Sustainability is everywhere in the news these days. However, people living paycheck to paycheck often balk at the idea that they can do anything worthwhile to help the environment. Whether times are tough or easy, caring for the planet is simpler than you might think. Here are six ways to go green without breaking the bank.
Offset Your Carbon Footprint
Civilization is going to consume resources and impact the environment. That’s not a massive problem as long as it’s minimized and compensated for. These compensatory actions are known as offsets. Planting trees and restoring land are two of the most effective actions. Businesses engage in carbon offsets as part of the global carbon market all the time. You can do the same thing locally by pitching in and doing things that actively repair the damage that’s been done to our planet.
One great way to offset your impacts is to incorporate nature directly into your home and work. So-called “sick buildings” are bad for the environment and human health. A NASA study conducted years ago found that certain houseplants (like English Ivy and the spider plant) remove toxic chemicals from the atmosphere. Additional studies have shown that plant life improves office morale and productivity. Do the research, then consider adding some greenery to your life.
Reuse and Upcycle
The Container Recycling Institute reports that 86% of plastic water bottles in the U.S. wind up in the garbage or are strewn about as litter. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. Waste takes many forms, so be conscious of the everyday items you might throw away. Before you toss something in the trash, consider if it could be safely used a second time. See if you can find another use for it, too. This concept is known as upcycling. Get creative with your “junk” and try to find a way to turn it into something new.
Make Saving Energy a Habit
Power generation is one of the main sources of greenhouse gases globally. Until a global green energy infrastructure is established, you can make a tremendous difference by cutting unnecessary energy usage. Cutting energy waste can be as simple as turning off lights when you leave the room. One proactive step is to order an energy audit of your home. Some electric companies even perform energy audits at no cost to support customers in becoming more sustainable. If your provider doesn’t do so, consider performing a DIY audit using tools and techniques found online. It could be good for the ecosystem and your budget.
Hack Your Commute
Automobiles are a constant source of pollution. Unfortunately, most people don’t have the cash to buy a solar or electric car. The next best solution is to save every gallon of gas you can. Gas-saving tips are often shockingly intuitive. Obeying the speed limit is step one. Cutting speed improves fuel economy. Driving evenly is equally vital since rapid acceleration burns unnecessary fuel. Also, ensure that your tires are properly inflated. Reduce aerodynamic drag by minimizing roof fixtures on your car and resist the urge to overload your vehicle. Every gallon of gas not burned is almost nine kilograms of carbon dioxide kept out of the air.
Start Using Renewable Energy
Energy is expensive. Changing your entire energy portfolio might not be doable, but renewable energy isn’t an all-or-nothing proposition. There’s a lot of talk at the national level about “broadening our energy mix.” You can do that on a personal scale, too. Solar phone chargers and solar-powered calculators have been on the market for some time and are getting more efficient. Renewables can also sometimes be purchased incrementally through utility providers. Take it slow, and make renewable energy work for you.
Going green comes down to one word: responsibility. Becoming sustainable means seeing yourself as part of a much larger world. Sometimes the most straightforward steps lead to the most profound changes. These tips are just the beginning.