March 18 is Global Recycling Day. And on this day, it’s important to check in and make sure you are making the changes that you can in your home, both big and small. When it comes to recycling and being more green for the environment, truly, every little bit helps. And it might seem like a lot of work, but I’m betting there are a ton of ways you can reduce, reuse and recycle that you haven’t even thought of yet. I’ve come up with 13 simple ways to be more green in your home. So, watch out Kermit the Frog, because it IS easy being green.
Let’s Get Green!
To avoid overwhelm, don’t try to make a lot of changes at once. Pick one or two of these ideas and get into the habit of doing each of them. Then, add on another, and another. And so on. Tiny changes all add up to big changes over time. Now, let’s get going on being more green!
1) Get a Recycling Bin
One of the easiest ways to get started with recycling is to get a recycling bin. Some trash services even offer a separate container you can fill up each week and then have picked up for a nominal fee. But if they don’t offer that service, no worries. You can just use some kind of container of your own and drop off your recycling every few weeks at your local trash facility. We haul cardboard boxes at least twice a month to our local waste facility.
Make sure you start easy. Don’t get 10 containers at once and start trying to recycle. Focus on one type of item at a time, and then once you’ve gotten in a good rhythm of recycling that item, then add another and level up your recycling game. And so on and so forth.
I’d suggest starting slow and easy with a bin that’s just for plastics. After a few weeks of success and routine there, add on a bin that’s metals. Next, add on a paper bin. Just keep adding one thing at a time until it’s simply second nature to recycle.
Recycling Bin Recommended Products:
2) Reusable Bottles and Cups
Next up, no more plastic water bottles. Get a fun and pretty reusable bottle for water and drinks. If you are really feeling ambitious, get a reusable cup for coffee too. Lots of coffee shops offer reusable cups also (perhaps not during the global pandemic though…).
I have a reusable water bottle I drink from all day. Then I also have a cup for a fun drink of some kind like tea, kool-aide, diet coke, etc. And I also have a thermal coffee cup that I drink out of all day, too. Yup, that’s me, 3 cups or bottles on my desk most of the time!
Want an added bonus of using a refillable water bottle? First, you are drinking water and that’s good for you. Secondly, you are saving yourself the money that bottled water costs each week at the grocery store. If you bought water each week, it could be $5 a week at the least for a big pack of water. That’s $260 on water ALONE every year! Buy a one-time reusable bottle and you will save yourself a ton of money and save the earth a lot of plastic in landfills!
Reuseable Bottles Recommended Products:
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- Glass Water Bottles – Set of 6
- Rubbermaid 24-ounce water bottle
- Reusable Coffee Travel Cup – Set of 4
- Yeti Easy to Clean Stainless Tumbler
3) Non-Toxic Products
It’s time to start looking at the cleaning products you are using in your home. This green strategy is handy for two main reasons. Firstly, it’s better for your family as it’s fewer chemicals you are washing their clothes in and cleaning their stuff with. And secondly, it’s much better for the environment as well.
Start with small steps. Find a great non-toxic laundry detergent you like. Then add on some dishwasher detergent and dish soap. Gradually switch things out as you run out of each household item and before long, you’ll have a BUNCH of toxic chemical products out of your house.
Recommended Non-Toxic Products:
4) Change Your Lightbulbs
Replace your incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs or LED bulbs. Incandescent bulbs waste 85% of their energy just giving off heat, and only 15% of their energy goes to actually light the strand inside the bulb.
According to Environmental Defense, “If a homeowner replaced 10 60-watt incandescent bulbs with energy-saving alternatives, he or she would save almost $300 in energy costs over the life of the bulbs and prevent the production of 3,400 pounds of carbon dioxide.”
Recommended LED Lightbulbs:
5) Switch to e-statements
This one is super easy. And time-saving! Change all the mail you get to e-statements. Each month when you get the mail statement go online and change to any statement you are still getting to an electronic copy.
Not only are you saving yourself the work of opening the mail, but you’re also saving the paper it’s printed on. AND, the fuel for the postal service to deliver it. And the omissions from the postal trucks. It’s a total domino effect of goodness here.
6) Print 2-sided documents
This sounds simple enough, but I think it’s often overlooked. If you need to print something out, why not print double-sided? That way you get 2 pages with just one sheet of paper. You only use half the paper that way. Every little bit helps here! And you might as well use recycled paper!
7) Use Reusable Bags
Use reusable bags whenever possible. Carry them with you to the grocery store keep a couple in your purse to use for other shopping events as well. Cutting down on plastic bags is a tremendous help to the environment. Lots of stores sometimes even offer a small discount for using your own bags.
On a completely separate note environmental friendliness aside, I enjoy the sturdiness of my bags with good handles AND they hold so much more than regular plastic grocery bags. It’s just more convenient and good for the earth.
Recommended Reusable Grocery Bags:
8) Thermostadt Changes
Keeping your heating and cooling under control is another big help. Turn the thermostat down two degrees in the winter and up two degrees in the summer. The simple act of turning the thermostat down two degrees and wearing an extra layer of clothing this winter will save tremendous costs on heating and burn way less energy.
In the summer it is much better for you to turn the thermostat up two degrees as well. There are a lot of energy-efficient savings and it’s not making your unit work so hard during the high heat times.
9) Use the cold water cycle on your washing machine
Start washing all your clothes in cold water. I pretty much do this with everything we have. And here’s why:
Washing your clothes in cold water is an easy way to save energy and prevent carbon pollution. Hot water heating accounts for about 90 percent of the energy your machine uses to wash clothes — only 10 percent goes to electricity used by the washer motor.EPA, Environmental Protection Agency
NOTE: You may need to switch to a cold water laundry detergent.
It’s estimated by the EPA (The Environmental Protection Agency) that this simple switch can save you over $40 a year on your energy bill. And In the energy-saving spirit, I also try to hang dry as many clothes as I can. I’ll make sure to do 2 loads of clothing laundry in a row. And I’ll hang up all that I can out of each load, and combine the rest (socks, undies, etc) in the dryer, and only run the dryer one time instead of twice.
10) Switch to cloth towels instead of paper towels
I’m not going to lie, we still have paper towels in our kitchen. I’ve got two little boys. Sometimes there are emergency clean-ups! But I’m also keeping a ton of dishtowels handy in the kitchen and we use them to dry off our hands or clean up a spill. And we use far fewer paper towels than we used to. And that saves us a lot of money! Paper towels are EXPENSIVE and bad for the environment.
And if you aren’t ready to give up paper towels, consider getting the recycled ones at the very least. Every little step towards helping the environment counts!
Recommended Cloth Towels:
11) Buy Recycled Products When Possible
There are so many products out there now that are made from recycled material. Whenever possible and when the budget allows, go for the recycled product if you can. It’s just a little bit better for the environment!
Here are some products that are totally recycled that you’d never think of being available:
- Pilot Ink Pens – Made from Recycled Water Bottles
- Natural Wood Cutting Boards
- Recycled Mason Jars
- Biodegradable Trash Bags
12) Food Storage
There are so many fun food storage options now to help you eliminate plastic baggies and plastic wrap. I love the beeswax reusable wraps. They are amazing and fun colors with the cutest prints! They are perfect for wrapping up leftover food or covering up fruit and veggies that you’ve cut in half.
Also super cool? Reusable zip-lock bags! You can get them in all kinds of shapes, sizes, and designs these days. And a lot of them are even dishwasher safe so you can clean them easily.
Recommended Reusable Food Storage:
- Beeswax Food Wrap Set
- Recyclable Paper Sandwich Bags
- Reusable Storage Bags
- Mesh Produce Bags
- Reusable Silicone Bags for Food Storage
13) Plastic Straws
Plastic straws are not good for the environment. Try not to use them whenever possible. There are so many great reusable stainless steel straws you can get now. They come with handy cleaning brushes and everything. And every time you use one of those, a plastic straw isn’t filling up the trash.
Plastic straws can hurt animals and they aren’t biodegradable. So they just sit around, polluting the land, oceans, and rivers.
In my opinion, it’s a super easy switch to eliminate plastic straws and move to reusable ones. Get a bunch and keep them in your purse and your car!
Recommended Reusable Straws:
- Stainless Steel Reusable Straws
- Tall Reusable Straws
- Silicone Reusable Straws
- Biodegradable Paper Straws
Wrap Up – It Is Easy Being Green
So there you have it, being environmentally friendly is actually a lot easier than you think. And there are actually a lot more ways to do it than you would’ve thought right? Don’t try to start all of these at once or it’ll be overwhelming, and you will quit. However, do make sure that you start with one item and then build and build and build from there. Once you’re comfortable and have a routine with one item move onto the next thing. Little habits add up to big changes every time and if we all work together, we can make a significant change for our world.
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