Earth Day is here, and this annual observance reminds us to do our best to take care of our home – our planet. We only get one, after all! (Well, unless we someday colonize Mars, of course.) Conservation shouldn’t just be a once-a-year thing, though. While it’s great to celebrate Earth Day by doing something like attending a roadside cleanup event or planting a tree, there are plenty of things that you can and should be doing all year long, right in your own home, to save our precious natural resources and prevent pollution.
Have you ever walked into a room and found the lights on, the TV on, maybe even a video game console on with the game endlessly paused, while your kids have moved on to doing something else in another room? Yeah; me, too. But I do my best to get the boys to turn things off when they’re done with them, and you should, too. While you’re at it, make sure that you turn off the lights whenever you’re the last one to leave a room. These simple steps can save a lot of energy!
Turn Off That Faucet
Did you know that for a family of four, leaving the water running while you brush your teeth can waste 200 gallons of water a week? That’s no drop in the bucket! Turn the water on to rinse your toothbrush, but leave it off while you’re actually brushing, and you’ll do a lot to conserve this precious natural resource. Another way to save water is to take quick showers instead of baths.
Set it and Forget it
It amazes me that some people still don’t have programmable thermostats in their homes. They’re not at all difficult to install or set up, and you can save a ton of energy, not to mention a ton of money on your utility bills, by making this one simple change. It’s amazing how much energy you can waste when you forget to turn up or turn down the heat or air conditioning. It’s also easy to turn up the heat too high or set the air conditioner too low in the heat (or cold) of the moment; with a programmable thermostat, you can set the temperature to maximize energy efficiency and then not have to touch it ever again.
Shed Some (Efficient) Light
Another source of energy waste in the home is your light bulbs. It’s bad enough when someone leaves a light on in a room that nobody’s in, but even when you’re putting the light to good use, if it’s coming from an incandescent bulb, you’re using a lot of power when you don’t have to. Replacing your old bulbs with compact fluorescent ones can save energy and money. Better yet, invest in LED bulbs; they cost more, but they use hardly any electricity compared with regular bulbs, and they still have the same light output.
Waste Not, Want Not
It’s easy to throw a lot of money in the trash by being wasteful. Literally. Just think of the food waste we produce. People waste tons of food every year, but one way to cut down on that waste is to carefully plan your meals for the week before you go grocery shopping. Another good idea is to turn your food scraps, peels, and such into compost. Even apartment-dwellers can start a compost bin, and the result is rich fertilizer for plants and less trash in your garbage can.
A Breath of Fresh Air
You could use air-freshener spray to make your home smell nice, but that’s a whole laundry list of chemicals that you’re spraying into the air. Instead, and since it’s so nice out at this time of year, open the windows for a while to air out your home and make it smell nice and fresh. Alternately, if it’s a chilly, rainy day, bring a small saucepan of water to a simmer, then add in whatever spices, herbs, essential oils, and/or fruit peels you like. It’s an all-natural air freshener!
Clean Your Cleaning Routine
Of course, while you’re getting rid of chemicals, you might as well get rid of all the rest of the toxic cleaners you have in your home. Instead, try using green cleaning staples like vinegar and baking soda. You can clean almost anything in your home with one or both of these simple, eco-friendly substances! And better yet, they’re both pretty cheap, much less expensive than those name-brand cleaning products.