- Though some sustainable practices can be quite time-consuming and costly, there are also many easy and inexpensive actions you can take that can help the Earth.
- Composting, sealing your windows, and even buying more houseplants are some things you can do to better the planet.
- It’s easier than you might think to pack your own lunches and reuse water bottles.
Saving the planet seems like a daunting task. But, a good place to start is making little, everyday changes. Some changes might seem too involved, such as installing solar panels, but others are much simpler.
INSIDER had several environmental experts weigh in on some of the easiest things you can do to help the Earth without investing a lot of time and without breaking the bank.
Pack your own lunches
Although picking up something during your lunch hour can be convenient, it is usually costly and wastes a lot of plastic, according to Apryl Boyle, founder of El Porto Shark.
When you pack your own lunch, you save money and help reduce unnecessary waste. And nowadays, there are many ways to pack your lunches in sustainable ways by using reusable snack pouches and sandwich wraps and thermoses.
Designate one day as ‘laundry day’
“Instead of doing a little bit of laundry at a time, save water by choosing one day as laundry day ─ or at least wait until there’s enough to do a load,” said representatives from Suntuity Solar, a team of environmentalists and solar energy experts.
And to save even more energy, consider washing your clothing in cold water, rather than hot. Heating water accounts for about 90% of the energy needed to run a washer, according to Energy Star, so washing your dirty laundry in cold water will not only help conserve energy but also save you money.
Use houseplants to make your house smell fresh
The simple task of replacing air-fresheners with house plants freshens up your home without potential environmental repercussions, according to Jodie Pappas, sustainability advocate and founder of Clean Kiss Organics.
According to a 2017 report, air-fresheners can potentially impair air quality by emitting and generating a range of potentially hazardous air pollutants.
Rather than rely on potentially harmful air-fresheners for a fresh-smelling home, consider buying low-maintenance house plants.
“Go to your local grocery store or greenhouse and buy a fern or a colourful Bromeliad to bring a splash of spring colour,” Pappas told INSIDER.
Work from home, if possible
Talking to your company about potentially working from home might be a good idea for environmental reasons, especially if you commute via car every day.
By working from home at least once a week, your contribution to the environment’s health will be significant, according to representatives from Suntuity Solar.
To see how much you could reduce your carbon footprint by foregoing your daily commute, enter your commuting information in Map My Emissions and the tool will tell you how many pounds of carbon emissions your trip generates.
Use a French press to make your morning coffee
With a French press, you’re not using any paper filters or individual plastic cups for a coffee machine which are wasteful, according to Boyle.
It may seem like a lot is involved in making coffee using a French Press, but it’s really not. All you need are the coffee grounds, hot water, a coffee mug, and a French press – it’s as simple as that.
Read more:I’ve been making coffee with a French press for a decade – and I’m convinced it’s the best way to enjoy a morning cup14% of all litter comes from beverage containers.
Love your leftovers
Again, this one may require some extra thought, but it’s well worth it in exchange for waste reduction. Instead of throwing out your leftovers and buying more food, use it as an opportunity to create something new at dinnertime.
“Instead of food shopping, take your leftovers and create a whole new meal. You never know – you might find a new favourite dish,” representatives from Suntuity Solar told INSIDER.
Use a reusable water bottle
As convenient as it is to buy bottled water, you’re wasting a lot of plastic which ends up in our stream, oceans, and landscapes, according to Boyle.
According to Plastic Oceans, 14% of all trash comes from beverage containers and producing a water bottle requires six times as much water as is actually in the bottle.
If you live in a city that offers safe tap water, there’s no reason you shouldn’t use that to fill up your reusable water bottle.
“If your water isn’t very safe, get a subscription or larger water bottles that are several gallons,” Boyle told INSIDER.
Pick up litter
Picking up litter is something that anyone can do when they’re outside.
Make it a habit to start picking up at least five pieces of trash every time you visit a park or a beach, representatives from Suntuity Solar told INSIDER. The small act can make a major difference in your local community.
Composting can sound daunting but it’s all very simple. All you’ll really is soil, brown matter (twigs, dead leaves, and other carbon-rich material), green matter (such as food scraps, tea bags, and other nitrogen-rich material), and finally water.
“The pile should be located in areas that receive sun (since heat helps decomposition) and must always maintain a slight level of moisture,” representatives from Suntuity Solar told INSIDER.
Use one less napkin
Instead of grabbing a stack of napkins that you’re going to end up throwing out when at a restaurant, take less. You likely won’t notice the difference and you’ll be helping save trees.
Alternatively, consider buying recycled napkins.
According to the National Resources Defence Council, 1 million trees could be saved if every household in the US replaced just one package of virgin fibre napkins (250-count) with 100% recycled ones.
When you head to your local farmer’s market to pick up your weekly fruits and veggies, you’re helping the environment by saving the pollution incurred during the transportation of goods, according to representatives from Suntuity Solar.
According to the Agriculture Department’s Economic Research Service, 53.1% of fresh fruit eaten in the US is imported as opposed to grown domestically. Imported produce can have high environmental costs as they must be transported – a process that emits greenhouse gases.
Plus, you, as the consumer, are benefiting from getting fresh seasonal produce that is at its peak – giving you the best flavours.
Seal your windows
The idea of sealing your windows may sound complicated, but it really only requires a few tools. If your windows are prone to air leaks, your heat and your AC units will go into overdrive to keep your home at a reasonable temperature through the changing of seasons, Suntuity Solar explained, leading to higher utility bills and higher energy usage.
To reduce this problem, caulk any gaps and cracks you may see around your windows as an easy way to save energy.
Bring your own reusable bag
Using a reusable bag instead of a plastic one could be very beneficial to the environment, especially to the safety of marine life. According to Waste Management, 100,000 marine animals are killed by plastic bags each year. To help combat this issue, opt for reusable bags and make sure you use them multiple times.
A 2018 Danish study recommends a person uses a reusable polypropylene bag 37 times and then use it as a bin liner for it to have a lower environmental impact than the usual plastic bags.
“Start a collection of reusable bags. We recommend keeping a couple in your car for those last-minute food-shopping trips,” representatives from Suntuity Solar told INSIDER.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.