April is home to Earth Day and a good time to take a look at our lifestyles and see where we can make adjustments to treat our planet just a little bit better. We teach our kids how to take care of our home and their things; while we’re at it, we should model how to treat our planet well, too.
Being ‘green’ or earth-conscious doesn’t require huge sacrifices or spending barrels of money on solar panels. There are small things we can trade out, or habits we can adjust, to be better planet caretakers.
Here are some small steps to take to help go green in 2019:
- Switch your paper towels out for dish cloths. Save the paper products for meat spills, and use dish cloths for surface cleaning. You can change them out daily, they’re more sanitary than sponges, and it’ll keep paper waste out of landfills.
- Turn the water off when not in use, like when brushing your teeth or washing dishes.
- Switch to reusable straws! I’m so clumsy I’m practically guaranteed to spill without a straw, but straws are notoriously bad for the environment. The solution? Reusable plastic or metal straws. I have the Pioneer Woman brand and a good straw cleaning brush, and they’ve lasted for years so far!
- Turn lights and electronics off when not in use.
- Make sure your windows and doors are well sealed. If you can see light coming in, you can add new weather-stripping to keep your climate controlled air in and the outside air (and pests!) out.
- Love your leftovers! Reduce food waste by turning your leftovers into a new dish. Or save a few days of leftovers up and have a leftover buffet night (which also gives the home chef a night off cooking duty!). You can also reduce food waste by shopping with a list and making a weekly menu plan. It’ll help your wallet and Mother Earth.
- Switch from disposable water bottles to a reusable one. Invest in a couple of reusable water bottles and avoid having to purchase and dispose of those cases and their packaging.
- Switch to reusable grocery bags. If you accidentally forget them one trip, make sure to recycle the plastic ones you used. Although most curbside programs won’t accept plastic grocery bags, stores like Target offer their own in-store plastic bag recycling. You certainly don’t have to twist my arm to make a Target run!
- Sell or donate used items instead of throwing them away. Don’t have a vehicle large enough to transport it? Don’t worry, many local charities have a pickup program.
- Recycle! If you’re within Knoxville city limits, you can participate in the free curbside recycling pickup program. You can sign up for a curbside can here. Or if you’re outside that zone, here’s where you can find the recycling centers.
- Change your lightbulbs for energy efficient ones.
- Install faucet aerators in your faucets. They’ll help you save on your water bill, too.
- Switch out all those batteries in your kids’ toys for re-chargeable ones. It’ll save you money, too!
- Sign up for an energy audit to find out how to make your home more energy efficient, and likely save some money in the long run!
- Go meatless one or two nights a week. This can reduce your carbon footprint and open up new menu options.
- Start composting! This is especially beneficial if you’re an avid gardener.
- Choose a hybrid or eco-conscious car if you’re in the market for something new.
- Invest in renewable energy sources.
- Carpool for work or school!
- Change your thermostat to a smart one. We use the Ecobee and love how we can schedule the temperature to go up or down while we’re out to save resources and money, and it switches back on to make our house our normal preferred temperature when we get within a certain radius of the house.
It isn’t so much which tactics you take, but resetting your mindset to note when you’re being eco-conscious and when you’re not. No one is perfect and there’s no pressure to live like those who can fit all their trash in a mason jar (that is a thing and I cannot, I am sorry). Some days you need to use paper plates. But having an earth-aware mindset lets you make up for the things you do that aren’t as friendly to our planet.