Choose soaps by company’s that avoid synthetic chemicals.
Low-flow showerheads will not only cut your water usage by 20,000 gallons per year, but they’ll save you 10 to 16 percent of your water heating costs. Consider a new toilet to save water. Low-flow models work effectively with a third of the water older toilets use.
Turn down the heat
Keep an eye on heating costs by turning down your thermostat, saving yourself 5 percent on heating costs for every degree lower between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. A programmable thermostat can save you up to $100 a year. In any case, don’t forget to close vents and doors of vacant rooms.
Adding insulation in your ceiling can reduce heating costs 5 to 25 percent, saving approximately $180 annually for a family of four. Cotton insulation from recycled denim scrap will also have no impact on your indoor air quality, unlike the formaldehyde concerns from fiberglass insulation.
Replace light bulbs
If every American household replaced five standard Incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescents (CFLs), it would prevent the release of as much greenhouse gas as removing 8 million cars from the road for a year. And, those five bulbs would save 50 percent of your annual lighting bill. Even better, light emitting diodes (LEDs) use half the energy and have 6.25x the life span of CFLs. Incandescents and CFLs contain mercury, LEDs do not.
Close the refrigerator door
By leaving it open for just a few extra seconds, you waste a lot of energy. Decide what you want before you open the refrigerator door, get it, and close the door right away.
You can reduce your consumption of electrical energy by simply unplugging electronics when they’re not in use. Phone chargers draw energy all day long when they’re left plugged into the wall, and electronics can use 40% of their regular running energy when plugged in on standby.