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Do you sometimes wish that you could do more for the environment but don’t know where to start? Maybe you’ve taken that first step by starting to recycle but with a hectic schedule you don’t think you have time to do anything else.
Luckily, there are several things you can do that are simple and don’t require a big investment of time and energy on the way to becoming green. Here’s a list of down-to-earth ways for you to reduce, reuse, and recycle your way to a more eco-conscience self:
1. Stop buying bottled water
Buying bottled water is both expensive and wasteful. Giving bottled water the boot will save money and help the environment. Bottled water creates 1.5 million tons of garbage yearly and although water bottles are recyclable, nearly 80 percent of these bottles aren’t recycled. If more people stop buying bottled water then fewer bottles will end up in landfills.
Two of the most popular bottled waters, Pepsi’s Aquafina and Coca-Cola’s Dasani, are sold along side soda in vending machines and cost about $1.00 per bottle. Both brands are sold in 24-ounce bottles and their websites state that their products are filtered and purified, municipally supplied water.
What does that mean exactly? Essentially, when you buy a bottle of water, you’re paying about $0.05 per ounce for filtered city water.
A better way to do water on-the-go is to buy a filtered water pitcher and each person in your home a reusable, dishwasher-safe water bottle. The Brita Bottle makes ditching bottled water easy: this reusable water bottle from Brita has a built in filter which allows you to filter water anywhere.
2. Switch to reusable cloth towels and napkins
Skipping paper towels and napkins in favor if a cloth alternative reduces garbage that would end up in landfills and saves natural resources. Stock up on cloth towels and napkins and store them in a drawer in your kitchen then pull them out when needed.
An easy way to determine the amount of cloth napkins you’ll need for your family and reduce your laundry pile is to assign each member of the family a different color napkin or a different color napkin ring and then wash their napkin only when it truly needs it or at the end of the week. Something Different Linen offers one-dozen, 20-inch square, cotton dinner napkins for $23.00 for sale at Amazon.com.
The retailer also sells smaller, 6-inch square napkins that would perfect for tucking inside of a child’s school lunchbox.
3. Start using reusable shopping bags
Cities across the globe are passing bans on plastic shopping bags. With tens of billions of plastic shopping bags ending up in landfills each year it’s no wonder. Even though these bags are recyclable only a very small percentage ever ends up being recycled.
The key to using reusable shopping bags is remembering them when going shopping. Stash reusable shopping bags in your car, your purse, jacket pockets or any place where you’re likely to look before heading into the store.
You’ll often be able to find reusable shopping bags for sale in your neighborhood grocery store however many stylish, inexpensive bags are available. Envirosax offer designer prints, have been tested for strength and safety, and are available different styles. The company’s Greengrocer Series bags will fit in the palm of your hand when rolled up and just under $9.00.
4. Reduce the amount of mail you receive
Let’s face it – not everything we get in the mail is important. More than one billion pieces of junk mail are delivered each year and in the United Statesalone the catalogs, sales flyers and credit card offers that clog mail boxes account for one-third of all the mail delivered in the world.
You can reduce the amount of junk mail you receive by contacting the biggest offenders directly or by visiting DMAChoice.org or Catalogchoice.org. Both companies add your name and address to junk mail and catalog “do not mail” lists.
Every year inAmerica, more than 350 million magazines are published and nearly 50 percent of those purchased end up not being recycled. An easy way to ease to minimize to lessen the burden on the environment is to contact magazines publishers and request that your subscription be converted to a digital format.
5. Reduce water consumption
A running water faucet uses about two to three gallons of water per minute and a running shower uses about five gallons of water per minute. Why is this important? Knowing how much water you’re using when you turn on the tap or step into the shower helps when trying to conserve water.
Conserving water allows more water to stay in reservoirs which helps to maintain ecosystems and preserve water for future use. You can start to lower your water usage by taking shorter showers. The average person showers for eight minutes, using approximately 40 gallons of water.
Cutting your shower time to five minutes or less will save at least 15 gallons of water which can add up to thousands of gallons per year for just one person.
Also consider turning off water faucets while you brush your teeth and shave. It takes practice to remember to turn the faucet on and off, but soon it will become second nature.
6. Clean out closets and donate unused items to charity
We live in a world that thrives on consumerism and it would be safe to assume that you, like many others, have items in your home that you no longer use. Are your closets bursting with unworn clothing? What about that set of golf clubs in your garage that you no longer use or all of the board games collecting dust in your hall closet?
Donating your unused items to charity gives them new life and placing clothing, games and other gently used items into the hands of someone else promotes reuse. It doesn’t make sense to throw away something that somebody else might be able to use.
Two charities that accept donations and help those in need are Goodwill Industries International, Inc. and The Salvation Army. Goods donated to be sold at Salvation Army Family Stores benefit the charity’s Adult Rehabilitation Centers which the organization’s website explains assists people with issues of “substance misuse, legal problems, relational conflicts, homelessness, unemployment, and, most importantly, a need for spiritual awakening and restoration.”
Donations sold in one of Goodwill International’s stores are put to use by offering, “job training, employment placement and other services to people who have disabilities, lack education or job experience, or face employment challenges.” Last year, Goodwill helped more than 2 million people train for careers.