In these uneasy environmental and economic times, what better moment is there than Earth Day 2018 to renew a commitment to saving the planet while also saving money? Research suggests it takes time to establish new habits. One study by University College London found it takes anywhere from 18 days to eight months, depending on the person and the nature of the habit.
Here are several ideas collected that will help to conserve resources, including monetary ones.
Stop Using Disposable Water Bottles
â€œDisposableâ€ is something of a misnomer. While the plastic bottles used for drinking water are highly recyclable, not enough people take advantage of the opportunity to recycle, and too much plastic, some of which can be poisonous, ends up in our landfills and waterways. Before it degrades in 400-500 years, the plastic overload will poison and kill animal and plant life (possibly including humans).
Investing in water filters for your home can make your tap water just as tasty and safe as the bottled stuff. Buying durable bottles to help keep you hydrated on the go could save you hundreds of dollars a year. Bonus: New graphene water filter technology might revolutionize how humans collect drinking water in the near future. About 70 percent of the globe is covered by water, but only 2 1/2 percent of it is fresh.
Take Shorter Showers
Few things feel better after a tough day than a long, hot shower. The problem is all the water you use. Maybe not one time, or two times, but over the course of a year, it adds up. The average American uses nearly 70 gallons of water each day. Boston University reports that if you shorten your shower by two minutes, you can cut your water use by 10 gallons. Maybe treat yourself once a week to a longer shower, but otherwise be conscious of turning the water off when you donâ€™t need it. Your water bill will thank you, too. Hey, while youâ€™re at it, install a low-flow showerhead. The array of benefits might be wider than you imagine.
And donâ€™t forget the energy it takes to heat the shower. Information from the Environmental Protection Agency says a faucet running for five minutes uses almost as much energy as a 60-watt light bulb does for 14 hours.
Plug in Power Strips
You probably have heard that most appliances keep using a certain amount of energy, even when switched off, if they are kept plugged into an electrical outlet. To prevent this, and possibly for peace of mind, some people unplug their appliances when theyâ€™re not using them. Thatâ€™s not the most convenient or practical solution. However, did you know that power strips prevent your appliances from drawing power while otherwise idle? In addition to being a smart safety and insurance measure, power strips can save the typical U.S. household $100 a year.
Buy Energy Efficient Light Bulbs
Compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFL) have been touted as replacements for incandescent bulbs, which consumers had been using since bulbs were first invented. While more expensive than traditional bulbs, CFL are said to last for years, and offer an energy savings over time that should be recouped within a year. But CFLs also feature practical and aesthetic issues that certain consumers might find objectionable. They take time to light up, and the technology doesnâ€™t work all that well in cold weather. They also contain a small amount of mercury, so you donâ€™t want to throw them out once they die. Thatâ€™s not helpful for the environment.
LED bulbs use less energy than CFLs, and they last even longer, but they tend to be more expensive, perhaps $10 at the low end. If you need a lot of bulbs, itâ€™s a significant cost outlay. But no mercury!
Stop Junk Mail Delivery
Many complain about spam email overloading the inbox, but old-school junk mail isnâ€™t cool either. About 44 percent of junk mail goes unopened and is placed in landfills, where it produces methane, a greenhouse gas 23 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Small Footprint Family reports that the yearly production of junk mail has a similar environmental impact to:
- About 2.8 million cars idling 24 hours a day, seven days a week
- The output of 11 coal-fired power plants
- Deforesting Rocky Mountain National Park every four months
So what can you do? You can stop much of it by heading to websites below, where you can take your name off mailing lists:
- DMAChoice â€” Catalogs, magazines and credit-card applications â€” gone. Costs $2 to make requests good for five years.
- YellowPagesGoesGreen and YellowPagesOptOut â€” Remove yourself from phone book mailing lists and stop phone book deliveries.
- Catalog Choice â€” This free service can easily help you stop all those unwanted store catalogs from showing up in your mailbox.
- PaperKarma â€“ Smartphone app where you take photos of unwanted mail, then the mailer is contacted to remove you from the distribution list
These are a few of the places to pay attention to how we treat the environment on this Earth Day. If we are to heal Mother Earth for the future, it is best to start as soon as possible.
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