20 Simple Ways Anyone Can Help the Environment

Saving the planet is a hot topic. But many of us think that the things that need to be done are either out of our control or far too expensive for our budgets. But, just because you can’t afford to put solar panels on your house doesn’t mean you can’t make an impact. In fact, there are lots of little things you can do to help the environment in your every day life. Here are twenty you can work on beginning today.

  1. Stop buying bottled water. The trend toward drinking more water is great for our health, but those plastic water bottles are filling landfills like mad. The EPA reports that in 2008, 2,480,000 tons of plastic bottles and jars were disposed of. Buying a reusable water bottle and taking your water with you will save money and help the environment.
  2. Find other ways to reduce paper and plastic use in your home. When storing food, use washable plastic containers rather than disposable plastic bags. Take reusable bags to the grocery store and support companies that are environmentally friendly by purchasing products in reduced packaging.
  3. Reuse. It’s impossible to completely stop buying plastic packaging. In recent years, the emphasis has been on recycling plastic items rather than throwing them in the garbage. This is great. But, an even better use is to find another use for them. Plastic soda bottles and milk jugs make great cloches for your seedlings in your spring garden. Those Styrofoam packing peanuts can be used in the bottom of your outdoor planters to reduce the amount of soil you put in for your annual flowers. Plastic grocery bags can be used as garbage bags and cat litter buckets make great buckets for home and garden use.
  4. Compost. Composting is easy, and requires very little room. It will improve your garden soil and reduce the amount of trash you take to the curb each week. It will also reduce the amount of soil amendments you must buy each year for your garden. This saves you money and reduces the number of plastic bags you have to buy.
  5. Eat local. Shop the farmer’s market for your fruits and vegetables and plan your menus around what’s in season. Not only will you help reduce fuel consumption by eating foods that don’t have to travel so far to get to you, but you’ll also help support your local farmers and local economy.
  6. Grow your own. Another great way to help the environment is to grow your own vegetables and fruits. You’re reducing trips to the grocery store and reducing the amount of packaging that comes into your home. Plus, assuming you’re gardening organically (which you should be) you’re improving the quality and safety of your family’s meals.
  7. Wash clothes in cold water. Except for our dirtiest clothes, we can get clothes just as clean in cold water as warm. Using cold water saves a ton of energy. Be sure to do only full loads, too. There are even some great laundry detergents especially designed to get clothes clean in cold water. Want to go a step further? Line dry those clothes instead of using the dryer.
  8. Buy a rain barrel. When summer comes, many of us use a lot of water for our potted plants and gardens. Collecting water in a rain barrel allows you to water plants without guilt.
  9. Switch to compact fluorescent bulbs. Compact fluorescents use far less energy than traditional light bulbs, and they last much longer, too.
  10. Unplug. Cell phone chargers, toasters and many other appliances use electricity whenever they’re plugged in.
  11. Recycle old electronics rather than throwing them away.
  12. Fix leaky faucets and toilets. You’ll be amazed at how much water you can save.
  13. Make your garden work for you. By supplying food, shelter and a source of water, you can attract birds to your garden. These will, in turn, eat many of the pests that bug your plants.
  14. Combine errands. Work to reduce the number of trips out each week by combining errands into one trip. And, drive the speed limit to save gas.
  15. Pay bills online to reduce paper. Sign up to receive bills online and get off mailing lists of any junk mail.
  16. Lower the temperature on your hot water heater.
  17. Use cloth towels to clean your kitchen so you can ditch the paper towels. Switch to cloth napkins, too.
  18. Switch to cloth diapers.
  19. Reuse paper. If you have small children, have them use the backs of printed materials as coloring pages.
  20. Buy a reusable coffee filter. Reusable filters save money and paper and they’re easy to wash. And, don’t forget to dump those grounds into the compost bin!
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