How to Start Developing a Green Lifestyle
You toss your aluminum, glass, and plastic containers into the recycling bin, but you still feel like there is more you could be doing for our planet—and you’d be right.
Most of us want to do our part to minimize the footprint we leave on the Earth. With so many disposable products, plastics, and wasteful options at our fingertips, it can take a little planning to make environmentally responsible, sustainable choices.
However, it’s definitely not impossible. All it takes is some intentional choices on everyone’s part, and we can vastly improve the quality of our air, water, and land.
Use What You’ve Got
Take a peek into almost anyone’s home, and you’re bound to find an endless supply of extras. We’ve got extra pillows, extra blankets, extra canned foods. You name it; there’s more than enough in most households.
By using what’s already lying around, you can take a big step in the direction of green living.
Approximately 75% of a household’s waste is recyclable, yet only 30% is actually recycled.
Recycling is something most people are fairly comfortable with. Along with trash pickup, most residential areas also have pickup for recyclable items. It’s free, it’s simple, and it makes a major impact in working towards a green lifestyle. The most common materials that your local waste management company can recycle are paper, plastic, aluminum, and glass.
If you haven’t already done this, setting up a recycling container next to the trash can in your kitchen is a significant first step. If the recycling container is right there, you’re more likely to use it. If you already have that set up, take things a step further by sorting materials into different bins.
Choosing vintage is not only stylish; it’s another way you can contribute to living a greener life. So often, we get what we need out of something around the house (furniture, party decorations, clothing, and more), and then it’s tossed out.
Take clothing, for example. Your kiddo has a new pair of jeans one year, and before fall rolls around again the next year, they’ve grown out of them. Instead of throwing those beloved jeans in the trash, think of how the material could be reused.
Denim is a long-lasting fabric that you can use again and again (think patches, upholstering chairs, extra fabric for crafts). You’ve also got the zipper and buttons from that same pair of pants that can be repurposed for a new pair, or maybe one that needs repairing.
Once only popular with environmentalists, composting has made its way back into mainstream lifestyles. Composting is a term that refers to slowly breaking down organic ingredients and adding the valuable nutrients back into the soil in which they originated.
Nowadays, it is common for families to keep a compost area in their backyard or even the kitchen if a yard isn’t available. It’s easy to do, either indoors or outdoors.
If you have an outdoor space dedicated to composting, start with about three feet of soil and leaves. Any extra kitchen scraps that go bad or are unused, like eggshells, coffee grounds, fruits, or veggies, can get tossed into your pile. As moisture builds up from food scraps, add more dry materials like leaves for absorption.
If your outside space is limited or not available, you can also make compost areas inside the home. All you need is a container to act as your compost bin. This can be as simple as a five-gallon bucket, an upcycled old dresser drawer, or an old wine crate. Just like an outside compost, toss leftover foods into it as you go, making sure to add in dry ingredients (like shredded paper, coffee grounds, and leaves) to balance out the moisture.
Monitor Your Energy Use
The United States consumes 24% of the world’s energy, yet only about 5% of the world’s population. In our fast-paced lives, many conveniences also require quite a lot of energy. All the luxuries we have come to rely on—our electronics, appliances, and central AC—require a power source.
The good news is there are so many simple changes you can make to greatly reduce the amount of energy these comforts are consuming.
Lightbulbs can use a lot of electricity. An easy fix is switching from traditional incandescent bulbs to LEDs (light-emitting diodes). LED light bulbs use up to 90% less energy and last up to 25 times longer than their predecessors.
Insulation in your home maximizes savings and minimizes energy use. By properly insulating your house, temperatures are regulated more easily, and less electricity is needed to maintain them.
Thermostats are everyday conveniences we have come to rely on, but they also come with an environmental price tag. Setting a schedule for your HVAC system can save hundreds of dollars each year and maximize energy efficiency.
Water usage is a biggie. Take baths instead of showers as much as possible.
If you can’t part with your showers, limit how much time you spend in there and replace the showerhead with a water-saving head or one with a flow restrictor. A typical shower uses five to ten gallons of water each minute.
Appliances have energy-saving options available everywhere. When it’s time to replace, look for models that have the ENERGY STAR logo. Appliances with this logo exceed the minimum federal requirements for efficiency and quality.
Electronics are everywhere we look, and they all require some type of power source. Even when turned off, they still use small amounts of energy. A quick solution is to use an energy-saving power strip and turn them off when not in use.
Batteries can be swapped out for rechargeable ones and used repeatedly. Using rechargeable batteries not only saves you money in the long run, replacing batteries less often, but it also dramatically reduces waste added to our landfills.
Be a Smart Consumer
As consumers in the digital age, we’ve got everything at our fingertips at the quick click of a button. We also have the knowledge available to us that can lead to more informed decisions in living a green lifestyle.
When shopping, make a conscious effort about how your items are packaged. So many items are available individually wrapped and in disposable options. While those options are convenient, they aren’t doing our planet any favors.
Aside from choosing options with less packaging, buying in bulk greatly reduces the amount of waste added to our landfills.
With that convenient click of a button, shipping also comes with consequences. While delivery to your door is great and sometimes necessary, focus on buying local when you can.
Not only does it benefit your community, but it also has a chain reaction of less energy use. Boxes are not needed to ship, fuel isn’t a factor in transporting the goods hundreds or thousands of miles to their destination, and as a result, gas emissions are reduced.
Support Climate Neutral Companies
Look for companies that are Climate Neutral certified. Currently, there are over 300 companies with this certification (us included), and the list is quickly growing. These are people and businesses who care about the planet and are focused on taking part in reducing their carbon footprint.
Go for Green Transportation
We live in a world that requires lots of travel, whether for work or pleasure. Our cities are expanding, our schedules are busier than ever, and we need to get places quickly.
Transportation is the largest contributor to carbon emissions. However, with the technology of transportation evolving, many alternative options are available.
Choose Hybrid or Electric Vehicles
Traditional vehicles need gas, and their emissions significantly add to our air pollution. Luckily, options for eco-friendly hybrid and electric automobiles keep expanding. These alternatively sourced vehicles were once only for the financially fit, but they are more readily available and affordable for today’s consumers looking to live green.
Limit Your Amount of Trips
Between grocery shopping, school pickup and drop-off, getting to and from work, there is a lot of necessary commuting in our lives. While these trips are necessary, they do not have to be harmful to our environment. With a little planning, they can definitely fit into a green lifestyle.
Share a Ride
All the neighborhood kids need to get to school. Instead of each family making the trip, have a signup with neighbors and take turns carpooling the kids.
Typically, offices are in a central location or major city, and their employees live in surrounding suburbs. Instead of individually commuting to work, set up a ridesharing group with coworkers. This will also discourage you from staying late at work, so it’s good for you and the planet.
Use Public Transportation
Limiting the number of vehicles on the road is one of the largest ways to reduce our impact on the Earth.
Public transportation such as buses and trains are easily accessible in most major cities. The carbon emissions are significantly reduced, and these options often get you to your destination much more quickly, bypassing traffic and speed limits.
When we started JuneShine, we knew that we wanted to be part of the solution, not the problem. We’ve committed ourselves to reducing our impact on the environment, and we hope you’ll join in too.
Developing and living a green lifestyle doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive. Whether you pick one of our suggestions or all of them, you can do your part in conserving the environment. With a few simple changes, we can all make a difference.