The world celebrates Earth Day on April 22. It is a good opportunity to reflect on how we impact our environment by how we live our day-to-day lives. And it gives you a chance to reevaluate your daily activities and how you might be able to change to be kinder to Mother Earth.
You can make a big personal impact by replacing your vehicle with a more fuel efficient car. Or you can upgrade your kitchen appliances like your refrigerator or dishwasher to energy efficient models. Or get rid of your old, inefficient windows and opt for vinyl replacement windows.
But maybe you're not ready to undertake a big home improvement project or spend the money on a new car. What can you do right now, today, to reduce your energy consumption? A lot more than you might think.
Recycle: Most cities and communities offer recycling, whether it's curbside pickup or a recycling center. Every item you toss in the recycling bin is one less item that ends up in a landfill. Educate yourself on what can be recycled. Just about everyone knows to toss water bottles and soda cans into the recycling bin. But there are some items you might not have thought of. Shampoo bottles, clothes hangers, foam packaging, deodorant containers, broken siding, gutters, and drywall are all recyclable. Also know what you cannot add to the recycling bin. Paint cans, batteries, electronics, and replacement windows and doors can't be put out at the curb, but can be recycled properly. Many municipal recycling centers and landfills set aside certain dates when you can drop off specific items like these.
Insulate: If your home is under insulated, you're letting precious heated or cooled air escape. Beefing up the insulation in your attic and crawlspaces is a fairly easy DIY job that will yield immediate savings on your utility bills. Check for drafts around windows and doors and caulk any leaky areas. Also look for drafts around switch plates and outlets, fireplace dampers, where cable and phone lines enter the house, and your dryer vent.
Reduce your mileage: While you may not be ready to buy a new car, you can reduce the miles you drive each week. When running errands, try to group them into one longer outing rather than running out each time you need something. Do your meal planning in advance, make a list, and grocery shop every week or two weeks, rather than multiple trips each week with smaller shopping lists. If you drive to work, consider car pooling, ride sharing, or public transit. Or, if you live close enough, bike to your destination.
Electronics: In today's world, we are closely tied to electronics. Cell phones, GPS, DVRs, computers, video game consoles, and entertainment systems are part of our daily lives. All of these electronic devices drain power. When you leave them plugged in, even if they're in sleep mode or on stand by, they still use electricity. When not in use, unplug your electronics, including device chargers. Use a power strip for multiple items. That way, you can click one switch to turn off power to all items plugged in to the power strip.