Everywhere you turn someone is offering advice on how to "go green." From celebrities to newspapers to the guy next door, everyone seems to be jumping on the eco-friendly bandwagon. Unfortunately, much of this well-meaning advice is either extreme or extremely expensive. Lucky for us, the most effective ways to make a positive environmental impact are simple lifestyle changes that you can begin implementing today. Before you sell your house to live off the grid, check out these top 10 ways to "go green", no hassle required.
1. Reduce household waste. Are you constantly throwing away plastic baggies, paper towels, and sponges? Replace those wasteful products with reusable options. At the store, choose products with minimal packaging, and find ways to repurpose empty containers in your home.
2. Rethink transportation. Give yourself and the planet a break. Opt out of the daily rat race and organize a neighborhood carpool for work, school and after school activities. Even better, bike or walk to nearby destinations. When you have to use a car, consolidate trips and use the most efficient route to complete all of your errands.
3. Turn down the thermostat. Keep the temperature in your home at 68 degrees or lower in the winter and 75 degrees or higher in the summer. To really go green, purchase a programmable thermostat and set it to reduce energy consumption when you're out of the house.
4. Watch your water. Shortening your morning shower is the most effective way to decrease your household water consumption. You can also save water by watering your lawn during the night when the air is cooler, washing full loads of laundry and using your dishwasher instead of hand washing dishes.
5. Turn off the electricity. Turn off lights when you leave a room and when you leave the house. Also, beware of "vampire electronics." Devices such as, chargers, computers, and televisions continue to consume power when they are off. Plug these electronics into a power strip, and turn off the power strip before bed each night.
6. Recycle. Set up a recycling station in your home with separate bins for paper, aluminum cans, plastic and glass. Teach your family how to read the recycling numbers on plastic bottles, and encourage everyone to use the bins. Make hauling recyclables to the recycling center a family outing.
7. Buy whole foods. It takes a lot of energy to ship and process food! Reduce your carbon footprint drastically by purchasing whole foods and cooking from scratch. Aim to buy at least 50 percent of your food each week from the outside rim of the grocery store. Those back walls house produce, fresh meats and dairy.
8. Shop local. Avoid shipping pollution entirely by purchasing locally grown produce, meats and dairy as well as artisan made gifts and home-goods. Shop your local farmer's market or join a food co-op to get the most bang for your locally spent buck. If you really want to get the family involved, plant a garden and reap the harvest of your own hard work.
9. Buy and sell used. It takes a lot of resources to create new goods, resources that you can conserve by buying used. Shop garage sales or online sale sites. Sell your unwanted goods instead of consigning them to a landfill. Live by the old motto "use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without."
10. Get outside. What is the point of protecting the planet if you don't take the time to enjoy it? Plan a camping trip or hike for the entire family. You and your kids will appreciate the world if you spend some time playing in it. Eco-friendliness is a lifestyle that has to be rooted in appreciation for the planet.
See, now wasn't that easy? In fact, most of the tips on this top 10 list will save you time and money, as well as save the planet. While it would be nice if everyone could install solar panels and drive a hybrid, we can make a huge change if everyone will band together and commit to adopting one or two new family habits. Think about what tips from this list you can implement in your family this week and get everyone involved in "going green."