Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Earth Day; 20 things we can all do.

Did you know that today is Earth Day? I've been trying to make better, greener decisions in my every day life and I thought today was the perfect day to share.

Earth Day - 20 things we can all do to help and protect the earth!


Swap out your light bulbs. Why? Compact florescent light bulbs use less energy than regular old light bulbs to provide the same amount of light, and last up to ten times longer. They also save money in energy costs - more than $30 in the lifetime of one bulb.

Plant a tree or flowers. With Arbor Day (April 27th) just around the corner from Earth Day (today!), this is your chance to practice planting a fruit tree or any other kind of tree! Trees remove CO2 from the air and help fight global warming. They produce oxygen, give us shade in the summer, and provide a home for your neighborhood birds.  Make it an annual family event and within a few years you may have enough shade to drastically reduce your home cooling costs and some tasty fruit to boot! You can also plant some flowers that are native to your area and plant them in your garden or on nature strips where plants are usually grown. Restoring the local plant life will help attract native bird life, pollinators and local mammals.

arbor day

Curb your junk mail and go paperless with your bills. I have just made sure all of our bills are now online – we don’t get any paper bills anymore. As for junk mail, this is a slower process but you use the pre-paid stamped envelope in your junk mail, write "please remove" on the envelope and send it back to them - on their dime. In the long run it helps everyone -- they don't have to pay for future mailings and you are no longer buried in piles of junk mail.

Turn off lights and unplug cell phone chargers. This one couldn't be simpler. It’s normally the first thing on the list – but take a look around, do you do it? Whilst writing this post I can see one unnecessary light on (my fault) and two chargers plugged in that aren't being used. Chargers use electricity even when electronic devices are not connected to them.

Try doing "conscious" laundry. Instead of saving those piles of laundry for your Saturday or Sunday afternoon, do it at night when energy costs are lower. During the warmer weather, I do my laundry during the day, hang them on a clothes horse and stick them outside. Every house at home has a clothesline out the back (a veranda out the front, and an old rocking chair) and I understand why it's not common here with the whole seasons thing, KC thinks they look tacky but I don't care. One day I will have one.


Fix plumbing issues. A faucet leaking just one drop per second wastes over 1,300 gallons per year! A leak from a hot water source wastes both water and fossil fuel, creating more greenhouse gasses. Most repairs to plumbing fixtures pay for themselves within just a year. Fix it.

Think Green When You Clean - Cleaning products that contain chlorine or petroleum distillates expose your family to toxins and then end up in the ecosystem. Choose nontoxic, naturally derived cleaning products, which are proven effective but won’t cause long term damage to the Earth.

Make sure your car is in tip top shape. Americans waste over 700 million gallons of gasoline each year just because tyres aren’t properly inflated. Millions more are wasted because our vehicles aren’t properly tuned up. Get her checked!

Meatless for dinner. Once a week, plan a meat alternative for dinner. Enjoy pasta with a marinara or Alfredo sauce, meatless burritos, or even black bean burgers. The United Nations have concluded that meat production is responsible for around 18% of global CO2 emissions. A ridiculous amount of water is used to produce a single pound of beef, and the EPA estimates that more than 27,000 miles of US Rivers have been polluted by livestock waste. Go meatless once a week and help conserve water.




Use a refillable water bottle. In the US alone, 1.5 million barrels of oil are used every year to make disposable plastic bottles.

Use fewer napkins. Napkins contribute to the annual destruction of 34 million trees. Try only using one next time. I definitely need to be better about this, and I would love to not use paper towel at home.

Walk, Hike, Ride a Bike, Carpool. If people in the U.S. would occasionally ride a bike for a short errand instead of driving a car, over 70 million gallons of fuel could be saved each year. And there’s the added benefit of enjoying the fresh air and exercise. KC and I used to walk to the grocery when we lived closer. Another great thing would be to get rid of your car completely – but obviously might not be possible for everyone, it’s not possible for us right now. Public transport is nonexistent here, and if we were a one car family, we’d waste ridiculously more gas. Cars have a tremendous impact on the environment, not to mention your personal finances. Vehicles in the United States use more gasoline each year than our oil industry produces. I would love to be a one car family one day, we’ll see!

Get rid of weeds with your hands. Herbicides aren’t the only way to control weeds, and they’re certainly not the most environment-friendly way. Invest in a good pair of gloves and garden tools, and remove weeds by hand. Also, choose natural alternatives to pesticides for getting rid of pests.

Reduce, Reuse Recycle. It’s more than just a slogan. You can start making the world a ‘greener’ place today: return hangers to the cleaners, donate clothing and computers to charities, pack lunches in reusable containers instead of bags, there are hundreds of easy things to do and though we all know it – do we actually do it? My reusable bags sit in the car almost every time I go to the grocery. I’m going to make a conscious effort to use them from now on. Most people recycle at home, but there are a shocking number of offices and workplaces that don't recycle. Including my own. Paper, plastic bottles, soda cans. I am going to get a waste basket for recycling and if I have to take it home each day and put it in my own bin, I will.



Adjust your thermostat. Up in the summer, down in the winter. While you’re at it, try and help me convince KC to turn it up some more in the summer.

Wash your car using a bucket rather than the hose. You might think this is a bit ridiculous, but you use less water. When we had water restrictions at home, this is what we had to do. Drive the car onto grass for cleaning, so that the water you do use also waters the grass. Every little bit counts.

Take shorter showers. Again, when we had water restrictions, we were encouraged to take shorter showers and you can buy shower heads that save water. I’m a pretty quick shower taker, but I take way too many baths and I need to curb that before I use the whole Atlantic Ocean.

Buy Local. Food sold in American supermarkets has to travel an average of 1,500 miles to get from the farm to your plate. Buying locally not only supports your local economy, but cuts out the massive amounts of energy used to store and transport the products across the world. Food isn't the only way to shop local: visit neighborhood thrift stores to reduce the pollution caused by the production and transportation of new clothing and other items.

Stop Using Plastic. There is no doubt that plastics are bad. Americans dispose of 10.5 million tons of plastic garbage every year, and about 8% of the world's annual oil production is used toward the creation of plastic products. A single plastic bottle can spend anywhere from 100 to 1000 years in a landfill, and while recycling plastics helps save up to 60% of the energy used to make new products, they are often "downcycled" which doesn't curb the demand for more plastic to be produced, and it does little to prevent plastics leeching cancer-causing chemicals. Thanks to our wasteful habits, we've created huge islands of plastics in both the Pacific and Atlantic, and we not only kill up to a million sea creatures every year with plastic, but also ingest toxins that have made their way up the food chain from this waste. 

Wow. If that doesn't make you stop using plastic....


Learn more about the environment. I think the most important thing we can all do is learn a little bit more about how we can help. Borrow some library books and read up on an issue such as pollution, endangered species, water shortages, recycling, and climate change.   Think about the issues that concern you the most and if you haven't done so already, join a local group that undertakes activities to help protect the environment in your area.

For other great ideas to make your life a little more green read Kathy’s post and Steph’s post. I'm always looking for more though - what do you do to help the environment?

ps. 300th post - wtf.

38 comments:

  1. yes to all of these!! i always bicker with my husband when it comes to unplugging shit that's not being used. he says it makes very little difference but i sneak around the house unplugging stuff and then i hear a "WHO UNPLUGGED THIS CHARGER?!" a day later LOL

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  2. you know, a lot of neighborhoods won't even let you put up clotheslines. it's against their covenants. apparently they're concerned about having to see people's skidmarked underwear ;)

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  3. Loooooooooooooove this post! I am a total stickler about turning lights off (we sit in the dark mostly at night with just the glow of the tv unless my husband is studying for school), and I keep all unnecessary appliances unplugged. We plug them in when we use them, and unplug when we're done. Plus our recycling bins are usually overflowing each week, because I recycle anything and everything! Every little bit helps :)

    Happy Earth Day <3

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  4. Great post! I'm so bad about remembering my reusable grocery bags. When I put them in my car (so they're available all the time), I completely forget I even have them. I'm better about using them when they live by the recycling bin (which I have to take to my parents house, because our apartments don't do recycling), because I drop off recyclables and do groceries all in one run. But that doesn't help for spur of the moment trips. I need to come up with a way to remind myself that they're there.

    I like the idea of switching to more natural cleaning products, and I could definitely be more proactive about unplugging chargers!

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  5. i am the crazy unplugger. i go around unplugging things after people all the time. and the 5 yr old is obsessed with anything to save the environment so she is a great motivator!

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  6. Such an awesome and informative post, lady! I try to do little things to help the planet but lists like this make me realize how much more I can do. I love the smell of outside laundry!

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  7. These are some really helpful tips! I especially like the one about the junk mail..I guess I've been tossing it too quickly to even notice there was a return envelope inside!

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  8. These are really great tips and ideas to be more conscious of the Earth!! The stores in the area that I live are no longer allowed to use plastic and it's been great!! xo, Biana -BlovedBoston

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  9. I'm SO glad you mentioned going meatless! People think it's humans who waste all the water, and contribute to drought conditions but it's actually raising farm animals and meat production plants that are the single biggest consumer of water. Not to mention the hormones and chemicals from animal waste that get added to water systems from farmers' waste disposal systems. American's don't think about this because they're too concerned with being on Paleo or low carb, super-meat heavy diets. *facepalm*

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  10. I'm kind of patting myself on the back because I actually do almost all of these things, from the lightbulbs and paperless bills down to the grocery bags! I rarely eat meat and am really working on timing my showers because we are in a serious drought. (Time FLIES In there...it's so easy not to notice). I don't do proactive flower planting though so I do have some room for improvement. This is a great list and very well written Kristen!

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  11. This is an awesome list! I feel like I'm pretty environmentally conscious, but there is clearly so much more I could be doing. Happy Earth Day!

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  12. I hang dry almost all of laundy, which keeps my clothes looking so much nicer and lasting forever! I don't know why everyone doesn't do it!

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  13. This is a great list! I definitely always try to unplug things that are not being used and turn off lights, and also try to not run the dishwasher until it's full. Every little bit helps! I had no idea about writing "please remove" on junk mail, that's a great idea!

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  14. Some of these things I already do. I really should unplug the chargers. I'm sure every room in my house has either cell or computer chargers plugged in.

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  15. Great list, I totally need to get better with this. I do unplug all my appliances when not in use.

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  16. Thanks for the link!

    I am bad bad bad about unplugging things that aren't being used. I need to be better at that.

    Happy 300th!!

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  17. Yes, yes, yes! I love this post! So many easy things to do to help save our Earth. :)

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  18. I didn't realize that leaving chargers plugged in while not charging my phone uses electricity! I will definitely try to keep it unplugged unless I'm using it... These are all really good things to keep in mind. Thank you for the reminder on a lot them! I'm pretty bad in the summer because I hate being too hot so I crank the AC sometimes (but luckily in the winter I don't turn up the heat too much, especially since we have huge windows and the sun really heats up our living space already!)

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  19. great list!! im happy we do a ton of these things! my husband also likes to compost and it's great to put all the veggie/fruit scraps into a container and not have them stink up our trash... we also get away with taking out the garbage a lot less now! xo jillian - cornflake dreams

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  20. I so love this post - I'm sharing it for my Friday Favorites... I wish more people would be aware of some of these simple changes!!! I am SOOo Team Save The Earth!!!

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  21. California just passed a law that it will charge for plastic bags now at stores. I'm ALL for it, but some people are complaining (of course). London already has this law in place and I think more cities should adopt this mentality. Me? I'm guilty of leaving my chargers plugged in! Eeeek!

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  22. I've never considered getting unsubscribed to junk mail. That's a great tip and unplugging the chargers. It's my pet peeve when people have them plugged in without an actual phone being charged. Grrr

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  23. Awesome tips! Huge YES to refillable bottles, recycling and being waste-conscious, whether it's at home or when driving. Happy Earth Day! Guess I'll have to have a glass of organic wine now since you twisted my arm to celebrate ;)

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  24. Fabulous post! I love that you wrote this and these are all such good, simple ideas. I do many of them already but THANK YOU for that junk mail tip! I do everything online but UGH, the daily credit card offers, the balance transfer offers, the cash advance offers... I want to call and be like listen, I will literally NEVER utilize this, please stop k thanks. But I will try this tip!

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  25. This is a GREAT list!! I have been meaning to take care of the junk mail problem at our house but I just haven't gotten around to it. Thanks for the motivation!

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  26. I did a bunch of these today! And I do most of them most days :) I took a short shower this morning (didn't feel like washing my hair) and after I got out Ben was like, "You're done?!" Should have told him I was just doing my part to save the planet ;)

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  27. Awesome. So many good tips.
    We use reusable water bottles and do a lot of the other things, too.

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  28. I love all of these!!! I try to make a conscience effort to do what I can. Nothing pisses me off more than seeing someone throw something out their car window that belongs in the trash can. NOTHING!!! We use the water dispenser on our refrigerator for water, so I am saving a TON of water bottles by doing that. I keep a glass and mug at work so I am not using disposable stuff. And I am going to start a garden here very soon. Love all your tips!

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  29. What a great list!! I am always having to unplug the chargers, P always leaves them. I also make us unplug the tv when we go on vacation and leave the one in the office unplugged all the time (since we don't really use it). P and I only have one car, and that was prior to the move. The first year we lived together I only drove like 400 miles or something crazy low, so we got rid of one car. I did work only 1.3 miles from our house so it worked out for us. I would like to be able to use less paper towels, it's so hard!! We even keep cloths around to wipe down the counter and such, but still use a lot.

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  30. Great post! I think I probably only do a few of the things on your list regularly - I know I have lots of room for improvement!!!

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  31. Those are all great ideas! I don;t use plastic bags anymore but I need to be more aware of unplugging things I don't use. Congrats on your 300th post!!! Woot woot!

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  32. All excellent suggestions. I gotta admit, Australians are much more conservation aware with their water and power usage. Also, recycling. I wasn't a consistent recycler until I moved here.

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  33. Earth Day passed me by and I didn't even realize it! I think I thought it was on the weekend because there was an Earth Day concert. These are all good suggestions- I admit to not always doing the best with my energy or water conservation, but I'm working on it!

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  34. I had no clue it was earth day. Heck these days I have trouble remembering the day and date but thanks for this post lovely - I need to be better at not using too much plastic items including bags!

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    1. *too many - I grammar police myself like a weirdo. :/

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  35. Congrats on 300 posts! I stick with paperless billing, and I live green without even trying since I don't have a car anymore (which is kind of a relief). Planting a tree is a great idea. If every person only did it once in their lives, it would be so helpful.

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  36. YES to paperless billing. I pay all but one of my bills online anyway (and that's because you can only pay by check... dafuq?!). Y'know what's ridiculous? Victoria's Secret wanted to charge $1 for paper statements, yet they send 80 billion catalogs each week. C'mon, Victoria's Secret.

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  37. such a nice list! I always love hearing new ideas. We hang dry our laundry all over the place. When we get a house - whenever that is- i can't even tell you how excited I am to install a proper clothesline.

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